FLIGHT AF1240
CLASS OF SERVICE Business
SEAT NUMBER 10A
AIRCRAFT Airbus A321
TAKEOFF 17-01-09 7:15 a.m.
VIEWS 493
LANDING AT 8:35 a.m.
marathon
The 9th January 2017

Photo review of Air France flight from Paris to Amsterdam in Business

(I chose to post this report in English first – a French version will come soon)

Finding a seat on a direct CDG-ARN flight on Sunday night or Monday morning a week in advance is a risky bet, and it was lost. The only solution was a connection in AMS, in Business because the Economy was full too. It was a lose-lose choice, for my company which paid more and for me who got three hours of sleep less.

CDG-AMS : AF1240 (A321, Business) You are here
AMS-ARN : KL1109 (B738, Business) there
ARN-CDG : AF1063 (A32x, Economy) To be posted soon

The only good news for me, apart from a few more airmiles and one more qualifying flight, is that the second leg is a first on Flight Report (on that line, in that class of travel).
I had a mild case of insomnia around ETD-30h, which gave me a chance to grab THE available window seat (Seatguru warned me that there is no window at row 8). On the other hand, Seat 1A on the connecting flight was OK for me.
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A taxi dropped me outside Terminal 2F – I directed the driver of the taxi to drop me towards the end where the Access#1 security check is located. It had been a fast ride: it was very early in the morning and there was not so much fog on the way.
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Nothing stopped me from entering the terminal through that door from the outside, but passengers were not supposed to exit from there.
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My BP for both flights was obtained quickly from one of these machines
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My flight was listed as being on time on the FIDS. Some people probably already knew better, but I did not.
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The waiting time was minimal at the J/Elite luggage drop area
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Not a heavy bag, there was no way I could make it a hand luggage only.
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Little waiting there too. I usually remove my belt and now I know I have too anyway.
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This business area provides IPad (I did not check what kind of internet access they have) and 1 EUR coffees.
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Plane spotting from the terminal was a non-starter this time: there was no way I could get taxiing planes.
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See the man here? He was coming from an overnight flight, was half lost in the wrong jetty of Terminal 2F, and was grateful when I showed him the FIDS, and the way towards his flight to MUC.
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The booth of this very expensive shop was not opened yet
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The smoked salmon there is four times the price per kilo, compared to the duty free shop in ARN.
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Since I had directed this passenger and had time, I could just as well go the other jetty too
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No newspapers on these shelves
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And only Le Monde there
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I tried my luck at the lounge in that jetty, but no way: even though the lounges are a mere 500 meters away from each other, you cannot only enter the one dedicated to your gate, so I backtracked
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If you are thirsty in Terminal 2F, better head towards the toilets (tap water is safe to drink), because this fountain at the far end of the jetty has been out of operation for months.
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The one at the root of the jetty is no more able to provide water
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You can’t even press on the button which is no longer there.
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I do not know if they tuned the piano since last time I flew from here.
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Reaching Gate F33 and others
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The access to the lounge at the lower level used to be much easier, with travellators going down from the near end of the jetty, but that is over.
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You now must go to the far end of the jetty
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There was a wider selection of newspapers in that jetty.
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And there were considerably more newspapers and magazines in AF’s lounge, where I was welcomed since this was the one corresponding to my boarding gate.
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I was not quite the only traveler: it was quite crowded at that early morning flights rush hour, but if you were not choosy, you could get a seat (but not two next to each other, if travelling with somebody).
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The food offering is decent for short haul flights
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You actually have more kinds of cheese than on a long haul flight in J (this is my usual grumble about AF’s catering)
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I won’t make comments on the alcohols available, out of lack of competence
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Nor on the soft drinks, out of lack of interest. There were coffee machines too (and several minutes waiting time to use them)
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It was soon time to leave this lounge. I may not have another chance to visit it until I reach Gold status on CDG-ARN runs.
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The perennial problem of this terminal is that there is a glaring lack of space for passengers waiting in line at boarding time.
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The line of the J/Elite passengers to ARN leaving at 7:10 was reaching the next gate, blocking the way for J/Elite passengers to BCN leaving at 7:15, all the more that the former was late. The delay was only announced when boarding time was up, so many passengers had already left their seats.
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This was the first I saw of the A321 when boarding
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She was an aircraft very similar to her neighbor
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The seats in J are the same as in Y, only that the antimacassar are a solid red, and that the middle seat is not used. For once, I would get to have that extra comfort (the empty middle seat, not the color of the antimacassar).
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But no: this was my seat at Row 10 and it appeared to be a regular Economy seat just behind the curtain.
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Oops! I had just sit there when a FA came up and asked me to rise, to let her move the curtain one row down.
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I did get to travel ahead of the curtain (but without a red antimacassar. I wonder if I could get a few airmiles as a compensation for that?)
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Row 10 is just behind the vast expanse of space at the first pair of emergency exit doors. Note the passenger at Seat 10F, a bulky fellow which never makes a sound, in a plane that is.
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An illustration of the legroom on the exit row, seen when deplaning.
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The seat pitch (measured from the tip of the seat to the magazine pocket in front) was very good in Economy (before moving the curtain) and good enough in Business (after moving the curtain)
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The seat width (between armrests) was OK.
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This was the old cabin outfit, with the famous round cup holder with a square hole (they do just fine), slightly less seat width and a lot more seat pitch than the new one.
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The carpet was spotlessly clean
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I was amused by the recommendation of the FAs at the end of the safety demonstration to « read carefully the safety information card ». The only pieces of text there are “Air France, Notice de sécurité / Safety card, Brace / Crispez vous”. English speaking passengers get five words to read, French speaking ones have to brace for 40% more reading care of seven words.
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The in-flight magazine mentions the existence of AF’s first 787, which made a few costly joy rides in the French airspace the day before with some Flight Reporters on board.
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An oshibori – made of decently thick cloth – was distributed
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The fog made no sign of clearing up outside.
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This AF A318 started moving after pushback
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Don’t expect any fancy pictures of CDG with this weather
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Actual Off-Block Time (AOBT) was 34 minutes late compared to Schedule Off-Block Time (SOBT)
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This is as much plane spotting as I could get
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There are days when you feel fortunate to have CAT III equipment, because we were not going to see much of this 3,880 m long runway when alining
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Climbing before dawn
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My neighbor gracefully rose to let me go and take this picture of the sunrise through the right door’s tiny window, and waited until I had succeeded to manually focus it right.
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This is not terrain underneath, only clouds
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This is how the breakfast was served
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The same, after removing the covers and receiving a piece of bread (there were croissants too). I was careful to place it on a spare cover to insulate it from the germ-ridden tray table… at least for this picture.
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The blue paper under the items, lower right, is the menu, but you need to eat first before you get to know what you ate. KL did the same on the connecting flight.
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Orange juice is invariably of low quality in flight, so I settled for water and coffee, placed together with my neighbor’s drinks on the middle seat’s tray table.
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CDG-AMS is a very short international flight, so the FAs had still to serve breakfast to two rows when the beginning of descent was announced. That they also had to inform some anxious passengers about their tightening connections did not help, of course. (Like my neighbor, connecting on a Non-Schengen flight, from the little I overheard).
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Two Economy passengers had probably VERY tight connections due to this flight’s delay, because they were ushered from the back to the middle seats of the exit row before me, and the FAs found place in the overhead bins for their hand luggage, so that they could gain some precious deplaning minutes. Fair deal.

The pilot had had better warn the crew “FAs, prepare for landing”, because the visibility was no better in AMS than in ARN. The captain had actually warned the passengers in the welcome speech that we might have to wait for landing in AMS due to the fog there.
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We have landed in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
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Last turn
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A last view of the AF A321
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I was out of the plane 35 minutes behind schedule, which meant I had no time to go to KLM's lounge (no major loss, from what I read on this website), but plenty of time to reach the gate of my connecting flight.
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Thanks for reading me !

Verdict

Air France 

Cabin 8.0
Cabin crew 9.0
Entertainment 7.0
meal/catering 8.0
TOTAL 8.0/10

Air France Lounge, 2F - F1 

Comfort 6.0
meal/catering 8.0
Services 8.0
Entertainment 8.0
TOTAL 7.5/10

Paris - CDG 

Efficiency 9.0
Access 7.0
Services 6.5
Cleanliness 10.0
TOTAL 8.1/10

Amsterdam - AMS 

Efficiency 10.0
Access 8.0
Services 6.5
Cleanliness 10.0
TOTAL 8.6/10

Conclusion

From a quality-price ratio point of view, nothing justifies flying in J on a short intra-European flight, or two intra-European flight, except the unavailability of seats in Economy.
That being said, the catering was OK, taking into consideration the very short duration of the flight. The FAs managed to provide some information to passengers on a perilously tight connection due to the flight's delay, even though they had very little time to distribute the catering.
Not much in terms of entertainment; only because I went to the other jetty could I choose between more than a single newspaper.

The lounge was too crowded, but traveling alone made it bearable (I did not stay there much time anyway).

There was no information on the flight's delay until theoretical boarding time. Public transportation is not an option for a 7am flight in CDG: you need to drive or be driven.

I did not need to walk much to reach the gate of my connecting flight in AMS, but the was no information either about the flight being late, and no semblance of a water fountain.

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