Hello and welcome to the next installment in this series of flights between Washington, DC and Paris, with a planned stopover in Montreal. I love Montreal and had not been there in years, so we decided to take advantage of a good Business class fare on AF ex-YUL to do a one day stopover in Montreal and take the opportunity to meet up with local Flight-Reporter MatthieuGD and his S.O.
Having arrived pretty late into YUL the night before, we stayed at the Best Western Montréal-Aéroport, which is rather close to the terminal. After checking out in the morning, we headed to the luggage storage facility in the International Arrivals hall. We were able to store all of our bags there for the day for around $20–pretty convenient as if avoided us having to head back to the hotel to grab the bags on our way back to the airport later that evening.
After dropping off our bags, we bought metro cards and hopped on the famous 747 express bus to the city.
We met up with matthieugd near this very Parisian Metro station entrance.
After a very nice lunch in good company, we headed out to do some tourism.
If you only have one day in Montreal, you can't leave without going to the to of the Mont Royal for a beautiful view of the city.
Around 3PM, we headed back to the 747 bus to get back to the airport.
After retrieving our bags, we headed to the Air France Sky Priority check-in. It was very fast as there was absolutely noone in line as you can see. The agent was very cheerful and friendly.
Security was also pretty fast. The agents were very friendly there as well and greeted us with a Salut, ça va bien? …a friendly and informal greeting that you would not hear in France from a stranger. It was a nice change.
On the way to the AF lounge, I stopped to admire the daily MD11, which would only be operating for a short time more. As you most likely know, KLM retired its MD11 fleet last month.
The entrance to the lounge is right next door.
Upon entering the lobby you are greeted by this gorgeous large scale model of the famous Concorde. The lounge is actually upstairs. You can either take an elevator or the stairs.
Another warm welcome from the lounge agents–the Québécois are so friendly. I asked if the shower was free and the agent escorted me there right away. After walking around Montreal all day it was nice to be able freshen up before the flight.
The shower room is nice and large. There is a decent toiletry kit with l'Occitane products.
The lounge is on the larger side for an out-station lounge and rather pleasant, although it is still in the older AF style of decor. Although it was rather empty when we arrived it soon filled up.
I wasn't very hungry, but there wasn't much to eat anyway. The snacks/food on offer was better than a typical US carrier lounge (pretty easy to do), but not as good as other AF lounges I had been to–notably my home lounge at Washington-Dulles. It was mostly snack items, cheese, crackers, fruit, and a pasta salad. I was kind of surprised to see that there was no actual French Champagne. A choice of Mumm Napa Brut and Mumm Napa Rose was on offer. Although I like Mumm Napa, so I didn't have a problem with it. Just found it odd.
The best thing about the lounge–at least for an AvGeek like me–are the huge windows with great runway and tarmac views. Planespotting while sipping champagne (or the closest thing to champagne I can find) is my idea of a good time :-P
Not surprisingly, we are in Air Canada-land, although there was an Air Transat or other random airline to see here and there.
An old Air Transat A310…been a while since I've seen an A300 or A310.
Air Canada A320
Air Canada A319
And a beautiful Air Canada B777-300ER arriving at the gate right below us. I'm guessing this is AC's Paris flight. There sure is a lot of traffic between YUL and CDG…although it's not surprising considering the cultural ties.
Boarding is announced a few minutes early in the lounge. As we left the lounge, I was surprised to the the 4:30PM AF 747 flight still at the gate. I guess that's why the lounge was so crowded.
Our A340-300, registration F-GLZP
Boarding begins exactly on time with Sky Priority passengers. As a Delta Platinum, I always found it odd that AF boards all Sky Priority pax at the same time. DL always boards premium cabins first, before SP pax in Y.
We are warmly welcomed on board by a very pleasant smiling crew. The cabin is outfitted with NEV4 seats. Prior to the recent introduction of the reverse herringbone Cirrus seats, this was AF's latest generation of Business class seats introduced in 2012 as a flatter version of the NEV (Nouveaux Espaces du Voyage) seat.
Although the seats are outdated in today's world of full-flat full-aisle-access, the cabin feels bright and spacious.
My seat with the new, plusher cover and larger feather pillow introduced this spring.
Cover and slippers. The slippers were also recently introduced in Spring 2014. I believe that previously, they were only on Asia routes.
As I get to my seat, I barely had time to put my jacket on the hanger provided at the seat, before a very nice FA came to welcome us on board and take our jackets. I've had some great crews on AF (and some not so great) and I could tell this was going to be a very pleasant flight as the crew made a very good impression from the get go.
The seats across the aisle. Oh no…what do I see, kids in J! Oh no! :-P Kidding, of course, I have nothing against kids in premium classes…as long as they're quiet–which, unfortunately was not he case on this flight.
An AC A330 next to us.
During boarding, a FA distributes the new amenity kits, which also came out this spring. I found the new kits to be attractive with the AF logo. There is also more content than in the older kits.
The seat controls.
The seat pitch is very good, although the design of the NEV4 to be flatter than the NEV3 has brought the screen closer in, which gives the impression of a bit less space than before.
Pre-departure drinks are distributed a few minutes after the amenity kits. There was a choice of champagne, orange juice, or water. Easy decision…champagne it is!
The view from 4K
Boarding is finished early and we push back a few minutes ahead of schedule.
The 4:30 flight still at the gate. She may be late, but she's a beauty!
The AC 77W AC that could be seen from the lounge earlier.
The safety video, the same safety video they've had for a good ten years…probably time for a change, eh?
A First Air 737-400 (combi).
Nice livery on this Air Transat A330-300.
Taxi time is relatively short and we're soon off the ground as you can see in the takeoff video.
Beautiful scenery around Montreal. Unfortunately, there was a thick cloud as we flew back over downtown, so I could not get a shot.
And we're off for a short Transatlantic crossing.
About 20 minutes after takeoff, our FA comes around with a tray of champagne and water for pre-dinner drinks. On IAD-CDG flights in my experience, it has been full-bar service, not limited to champagne or water like this. Our FA explained that it was protocol on shorter TATL flights to expedite service. It's kind of a shame not to have a full bar IMO, but then again, I would have probably chosen champagne anyway.
Several minutes later, menus are distributed.
Some beautiful colors out the window.
The cabin just before the meal service.
The meals are served as we fly over Nova Scotia. The cheese course and dessert are already on the tray as is the practice on short night flights.
The Lobster appetizer is very good.
Homard du Maine, Mayonnaise au wasabi, petite salade de mangue
For the main dish, I chose the Joel Robuchon special to stay with seafood. It was excellent–very good taste and a fantastic sauce.
Cheese and a blah dessert.
We finish the meal near the French islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon
We have a nice collection of glasses going :-)
…and as soon as the glasses are cleared away, we add new ones with a Poire digestif.
As we leave the North American continent, I put on the Lego Movie to watch something as I fall asleep.
It's a cute movie, but I fell asleep barely 30 minutes into it.
I slept pretty well, except when I was awoken by the crying baby a few times. Having flown DL 767 J more often than AF J in recent years, I find the AF seat to be wider in sleep position, although it isn't quite full flat…almost, but not quite.
The smell of coffee wakes me from a decent 4 hour sleep.
The breakfast on these short TATL flights is always kind of sad. DL definitely does better than AF here.
The cabin prepares for landing.
As we were just a few minutes away from landing, we all the sudden feel the force of the aircraft pulling up. Moments later, the cockpit confirms that we had to do a go-around due to traffic on the runway.
Alright, let's try this again!
Air-to-air wit an AF A330 during our second landing attempt.
This time it's good :-)
A Thai whale at Terminal 1
French government A340 also at T1
Eva Air B77W
Concorde in the distance
Uh oh…looks like we're headed toward remote stand parking.
And I was right…an announcement is made to inform us that we'll be bused to the terminal.Luckily we're still ahead of schedule despite the go-around.
A 744 next to us
Last view of my seat.
Bye bye F-GLZP
Before going to pick up our rental car, we head to the Air France arrivals lounge. It's quite a hike from 2E–the lounge is in 2C, even though AF had consolidated it's operations in 2E and 2F quite some time ago.
The food offering is pretty decent and makes up for the tiny breakfast onboard.
A good breakfast and a hot shower did us a lot of good and we were ready to hit the road feeling more refreshed than after a typical TATL redeye.
Thanks for reading!
Air France Lounge
Montreal - YUL
Paris - CDG
An overall very good flight. AF has been making upgrades in service and it shows. There is still room for improvement, but AF is definitely headed in the right direction.
Comfort: Although the seats are not fully flat, they were generally comfortable and ideal for a couple travelling together. The essential thing is that I was able to sleep well in this seat.
Equipage: The crew was great! Our flight attendant was just perfect. He was attentive, pleasant, and all around very good at his job. We had some nice chats with him and he had a fun sense of humour. The Chief purser was also great. She checked on us several times and thanked us for our loyalty addressing both of us by name (we're both Plat). It doesn't get better than that, so perfect score in my book.
Catering: The appetizer and main dish were very good and reasonably well presented. The breakfast was just kind of sad, but it's pretty much the standard on these short transatlantic flights for most carriers.
IFE: The PTVs are small and the moving map is old school but the selection of entertainment content is pretty decent.
On-time performance: Flight on time despite a go-around.
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