The airline with the best average rating is Air France with 7.5/10.
The average flight time is 8 hours and 13 minutes.More information
Today, we are flying to an exotic overseas French island. It is not in the Caribbean nor in the Indian Ocean, but in the North Atlantic: we are going to Saint-Pierre and Miquelon islands! Located between Canadian Nova-Scotia and Newfoundland, these two tiny islands are part of France, and count as low as 5000 inhabitants on Saint-Pierre and 500 on Miquelon.
The easy option to reach this destination from Europe would be waiting for the summer, during which ASL Airlines operates a 737 once a week from Paris-CDG. But we won't do that. We'll go there right in the middle of winter, when wind blows and snow falls heavily. The first objective is then to reach Montreal, Halifax or St. John's which are the only airports with flights to Saint-Pierre between October and May (1, 4 and 3 flights a week, respectively). All these are operated with a single ATR42-500 by Air Saint-Pierre, the local airline which also flies daily between Saint-Pierre and Miquelon with a small Cessna F406, an 10 minutes flight that we'll try to catch as well.
All Montreal - Saint-Pierre flights were already fully booked a few months in advance, so we are going to stop in Toronto and Halifax while going there, while using the "direct" Montreal route for the return. The routing is supposed to look like this:
This first flight is a classic Paris - Toronto, featuring a few novelties on the ground and inflight. Fasten your seat belt, and let's go!
As often, the work begins with the booking and the choice of a seat. The 100 minutes connection in Toronto is quite tight since we need to go through immigration, luggage collection, customs, check-in, security and find the gate for the next week. That means that each row counts (for 10 people exactly). I manage to get a 21A seat in front of the economy cabin. Will I get a neighbor? We'll see!
12.30, Paris-CDG still has its impressive departures list. I also still have that magic remote control, and as I press a button, my flights blinks. Splendid. ;) Our flight is expected to leave at 14.25, on time.
My FlyingBlue Silver card offers priority check-in, but not in the Sky Priority area at CDG 2E terminal. I struggle to find the "Silver" check-in desk among the numerous check-in areas. Can you find it on this photo?
Here it is! On the sign on the left, below "kids solo", a small "Flying Blue Silver" line. And to the right, a single screen with the SkyTeam Elite logo.
I'm not sure that this "priority" counter made me save a lot of time since it is quite hard to find. At least, the staff at the check-in desk is very nice and on my request, checks and confirms that I'll need to clear my suitcase through customs in Toronto. It is however labelled to Halifax.
My boarding pass also lists the two flights to Halifax, where I am (supposed) to spend the night before leaving at 14.00 (supposedly, again) with Air Saint-Pierre.
13.00, security and police controls are seamless and we reach CDG 2E hall M.
We'll cross the Atlantic with F-GSPP today. Nothing special to declare, besides the fact that it still wears the old livery, more than 10 years after the introduction of the current one. As all of Air France 777-200ERs, it was delivered new to the airline between 1998 and 2002, in this case in February 2001.
A little further, an A340 operated by Royal… hum no …by Air Belgium, preparing for a flight to Africa on behalf of Air France.
We still have some time before boarding, let's visit the "Economy class Lounge" ;) and its wide range of fresh drinks.
13.40, boarding starts with clearly delimited zones. It is quite efficient, and after a dozen of minutes there's almost nobody left. Let's board! We are warmly greeted as we step in the plane.
Will I get a white dots or a newer red line seat? Both! The bottom seat is oddly different from the other seats, and quite wrinkled. Would a sick passenger have occupied this seat before?
Cushion and blanket are already here, along with the amenity kit reduced to the headset and the new collectible eye-shade. Both will stay in their plastic packaging. The pitch is decent, no more.
And here is the screen. Both it and the interface are recent. The seat lacks some storage, but the hook over the screen is nonetheless usefull to hand headsets.
14.00, "bording complete", but we are still waiting for some luggage to be loaded. The seat next to mine will remain free, yeay!
8 hours and 10 minutes of flight are announced by the captain, winds are not in our favor today.
A little surprise: the buckle of my seatbelt is mounted backwards. Not only coiled but completely opposed to the part supposed to fit in. I'll completely remove it to place it again correctly.
The pushback is made on-time, at 14.28. The wing of our 777 is really huge.
Safety demonstrations are performed on the screens. "France is in the air" dance is still here, but without the original music. It feels a little strange with the very sober new music. But I am maybe too much used to the first version.
Take off at 14.40 with 3589 meters of runway that should be plenty enough. You may notice that runway lighting is very "white": as in other airports, CDG has installed LED lighting on all its runways.
5000 ft, we are above the clouds.
Seatbelt signs are quickly turned off, and power sockets on. We have started sharing the middle seat area with my neighbour.
Menus and thick white tea perfumed refreshing towels are distributed.
Let's save some paper and have a look a the menu on the screen. "Tomato sauce chicken with rice" or "penne gratin in butternut sauce".
I'll have the pictured prawn spaghetis, please!
Service begins some 30 minutes after take-off with drinks and salty snacks.
After the middle seat space, we continue the sharing with its screen, on which I select the moving map.
10 grams. That's almost 4 biscuits.
The glass could contain Champagne that was offered, but fearing it could be warm and of a poor quality, I'll only ask for some Ginger Ale.
16.00 Paris time, 10.00 Toronto time, here is the tray. It used to include a fruit (sliced apples or clementine) on Transatlantic flights, but cost cutting apparently made its work.
I choose the pasta gratin, that is produced in the West of France by a famous French manufacturer of fresh products (Fleury Michon), according to the label.
It is far from being gastronomy, but still fairly eatable. I would dare to say it was even good, as the tray attests.
Cabin ambiance after the meal. Lights are dimmed and most window blinds are closed.
On-board literature. Halifax is part of code-share destinations, but Saint-Pierre is not listed.
80 minutes before landing, lights are turned on again for the second service. It has changed since my previous flights to Canada: the breakfast style snack (orange juice, brioche, yoghout, cheese and biscuits) has turned into this little bag.
It contains an Italian-made chicken sandwich, a portuguese fruit puree and a French madeleine. But not a single towel, which could be useful since the sandwich filling is quite liquid. A steward will need to go to the toilets to find some as I ask one. Other passengers will imitate me.
The salted items are a nice addition, but I'm unsure this bag that is going to be thrown away is really useful.
During that time, the ground begins to be clearly visible. There's little doubt we are over Canada.
The previous days included heavy snowfalls, but the sky is now clear over Toronto. Between two cloud, we get a nice view over downtown.
And we finally land on a quite snowy airfield, under a very low light at 16.55, 5 minutes later than we were supposed to reach the gate. Our Halifax flight is supposed to take off in 95 minutes…
The taxiing in the blowing snow is very low. The taxiways are barely recognizable at some places.
Terminal 3 finally appears and we pass by several WestJet 737s. One of them may be the one with which we are to continue this journey. The airline owns more than 120 of them: C-FGWJ, C-GWSJ… many registrations include "WS" or "WJ".
We finally reach the gate at 17.05, next to this British twin. Next flight in 85 minutes…
…except that there are apparently some issues with the jetbridge, as we are told by the flight crew.
We finally leave the aircraft at 17.25. The purples marked connections circuit goes through the same steps as arriving passengers: a long walk to primary immigration kiosks, then passports control, luggage collection, customs… which brings us with our luggage in front of this sign at the entrance of re-checkin area at 18.05. Take-off in 25 minutes, with still the security to go through. Will it work? ✈️
An overall good experience: nice crew, very decent cabin, modern IFE with power and USB sockets. Regarding food, pros and cons: the second meal has improved, but the first one continues its diet. On-time departure but a 30 minutes late arrival, that's enough to stress a bit connecting passengers.