Welcome to the next Flight-Report installment of a trip I took this January. This report will cover an Air France flight from Montreal to Paris. Eventually, my Flight-Reports will cover:
DL 1625; BWI-ATL; F Class; 5/1/2014 DL 5324; ATL-YUL; F Class; 5/1/2014 AF 346; YUL-CDG; J Class; 5/1/2014 (Current Report) AF 3886; CDG-AMM; J Class; 6/1/2014 RJ 344; AMM-TLV; J Class; 9/1/2014 AZ 809; TLV-FCO; J Class; 17/1/2014 AZ 610; FCO-JFK; J Class; 17/1/2014 DL 2914; JFK-DCA; F Class; 17/1/2014
I arrived in YUL on DL 5324. Remember that the conditions were pretty snowy:
Pre-customs and immigration baggage claim was nearly empty.
As I also mentioned in my previous report, the immigration officer might have been the friendliest immigration officer I've encountered. (Contrast this with a few Flight-Reports from now, where I will have lots of nasty things to say about Israeli security and immigration.) I had a seven-hour layover. I have a friend in Montreal (Laval, actually), whom I met on a previous trip to the south of Africa. (Unfortunately, I don't have the requisite photos to make Flight-Reports out of that trip.) After having lunch with my friend and her husband, I went up to Mont-Royal to take a few photos. I wasn't thinking ahead, and I didn't wear the proper shoes to fully climb Mont-Royal and take photographs of downtown Montreal. I did get a few shots of eastern Montreal, two of which you get to see.
I drove back to the airport, which was now a bit busier.
In fantastic fashion, YUL had a live jazz band playing.
Since I was flying Business Class, and since I was a Delta Platinum Medallion, I could partake of the better, Sky Priority lines.
YUL is currently in the midst of some pretty hefty reconstruction, decreasing amenities and increasing clutter and noise. I'm sure it'll be a much better place after this all is done.
From there, it was to what Air France called their lounge. In the stairwell up, they had a model of a truly grand old bird.
The lounge was incredibly disappointing: a small, fairly crowded room.
For a business class lounge, drink options were acceptable (I didn't have any, but I spot vintage Taylor Fladgate, which is always okay with me.) The food options, however, were not. There were some assorted vegetables and some pasta that was almost finished off. (Sorry about the blurry photo. Didn't realize, at the time, how awful it was. I applied a sharpening filter to try to improve what I could.)
While the lounge would have been wonderful for plane watching during the day, the fluorescent lights created awful glares. Even my polarizer couldn't kill off most of them. This was unfortunate, because there was a still-operating grand old bird waiting to go to Amsterdam. Business class on my flight was sold out for a long while. I wanted to fly on Audrey Hepburn, but unfortunately that didn't happen. Hey, I even accidentally tried to board the wrong flight, which just happened to be on her.
Instead, my flight was on an A340, which I am sure isn't a particularly economically viable option.
Notice that there's no jet bridge to the plane. Instead, we all boarded a people mover. Indeed, it reminded me a lot of the people movers that IAD used to employ. Whilst we didn't have to walk through the snow on the tarmac, at least, the people mover was awfully crowded. Certainly they can do a better job with this.
As is well-known, Air France hasn't yet updated their Business Class offerings to full-flat seats. Instead, we got sort-of-flat seats. Leg room, especially for this 1.97m body, was perfectly fine.
Air France's champagne was a Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve, which was fine. Cheers!
We push back. After the safety demonstration, oshibori and the amenity kit are handed out. Although the amenity kit is an eighty-year anniversary edition, it otherwise is nothing special.
Montreal's tarmac turns out to be a great place to see first-generation 737s, presumably equipped to fly up to the arctic tundra.
And we're off!
I take a glance at the dinner and wine menus. (I've provided both English and French versions of most pages.)
Apparently, I neglected to photograph the suggestion card for the signature Joël Robuchon dish, a chicken tagine with potatoes, carrots, and cumin butter. But lucky you, you get to see photographs of it very soon, as I made it my dinner choice.
Dinner presentation was haphazard, at best. To sate my curiosity, I checked the order of dishes in a traditional French dinner, and I'm told it's something like: hors d’oeuvres, main course, salad, cheese plate, dessert. Note the first tray presented to me:
I received the first course and last two courses together, all on one tray. This left me a bit confused. Since this was a late flight, was there no main course, notwithstanding the menu? It turns out there was, of course, but it seems a bit, at least on a transatlantic flight, to throw almost everything onto one tray, irrespective of when the course should come. Oh, of course. There was wine. This glass was the Menetou-Salon Les Bornés 2011 Domaine Pellé. I don't have much recollection of it, which suggests it was fine but not particularly memorable.
Next came the main course. Admittedly, it's not the most attractively presented dish. But, it holds a very honorable distinction: It's the first dish I've ever been able to smell from the flight attendants' cart. As they had the cart in front of us, I could smell the wonderful aromas of the cumin butter. I was planning on ordering that dish anyway, but the smell cemented my desire to get this dish. Indeed, it didn't disappoint: It's certainly one of the top two or three dishes I've had in the air. The chicken was moist and flavorful—not at all overdone. Vegetables were perfectly cooked. The cumin butter added a wonderful, wonderful touch.
The cheese and cake weren't particularly memorable, either way. Again, like the wine, that probably means they were acceptable, but not fantastic (or awful).
I have something terrible to admit: I don't (or, rather, didn't) like Cognac. So it surprised me that I ordered a glass of Air France's Cognac, a Tesseron lot nº 90 XO Selection, expecting to not care for it. Surprise! I loved it. It was a wonderful drink, and the Cognac trojan horse I've been waiting for for a long time. Now, when I taste Cognac, I taste gold.
At this point, I curled up and got four or so hours of sleep. Sorry, you don't get any photographs of me sleeping. You also don't get any photographs of breakfast, as I apparently forgot to take them. The breakfast menu should tell you that you're not missing a photographic bonanza.
We land without issue. Here's one last view of our bird:
Air France Lounge
Montreal - YUL
Paris - CDG
The flight itself was fine, save for the plating issues. The entree was one of the best entrees I've had in the air. YUL will be a better airport once construction is ended. Hopefully, Air France will construct a better lounge.
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