Review of Air France flight Paris Washington in Premium Eco

Airline Air France
Flight AF028
Class Premium Eco
Seat 21L
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 08:20
Take-off 23 Sep 13, 10:35
Arrival at 23 Sep 13, 12:55
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 11714
Published on 11th February 2014
Hello,

This trip report was originally written in French. Several of the segments in this particulat itinerary have been translated into English (see below).

Washington Dulles IAD - Paris Roissy CDG, Air France, Premium Economy, 777-200ER IN ENGLISH
Paris Roissy CDG - Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel HAM, Air France, Premium Economy, A321-200 IN ENGLISH
Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel HAM - Toulouse Blagnac TLS, Air France, Economy, A319-100 [Not Yet Available in English]
Toulouse Blagnac TLS - Paris Roissy CDG, Air France, Economy, A320-200 [Not Yet Available in English]
Paris Roissy CDG - Washington Dulles IAD, Air France, Premium Economy, 777-300ER [You Are Here]

For those interested, here is the full routing in French:

Washington Dulles IAD - Paris Roissy CDG, Air France, Premium Economy, 777-200ER, CLIQUEZ ICI
Paris Roissy CDG - Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel HAM, Air France, Premium Economy, A321-200, CLIQUEZ ICI
Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel 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

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.

photo AF UPGRAD OFFER

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.

photo AF ERROR UPGRADE

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

photo Af SEATMAP CDGIAD

Back to the Flight-Report…

Having arrived from Toulouse in Terminal 2F, we take the new-ish connector to Terminal 2E (L Gates)

photo 2F-2EL

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!

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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 :-)

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The S3 lounge is not very Spotter-friendly

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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 :-)

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The lounge empties out quickly as the main Transatlantic departure bank approaches.

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After a quick stop at duty-free, it's time to head to the gate.

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Our flight is operated by the 777-300ER F-GSQE today, one of the oldest in the fleet (2004).

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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

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Great pitch in PE

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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.

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The cabin during boarding.

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Another 77W nextdoor.

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And yet another 77W pushing back a few minutes before us.

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We push on time and taxi to the north runways.

An A380 takes off as we taxi by.

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Video of takeoff



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Shortly after takeoff, the IFE is turned on but the image is really fuzzy.

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Hmmm….something's definitely wrong here.

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I guess we're not the only ones!

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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…

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Ah…looks like the reset worked!

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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.

My seat

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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).

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The menus



Since the IFE seems to be working now, time to watch a movie.

Hmmm….spoke too soon! Guess it's time for another reset :-/

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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!

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Well, at least it's time for the meal; that should distract me for a bit.

Champagne as an apéritif, as usual on AF.

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A Bloody Mary for my partner.

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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 :-)

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Water bottles (they are there upon boarding)

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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.

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Foie gras appetizer, the same as in J but smaller, I imagine.

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The same metal silverware and glass as in J. This was a new development in September 2013. Prior to that, these were both plastic.

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More wingshots as the IFE gets reset for the 3rd…or 4th time.

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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.

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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.

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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 :-)

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Aside from the candies there is also a refreshing towlette.

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A Cognac digestif to finish off the nice meal.

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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.

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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 :-)

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The cabin after the meal.

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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.

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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.

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The pre-arrival snack…eehhh

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The trays are collected about 15 minutes before landing.

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The Potomac River

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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.

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Video of the landing



We land on time and the weather is beautiful.

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Dulles is United-land

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Quick deplaning from door 2L.

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Bye bye F-GSQE

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Thanks for reading! Leave a comment :-)
See more

Verdict

Air France

6.4/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi2.0
Meal/catering7.5

Air France Lounge - 2E, Hall L

6.4/10
Comfort6.0
Meal/catering6.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services6.0

Paris - CDG

7.8/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Washington - IAD

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

The Flight:

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.

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

The contributors of Flight-Report published 38 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Paris (CDG) → Washington (IAD).


Useful

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

The average flight time is 8 hours and 21 minutes.

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9 Comments

  • Comment 99402 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    I enjoyed reading your fabulous report full with great pictures.

    It's a shame that you had such an unpleasant experience with the US IT dept. I think that regardless of where the ticket was purchased, an AF reservation should be handled at any AF location. After all, the ticket is issued on AF stock and the airline has ownership of that reservation. It's detrimental from a customer service perspective to be passing the ball like that.

    That AF lounge sure looked crowded and your analogy about finding any empty seat to parking space at Costco is a funny one. Heck, to me it seemed as challenging as finding parking in a crowded shopping mall during Christmas.

    Your compensation about the headrest not working sounds fair. As for the catering, the first meal looks fine but the second one is really lacking. Of course, no catering can compare to that of TK. Their Comfort Class one is excellent, despite the recent cutbacks.

    • Comment 288066 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5305 Comments

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, it's really a shame that AF's system works this way. I worked for AF a loooong time ago, so I kind of understand what they are talking about as far as having control of the PNR in Amadeus or not, but it's really inconvenient for customers. Living in the US I always buy AF tickets either via DL or though the AF.us site (though not anymore since I wouldn't get MQD's which is a joke considering the JV, but I digress)--when I've had to do something in my rez while in France...so on the Airfrance.fr site, it re-directs you to the AF.us site. They really need to work on this point-of-sale issue...most other airlines don't have it.

      Yes, Costco on a Saturday or a mall at Christmas time. I used to live in MN and let me tell you...nothing's worse that the Mall of America at Christmas time!

      Hard to compare any airline's Premium Economy product to TK Comfort Class...TK PE is just in a class by itself. It's really more of a J light product than a W product...which is why they are taking it out since it is cannibalizing their J-cabin. Too bad...I wish they would have just reduced the size of the cabin since it's HUGE now...kind of a silly business decision IMO. But her, I'm just an armchair CEO :-)

  • Comment 99420 by
    mgescheidt 52 Comments

    Thank you Kevin for this nice report with absolutely brilliant pictures, it´s a pleasure to read thank you

  • Comment 99502 by
    gonzo83 18 Comments

    Thank you for your report Kevin, it is a pleasure to go through it !

  • Comment 99503 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5305 Comments

    Thanks for your comment! Glad you enjoyed it :-)

  • Comment 99595 by
    CDG Addict 1650 Comments

    Thanks, AF wasn't bad!

    • Comment 288200 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5305 Comments

      Thanks for reading! I tend to have pretty positive experiences with AF. There have been bad experiences in the past, but the positive has always made up for it. That's why I've stayed loyal to SkyTeam for years.

  • Comment 99596 by
    CDG Addict 1650 Comments

    Ans thank you for the two videos.

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