Welcome to the finale of this quick trip down to Johannesburg to try out Air France in J and F.
As a reminder, here’s the rundown of what we’ve done so far:
AF351 YYZ-CDG 1/8/2017 - Right here AF990 CDG-JNB 1/9/2017 - Right here AF995 JNB-CDG 1/10/2017 - Right here AF356 CDG-YYZ 1/11/2017 - Finally, you are here
When last we saw each other, your humble flight-reporter had just arrived and quickly cleared early-morning transit security at CDG, having flown up from Johannesburg. Now it was time to check out a lounge to kill some time before my flight. I didn’t have a lot of confidence that the business class lounge experience was going to live up to the awesomeness of the La Premiere lounge experience, but hey, what can you do?
I would be leaving for Toronto from the L gates of T2E, so I found the AF lounge there. Not that I had much choice — I think I would have to re-clear security to move on to just about any other lounge in other parts of the terminal? This lounge is upstairs, and was easy to find. My boarding pass was scanned and I went inside.
Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to take many pictures of the seating in the lounge. Just a few of the restaurant-style area. Which is unfortunate, because the seating was the best thing about this particular lounge.
In the middle of the restaurant area, there was a central island with a self-serve bar.
And then there was the buffet, such as it was. I did find it interesting that the same trays used in J service in the air were available in the lounge to transport your eats.Other than that, there’s not much to say about the food on offer, other than “disappointing.” I gather Air France does offer hot food at other business class lounges, but not this one in particular? Are the L gates limited to “low-yield” destinations or something?
I returned to my seat with a decent cappuccino, and a rather meager snack, not terribly impressed with the spread on offer.
I killed a few hours doing some work and generally puttering, and had a few more coffees and some water while I was there, but apparently, I wasn’t in a very photogropher mood, because I don’t have any pics. Too bad — I remember liking the “paintings” that featured stylized impressions of AF destinations drawn over top of the AF “swoop” logo in various colours. Kinda interesting.
About 10 minutes before scheduled boarding time, I made the short walk down to my gate, where thee was, in fact, a 777 waiting to take me home to Toronto.
To my surprise, there was no lineup for Sky Priority, except for one woman standing at the very front of th eline who was bound and determined she was going to be first to board.
Boarding time came and went, and eventually, we got an announcement that boarding would be delayed 15 minutes because they were still grooming the aircraft. Then another 15. Then another 20. Were the New York Giants on this plane’s last flight or something? Finally, the opened up the “pens” and let us in, although boarding was further delayed by their automatic boarding pass scanning gate mechanisms deciding they didn’t want to work.
Flight: AF356 From: Paris De Gaulle (CDG) To: Toronto Pearson (YYZ) Date: 1/11/2017 Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER Registration: F-GSPH Seat: 2A ATD (STD):15:07 (14:00) ATA (STA): 16:25 (17:15)
For this flight I was in 2A, in the second row on the port side of the larger forward business cabin on AF’s remodeled 772s. A very nice reverse herringbone seat awaited me.
Pillow, blanket, and slippers awaited me at my seat.
Legroom shot. About as expected.
These seats do have a very generous foot well.
On the outside lower wall of the pod, USB and power ports, literature rack, and a bottle of water.
Seat controls are immediately above in the wall.
And above that, a reading light and the rather modern IFE remote, which worked on this flight, unlike the IFE remote on my flight over from Toronto.
AF-branded headphones tucked away in the locker forward of that. I found them quite comfortable and quite usable, and didn’t bother to break my own set out for the flight.
The screen is a decent size, the IFE interface modern and responsive, and a decent selection of options were available.
A look out the window as boarding continued on this rainy afternoon.
Amenity kits were distributed, with a number of different colour schemes available. Pretty much the usual suspects.
And then pre-departure champagne.
And a hot towel.
Boarding was pretty quick, then the safety video rolled and we pushed back.
It was a pretty short taxi by CDG standards, and we were off. Nice views of the surroundings of CDG on the climb — at least for the first minute or so before the ground disappeared into the clouds below us.
Once in the air, menus were presented — so things were looking up from the menu-free flights to Johannesburg.
I selected A Hologram for the King from the IFE — an interesting “fish out of water trying to find himself” film, but no Lost in Translation.
The beverage cart then made the rounds. Mini bread twists (I do so like them) and the amuse-bouche were presented, along with my selection of champagne and still water. I really enjoyed all of this, but especially the amuse-bouche.
A quick trip to the forward lav, which was was nothing special, but at least it has a changing bench.
Back at my seat, tables were set, and the trolley came through with the starter trays. Service on my aisle was led by a 30-something male flight attendant. I thought he was friendly, pleasant, and very efficient, if a little mechanical. The cheese course was presented along with the starter, I guess as a time-saving effort. I was disappointed that the bread on this flight didn’t include the delicious baguettes I’d been served on earlier AF flights.
I liked the way the starter offered a little bit of a number of things, and the quality was quite good. I’ve said before I’m not a huge foie gras fan, but I found this quite good, perhaps because it was about the “right size” for me.
The salad looked fresh, but was nothing but greens. Not exactly inspired, these AF salads.
For my main, I selected the beef cheek, which I found quite tender, tasty, and hearty. AF’s love affair with foil ramekins continues, but I can’t complain too much in this instance, as the sauce was delicious.
With lunner done, onto the cheese course, which was pretty good.
After lunch, it’s time for dessert. I love AF’s “taster menu” of desserts approach. I enjoy the opportunity to try a few different things, and all of them were quite good, but especially the lemon and almond fondant. Yum. A cup of coffee and a glass of Glenlivet rounded out a very enjoyable meal.
Sorbets were also offered, and I selected gingerbread. Very nice.
After lunch, I watched another movie — Boulevard, which featured the late Robin Williams as a middle-aged married man struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality. I thought it was quite good. And then it was time for a nap, so I put my bed down, and got a good few hours of sleep.
When I woke up, we were about three hours out of Toronto.
Deepwater Horizon was next on my movie marathon watching list.
Partway through the movie, landing forms were distributed.
Then the flight attendant made the rounds with some biscuits for those who might be hungry. A nice little bite.
Then finally, about 90 minutes out of Toronto, the house lights were brought up, tables set, and the trolley brought around for the pre-arrival snack. I thought this was very light by TATL daytime flight standards, and quite dessert-heavy. I guess they were trying to recreate a “teatime” sort of affair rather than any kind of actual meal.
Everything was quite enjoyable, though.
Especially this cake.
And finally the panna cotta.
A look out the window. It’s mid-afternoon in the winter in Canada, and it’s quite lovely.
At this point we were flying straight down the St. Lawrence, less than an hour from home.
One last hot towel to wrap up service on this flight.
Pretty soon, we were starting our descent into madness… errr… Pearson.
Flying over the southern end of the mostly-frozen Lake Simcoe.
Descent continues over northern Toronto.
And finally we cross Airport Road and arrive.
We didn’t get the most scenic parking spot out at the end of T3.
One last look back at my ride across the Atlantic before making the long walk to customs.
With my Nexus Card, it didn’t take long to get cleared, get landside in Canada, and get on my way home.
And with that, my first adventure of 2017 comes to an end. Thanks for joining me for this one, and I hope you’ll join me for my next one, coming soon enough.
Air France Lounge, 2E - Hall L
Paris - CDG
Toronto - YYZ
And so, one adventure is in the book.
I wasn't blown away by the AF experience (save for the La Premiere Lounge and ground services. That was amazing), but I thought it was a offering with solid value. The FA working my side of the aisle on this flight was quite good, if not the warmest person ever. The catering of the main meal was quite good, and the pre-arrival meal was bare-bones, but such is the case on most short TATL flights.
AF certainly redeemed itself in my eyes after my one previous less-than-stellar experience with them years ago. I'd fly them again, if the price is right.
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