Review of Air France flight Paris Hong Kong in Business

Airline Air France
Flight AF188
Class Business
Seat 3A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 11:35
Take-off 23 Jul 12, 23:25
Arrival at 24 Jul 12, 17:00
AF   #22 out of 70 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 5053 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 5732
Published on 11th February 2016
This the return trip of this flight, flown in 2012 at a time when I was stationed in Taiwan. Time has passed and AF is (at time of posting this report) upgrading their cabin layout to the so-called “Best and Beyond” cabin.

Hong-Kong – Paris (B747 - Cathay Pacific) My worst HKG-CDG ever
Paris – Hong-Kong (B777 – Air France) My best CDG-HKG ever – YOU ARE HERE

The reason that these flights were on different airlines, on different alliances, was that this was not a round trip, but two one-way flights. The CX flight was the return leg of a round trip paid by my company which was going to expire twelve months after being issued. Since it was going to expire, I could use it for private reason to visit my relatives. But then, I needed to return to Taiwan at my expense.

Only LCC sell one way tickets at a decent price, and Air Asia X had closed its KUL-ORY line which could have been useful. Legacy carriers sell one way-tickets at outrageous prices, and AF was a caricature : in J, a one way flight was 40-50% more expensive than a round trip!

photo vol%2520aller%2520ARAF%2520en%2520J%2520CDG-TPE.photo vol%2520aller%2520simple%2520AF%2520en%2520J%2520CDG-TPE%25202.

I was told that the reason is that some companies and administrations cannot buy a round trip ticket for their staff when the need is actually one way, and airlines take this opportunity to charge as much as businesses would pay rather than change their internal rules.

That was a textbook case for using air miles, because the flight that I wanted would have cost me 4,151 EUR (with a dummy return flight on the cheapest day), and cost 80,000 FB miles and 313 EUR of (lots of) fuel surcharge and (some) airport taxes. That valued my air miles at 47 EUR/1,000 miles, considerably more than the 6 EUR/1,000 miles for a CDG-PEK round trip in economy a couple years before. This is a theoretical calculation though: I would have really bought that ticket in Y at its public price (probably not on AF, though : AY was a lot cheaper and not that much slower), whereas I am nowhere near buying a ticket in J on my own money. I could not claim saving that much money using my air miles.

Actually, I would have used an award ticket for CDG-HKG-TPE in Y if there had been any availability at the fixed day rate (40,000 miles + surcharge + taxes). The only availabilities were flexible (which was useless for me), at 80,000 miles + surcharge + taxes.

Setting my air miles real use value at 6 EUR/1,000 miles, this one way ticket cost me 793 EUR, nearly the same as the price on Air China in Y. QR was cheaper, but would have wasted a precious day of vacation.

In short, for roughly the same price, I could fly in Y on AF, or in Y on CA, or in J on AF. It was an easy choice.


The HKG-TPE segment of the tickets sold by AF was oddly operated by CX or its subsidiary KA, whereas for award tickets, the flights were on CI. I assume that this was the result of old AF-CX agreements, and of the (then recent) arrival of CI in the Skyteam alliance.

I received an e-mail from AF proposing an upgrade in F for 1,400 EUR, a few days before departure. The one-way public fare for that ticket was 9,881 EUR, and accepting this offer would have made my airmiles worth 102 EUR/ 1,000 miles. But this would have multiplied by more than 5 the cost of that trip, and was way out of budget for me. The comments on the AF’s P in flight on Flight Report were not the kind which would change my mind about it.

After this long introduction on the quality-price ratio of the various options for flying home, this FR begins in front of Terminal 2F, with luggage carts which prove that I was indeed in an airport, but not a Chinese or Taiwanese one.

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The Departure FIDS, which only had far away destinations at this time

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I went through a first filter checking my destination and travel class, then I tried to use these machines to obtain my BP. Neither my passport nor my FB number were recognized, I did not have my E-ticket number in hand, and I eventually received a BP look-alike which invited me to go to the check-in counters. I needed for that to go through another filter to prove that I had tried my best not to disturb the ground staff because you were an unidentifiable passenger without a printer at home, and unable to print his BP in the office, since it was already the week-end at ETD-30h.

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The said staff was friendly and delivered me my BP for this flight and the connecting one to TPE : I do not remember if I had tried to choose my seat in advance on the internet for the HKG-TPE flight, but seat 3A on both flights meant window seats, and that was what I wanted.

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But my luggage was rated as oversized, and I had to leave it slightly further away in this case at the far end of the check-in counters…

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… from where a staff took it nearly immediately to have it leave on this conveyor which looked remarkably like that of the check-in counters next to it.

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If I had managed to bring this luggage all the way to the check in counter, of course I could bring it thirty meters further away. But one could also have imagined that the check-in counter staff could have called his colleague to take it directly from where I was at the counter. No big deal, in my opinion.

The toilets landside ? Clean, functional, and even decorated with artificial flowers.

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But look at the entrance:

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At that time, baby care was an exclusively female (or at least dress-wearing) task. Fathers complained against this discrimination (and also some women too, especially when fathers had no choice but go in the ladies’ room to change their baby’s diapers), and this pictogram is disappearing from Paris’ airports.

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This was the first time that I used the automated PARAFE passport and fingerprint checking booths, which had adamantly refused to recognize me on my previous departure from CDG (Terminal 1). The safety check was longish because of a family with kids and a pram – items that some (not I) claim should not be allowed in J.

I did not rate the staff at the security check as friendly, but they were slightly nicer than usual (this was one of the dark points of CDG at the time).

Anyway, I arrived under the CDG-2E vault that I always found beautiful.

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On the other hand, this terminal is really plane spotter unfriendly, with a second window far from the first one and spread with black spots. An ordinary passenger would do no better than this.

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An industrious Flight Reporter would not stop there, and I quickly found the bus boarding room at the lower level, which gave a decent view of this AF 777.

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And of this KE 777 which was soon to depart

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I did not identify this Jumbolino that I only saw from this angle (SN or LX?), but Esteban could : it was SN, because LX have integrated stairs and no registration above the cockpit windows. (Thanks!)

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The other flaw in the design of the plan spotter unfriendliness of CDG-2E was this rest area slightly lower than the main Departures level at one end of the terminal:

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The scenery was not very exciting, but provided a view on planes. A rather poor one when they are on the ground:

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… but a more decent one when they were landing

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TH KE 777 was going to fly home in ICN

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This MU A330 was probably flying back to PVG.

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At sunset, an EasyJet aircraft can be graphically interesting – note the MU A330 tail on the ground.

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I was far from the action, though, and the waning lighting meant that my compact camera was becoming insufficiently sensitive, and I did not try any further.

I had not found any location for hand luggage trolleys after the security check and I had to do some searching to eventually find this small stock, located in the middle of a passage.

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The pictogram indicating the baby care room has an obviously female silhouette

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… but airside, a father could disregard the signage and change his baby’s diapers because that room was not located in the ladies’ room.

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There were internet access computers. They would be customary and complimentary in technologically advanced countries like in Hong-Kong or Taipei….

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… but in Paris, AdP (Aéroport de Paris) could not afford to offer this luxury to ordinary passengers, and you had to fork out a minimum of 2 EUR, inn US dollars or in local currency, like in any third world country.

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I searched for one of my favorite ingredients for a Flight Report, i.e. a children playground. It was actually easy to find, but it was located at the far end of the terminal, opposite to the makeshift plane spotting area.

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No, it wasn’t this strange display to the glory of the Tour de France cycling race (with a screen lost in the upper part, displaying scenes of the race). I was puzzled by the wheelchair handicap logo on the ground: specialists explained to me that this was meant to remind airport staff not to store any equipment (used for cleaning or whatever other purposes) there. This logo is more efficient for that means than a sign which could also not be understood by revolving foreign workers with limited knowledge of French, and cheaper too than teaching each them which are such “no store” zones.

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This minimalist children play area was the only one in this terminal, sponsored by Pixar which is not very French, but then Hello Kitty is not very Taiwanese either. These kids seemed to enjoy it anyway.

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For older kids, there were console games. They could be used for free, but according to other Flight Reporters, they were notoriously mostly out of order. I did not check, though.

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The access to the lounge was not very easy to find, and this is the line for the lift which also serves the food court upstairs which I did not explore (other Flight Reporters told me later that the food there was not really worth exploring).

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A very friendly welcome from the staff at the entrance counter ; They asked me if I knew this lounge (I did not) and one of them showed me in 30 seconds the main areas: eating area, wine and champagne bar, toilets and showers, work area…

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Her standard tour does not include a plane spotting zone, for a good reason: in this AF lounge, plane spotting was the carceral kind.

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The furnishing was marginally more luxurious than in a company restaurant.

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The food was light years away from the tradition of quality of French gastronomy.

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When I helped myself with this Gargantuan feast…

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… I alone took no less than half of the food available here (well no, I was reasonable with regards to gherkins) :

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And together with another passenger, we depleted this other stand from half of its supplies, with the exception of butter, because there was no spinach left to use it.

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There is some bad faith here, because these stands were replenished ten minutes later, with a trolley which reminded me of hotels in small Chinese towns.

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For those who remember the times when the only food in AF’s lounges in CDG were biscuits, and for those who had become addicted to the sole food served on board AF domestic flights, the tradition lives on:

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I would not comment upon the offering in alcoholic drinks, since any statement on them by a teetotaler would be purely theoretical.

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There was not an overwhelming choice of nonalcoholic beverages, but that was enough for me.

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There was a reasonable selection of newspapers and magazines.

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These computers for self-use provided me this corporate screen shot.

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Reading my e-mails was another story. AF did not seem to consider the possibility that passengers boarding flights to Asia could communicate in the language of the countries of destination. I could fortunately use my own laptop and the lounge’s wifi internet access to know what Yoshiko was telling me – you probably guessed her nationality from her first name.

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The same went for another friend of mine whose nationality is betrayed by her choice of an internet provider (the 126.com domain is one the oldest ones in Mainland China),

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… because these computers were incompatible with Japanese and Chinese, unlike my French laptop.

The showers were in free access and flawlessly clean, but I guess there would be few users in the evening. An inspection in the early morning, with passengers disembarking from night flights and having a refresh before connecting to other flights, would have been more relevant

photo P1000767a.photo P1000768a.

There was already a small line for the Elite/F/J passengers at the scheduled boarding time, and a lady with het kids was among the first in the line ; I believe that she did not have any specific priority when boarding started five minutes later. What was amusing was that the Y passengers, in contrast, were all seated while waiting for boarding to be announced.

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A long double ramp down to the jet bridge, with newspapers offered at the last turn.

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"Tomorrow is full of opportunities", as an inverted watermark on this AF A319 parked some distance away.

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Before boarding…

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… a hint for registration number geeks, in front of a tractor with the looks of a transforming crab.

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The F cabin, often seen on the way to the J cabin but seldom actually patronized, and that flight was not going to improve the statistics.

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The offer for a 1,400 EUR upgrade in F did not have much success: there was a single passenger in seat 1A in the eight seat F cabin. This disastrously low load ratio exemplified the amount of work that AF needed to do to catch up with CX on that line in that class of travel.

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The J cabin was standard AF seating fare, so called NEV2 type. That meant Nouvelle Expérience de Voyage, i.e. New Travel Experience, and looked really Old, even circa 2012.

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Being seated in the first row of the J cabin did offer me two privileges : calm and privacy of a two-row only cabin,

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… and also the luxury of three windows for me alone, more than I would need, especially since I would not use them all that much. Compare that with the single window deviously hidden behind the seat on the incoming flight on CX.

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The J passengers arrived quite quickly, but boarding of the Y passengers took a lot more time. I did not go beyond the curtain to assess the load ratio.

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There was the Chinese interpreter (on the left) and a French FA welcoming the Y passengers at the second door.

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The indispensable safety card, both sides.

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Boarding is reaching the end :

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The second jet bridge is moved back.

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A fruit juice for me, champagne for the lady next to me. There was a French man initially at Seat 3C, but he moved before boarding was over to exchange seat with an Asian lady coming apparently from the rear, and wearing a wedding ring. A chivalrous husband who gave to his wife the J seat paid by his company? Wrong cliché ! this Hong-Kong lady was indeed married, but was flying back with a colleague was also flying in J (in the other cabin). I did not catch the reason for the exchange, maybe a trade between a window and an aisle seat.

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The front jetbridge moves away from the plane

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A not very convincing try at plane spotting

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This picture was admittedly blurred, but I kept it because of the old livery.

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Some airport tourism with Terminal 1

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The menu was trilingual French/English/Chinese, with Chinese in the simplified characters in use in Mainland China, not in the traditional characters in use in Hong-Kong (and Taiwan). This was not the first time I was seeing that small lack of curtesy because AF would not print two different versions of trilingual menus.

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There was a power port at each seat, but as usual (sigh…) my laptop was too greedy and received zero milliamps.

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The contents of the amenity kit were ordinary. I regretted that there was no comb.

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Let’s focus on the dinner now. The slice of foie gras was too thick. I would have preferred twice less of a twice better quality, but it was not bad.

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The main dish was good, but not exceptional. The FA proposed to serve me the cheese immediately, which I preferred to waiting for it. The goat cheese was delicious, the camembert was insufficiently ripened.

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This being my fourth meal in the evening, I skipped fruit and dessert, and ended simply with a cup of coffee which was decent. At that stage, all passengers who had not skipped dinner altogether went to sleep like those who already did. I saw this set of food and drinks during the night. A FA spontaneously offered to serve me a coffee.

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Breakfast was served an hour and a half before touchdown, which was much more reasonable that the two hours and a half by CX. I chose the cold platter. Anything missing?

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Yes, of course, the silverware !

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Only in the morning did I understand what this thick button on the top left of the magazine pocket :

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… it was meant as a hook for the shoe bag (that I later found convenient in a luggage while traveling).

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Another standard feature of a FR is an air-to-air shot, here that of a CZ A32x.

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No, I did not get the registration number, because you can see her in the center of the picture, the way I saw her instead of zooming to 300 mm equivalent focal length, below.

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Yes, no kidding, it was the tiny white spot in the blue sky.

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This was the only moment in the flight when I saw the ground, which happened to be in Chinese territory, because it was too dark and/or cloudy elsewhere.

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This was familiar territory, and I identified Qinshitan Reservoir here.

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The city of Lingui may become picturesque in a couple centuries from today, but it is presently only a good example of Chinese 21st century urban architecture.

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For all fans of airports seen from 10 km away, vertically, this is KWL, that tourists know better as Guilin International.

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Lower left, the Chadian « village ».

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The opening in the clouds closed, and never reopened.

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The postage stamp sized IFE screen precluded watching a movie, but I seldom watch anything but the airshow. From a distance, the plane’s route followed more or less the great circle trajectory.

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From close up, it was another matter. The Chinese airspace is mostly military airspace: the spurious closing of civilian airspaces is one of several causes for the chronic delays of flights in the Chinese skies, because they cannot help but wait on the ground until there is a route for them from point A to point B.

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There was no delay this time. The cloud cover was exceptionally low, and there was a lot of rain, which nullified any attempt at plane spotting before reaching the terminal.

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.. all the more that my camera’s autofocus refused to focus on anything other than the water drops on the window.

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This picture underwent massive image processing for plane registration geeks.

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I was by far the last passenger leaving the aircraft because I had started an interesting conversation with the chief purser, that the ground staff eventually had to stop, because they were going to remove the jet bridge.

This was not the best flight in my career, or my best flight with AF, but definitely my best flight on that line between CDG and HKG.

I consider that having the right to complain when I am unhappy should come with the duty to congratulate when I am pleased, I sent my compliments to the FAs through the contact page of AF’s website. Quite strangely, I needed to navigate through the Complaints pages.

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… in order to reach an online form which contained a tick box for « Complaint / Compliment »

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I dutifully filled the form and reasonably quickly received a customized answer thanking me for it, and ensuring me that these FAs would be informed. Two weeks later, I received this e-mail (my translation) :

Dear Customer,

You recently contacted the Customer Department concerning your experience with Air France. It is important for us that are customers are satisfied with our services. This is the reason why we have *** Consulting, an independent research company, to perform this enquiry. We would like to receive your opinion on the way your complaint was handled by our Customer Department…

Followed a link to an on-line form with a few questions on the speed and relevance of the processing of my complaint.

AF apparently could not adapt to the notion that a customer could be satisfied with their services !!
See more

Verdict

Air France

8.1/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering8.0

Air France Lounge - 2E, Hall L

6.8/10
Comfort6.5
Meal/catering6.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services6.5

Paris - CDG

8.0/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Hong Kong - HKG

9.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

My experience in CDG was as usual below my expectations.
I do not mind self-check-in machines, but they too often fail to issue me a BP in CDG, and this was the case again this time.
There was admittedly more food than when I was flying to PEK, departing at 7pm (dinner food arrived from 7pm, so all I could have was cookies), but the choice and quantity were minimal when I arrived.
This lounge is plane spotter unfriendly, which is alas also true in most of CDG (CDG seems to have been designed with the idea that passengers would not be interesting in seeing the planes).
That the computers for self-use were not compatible with Chinese and Japanese was plain stupid:it was a simple configuration matter, but obviously, nobody had bothered checking that.

Nothing especially noteworthy in HKG which is a comfortable airport for passengers in transit.

The flight was on time, which was not extraordinary in itself. Catering on board was decent.
The seat was not lie-flat, but the slope did not bother me in a significant way. On the other hand, I guess that somebody taller than I, which means the vast majority of travelers, would find the upper section of the seat a nuisance.
The only real problem was the inability of the power port to power my laptop, but CX had not been any better on this count on the flight from HKG.

All that does not seem very exciting, but what made the difference was the crew which was exceptional: efficient without any useless move or gesture, attentive to the smallest detail, courteous, neither too distant nor too familiar to my liking. I did not find anything wrong to the AF ground staff either. Quite unusually (for me), there were only five female FAs, all in Economy, out of a crew of fifteen, excluding the interpreter who by status was not a FA. I seldom award a perfect 10 grade to FAs, and this was a case where they deserved it – in my opinion, there is no need to be a girl as thin and as young as a catwalk top model to be a top FA.

Information on the route Paris (CDG) Hong Kong (HKG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 48 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Paris (CDG) → Hong Kong (HKG).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.

The average flight time is 11 hours and 45 minutes.

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13 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 157185 by
    FFlyerCDG 3227 Comments

    Thanks for the report !

    Soft product does the job but the hard one is far, really far, from average especially, as you noticed it, if you compare with the main competitor on this destination.

    Not to mention the poor set-up of the bar and the VERY cheap food offer there !
    Flew LAX/MIA a few days ago in J on a B777-300 and, compare to what AF is offering on a CDG/HKG, the set-up was much nicer with a wider food choice including snacks, warm cookies, fruits... All that for a 4 hours flight.

    • Comment 334409 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9848 Comments

      Actually, in my opinion that I detailed in the FR of the incoming flight, the hard product of CX was then far, really far behind that of AF. (Remember these flights are dated 2012).

      AF has significantly improved one of their 2E lounges since, so you cannot compare then and now.

      Thanks for your comment !

    • Comment 334431 by
      FFlyerCDG 3227 Comments

      The problem is that, a few years later, the AF hard product is still made of different seats which can't really be compared and I'm not really sure this is the kind of lottery you want to play when you pay several thousands of euros for a ticket.
      And this isn't the case with CX...

      And getting back to the bar service, 4 years later, it's exactly the same kind of creepy service as shown on your pictures :-)
      The bar area is slightly nicer but the poor food offering on the rolling table is still there !

  • Comment 157189 by
    Nick 172 Comments

    Great report, especially the air-to-air shot! I also appreciated the cost breakdown at the beginning. One way international fares are quite a scam. It's too bad because there are instances when you'd want to pay cash for one leg and use miles for the other.

    • Comment 334410 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9848 Comments

      Air to air shots require being on the lookout, luck, and a good camera ready to use. That is a lot, and I do not have the best camera for that.
      I wonder how long these outrageous one way fares will last on long haul routes.
      Thanks for your comment !

  • Comment 157194 by
    Esteban TEAM GOLD 16279 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this archive report.

    The Jumbolino is actually a SN one : LX have integrated stairs and no registration upon the cockpit windows.

  • Comment 157229 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thank you Marathon for providing us a glimpse of your flight experience back in 2012 and giving us a point of reference to see how much the hard product on AF has improved, including the lounge.

    I have flown a couple of times in that cabin with AF and thankfully my experiences with the crew were positive. When AF is good, it is a joy to fly with them. A great crew strikes the perfect balance between friendliness and professionalism.

    The catering looks good but the vegetables from the main dish appear overcooked. Having foie gras for appetizer is always a treat and not too many airlines offer it. That is one of the reasons that I like AF. Another feature that I loved from AF was the dessert cart and one could take a bit of everything.

    • Comment 334454 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9848 Comments

      AF crews used to be a lottery : they could be great or aweful. Things have improved: there seems to be fewer reports of FAs who should have been oriented to other jobs away from customer contact. No improvement was needed for this crew!

      French people can be picky on the quality of foie gras, because they have more opportunities to taste it and compare. It was even banned in California in 2012-2015.

      Some Flight Reports criticize the use of trolleys in J, but the service is made faster and it indeed helps having a choice of desserts. I wish AF offered a choice of cheeses too (the French can be picky about cheese, too :)

      Thanks for your comment !

  • Comment 157269 by
    pitcain747 93 Comments

    There was not an overwhelming choice of nonalcoholic beverages, but that was enough for me.

    The fridges are full of various juices, soft drinks and water, what do you want then ???

    Let’s focus on the dinner now. The slice of foie gras was too thick. I would have preferred twice less of a twice better quality, but it was not bad.

    You have what is called a knife so you could easily use it to spread your foie-gras which on AF flights is always of the very best quality !

    • Comment 334476 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9848 Comments

      There was not an overwhelming choice of nonalcoholic beverages, but that was enough for me.
      The fridges are full of various juices, soft drinks and water, what do you want then ???

      Full, yes, but the various juices were limited to three kinds (orange, tomato and pineapple). Not what I call overwhelming (“Very great in number, effect, or force” [Merriam Webster]), but indeed enough.

      Let’s focus on the dinner now. The slice of foie gras was too thick. I would have preferred twice less of a twice better quality, but it was not bad.
      You have was is called a knife so you could easily use it to spread your foie-gras which on AF flights is always of the very best quality !

      I stand by my statement that the foie gras was disappointing. Oddly enough, I vividly remember my impression that they had traded quality for quantity and thinking I would have preferred twice less twice better.
      Food taste is a hugely subjective matter and let us agree to disagree, especially on AF catering circa 2012 :)

      Thanks for kind and didactic suggestion on the usage of silverware and for your comment !

  • Comment 157918 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5799 Comments

    How interesting that CX was your worst flight ever on this route but AF pre-BEST cabins was the best flight ever. It's like backwards world! haha.

    I received an e-mail from AF proposing an upgrade in F for 1,400 EUR, a few days before departure.
    - Although the price is high, it's quite a good deal to upgrade from an Award ticket in J to First. I've seen KLM advertise upgrades from Y -> J for as high as 900 Euros on day of departure for Asia flights. Though admittedly, that's not typical--usually seems to be around 250-350.

    At that time, baby care was an exclusively female (or at least dress-wearing) task.
    - Haha, yeah, that is sexist. Most airport in the U.S. have Family rooms where both men and women can go in to change babies in a private bathroom. I'm not sure if the picture depicts a woman or a man, but the sign for family rooms have both men and women symbols

    The safety check was longish
    - Isn't it always at CDG 2E? It's nice to have Sky Priority/ Acces No. 1, when you see how long the queues get, but they can still be quite long for passport control and security.

    I did not rate the staff at the security check as friendly, but they were slightly nicer than usual (this was one of the dark points of CDG at the time).
    - I agree that the security staff has gotten much friendlier over the last few years. I even find them quite polite lately.

    AF did not seem to consider the possibility that passengers boarding flights to Asia could communicate in the language of the countries of destination.
    - Interesting that AF's computers didn't support Japanese or Chinese characters at the time. Hopefully this has changed. I've only used Roman characters on AF lounge computers so I don't know :)

    An inspection in the early morning, with passengers disembarking from night flights and having a refresh before connecting to other flights, would have been more relevant
    - I can confirm that it gets quite crowded during the early morning redeye arrivals bank and you have to stalk to get a shower, haha.

    This disastrously low load ratio exemplified the amount of work that AF needed to do to catch up with CX on that line in that class of travel.
    - Yes, this was definitely true at the time. AF's new First, however, looks amazing. And they were right to reduce the size of the F cabin to 4, since it wasn't filling anyway.

    The J cabin was standard AF seating fare, so called NEV2 type.
    - I think even at the time NEV2 were starting to be less and less common, except on the older 4-class 77W, unfortunately. With most of the rest of the fleet in NEV3 and NEV4 that I believe had just come out that year. Now we have BEST to finally replace those old NEV2 from the 4-class 77W fleet! Now, they need to do something about all the NEV3, especially on A380...you can't have angled seats in J on your Flagship fleet!

    Being seated in the first row of the J cabin did offer me two privileges : calm and privacy of a two-row only cabin,
    - And it's easier to access the aisle from the window, usually.

    The menu was trilingual French/English/Chinese, with Chinese in the simplified characters in use in Mainland China, not in the traditional characters in use in Hong-Kong (and Taiwan).
    - Hmmm...if AF is going to be lazy about traditional vs simplified Chinese characters, wouldn't it make more sense to use traditional over simplified, or would AF be afraid to offend Mainland China

    I consider that having the right to complain when I am unhappy should come with the duty to congratulate when I am pleased, I sent my compliments to the FAs through the contact page of AF’s website.
    - I try to make it a point to send in compliments as well, though probably not as often as I should. I very rarely send complaints, though.

    Thanks for sharing this retro-report!

    Always nice to see a report on AF, reminds me of the old days :-)

    • Comment 334959 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9848 Comments

      “How interesting that CX was your worst flight ever on this route but AF pre-BEST cabins was the best flight ever. It's like backwards world! haha.”
      Not only the CX flights had been disappointing, but that missing AF round trip that year cost me my FB Gold status. This was a double penalty for choosing the lower quality carrier. ^^

      I received an e-mail from AF proposing an upgrade in F for 1,400 EUR, a few days before departure.
      - Although the price is high, it's quite a good deal to upgrade from an Award ticket in J to First. I've seen KLM advertise upgrades from Y -> J for as high as 900 Euros on day of departure for Asia flights. Though admittedly, that's not typical--usually seems to be around 250-350.
      If you are willing to pay extra to travel in First, I agree that it is indeed a very good deal, when you consider the airmile rate structure. “

      At that time, baby care was an exclusively female (or at least dress-wearing) task.
      - Haha, yeah, that is sexist. Most airport in the U.S. have Family rooms where both men and women can go in to change babies in a private bathroom. I'm not sure if the picture depicts a woman or a man, but the sign for family rooms have both men and women symbols”
      This is not a real issue when the baby care room is accessible to all, which is most often the case, but sometimes not.

      The safety check was longish
      - Isn't it always at CDG 2E? It's nice to have Sky Priority/ Acces No. 1, when you see how long the queues get, but they can still be quite long for passport control and security.”
      Not having long lines there is indeed a surprise. There is room for improvement.

      I did not rate the staff at the security check as friendly, but they were slightly nicer than usual (this was one of the dark points of CDG at the time).
      - I agree that the security staff has gotten much friendlier over the last few years. I even find them quite polite lately.”
      I’ve had unpleasant experiences in the pre-FR ear in CDG at the security check, but unacceptable behaviours seem to disappear. Nobody will complain.

      AF did not seem to consider the possibility that passengers boarding flights to Asia could communicate in the language of the countries of destination.
      - Interesting that AF's computers didn't support Japanese or Chinese characters at the time. Hopefully this has changed. I've only used Roman characters on AF lounge computers so I don't know :)
      My company’s IT support did not know how to make my business laptop Chinese and Japanese compatible (I had to do it myself), so I would not take bets on that. I wish I had a chance to check again that lounge^^

      An inspection in the early morning, with passengers disembarking from night flights and having a refresh before connecting to other flights, would have been more relevant
      - I can confirm that it gets quite crowded during the early morning redeye arrivals bank and you have to stalk to get a shower, haha.
      Flying economy without a status spares you that problem, at the possible expense of you neighbors' comfort on the connecting flight. ^^

      This disastrously low load ratio exemplified the amount of work that AF needed to do to catch up with CX on that line in that class of travel.
      - Yes, this was definitely true at the time. AF's new First, however, looks amazing. And they were right to reduce the size of the F cabin to 4, since it wasn't filling anyway.”
      Indeed. That is one of the points for posting this “quasi-archive” report : make it possible to compare over time.

      The J cabin was standard AF seating fare, so called NEV2 type.
      - I think even at the time NEV2 were starting to be less and less common, except on the older 4-class 77W, unfortunately. With most of the rest of the fleet in NEV3 and NEV4 that I believe had just come out that year. Now we have BEST to finally replace those old NEV2 from the 4-class 77W fleet! Now, they need to do something about all the NEV3, especially on A380...you can't have angled seats in J on your Flagship fleet!”
      A Flight Reporter had noted that at the time (I never was very knowledgeable on these issues)

      Being seated in the first row of the J cabin did offer me two privileges : calm and privacy of a two-row only cabin,
      - And it's easier to access the aisle from the window, usually.”
      I move around less than the average passenger, so the aisle access is not as much a criterion for me.

      The menu was trilingual French/English/Chinese, with Chinese in the simplified characters in use in Mainland China, not in the traditional characters in use in Hong-Kong (and Taiwan).
      - Hmmm...if AF is going to be lazy about traditional vs simplified Chinese characters, wouldn't it make more sense to use traditional over simplified, or would AF be afraid to offend Mainland China
      No, it would not make more sense. The people in HK and TW are inescapably exposed to simplified characters and can read them. The reverse is much less true, to the point that scholars in Mainland China worry that many students cannot read the books published before the mi-late 50’s (and that includes, lo and behold, the history of the Communist Party). I remember the terrified look of my last tutor of Chinese in Beijing when I told her that would be transferred to Taipei, and how she was reassured when I said immediately that I did not ask her to teach me the traditional characters to prepare for the move.

      I consider that having the right to complain when I am unhappy should come with the duty to congratulate when I am pleased, I sent my compliments to the FAs through the contact page of AF’s website.
      - I try to make it a point to send in compliments as well, though probably not as often as I should. I very rarely send complaints, though.
      Thanks for sharing this retro-report!
      Always nice to see a report on AF, reminds me of the old days :-)”

      That flight report reminds me too of the old days! :-)
      Thanks for your record length comment !

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