Review of French bee flight Newark Paris in Economy

Airline French bee
Flight BF721
Class Economy
Seat 17A
Aircraft Airbus A350-900
Flight time 07:25
Take-off 15 Jul 21, 22:55
Arrival at 16 Jul 21, 12:20
BF   #3 out of 13 Low-cost airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 15 reviews
ISTFlyer
By GOLD 1327
Published on 31st July 2021

Report No: 2021-701


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to this report of the inaugural flight from French bee's newest addition to their route network, Newark, to Paris Orly onboard their A350-900 in Economy Class.


Originally I was planning to book this trip with La Compagnie as they were running a very good deal ( $1500 r/t ) from Newark to Orly but when I was waiting for my credit card billing cycle to switch to the next month, discount fares for possible dates that I could travel was not anymore. I glimpsed at other airline options such as legacy US and European carriers and they were mostly asking $1000+ for Economy Class.


Luckily, I was able to realize that French bee was actually starting this route and was €352 r/t. Originally I have booked this flight for 14 July but in the end they consolidated the 14 & 15 July flights so the first EWR-ORY flight took place on 15 July. Despite a good onboard experience with French bee, the airport experience in EWR was chaotic. For more please scroll down and enjoy this report of French bee's inaugural flight from Newark Airport to Paris Orly Airport.


Here is the routing for this trip;


Routing


Loads for this flight

Premium blue: 95-100%
Eco blue: 85-90% 


ONLINE CHECK-IN


24 hours before the flight, I have online checked-in on the French bee website.


photo ekran-resmi-2021-07-14-225518

The first stage was entering passport details. After the first part, I have proceeded to the second part where you could purchase seats and checked baggage if you haven't already done so.


photo ekran-resmi-2021-07-14-225537

French bee was running a 85% off sale on seat selections somewhere in mid-June so I was able to get seat 17A ( bulkhead row with XL legroom ) for 5 euros rather than paying the 35 euro regular amount. Also, as another reminder that if you would check baggage, I would strongly recommend purchasing this option during booking as the prices of a checked baggage would jump to €90 or $90 ( not sure ) during OLCI. When booking the ticket, it's much cheaper.


photo ekran-resmi-2021-07-14-225543

After check-in, despite COVID requirements, I was able to print boarding passes and create a mobile boarding pass if I had an iPhone.


photo ekran-resmi-2021-07-14-225655

Here is the check-in confirmation.


photo ekran-resmi-2021-07-14-225722

JOURNEY TO NEWARK AIRPORT


This is an adventurous bonus part of this report. That day, I was going to take an Amtrak train from Washington Union Station to Newark Airport and the train ride that was scheduled to take about 3 hours, took longer than 4h15mins.


photo 20210715_152622-min-45870

The flight was originally scheduled at 23:55 but a few days ago was pulled back to 22:55 so I have changed my train to a 15:52 departure from Washington Union Station to be safe. Originally, I have booked a train which would have departed at 18:00 as my flight was scheduled to depart an hour later, although, to be safe, just in case of OLCI didn't work, I didn't want to take the risk and changed my itinerary to the previous train. With a promo code, I have paid $51 for this journey from Washington Union Station directly to Newark Airport.


photo 20210715_153505-min

The train was fully booked through the entire journey and announcements were made that 4 seaters were reserved for families, so I needed to head to a regular row. On my previous trips in late 2020 & early 2021 onboard Amtrak's Northeast Regional product, I have never seen a load factor over 25% and this was a surprise as the train was full with leisure travelers rather than business travelers that you would have seen pre-COVID.


photo 20210715_153742-min

We have departed Washington Union Station on time and before leaving the USA I decided to eat something specific to the US ( burgers & fries ), so I bought some food from Shake Shack at the train station. Luckily, the seat next to me was empty till Baltimore ( the 1st hour of the journey ) so I didn't disturb anyone when enjoying my meal.


photo 20210715_154137-min

The first two hours of the train ride was uneventful but about 10 minutes before we were supposed to arrive at Philadelphia, one of the brakes of the train were extremely heated thus we have made a stop. It took about 20-25 minutes for the issue to be solved right there.


photo 20210715_175239-min-94345

Later on we have continued to Philadelphia at a reduced speed and the mechanics wanted to verify that everything was all set and checked everything from the beginning which took about another 20-25 minutes. After that, we were on our way but we were going at a reduced speed at 80mph's.


Finally with a 1h15 minute delay, we have arrived at Newark Airport's rail station.


photo 20210715_201204-min-95226

NEWARK LIBERTY AIRPORT - EWR


After leaving the rail station, I have used the AirTrain to reach Terminal B which French bee uses at Newark Liberty Airport.


photo 20210715_201653-min

Here are some photos from the AirTrain ride.


photo 20210715_202315

An El Al 787


photo 20210715_202329

French bee's counters in Terminal B are located at level 2 between the counters of Spirit Airlines and Delta. As I didn't print my boarding pass beforehand, I needed to stop by the counter. At EWR, mobile boarding passes or pdf screenshots of an online boarding pass is not accepted for French bee flights.


photo 20210715_202546-min-44308

While entering the check-in queue, a friendly French lady gave a souvenir bag: "Paris Is Always a Good Idea".
After a 5 minute wait, I was served by a friendly agent who verified my passport details, vaccination certificate and visa. He also asked me to fill out a declaration form mandated by the airline that I had no COVID symptoms and didn't tested positive within the last 14 days. During the check-in process my carry-on was also weighed and was tagged. A reminder that French bee doesn't accept any carry-ons over 12kgs onboard their flights, all bags over that limit should be checked on hold.


photo 20210715_202634-min

Then I got my boarding pass and headed towards security.
By the way, at the check-in desk, there were some passengers complaining about checked bag fees and extras which is quite familiar to see at LCC's.


photo 20210715_203849-min

FIDS for the day


photo 20210715_204019-min

And here is the great surprise for the day. There was a very long line for security and as I wasn't eligible for fast-track, I needed to wait a very long line.


photo 20210715_204005-min-24855

The line was very long. As you could see social distancing is no longer the case in the USA, although masks are still required.


photo 20210715_204934-min

After a 30 minute wait, I was here and still, there was a very long way remaining until security.
Due to the cost-cutting of Newark Airport closing concourse B1 at a certain time, a Spirit flight to Orlando and two Frontier flights to Orlando and San Juan were departing from the same international concourse as ours and with passengers on a fully booked Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa and a pretty full Emirates flight to Athens & Dubai ( + of course our flight ), the long lines were inevitable.


photo 20210715_210657-min-64530

Also the FIDS were showing false information as when I took this photo, it has already been 45 minutes since I entered the queue.
At that time, some French bee representatives were reminding that they needed a paper boarding pass and a mobile boarding pass or a screenshot wouldn't work. I guess that many people were sent back to the counters so they have felt the need to remind everyone.


photo 20210715_212344-min

With 2 agents assigned for the identification check and 4 security lanes open, I was in the airside of Newark Terminal B2, 75 minutes after I got in the line. The security agents were efficient but still, it's not a good impression to wait 75 minutes.


photo 20210715_215503-min

GATE AREA & BOARDING


While arriving at the gate closer to our scheduled boarding time, there was no sign of boarding at that time.
Most flights at that concourse were already delayed due to long security lines and ours was going to be delayed as well. 


photo 20210715_215602-min-50386

There was a flyer of the new route at the gate but there weren't any celebrations for the inaugural at the gate.


photo 20210715_215624-min-39056

There was nothing to do that much in the concourse as only one café, one grab&go convenience store and the duty free store was open late in the evening.


photo 20210715_215702-min-56659

During our scheduled boarding time, there was an announcement made that the flight was already delayed 30 minutes because our parking position was occupied and the towing of our aircraft from a remote stand to the gate was delayed. Once the previous aircraft cleared the gate, our A350-900 was towed and the crew have boarded for takeoff preparations.


photo 20210715_220034-min-35467

Newark Airport's Terminal B is not a spotter friendly terminal at all.
However, I was able to take a snapshot of F-HREV. 


photo 20210715_220205-min

Before boarding, ground staff has distributed French and American flags to passengers as there was going to be a photo shoot at the plane celebrating the inaugural. Other than this, there wasn't any specific inaugural activity at the terminal. 


photo 20210715_224405

The boarding process was very chaotic because of the lack of space and because of the PA system not working properly.
Boarding had started with families with small children and Premium blue passengers. Shortly later, boarding continued row-by-row from the rear to the front.


photo 20210715_224413-min-97734

The boarding process took very long and I was finally able to board the aircraft.
This was one of the longest boarding processes that I have been part of during my life. To be honest, the boarding process took about 75-80 minutes.


photo 20210715_230547-min

BF 721 NEWARK LIBERTY AIRPORT TO PARIS ORLY AIRPORT


At the aircraft door, I was welcomed by the cabin crew members, handed a hand sanitizer wipe and then went to my seat 17A which is a bulkhead seat.


photo 20210715_230805-min

Although the legroom at row 17 is perfect and was worth the €5 I paid, the seat width is narrower that most other carriers that use the A350-900. French bee's Airbus A350-900 have the 3-4-3 configuration which is not a common layout. Luckily seat 17B remained empty so the flight was more enjoyable.


photo 20210715_230840-min

Here is the hand sanitizing wipe that was provided upon boarding.


photo 20210715_230910-min

The seat had a panel for lighting and the crew call button as the IFE screen needs to be stowed for taxi, takeoff and landing


photo 20210715_230933

The seat back pocket consisted the safety card and the French boutique duty free catalogue.
The BoB catalogue was only available and visible through the IFE screens. 


photo 20210715_230952-min

Each seat is equipped with an IFE screen despite French bee being a low cost carrier.
The screens have a USB port and well you could find a power outlet under the seats. 


photo 20210715_231325-minphoto 20210715_234128

I specifically don't know the brand of the IFE system but the IFE system has the same interface that you could find on Lufthansa aircraft.


photo 20210715_231340

Wi-Fi was available for purchase on this flight. The Wi-Fi packages are data limited and the prices were expensive.
French bee uses On Air as a provider which have great internet speeds over the air so I expect that the quality of the Wi-Fi would be good.


photo 20210715_231400

A view from the window while boarding was going on.


photo 20210715_232756-min

While boarding was still going on, it was time to explore the BoB menu.


photo 20210715_233653-min

Deals & bundles


photo 20210715_233657-min

Alcoholic beverages and meals for purchase


photo 20210715_233702-min

Snacks


photo 20210715_233706-min

Drink options, they even sell Nespresso onboard.


photo 20210715_233710-min

Travel kit option


Personally, I was really satisfied with the BoB menu of French bee and their selection are pretty perfect. US carriers should learn a lesson from this carrier regarding how to choose what they are going to sell as BoB.

If you would like to avoid foreign transaction fees with a credit card, they also accept cash which is a nice touch. Just a reminder that purchases with debit cards are not accepted.


photo 20210715_233713-min

Here is the menu for this flight for those who have pre-ordered or eligible to get a meal.


photo 20210715_233831-min

Here is the menu for the opposite direction


photo 20210715_233820-min

Although French bee doesn't have a rich IFE content, there were decent amount of movies, TV shows and music albums both in French and English


photo 20210715_233848-minphoto 20210715_233925-min

There is also an option to view the aircraft cameras located at the exterior of the aircraft.


photo 20210715_234006-minphoto 20210715_234015-min

About an hour later than our scheduled departure time we have pushed back and the safety demo was done manually by the cabin crew despite the aircraft being equipped with IFE screens.


photo 20210715_234324

We were pushing back at that time


photo 20210715_234802

After the safety demo was complete, the cabin crew made final checks before departure and the cabin lights were dimmed.
Here is an Emirates 777-300ER bound to Dubai via Athens 


photo 20210716_000507-min

Turkish Airlines A330 and United 737


photo 20210716_000547

While we were taxiing to the runway, this FedEx 757 was passing by


photo 20210716_000630-min

Another shot of the Emirates 777-300ER


photo 20210716_000651-min

Frontier A320neo's at Terminal B3


photo 20210716_000707-min

United aircraft at Terminal C.


photo 20210716_000818

And at this time another interesting thing happens. We remain stable for 20-25 minutes at this point with no announcement and no explanation. After that, captain Santiago has announced that the ATC hasn't approved our transatlantic flight path, thus they needed to re-draw the routing from the beginning and get permission.


photo 20210716_001354

At that time the seatbelt signs were switched off and passengers were able to move around the cabin.


photo 20210716_001849

At that time, I visited one of the lavatories near door 3L which looked clean.


photo 20210716_004013-min

However, there was a bit of hair, probably left by the previous passenger


photo 20210716_004017-min

Here is the route map


photo 20210716_004555-minphoto 20210716_004612-min

A few minutes later, captain Santiago has announced that we were all set and we have took off towards the south.


photo 20210716_005847

We were finally in the air about 2 hours later than our scheduled departure time


photo 20210716_005852

Statue of Liberty and New York


photo 20210716_005934

And a few seconds later, we were making a clockwise turn towards the north.


photo 20210716_010357

After take-off, the cabin crew distributed contact tracing forms and handed me an amenity kit.


photo 20210716_012950-min

I am not sure if I was lucky but the amenity kit also had a meal voucher which I was able to use during the flight despite pre-ordering a meal in advance.


photo 20210716_013757-min

The amenity kit had socks, an eye-mask and earphones in addition to the meal voucher.


photo 20210716_013903-min

Route map at that time


photo 20210716_014235-minphoto 20210716_014256-min

The Wi-Fi system was then activated.


photo screenshot_20210716-011225_captiveportalloginphoto screenshot_20210716-011240_captiveportallogin

A few minutes later, the cabin crew came for BoB. I have only asked for a cup of water which is complimentary. Although, passengers who wish to get a bottled water could get one by paying for it. 


photo 20210716_020145

I have also watched a movie until I was able to sleep


photo 20210716_020153-min

When I woke up about 1h30mins before landing, the cabin crew had already passed my row and the trolley was about 10-15 rows behind us. However, when the trolley was going back to the galley, the attentive cabin crew have realized that I have woken up and offered my meal which was still hot. Also for celebrating the first flight, champagne was free of charge during the meal service.


The tray consisted the main course, a croissant, a roll bread, strawberry jam, butter, Oreo cookies and paper cutlery.


photo 20210716_122939-min

Here is the main meal which tasted good but the portion was small.


Scrambled eggs with peppers, roasted potatoes wedges and chicken sausage


photo 20210716_123019-min

It's also a nice touch to serve the main meal not straight after departure at midnight but serving it before landing at a more legitimate time.


At that time we were over the UK


photo 20210716_125302

Shortly later the trays were collected and the cabin crew also asked for the contact tracing forms that were given upon departure.


photo 20210716_131510-minphoto 20210716_131518-min

The cabin was then prepared for landing and we have started our descend into Orly.


photo 20210716_134241

Also there was an announcement that asked passengers to waive the French and American flags that were handed at EWR as soon as we land as there was going to be a photo shoot during landing.


photo 20210716_134252

The Tour Eiffel


photo 20210716_134346

And, we have landed at Orly about an hour and twenty minutes later than our scheduled arrival time


photo 20210716_134508

At Orly it was almost impossible to see an aircraft of a non-EU carrier.


photo 20210716_134745

Air France and Air Corsica aircraft at Orly 2


photo 20210716_134824

Transavia and Corsair aircraft at remote stands


photo 20210716_134924

Air France 777-300ER at Orly 3 which was going to head to Pointe-a-Pitre that afternoon


photo 20210716_135042

Transavia 737-800's


photo 20210716_135107

Vueling A320's


photo 20210716_135122

More Transavia 737's


photo 20210716_135147

Pegasus A321neo that was going to head toward Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen


photo 20210716_135242

F-HROK parked at Orly 4 waiting for its flight to Fort de France.


photo 20210716_135310

More Corsair and Air Caraibes aircraft at Orly 4


photo 20210716_135336

Air Caraibes A350-900 that was going to head towards Cayenne that afternoon


photo 20210716_135432

And we were going to park at stand B41 which corresponded to gates F28/F29.


photo 20210716_135453

Long-haul aircraft of French carriers.
Other than the Pegasus A321neo, I haven't spotted any other non-EU registered aircraft that day. 


photo 20210716_135517

And we were going to park next to this Corsair A330-300


photo 20210716_135548

Before arriving to our parking position, the cabin crew has asked everyone to remain in their seats as we were going to deboard row-by-row; however, when the seatbelt signs were switched off, about 80% of the passengers stood up.


photo 20210716_135628

Shortly later both jetbridges were attached to the aircraft and deboarding has commenced from both doors, 1L and 2L.


photo 20210716_135635

PARIS ORLY AIRPORT - ORY


After saying goodbye and thank you to the crew, I have left the aircraft. Here is the last photo of F-HREV


photo 20210716_140536-min

Then I have headed towards immigration which was not totally empty. There were 4 officers accepting non-EU citizens/residents and after a 10 minute wait, I was in the baggage claim hall. As I travel with a Turkish passport the officer was a bit confused as there was a Pegasus flight that have arrived from Turkey just before us and after asking where did I come from, she only requested my vaccination certificate as I was arriving from a green-list country. Also, she has checked almost every stamp in my passport to make sure that I haven't been to any red listed country within the last 14 days.


photo 20210716_142441-min-83778

As only ticketed passengers are allowed inside the terminal and as the rule was enforced by the security ( unlike US airports ), the terminal was pretty empty and most of the stores/cafés at the arrival level of Orly 4 was pretty empty.


photo 20210716_142606-min-63716

Shortly later, I have headed to the OrlyVAL station


photo 20210716_143354

And I took the OrlyVAL and the RER train to leave the airport and my holiday in France had officially started.


photo 20210716_143448-min

And it's the end of this report. Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
The series would continue with the next report soon. 

See more

Verdict

French bee

8.6/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Buy-on-board menu8.5

Newark - EWR

3.4/10
Efficiency1.5
Access3.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness6.0

Paris - ORY

8.2/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Despite a horrible Newark experience with long waits and a chaos environment, French bee itself was a great way to fly the Atlantic and I really enjoyed flying them. The service and the crew were much better than some of the full service carriers around. The IFE was decent for a LCC, however, the Wi-Fi is a bit expensive and it's not that attractive as it's data-capped. The seat was a bit narrow but not having a neighbor and when having an extra legroom seat, I didn't have any discomfort on this flight.

Also, I would have waited some other celebration from French bee on this inaugural flight other than free champagne and a free bag which would have made the experience better.

I would make a more detailed conclusion about French bee in the return leg of this trip when I publish the respective report.

Information on the route Newark (EWR) Paris (ORY)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 12 reviews of 4 airlines on the route Newark (EWR) → Paris (ORY).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is LEVEL with 7.7/10.

The average flight time is 6 hours and 57 minutes.

  More information

6 Comments

  • Comment 577209 by
    Pilpintu 757 Comments

    Hello ISTflyer!

    French bee

    The name being French BEE I would have expected a bee in the logo. But definitely a pilpintu is much more attractive. lol

    ground staff has distributed French and American flags

    That French flag is a shame for French haute couture!!

    a 1h15 minute delay,

    Gasp! Lesson learned. Those things happen. Leaving home early is the best policy.

    "Paris Is Always a Good Idea"

    I’ve heard that it’s not so much so in summer, but it’s still on my bucket list. :D

    French bee doesn't accept any carry-ons over 12kgs onboard their flights

    I wouldn’t like to carry a 12kg bag around the airport anyway. My back would not tolerate it!

    social distancing is no longer the case in the USA

    Hm. I have the impression that many good things are no longer the case in the US. But yes, people quickly forget about those measures and social distancing is really hard to keep in closed places.

    the seat width is narrower that most other carriers

    I thought the same when I saw it. I thought it was the photo, but you confirmed my impression. So this is definitely NOT an ideal seat for post-pandemic waist lines... or bottoms. lol

    I’m not sure if I will ever have the opportunity to fly French Bee, but I’ll go on a diet right away... just in case!!

    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Comment 577269 by
      ISTFlyer GOLD AUTHOR 360 Comments

      Hi Pilpintu and thanks for your comment,

      Gasp! Lesson learned. Those things happen. Leaving home early is the best policy.

      - Especially when departing from another city and traveling on separate tickets ( in this case separate train & flight tickets ) I try to allow extra time.

      I’ve heard that it’s not so much so in summer, but it’s still on my bucket list. :D

      - Although the weather was good, summer is not the best time to visit Paris; although with emptier streets and less tourists this summer would probably be a different experience.

      I wouldn’t like to carry a 12kg bag around the airport anyway. My back would not tolerate it!

      - You could still bring a 12kg roller carry-on that could fit in the overhead bin. Still better than paying for checked baggage when you don't need one.

      Hm. I have the impression that many good things are no longer the case in the US. But yes, people quickly forget about those measures and social distancing is really hard to keep in closed places.

      - During my US domestic flights in Fall 2020, people were at least observing some kinds of COVID protocols, now they have quickly forgotten them as you mentioned.

      I thought the same when I saw it. I thought it was the photo, but you confirmed my impression. So this is definitely NOT an ideal seat for post-pandemic waist lines... or bottoms.

      - At least they have a Premium Economy cabin up front. :D

      Once again thanks for stopping by
      Best,

  • Comment 577211 by
    Plainfreak 37 Comments

    Hi,
    thanks for a nice inaugural flight report! After having read it, not quite sure what to make of french bee. It seems ok, but quite stingy on the meals. Nothing except water is included? But still an amenity kit, with meal voucher?!
    Best, Dani

    • Comment 577270 by
      ISTFlyer GOLD AUTHOR 360 Comments

      Hi Plainfreak and welcome to this Flight-Report,

      - In normal cases, French bee is a low cost carrier thus meals and beverages are for an extra fee. I don't know the actual reason why I got a free meal on this flight and my name was on the list even if I didn't purchase or pre-order any meals but in normal cases that tray is €20 and the amenity kit is €5. Maybe they are running an unadvertised promotion because of the new route at this time which I am not aware of.

      Once again thanks for your comments,
      Best,

  • Comment 577255 by
    757Fan 604 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this. This definitely looks like a good option for crossing the Atlantic and visiting France. I'm quite impressed by the level of service provided for such a LCC.

    • Comment 577271 by
      ISTFlyer GOLD AUTHOR 360 Comments

      Hi 757Fan and thanks for your comment,

      This definitely looks like a good option for crossing the Atlantic and visiting France. I'm quite impressed by the level of service provided for such a LCC.

      - I was also impressed by the level of service as they are a LCC and I hope that they could survive on this route. They really keep the competition going on, especially with prices and after Norwegian long-haul and Primera has gone away, there are not that many LCC's on TATL routes around. To be honest, the service quality on French bee is similar to what you would receive on a US3 carrier in Y, however, you'll pay 1/3 of the price you'll pay for them.

      Best,

Login to post a comment.