This is a report on a flight that I have come to affectionately call my shuttle. As a French expat living in Washington, DC I take this flight several times a year. I've done several FRs on AF flights between IAD and CDG in all classes, except for la Première, unfortunately, LOL…who knows, maybe one day.
Today, I'm headed to Paris for a long weekend. I had plans to go to a party on Friday night and to attend the first ever Flight-Report.com Meet-up on Saturday evening. Exciting! I was very excited to be able to meet a lot of the members and was secretly hoping that I would win a prize for having travelled the farthest to attend :-)
DCA is normally my airport of choice because it is so much more convenient when you live in DC, but for direct long-haul flights, I have to make the long trek out to Dulles. For those who may not be aware, DCA (Washington Reagan National Airport) does not have international flights (except for pre-cleared destinations in the Carribean and Canada) and there is a perimeter rule which restricts the distance of destinations that can be served from DCA. Plus the runways are short so widebody service isn't really possible anyway.
I took a half day at work that day, but was running late to get to the airport. I took the the metro and the Washington Flyer bus from the West Falls Church Metro station–not the quickest way to get to Dulles, but I only had carry-on so it wasn't that bad. Once I got to the airport it was a total cluster. I'd never seen it so crowded, but then I realized that it was Spring Break after I saw a group of fratty college guys in board shorts on a 45 degree day.
Security was pretty crowded and by the time I got through and to the gate boarding had started so I didn't bother going to the Air France lounge.
My big huge plane :-) This was my 3rd time on an A380 and still find it as impressive as the first time. It ain't pretty, but it's imposing!
The seats are NEV3 on this particular plane. The newer A380s are NEV4. Because I am travelling by myself and AF J is not all-aisle access, I took an aisle seat instead of my usual window. It's a night flight anyway; there won't be much to see.
As I get to my seat I'm greeted by a very nice male FA who takes my coat. I asked him if it was ok for me to go take pictures of the aircraft (I pretended it was my first time, LOL) to which he replied bien sûr Monsieur with a big smile. I'm sure the crews are used to people excited to be on an A380.
The second J cabin is super long. Though it feels more spacious than the Business cattle car on some of AF's 77Ws.
The Premium Voyageur cabin. My first flight on an A380 was in Premium on F-HPJE Click Here Today we are on F-HPJC, the 3rd A380 to be delivered to AF.
The small Economy cabin at the rear of the main deck.
The touchscreen PTV is large, but rather far away–there is a remote control under the armrest.
The pre-departure beverage is served after doors are closed. I believe it is AF policy to wait until doors are closed when abroad due to customs or agriculture restrictions.
About 20 minutes after takeoff the menus are handed out along with the amenity kit. Apéricrèpes for the aperitif along with a petite cuillère amuse-bouche…Yes, I know that's a lot of French words, LOL. I took a double Gin & Tonic–I needed to make up for lost time since I didn't have time to get a drink in the lounge :-)
Only two options for dinner…disappointing
Wine and drink menu
The amenity kit looked cheap compared to previous ones that I've gotten.
Oh and it looks like it has less in it than it used to.
The appetizer: Serrano ham and terrine de poissons blancs (fish paté) It's definitely a change from the usual foie gras and I wasn't expecting it. All in all it was pretty good, though being from the Southwest of France I prefer foie gras. I paired the dish with the Haut-médoc château cantemerle 2006
Main dish: Tournedos (steak filet) I was pleasantly surprised that the meat was cooked well (medium rare) and it was tender.
I watched a French movie with my favorite French comedian Florence Foresti, Hollywoo
Moodlighting after the meal. I like the purple
A Poire Williams digestif before going to sleep :-)
Well, the digestif didn't really work…it is really hard to sleep on TATL flights that leave the US so early. By the time the meal was finished it was only about 7PM Eastern time…waaaay too early to sleep. So I decided to take a little walk and check out the lav and the art-gallery area thing at the front of the J cabin. Really have no idea what AF was thinking with this area–it should have been a lounge or bar–something useful.
The gallery. Although I'm not a huge fan of what AF did with this space, it is still nice, on a plane with over 500 pax, to be able to be alone somewhere and stretch your legs.
The stairs going to the cockpit and First cabin.
I ended up taking a short 2 hour nap with the help of a second digestif :-)
The mood lighting is turned on over Ireland. It's much easier to wake up to mood lighting than lights on full blast.
During breakfast, it's still night out.
We got to out gate at CDG on time.
A pic with some of the members who attended the first ever Flight-Report.com Meet-up
Thanks for reading, leave a comment!
Washington - IAD
Paris - CDG
Comfort: Reasonably good. I didn't slide down my seat too much and despite the very early departure time, I finally got to sleep a little bit. The seat is comfortable in relaxation mode. One thing I noticed was that because the A380 is so quiet that the motors of the seats changing position were annoyingly loud, which isn't great when you can't get to sleep. The silent cabin is also not great for sleeping because you can here all the little noises people make as well as their conversations. Of course, you can always wear your noise-cancelling headphones, but some people don't like sleeping with them.
Cabin Crew: They were awesome! I feel like crews tend to be more consistently pleasant on A380s. Maybe it's because there is a fun atmosphere onboard. All crewmembers I saw were in a great mood and even joked around with me a little, which I like because I have become very Americanized.
Catering: It was decent. I enjoyed it for the most part and the meat was not overcooked. I was disappointed, however, in the lack of choices for entrées.
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It was a pleasure to read another one of your nice reports. I envy your trip on the A380. That is one monster of a plane. The bigger the better ;)
The continental breakfast is pitiful and you are right about the cheapness of the amenity kit. As cheap as this kit is, it is still better than SQ J. :P
Nice portrait of the group.
Thanks! I loooove A380s--the only down side is boarding can be a mess, but I've noticed that it has greatly improved over the years as agents get used to handling the beasts. Yeah, the breakfast isn't so impressive, but I am used to it. It's always small on these short TATL flights. Thanks for your comment!
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