Short because family (my wife and my 3 years old kid) did not want to come with me and stay in France for holidays. But a lonely trip brings a lot of benefits ;)
As this is a business trip, I don’t pay myself the ticket, and as the stay is short, I would like to travel in more comfortable conditions than coach class. I asked for a flexible ticket in Economy or Premium Economy, so a paid upgrade would not be too expensive for me.
1ST PART : From Tahiti to France
Papeete [PPT] - Los Angeles [LAX], Air France AF77, B772, Premium Eco, May 16, 2014
Los Angeles [LAX] - Paris [CDG], Air France AF77, B772, Premium Eco, May 16, 2014
CLICK HERE2ND PART : Back from France to Tahiti : Flying with styleParis [CDG] - Los Angeles [LAX], Air France AF66, A380, Premiere, May 25, 2014 YOU ARE HERE
Los Angeles [LAX] - Papeete [PPT] Air Tahiti Nui TN1, A343, Business, May 25, 2014
Now is the best time of this trip, and of my avgeek career.
For this return I chose the weekly Air France/ Air Tahiti Nui code share, on Sundays when purchased from Air France. Several advantages for this flight : - This brings a little change from my usual reports on flight AF76 CDG PPT, and allows me to present a flight operated by Air Tahiti Nui on LAX PPT flight - The départure time that suit me perfectly, with a morning departure from France and arrival to Tahiti in the evening, perfect for back to work the next morning - A better availability of different fare classes in Business class, in comparison to flight AF76 (if purchasing ticket in advance), which allows me to make this return trip in Business, for what I consider a reasonable amount
But the icing on the cake is the possibility to perform CDG LAX in « La Première ». A flight in First class, that’s although a small pleasure that I never thought I will have the opportunity to offer me! I have a unique opportunity on this flight: I travel alone, I have a paid ticket in business in an eligible fare class (D), and upgrade to First is available on my flight. It will cost me 75 000 miles for one trip, but you only live once!
My trip begins in Toulouse and my flight TLS CDG is booked on a separate file, I decided to leave the day before and sleep in an hotel in CDG. That allows me to spend more time in La Première lounge before my CDG LAX flight scheduled at 10:30 am.
When checking in online my first flight TLS CDG, I realize that AF was attended my flights, so I checked in online for the entire trip, except the last one operated by Air Tahiti Nui which is excluded , because of the code share I guess. In Toulouse, the hostess at check-in managed registering on all flights, but with a change of seat I had booked several months ago on the last flight (which I did not I realize immediately) making me go from a window to an aisle.
The morning of the flight when I woke up, I checked my emails and found that my flight is delayed.
This will leave me more time to enjoy the Lounge, but my connection time at LAX (2:30) melts like snow in the sun.
So I go early before 7:00 am to CDG and see on the departures board that my flight is the only one delayed this morning.
Direction Check-in « La Première » located in the lobby of Terminal 2E near the entrance 14.
I am greeted by an hostess who took my passport and my boarding pass issued in TLS, I notice her the untimely change of seat on the last flight and requests to retrieve my original seat 3L
I wait in a small room, where I expected to see me offer something to drink, an oshibori or anything else, but in fact, nothing at all.
Check in will take 5 to 10 minutes, the hostess returned to tell me that the 3L is no longer available but that does not matter ! I'm not very happy, the hostess disappears, returns with his colleagues, and finally find myself placed on a window seat two rows behind on 5L. All this ultimately doesn't really matter I agree, but management lacked a bit of class and empathy.
So here is my boarding pass, and I regret that AF does not make an effort on the its design, which will not remain as a relic in memory of this flight
I am quickly driven by another hostess through security checks of the 2E, then we join the Lounge by the elevators that are just after on the right
I enter a small vestibule with red tones to put me in the mood
An hostess makes me a brief presentation of the place. I discover this Lounge that I am excited to see. I had read that it was quite small, but I personally find it well sized, and the decor is simple and enjoyable.
Some overviews of the main part
Bottom right is the Alcove, quiet room, the decoration of optical fibers is the symbolic picture of this Lounge
Several comfortable sofas in the Alcove
Just before on the right in a little nook, the bar with red lounge atmosphere
Ice bucket with various Champagne will be available
Newspapers and magazines available in a rack on the back of the bulkhead separating the vestibule from the rest of the Lounge
On the left as you enter, a work area
Workstations are very private and isolated
On the left of the Lounge, also the buffet with classy design
The sausages bar as some called ;)
All products are of excellent quality and highlighted by a beautiful presentation
A wine cellar contains some beautiful bottles
I came here early for breakfast, it’s time to move to table
Have a look to the menu
The morning menu is fairly standard and altogether commonplace, with a good choice anyway
The lunch menu is only available from noon, and offers much more tempting dishes
As I know this menu with Flight Report, I could test the responsiveness and flexibility of the service by calling in advance La Première phoneline (+33 1 56 93 10 05) to order at breakfast the most famous dish this Lounge : Elbow pasta with ham and black truffle
This is really delicious, this dish is at the height of his reputation, I loved it!
After that, I take a small fruit salad from the buffet
And I finish with an espresso
After that I inquire with an hostess of the Lounge about the opportunity to enjoy a massage at the Biological Research Spa. She tells me that she has taken the liberty to book me shortly before boarding. Nice and much appreciated initiative.
I enjoy having a little time ahead of me to see my favorite site with wifi
Discover now the second part of the Lounge, the relaxation area
First is the toilets. The place is clean, simple, with rounded forms
Spacious toilet cabin
Just after is a relaxation and rest area with comfortable sofas
Finally we arrive at the small Biologique Recherche Spa
The list of benefits (only in french, I’m sorry)
I choose a free relaxing body treatment (20 minutes), which takes place in this room and that is a true delight before such a long flight
After this it is suggested that I take a shower, I refuse proposal, finding oil massage nice and soft, unobtrusive on the skin.
Let still see the showers
Towels and bathrobe branded BR
BR samples available
Time is now 11:15 when it’s proposed to go down to boarding by the small elevator
Down the lift, security check, then BMW car is waiting. We will be 2 pax in the car
Let's go for a short ride on the tarmac Exterior view of the Première Lounge
After a brief boost, we are already under the S3 (gates L of terminal 2E). We meet a B744
Then we go out the car and I see my bird.
Small disappointment to see F-HPJB, equipped with old Première cabin (beige color). The last 3 A380 are equipped with an evolution of this Première cabin (taupe color), never published on Flight Report at the time of this publication. The new Suite is not available at this time
We climb the stairs to get to the bridge and then go in the plane. I’m welcomed by 2 charming hostesses and the chief purser who apologized for the agitating in the galley due to technical intervention
Here is my headquarter in 2A
I did not want to choose 1A, fearing that the proximity of the galley will harm peace
Some overall views of the cabin. Occupation rate is 6/9
Infinite legroom and Ottoman
I take this opportunity to present my FR award gleaned in 2013 at the meeting of Manchester where I was absent, and recovered during this passage in Paris ;)
A Biologique Recherche box is a distributed, containing samples and an invitation for a one-hour care at the Champs Elysees or the Première Lounge at CDG
Distribution also an amenity kit and pajamas
The content of the amenity kit is similar to the one distributed in Business, which makes cheap for once, but improved with new Biologique Recherche samples
Pajamas only decorated with the shrimp, no brand name. Simple inscription Made in Bangladesh on the label
Drawer under the Ottoman
That contains slippers
And coverage that I find less pleasant to touch the new fleece blanket of Business
Champagne as welcome drink
Meanwhile, boarding continues in economy class behind me
The crew propose newspapers or magazines, the captain greets each of 6 passengers and apologizes for the delay. Some passengers coming from behind, cross the cabin and go up the stairs. Surely modest non-rev pax who did not wish to disturb Eco pax to go to their Business seat ;)
We push back at 12:10, another 20 minutes late again.
Next to us was another A380 that I would rather fly with, equipped with evolution of the Première cabin (taupe color),
Then another A380, F-HPJE recently decorated with a symbol of Chinese French friendship
I meet the A320 special livery 80 years
And the Concorde
Take off occurs only 20 minutes after pushback, we are now over 2 hours late. I have only an hour for my connection in LAX
Last view of the french metropolitan ground before a long time
I now explore the storage space on the window side. Power outlet and USB are there
A button to retrieve a screen of ridiculous size for a First
The Bose noise reduction headphones is good, very nice. The remote controler is useless with a small screen at hand
My choice of movie to start this flight is not really First class with a humoristic french film
Distribution of the menu (white) and wine list (red)
I had seen him last year in Business … (we will discuss about)
Here is the menu (I will come back to it with each dish)
IFE allows me to compare with the Business menu, which offers less choice, but look at least as appealing
The wine list remains Olivier Poussier’s work, regardless the cabin
1 Champagne, 1 sweet white wine, 1 white wine, 1 rosé wine, 2 red wines. I’ll find something to satisfy my taste buds
In addition to the toilets, there is a second booth at the disposal of pax in La Première : the locker room
I decide to go there before the meal. The place is not very big but enough to change myself comfortably.
Miscellaneous Biologique Recherche Products again available : moisturizing creams, or boxes of samples identical to those distributed shortly after boarding
So here I am in f(l)ight gear to face the long flight
Going to the toilet to see that it is technically possible to have a baby in First class
Another Biologique Recherche samples for the best effect while other items (razor, brush) are really cheap
I go back to my seat, we are above England.
I choose to take my first meal at that time, and the service begins one hour after takeoff. Here is the program of the beginning of this meal
The table is set and mise en bouche comes first: Sesame duck foie gras, zucchini roulade, fresh salmon paté canapé with cuncumber All this is nice The same Traou Mad Apericrepes as in Business are also served
I accompanied the beginning of the meal with a glass of Sauternes. Very good choice with Chateau Guiraud, one of my favorites in the appellation. I really enjoy
After that I go to the first course and choose the duck foie gras
Here I am ready to eat
But first of all, focus on certain elements of service: The metal cutlery, AF branded, but non-specific of La Première
Red leather lace used to tie the towel around cutlery. I like
The salt and pepper shakers are unworthy of First Class
Isigny butter, presented in its aluminum cup. As it does not bother me at all in Business, as I find that an effort of presentation could be done in La Première
The duck foie gras with lime zest is pretty average taste, the portion is generous
The simmered date with lemon and the tomato-carrot chutney accompanies well
I take country bread which is a big disappointment, it must date from yesterday
Then I go to the main course. The choice is varied with 3 Michel Roth’s dishes. I'm very surprised to find a dish that was served in Business last year, and generally disliked by people on Flight Report : Pan-seared scallops with tartuffon sauce . To see my report (only in french) describing this culinary experience in Business CLICK HERE Recycle a Business catering in First, we must dare!
I choose the simmered veal with verbena, vegetables fricassee and morel mushrooms
Exploded presentation, Air France's signature, is even found in La Première. Gustatorily speaking, this is good, but more at what a Business catering is expected that a First catering
I accompany this dish with red wine. I find the Châteauneuf du Pape good but too young to drink for such a good vintage
After that I ignore the salad to compose oneself
To complete this meal, I’m unfortunately not hungry enough to try cheeses and desserts
I only take sherbets which are as usual very good
In total, this first meal gives me an impression of Business catering
Now it’is time to play with the seat controler to better manage the jet lag, I must sleep on this flight up
My seat into bed position
Time to take a walk to the toilets and this is my bed with mattress set, duvet and pillow by my lovely stewardess
Here I am in sleeping position
We are well installed in First class
I have more than 8 hours before me
I sleep 4 hours and found a small bottle of Evian filed by my side during my sleep by my charming stewardess
The cabin is still pitch black but most passengers watch a movie
I did not see « l’instant fraicheur » that had to intervene during my sleep, so I'll see the buffet
Here it is, erected next to the stairs, no trace of mini sandwiches but I'm not hungry
But I'm thirsty, Champagne !
We are above northern Canada, at the Labrador’s Bay
I look through the window of the locker room for some refreshing pictures
Thereafter, finding no sleep, I watch another movie, Winter's Tale
The cabin gradually awakens
Steward call to retrieve my cloakroom and change me, very fast response.
At this moment, I think that the Emirates shower brings a real added value to the First class product on such a long journey. Pity that Air France did not follow this example
The time of the second meal, served 1:30 before arrival, approaches. I pull out the big tablet
The trolley is out, bad image in First class
Reminder of the menu
A meal tray is served
I accompany it with white wine, Pouilly Fuissé that I find good
First course chicken brochette with spicy diable sauce, with tabbouleh, asparagus tips, baby spinach is good
Main course pan-seared fillet of organic salmon, fried cherry tomato, lentils and fava beans with beurre blanc sauce is also good
As for cheese, Gorgonzola cheese flan is surprising, not bad at first but quickly sickening
The strawberry compote and strawberry pieces is excellent
I finish with an espresso which is accompanied by his box of chocolates
This second meal is good but always seems to me the level of a good Business class
Distribution of the first (and only) oshibori of the flight
I hold the end of the flight with aerial views: Lake Mead on my left
With the Hoover Dam
I go quickly to the locker room located on the right side to see Las Vegas
Mac Carran Airport
Overview of the desert (I am too at the front of the plane to the winglet photo :-0 )
Big Bear Lake, California, seems to be a popular place for water activities
Descent to Los Angeles
This flight ends, it seems too short to me !
Welcome to LAX, we touch down at 14:10
Several birds intersect, with Smaug at the terminal 2 (B77W Air New Zealand)
My next blue plane is here at the TBIT
B77W Virgin Australia
Many A380 coming from all over the world
And Fiji airways A332 with beautiful livery
We are at tour parking stand after taxiing about 10 minutes, the crew greets passengers and the youngest of them (my lovely stewardess) lingers a little chat with me for a few minutes.
It is now time to leave
Each La Première pax is supported by a ground agent. The one who cares for me is not AF staff but airport staff and accompanies me throughout this transit that promises to be short
We go down quickly to the passport control
Express Connection coupon will be very useful.
I pass immigration in 2 minutes, then towards the carousel to retrieve luggages (required because of the code share, since the bags change planes)
This report ends on a little sour note. While other La Première pax see their luggages arriving first, we wait for mine more than 20 minutes, despite the priority tag and red label identifying La Première.
When my bags finally appear, it only remains a little more than half an hour to get to my next plane, performing all transit procedures (customs, baggage connecting, exit on U.S. territory, security check, boarding …)
To be continued …
Air France La Premiere Lounge
Paris - CDG
Los Angeles - LAX
Global Appreciation : I don’t regret this experience. I am aware of the weaknesses of the product which can be prohibitive for First class frequent flyers, the most glaring concerning the IFE and catering. But the magic of the discovery of a first flight in First Class worked. If it again, I would take the opportunity to upgrade to La Première (but I would like to test the new Suite to compare).
Air France Cabin comfort : the seat is nice, even if there is defects for a First class seat. The lack of privacy of course, but I must say that I did not suffer, in fact any other passenger has sent me a glance of the flight. Crew : good pick on this flight, 2 stewardess in charge of our cabin were charming and very caring, special mention to the youngest of them, coming to see me before disembarking to greet me and talk a few minutes. The chief purser was also very nice Meal and catering: an average rating for a mixed assessment. I enjoyed the taste of what I ate, so I can not put less than average. Besides that, the dishes give an impression of Business catering, not First. I can not put more than average either Entertainment : IFE is a major weakness of La Première, far too small and not high quality screen. The choice of films, as in all travel classes, was good and varied. On-time performance : 1:30 late with 2 :30 transit at LAX, it could have gone wrong. The ROC service had reprotected me on the following flights, which would have made me arrive with 12 hours delay in PPT. Slow delivery of baggage does not help.
La Première lounge Quality and comfort : well sized and designed lounge, nice and quiet. Perfect Entertainment : free wifi, newspapers and magazines. The big plus is the Biologique Recherche care of 20 minutes offered Services and staff : perfect in every way. Special mention to the hostess who took the initiative to book me for the Biologique Recherche care just before boarding Catering : The breakfast menu is not especially extra ordinary, but my order in advance (Elbow pasta with ham and black truffle) allowed me to appreciate what Ducasse’s squad offers best
In the end, a feeling of near perfection, this lounge is at the height of his reputation
CDG Terminal 2E Enjoying the ground service of La Première, my experience is skewed, but I take this opportunity to congratulate CDG for progresses made, especially for transit pax
LAX TBIT With a very shortened transit, I did not take advantage of the new TBIT, but I have greatly appreciated the support provided by the ground staff for a First class passenger. False note for baggage delivery, 20 minutes after the luggage of other First class pax. Blame AF or LAX?
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