Photo review of Air France flight from Paris to New York in Premium Eco
This is the second leg of my trip from Cairo to New York.
After landing in Paris, I will be flying to New York on the retrofitted 777-200. The retrofitted cabin is supposed to have seats with a larger recline, an adjustable footrest, and a 12 inch screen HD screen, with powerports. If the IFE isn't any good, I'll write part of the trip report on the plane. I'll be sitting in seat 21A. Unfortunately, seats 20A and 20L are already taken. Luckily, like the A340-300, there's no galley or bathrooms behind the premium economy cabin. According to the business class seating options, this route will be on the better layout, with business class directly in front of the PE cabin. PE passengers still have to use the economy bathrooms, but the cabin is closed off, and feels more exclusive, separate from economy. The other layout is for high capacity flights- so the business class seats are converted into extra economy seating, which makes the PE cabin feel a little less exclusive.
This is the layout that I'll be flying:
And this is the high capacity layout:
I arrived in the L gates section of Terminal 2E, and checked the connections board after deplaning. I was hoping that my flight to NY would leave from the L gates so I could try out Guy Martin's restaurant I Love Paris. Instead, the gate displayed was K37- so I took the elevator down to the shuttle and rode the 2 minute ride to the K gates. I used the Sky Priority line and was through security in less than 10 minutes. I was afraid that after the Paris attacks security would be really tight and the lines would be long, but it wasn't a problem at all. I didn't set the metal detector off, so I went through easily, didn't have to take off my shoes or anything. Not like the US with the TSA (ugh). And the French people are perfectly nice and polite. After clearing security I took the elevator up to the food court. I opted for Meza Liza (supposedly Lebanese food- beef kibbeh, a spinach pastry, and beef shawarma on bread with tomeyya on top and potatoes), a Lipton Iced Tea, a creme brulee, and a chocolate cake.
As you can see, it was terrible. The shawarma was swimming in a pool of its own grease, which didn't add any flavor to the dull potatoes, and dry and flavorless kibbeh. The spinach pastry was average. The Lebanese Embassy in Paris should submit a complaint- at least make them take down the sign that says Beyrouth on the wall behind the serving counter. The creme brulee was okay- not real- just the creme and then you put caramelized sugar on top. The chocolate cake was quite nice- but so rich I couldn't finish it. I should have eaten the cake before the main course. I would have been happier. After bussing my own tray, I found that my gate had changed to Gate 45. Unfortunately, there's no prayer area in the K gates area The interactive map was nice though, and there's free unlimited wifi.
The gate changed again to K37, so I sat in the gate area and played Sims 4 on my laptop. Around 10 minutes before the scheduled boarding time, the Air France employee announced that there would be a delay and we would board at 4:20 for a 5 PM departure time. Only a couple of seconds later, she announced that there was an aircraft change. Of course, I rushed up to the desk to see if my seat assignment was the same. She assured me that it was, at which point I looked up the Air France seat maps. I was quite apprehensive when I found out that I would either be seated on a new Boeing 777-200 or an old Boeing 777-300. Of course, my goal was to fly the new Premium Economy class for this 8 hour flight, so I waited impatiently until Priority Boarding was called. I got in line, bypassed the electronics check (this was for economy class passengers), and headed down the stairs… to a bus. At this point, priority boarding became pointless as passengers were crammed into this bus (luckily I got a seat) for a 10 minute trip to Terminal 2M, where we entered the boarding gate from the ground, climbed the stairs, and entered the boarding hallway for the plane. When I stepped aboard, I was pleased to see that it was the new 777-200 still. I would have taken a cabin picture, but people were boarding ahead of me and I wanted to preserve their privacy. So I got this so-so picture of the top of my seat. I'll try to get a better one for the next report.
I had plenty of legroom. And the recline was excellent- much better than on the A340-300. I got comfortable and started watching a movie (Infinitely Polar Bear) with the built in noise cancelling headphones. The amenity kit was the same that I received on my flight to Paris- socks, earplugs, headphone covers, eye mask, toothbrush, and toothpaste. We had a long taxi, but take off was fast, even though it was raining in Paris. Similarly to the Cairo-Paris flight, this flight to New York was also staffed with the special Safety/Security team flight attendants.
An hour after take-off, the flight attendants came with the meals. While we were waiting, we were given some crackers to snack on.
My halal meal was confirmed and I was served along with the rest of the cabin. I must confess, I was disappointed when I received my meal. Premium Economy meals are supposed to be served with a napkin rolled up nicely and a real drinking glass, etc. My special meal was served completely as an economy meal. The appetizer salad was average, the main dish was chicken in some kind of tomato-olive oil sauce, and dessert was a brownie. I was also served Camembert cheese and a clementine. I was underwhelmed. There was no rolled up napkin and specially designed cutlery and no drinking glass.
Here's the menu though, just for your curiosity.
After the meal service was over, we were served a special candy package in Premium Economy.
The candy, cheese, and clementine were the best elements of the meal.
The new IFE screen was great. After I finished Infinitely Polar Bear, I watched some NCIS episodes, then napped until shortly before landing.
We landed on time at JFK, despite the delay, and pulled in to a boarding gate at Terminal 1. Immigration was quick. I scanned my passport in the APC (Automated Passport Control) and got the X, as usual, so went through the special immigration line- all that meant was that my line was short, I saw the immigration official immediately, confirmed that I lived in Egypt, and was welcomed back to the US.
Cabin crew 10.0
Paris - CDG
New York - JFK
The flight was quite nice. However, sit down food options in Terminal 2E, K gates are TERRIBLE. Just don't do it. There's no prayer room; only a smoking room. It's more efficient to pay for lounge access if you have a Premium Economy ticket. Or if you have a long layover, go to L gates. The flight itself went smoothly and landed on time, despite the delay. The IFE was excellent. The food on the other hand....if you pay for a Premium Economy ticket, you expect to receive the Premium Economy service and plating, not the Economy plating. Choosing a special meal because of religious or dietary concerns should not mean that you're paying for a drop in the level of service. If this is the case, then Air France should make clear that the special meal will NOT be a Premium Economy meal. This isn't the case on all airlines. When flying American Airlines in business class from Paris to JFK this summer, my meal was better than the other meals. Given this experience, I don't think that I'll pay to book Premium Economy class on Air France when my money would be better spent elsewhere.
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