Review of Air France flight Washington Paris in Premium Eco

Airline Air France
Flight AF027
Class Premium Eco
Seat 22A
Aircraft Boeing 777-200ER
Flight time 07:35
Take-off 06 Sep 13, 21:50
Arrival at 07 Sep 13, 11:25
AF   #48 out of 121 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 4311 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 15139
Published on 18th December 2013
Hello everyone!

As a French expat living in Washington, DC, IAD-CDG flights have become a sort of shuttle for me. Lately, however, I've been trying to create some more interesting routings which will also earn more miles. In the past, I have generally taken flight AF039 which is operated by an A380, but leaves at 4:40PM and arrives at the ungodly hour of 6AM at CDG. As a good #AvGeek, I always chose this flight because it was an A380; however, having flown the A380 a dozen times over the last few years, I am now basing my choice of flights more on convenience of schedule. The afternoon A380 departure made it very difficult to sleep considering that once dinner was finished it was only the equivalent of 6PM East coast time. And of course, that flight lands in Paris at midnight ET, which makes for a day in zombie jetlag mode upon arrival. Needless to say, I chose the 10PM departure for the convenience factor.

Welcome to this series of reports entitled Toulouse, the long way
These reports were originally written in French–here is the complete series in French below. English versions are coming soon.

Washington Dulles IAD - Paris Roissy CDG, Air France, Premium Economy, 777-200ER, CLIQUEZ ICI
Paris Roissy CDG - Hambourg HAM, Air France, Premium Economy, A321-200, CLIQUEZ ICI
Hambourg HAM - Toulouse Blagnac TLS, Air France, Economy, A319-100, CLIQUEZ ICI
Toulouse Blagnac TLS-Paris Roissy CDG, Air France, Economy, A320-200, CLIQUEZ ICI
Paris Roissy CDG - Washington Dulles IAD, Air France, Premium Economy, 777-300ER, CLIQUEZ ICI

As I just mentioned, this flight was chosen for its convenient schedule. With a departure time of 10PM, flight AF027 allows for a full day at the office. We got to the airport early-ish, around 6:30 to have ample time in the Air France lounge, which I find to be one of the best out-station lounges in the system.

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Apparently we arrived too early as check-in counters were not yet open, which I found odd since it was less than 4 hours before departure. As you can see, there were already quite a few passengers waiting to check-in.

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Oh well, it's a beautiful day outside, let's go be Geeky and do some planespotting in the meantime!

The gorgeous Saarinen Terminal.

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Eh….not much to see right now, except for this Unitental 767-400 taking off.

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Yeah Amuhrricah! ^^

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And this United 777-200

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When I got back to the counters, the check-in had already opened and the line had cleared out in the Sky Priority lane. A warm Bonjour from an agent that I see quite often when I fly out is always nice. But…uh oh…my bag is overweight! How embarassing, I have never ever ever had an overweight bag before. To be honest, I wasn't too surprised because I had put a full suitcase inside a large empty suitcase–Russian doll style. The reason for this is that, although I travel back to France several times a year, I bring along extra bags one time a year to fill up to replenish my supply of French products (patés, foie gras, confits, etc). I thought I was being smart by not checking 2 half empty suitcases or one full and one empty that would end up crushed on arrival, but I guess I should have considered the weight. I told the agent I could just take the bag out and check it empty, but said I was afraid it could be too easily dammaged. Luckily, the agent was really nice and let the extra 3 kilos go. Thanks!!

The airport is not very crowded and we get through security in just a few minutes with the fast-track Premium lanes.

Spotted a few birds on the way to the lounge.

A TK A330

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A 5-star 77W

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The train to the concourses just after security

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Terminal A/B Airside

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Spotted this Heathrow-bound Virgin Atlantic A330 on the way to the lounge

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And this British Airways 767-300ER also headed to LHR. I would imagine that LHR is the best served international destination from Washington with 3 daily BA flights (1xB744, 1xB772, 1xB763), One daily VS flight (A343, A346, or A333 depending on the season), and 4 daily UA flights (2x752 and 2x772). Considering BA also serves BWI with a daily B763, that's 9 flights a day from the DC metro area to London!

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The flight is showing on-time

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The entrance to the lounge is located right accross from the AF gates A20/22. I remember prior to the new lounge being built a few years ago, you could board directly from the old lounge with a jetbridge leading right to door 1L.

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A few pics of the lounge. For once I actually took pics of the buffet. I generally don't take many pics in lounges as it feels a bit awkward when there are a lot of people around.

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My selection is pretty representative of the food offering: jambon beurre and roast beef sandwiches on a baguette, Tuna salad on a croissant, and some cheese. There was also fruit, veggies, cakes, rice pudding and some other things that I don't remember. I drank a lemonade before getting some champagne–you have rehydrate before dehytrading :-)

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Despite the very large windows in the lounge, there is not much airplane traffic to see on this side of the terminal for planespotters. Luckily, this gorgeous Icelandair B757-200 came along. I find the FI livery to be one of the most beautiful liveries out there (I'm a little biased…I used to work for them years ago, but it really is very pretty).

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TF-FIO, I must have flown on it dozens of times.

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Champagne time :-) Cheers!
Too bad they serve it in a thimble…it's like doing shots of champagne, LOL

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A toast to this beautiful livery

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Lots of magazines and newspapers in French for us Frenchies; there was also a large selection in English.

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On my way to the Duty-Free store, I see our aircraft arriving from Paris. Tonight we have F-GSPX.



Night falling on Dulles Airport

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Icelandair in the beautiful light of the sunset.

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I leave the lounge for a bit to see if I can do some night planespotting. Not an easy task at Dulles because there are double windows at the gates to allow for a hallway separation for international arriving flights. This causes a glare which makes getting a good picture from the gate area nearly impossible.

The result isn't so hot so I gave up after two pics.

Turkish Airlines A330

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Brussels Airlines A333. SN has only been serving Washington since June.

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That's new…

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Back to the lounge and another Icelandair pic :-) Can you tell I like this livery? LOL

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The Corporate shot. Numero_2's FR is headlining, he had just been in Washington a few days prior.

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Some people have no shame, LOL. But then again, I can't blame her…that's the only full-flat surface she'll get to sleep on tonight :-)
The new AF full-flat beds in J just can't come soon enough.

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Icelandair leaving for Keflavík…woosh

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After a few more thimbles of champagne it was time to board.

Good Evening F-GSPX

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The cabin. It will end up being 100% full in W tonight with a few non-revs here and there filling up the empty seats.

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The seat in maximum recline. People often complain about the recline of these seats, but in reality it's not bad and certainly better than in economy. The problem is that the headrest pushes your head/neck forward when you lay back giving you the impression of sitting up straighter than you actually are. If there was a way for the headrest to tilt back, the seat would feel much better in recline mode. That's just my personal opinion. One would think that AF would have properly tested these seats before putting them out on the market….wishful thinking :-)

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Electrical outlets between the seats.

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Business class outfitted with NEV3 with small IFE screens. From what I saw, the seats were looking pretty worn out.

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Legroom

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I'm glad I decided to choose the bulkhead where the legroom is great and I can't even touch the wall in front. In the front row of Premium on the AF A340-300, I feel like there was less legroom (see here, in French) http://flight-report.com/fr/report-2521.html

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The pillow and cover are the same as in Business. I like the new cover better than the old scratchy one.

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Dirty scratched up window :-(

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Business class seen from my seat towards the end of boarding.

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Video of the takeoff…night departure so obviously not much to see, LOL



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The amenity kit is handed out about half an hour after takeoff along with the menus.



When I'm in the first row, I like to use my carry-on as an ottoman. There is no foot rest in this row, just a leg rest, so it makes a big difference in comfort.

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Flying over New York

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The mini Y cabin just behind W

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About 45 minutes after takeoff, the meal is served. On short TATL flights, there has not been a separate aperitif service for a few years now, so they serve them at the same time. As always on AF, I get some champagne for before dinner. One good thing about AF is champagne in W and Y.

When the flight attendant handed me the meal tray I saw it looked different and remarked nice, a real glass (in French, of course). Our male FA was very professional and pleasant btw, and he replied Oui monsieur, it is new, we have improved the service in our Premium cabin. You'll also notice that we now have stainless steel cutlery. Yep, sure do…very nice. As someone who regularly flies in W, I've been saying for a long time that the product needs to be enhanced to better differentiate it from Economy. Our nice FA added Air France has been listening to its clients lately and we are making a lot of efforts to make improvements. Indeed, merci monsieur.

I find the new meal tray to be rather visually appealing despite its smaller size. There are definitely many more things on which Air France can improve but it is nice to see that efforts are being made at AF while most other airlines are still in a race to bottom.

I chose the chicken which was pretty good. I find AF's catering to be generally better than most airlines in Y. Although I feel that W meals should resemble J-class meals more than Y-class.

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Appetiser: Subric de noix de Saint-Jacques et saumon fumé. (I don't really like the menu's translation, but I'm not even going to try, LOL.
I found it a little on the small side, but very good and imaginative.

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The same cutlery as Business

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Bon Apétit!

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And a Poire Williams night-cap.

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After the meal, an in-flight supervisor came by and asked us if we had enjoyed the meal and the flight so far. That's the first time that's every happened to me on AF. She was super sweet and told us that she likes to get the opinion of loyal customers like us (I am Plat and my partner was Gold at the time). She told us that her colleague had informed her that we had mentioned flying often in Premium so she wanted to see what we thought of the improvements which had been introduced only a few days before. Someone who actually cares…how refreshing! After a little conversation she left us thanking us for our loyalty and saying not to hesitate to ask her if we needed anything.

Wow…obviously this kind of individual attention is very pleasant and unexpected! I've often had very good crews on AF and most other airlines. I think because I used to work in the industry that I find it pretty easy to get along with crews and get to know them. This was different because we were being recognized for our SkyTeam status and not just my status as an ex-non rev :-)

After the meal I started the movie AfterEarth but it was pretty bad despite the nice special effects, so I had a difficult time staying interested. IMO Will Smith's son has not quite inherited his dad's acting ability…I'm sure he'll grow into it. That and he was doing some kind of weird half-British Transatlantic accent that I totally didn't get and distracted from the film. OK…I'll stop, this is Flight-Report not Film-Critic-Report :-)

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Living in the US, I fly DL much more than AF and DL always has the a/c in arctic-mode, which I actually like. I usually find AF planes too hot as a result. Hot and completely bored with the movie, my partner and I pop over to the galley for a midnight drink. The in-flight supervisor from earlier is there and greets us warmly. She offers us Cognac or wine to go with our waters as we chat–I never say no to cognac :-)

After a nice little chat about the airline industry, travel, and the Air France improvement programs Transform 2015 the cognac starts to take effect and I'm ready to sleep. We're over the Canadian Maritime Provinces when I start to fall asleep. The bulkhead seat along with my make-shift ottoman made it easier to find a comfortable position to sleep for a few hours.



I wake up just south of Ireland.

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What a shame…the dinner was such a nice improvement, but breakfast is still as boring and simple as ever.
At least DL gives you a banana…some fruit would be nice.



We take a different flight path than usual flying along the Normandy coast before turning south towards Paris.



The first row of W to give you another impression of the legroom at this row.

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Landing with a good view of Terminal 2.



DL A332 taking off.

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Another DL a/c, a 763ER this time

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We follow an AF 77W. Coming from the north runways it takes a long time to taxi to Terminal 2E which is much closer to the south runways.
The long taxi gives me the opportunity to do a lot of planespotting.
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We park at Terminal 2E S3 (Hall L)

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Last view of our aircraft

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For a flight that arrives this late in the morning after the main rush (11:30) I was surprised that immigrations was so packed. There was only one agent for the Sky Priority queue. It took almost an hour to get through. CDG is so hit or miss!

Before leaving you, here are some bonus pics of Paris.

The night I arrived I fought againt the jetlag because I had a Mylène Farmer concert to go to at Bercy with my good friend and fellow Flight-Reporter KL651. I quickly forgot the jetlag and really enjoyed the amazing show.

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Even though I'm French, though not Parisian, and have been to Paris many many many times, I still find it to be the most beautiful city in the world …Parisians….that's another story :-) J/K…kinda



le Musée d'Orsay



Paris by night



Thanks for reading! Leave a comment :-)
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Verdict

Air France

8.1/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering8.0

Air France Lounge

7.5/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services7.5

Washington - IAD

7.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access4.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Paris - CDG

6.2/10
Efficiency4.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

Comfort: I admit it's not the easiest seat to sleep in, but honestly, I'll take the Premium seat any day over AF's sardine class on 777s with the 3-4-3 configuration.
Crew: Professional, smiling, pleasant, and attentive. They were perfect and I really enjoyed speaking to them!
Catering: I was pleasantly surprised by the improvements. Nevertheless, the main dish is still the same as in Y and the breakfast was the same old lame breakfast they've always had, which isn't even fit for Y.
IFE: I'm not an AVOD expert, but based on the look of the Airshow and the limited choice of movies, I would imagine this was an older generation of AVOD as it is not as nice as the IFE I've had on A380s or newed 77Ws.
On-time departure but we did not get to the gate early since we had a long taxi time from the north runways.

Information on the route Washington (IAD) Paris (CDG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 34 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Washington (IAD) → Paris (CDG).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Air France with 7.5/10.

The average flight time is 7 hours and 39 minutes.

  More information

9 Comments

  • Comment 95323 by
    Papoumada SILVER 5895 Comments

    I had enjoyed the French version and I enjoy the English version maybe more.

    Seen from your eyes, AF W is worth trying. Nevertheless, I would point a few things out : 1-there should be a welcome drink. 2-All the glasses should be glasses : you are given a proper glass on your tray, but aperitive and cognac are in thimbles. 3-The breakfast is just to cheap.

    BTW you had a very professional cabin crew. Hope it is the same tonight ;)

    The Paris pics are gorgeous.

    Thanks for sharing.... again !

    • Comment 285498 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5306 Comments

      Thank you! Yes, I agree, a pre-departure drink would definitely be welcome--I have mentioned that in the past. Even if it's in a plastic cup. And yes, real glasses for the apéritif and digestif would also be welcome. Have a good flight tonight...hope you win the AF crew lottery, LOL :-)

  • Comment 95344 by
    AirCanada881 1622 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR Kevin! I happen to agree with you regarding FI's livery, it is beautiful!!

    The dinner looks alright but the breakfast looks pretty bad for a premium economy product :/

    Some beautiful photos in IAD and CDG upon arrival, love the lighting!

  • Comment 95404 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thanks for sharing another fantastic report with phenomenal pics. I agree with you about the elegant livery of FI. Too bad that their SAGA class does not live up to expectations.

    It's nice to read that AF listens to its customers and has made some improvements. The breakfast is really pitiful for Premium Economy. I believe that DL still gives out a hot breakfast sandwich in Y on its transatlantic flights. I know that having a hearty breakfast is not something typical in France, but at least AF can do a decent continental one by offering a piece or two of good viennoisserie along with some fruit or cheese.

    Your pics of Paris are stunning and you tempt me to buy a ticket on impulse. The last picture of your report inside a restaurant is intriguing. So which restaurant it was and what did you have? Did the meal live up to your expectations?

    • Comment 285526 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5306 Comments

      Thanks for the kind words :-)
      Yes, Saga Class is nothing special. It is essentially just a domestic First product. However, I understand why the product is the way it is when you consider that FI does not really do any true long-haul. The longest flights used to be barely 6 hours...now with SEA, DEN, and ANC in the mix, I'm sure they push 7h and lie-flats would be nice. One good thing about Saga Class is that it's sooo cheap...Summer prices East Coast to Europe are usually between $1900-$2100 as opposed to $3000-$4000 on the big guys.

      I haven't flown DL TATL in Y in a long time (only J), but you are right--recent FRs show a hot breakfast sandwich with a banana and yogurt. It's so weird that on AF short haul they serve warm viennoiseries at breakfast time, but not on Long-haul. A croissant or chocolatine would definitely make a big difference.

      The restaurant is Le Montparnasse 1900. The food was great and not overpriced. They have a great lunch prix-fixe menu with 3 courses, foie gras appetizer, and a half bottle of wine. It's a cool restaurant because it's in the style of the brasseries of La Belle Epoque really takes you back in time.

  • Comment 95455 by
    whitelight44 346 Comments

    Wow I loved the TR Kevin. Exactly what I love, so many cool spotting pix, aerial shots of New York and Paris pix. Loved it. Thanks :)

  • Comment 95552 by
    pititom GOLD 10708 Comments

    Nice to have translated this one : it is so far the only FR with a tourism bonus of Paris, which I am sure will be enjoyed even more by the non-French members !

    Thanks for this FR :)

  • Comment 95600 by
    East African 1524 Comments

    Your perspective is really interesting and highlights what any traveller should expect from AF!
    On your route, which airline offers the best quality/value ratio in Y+ between DL and AF?

    Thanks for sharing

    • Comment 285703 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5306 Comments

      Thanks! DL doesn't fly WAS-PAR. I have taken them PHL-CDG and DCA-JFK-CDG, but only in Business. AF has a true Premium Economy so I prefer it over DL's Economy Comfort which is just extra legroom/recline + free drinks. As a Platinum I get DL Y+ for free, so that's definitely a good value, but I much prefer AF's true PE cabin.

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