Several days before departure, I received the infamous (and rare) exceptional upgrade offer e-mail from Air France. The offer was rather decent: we could upgrade from W to J for only $319 US. Despite the good price, I hesitated at first because I knew that on 777-300ER aircraft with a La Première cabin, there was a high possibility of getting NEV2 seats (older generation angled lie-flat seats) in Business class.
We ended up deciding to buy the upgrades anyway, despite the possibility of getting NEV2s. To buy the upgrade, I just had to click on the offer link in manage my reservations and enter my credit card number. When I clicked to complete the purchase an error message popped up saying that the system was down….ok. So I closed the window and tried again later but the site was still not working! In all, I tried 4 times with several different cards just to make sure it was a problem with the AF site and not my cards.
I called the Air France internet service to inquire about this issue. They were aware that there was an issue with the site but told me that they could not help me as I had bought my ticket in the US and so asked me to call the US internet service desk…seriously? Before calling the US internet service (I had to wait for them to open since it was early AM in the US) I checked my accounts and realized that my cards had been debited 3 times! At this point I was not happy. When I called the US internet service desk, I got a rude know-it-all agent who not only did not apologize for the inconvenience of the site issues and having been debited 3 times, but told me to pay yet again so that he could grab those seats for me. I refused to pay another dime considering that I'd already been debited several times with no seats confirmed. I was so angry and told him just to forget it and just to make sure I was going to be reimbursed! Oh Air France…your crappy IT and rude agent cost you extra revenue from a pax willing to pay for two upgrades….too bad for you!
Oh well, we'll be fine in W, and it will be nice to save $640
Back to the Flight-Report…
Having arrived from Toulouse in Terminal 2F, we take the new-ish connector to Terminal 2E (L Gates)
Connecting at CDG used to be a nightmare, but this connector makes things sooo much easier. Besides being convenient, the 2F->2E Connector has great views of the tarmac.
After a short 10 minute walk, we arrived at passport control where the wait was about 10 minutes via the Sky Priority lane. After going through Passport control we headed towards the S3/Hall L Air France Lounge. No surprise, the lounge is super full with the morning rush. When we got to the lounge, there was not a single free seat anywhere except for tables by the bar, which I don't like.
Reminds me of a Sky Club in here with so many people everywhere!
Luckily, some seats opened up after a few minutes and I jumped on them, LOL. It's like finding a good parking space at the Costco…take no prisoners :-)
The S3 lounge is not very Spotter-friendly
The food selection in the S3 lounge isn't great. In fact, I find that the food offering at Washington-Dulles is better, which isn't normal considering that Paris is AF's hub. Frequent AF fliers know that the inconsistencies don't stop there…the food offering is different in the different lounges of Terminal 2E. The lounge in the new S4 sattelite (M Gates) is much better than the lounges at K and L gates! But, I don't want to sound like I'm complaining–as a DL FF, I'm used to plastic wrapped cheese, crackers, and carrot sticks so any AF lounge is waaaay better than that. Not to mention AF lounges always have champagne. As long as I have bubbles, I'm happy :-)
The lounge empties out quickly as the main Transatlantic departure bank approaches.
After a quick stop at duty-free, it's time to head to the gate.
Our flight is operated by the 777-300ER F-GSQE today, one of the oldest in the fleet (2004).
Boarding had already started when we got to the gate, but the SKy Priority line was empty for we boarded immediately. As I walk through the business class cabin, I am relieved to discover that this aircraft was indeed equiped with NEV2 seats, as I had thought. So I wasn't too disappointed that the upgrade offer hadn't worked out.
My seat for the next 8.5 hours
Great pitch in PE
The Premium Economy cabin in 77Ws with a Première cabin is over the wings. It blocks much of the view, but I do like a raked-wingtip. I find the raked wingtips of 77W and 77L aircraft to be rather elegant.
The cabin during boarding.
Another 77W nextdoor.
And yet another 77W pushing back a few minutes before us.
We push on time and taxi to the north runways.
An A380 takes off as we taxi by.
Video of takeoff
Shortly after takeoff, the IFE is turned on but the image is really fuzzy.
Hmmm….something's definitely wrong here.
I guess we're not the only ones!
We ask a passing FA about the IFE and she informs us that it appears to be the case for the whole plane. The very pleasant FA apologizes and tells us that the purser is going to reset the system and that hopefully it should work after that. Sounds good.
Wingshot while we wait…
Ah…looks like the reset worked!
Once the seat-belt sign is turned off I get up to go get my noise-cancelling headset from my carry-on bag. The Premium Eco seats have nicer headsets than in Economy, but I prefer my own. Our nice FA hands out menus and amenity kits.
At the time this kit was new as I had had a different one on the way to Paris–see IAD-CDG report (link at the top of the page).
Since the IFE seems to be working now, time to watch a movie.
Hmmm….spoke too soon! Guess it's time for another reset :-/
Today is really not my lucky day. Not only is the IFE not working, but my seat appears to be broken as well. When I recline the seat, the headrest falls down and won't stay in place, meaning that I have a headrest behind my shoulders. Every time I try to prop it back up it falls back down, ugh!
Well, at least it's time for the meal; that should distract me for a bit.
Champagne as an apéritif, as usual on AF.
A Bloody Mary for my partner.
With the lack of IFE boredom sets in–yes, I know #FirstWorldProblems, right? LOL. So I occupy my time trying to take artsy pictures of our pre-meal drinks :-)
Water bottles (they are there upon boarding)
My choice for lunch is Poulet à la Moutarde (chicken with a mustard sauce). It was rather good, as is often the case for Y and Y+ catering on AF. Oddly, I can't always say the same in J.
Foie gras appetizer, the same as in J but smaller, I imagine.
The same metal silverware and glass as in J. This was a new development in September 2013. Prior to that, these were both plastic.
More wingshots as the IFE gets reset for the 3rd…or 4th time.
Because we had to get up at 4AM that morning and hadn't really had time to eat much all day, I asked our nice FA if it would be possible to try a second meal. She tells us that she would be happy to bring us another meal and brings it right away though I had told her there was no rush. This time I chose to try the Mushroom Risotto, which was also quite tasty.
The chocolate cake was pretty decent. There is also some apple sauce in the little box with the AF logo on it along with a piece of camembert cheese. Our FA checks on us several times throughout the meal to refill our wine etc.
After the meal, the FAs hand out some kind of tubes—err, I wouldn't know what to call them…cones maybe? These cones are filled with candies from Fauchon and have the AF logo on them. Really cool trinket for an #AvGeek collector like myself :-)
Aside from the candies there is also a refreshing towlette.
A Cognac digestif to finish off the nice meal.
After yet another reset (I lost count) the IFE still didn't work. The Chief Purser made an announcement to apologize for the inconvenience and informed us that Air France customer service would contact us individually to offer compensation.
Wow…I hadn't been on a long-haul flight without IFE since I was a kid in the 90s! At least in the 80s/90s there were central screens. Of course this would happen the one time I didn't bring a book! LOL
Well, thankfully the magazines racks are stocked full and the power outlets will keep my phone charged so I'll find a way to stay entertained. Following French politics is always entertaining anyway :-)
The cabin after the meal.
15 minutes or so after the end of the meal the cabin lights are turned off and the FAs ask everyone to lower their window shades. Honestly, I've never liked being in the dark on day flights, and really never understood the point. If people really want to sleep, there are eyeshades in the amenity kits! Eh…oh well, I was tired anyway so I ended up taking a nap.
My little nap turned into a looooong 5 hours and I woke up right as the pre-arrival meal was being served.
View of the cabin during the meal-service.
The pre-arrival snack…eehhh
The trays are collected about 15 minutes before landing.
The Potomac River
Coming from the north, we do a big circle around the airport to land from the south.
The Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum with the observation tower that I absolutely love going to for planespotting when the landings are from the south.
Video of the landing
We land on time and the weather is beautiful.
Dulles is United-land
Quick deplaning from door 2L.
Bye bye F-GSQE
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment :-)
Air France Lounge - 2E, Hall L
Paris - CDG
Washington - IAD
Comfort: Good for a day flight (less so for night flights). I would have put 8, but I'm taking away a point for the broken headrest, which turned out not to be a huge problem as I was able to rig it to stay in the up position. Crew: Great crew. Our FA was a sweetheart and gave us a lot of attention, which is always nice! Catering: The main meal was great, but the pre-arrival snack is really cheap, even for economy. Just like with the main meal, I would like to see some differentiation from coach with the pre-arrival snack. IFE: Considering it didn't work it should be 0, but I'll be nice and put a 2 for the magazines :-) On-time flight...can't complain.
Lounge - S3/Hall L: It's a decent lounge, but I'll never understand why the lounge in the next satellite over has a much better food offering.
CDG: The connecting experience at CDG has definitely improved over the last few years. I know some folks avoid it like the plague, but honestly, it's much better than FRA or LHR in my opinion...of course, it ain't AMS...can't beat AMS for connections.
IAD: For once immigrations/customs wasn't a long wait.
After a rough start to this flight experience with the website problems and the nasty phone agent, then the broken IFE and seat, I have to say that it was overall a very pleasant flight. Honestly, the great crew made all the difference. They really turned around the situation for me. I was offered 15,000 miles for the the broken IFE and seat, which I found to be fair.
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