Hello and welcome to the next and last installment in this series of flights between Washington, DC and Paris, with a stopover in Montreal. I had a really great flight on the outbound portion on an A340 and was really looking forward to being in the nose of the Queen of the Skies for the return!
Our flight was leaving early-ish (10:45AM) so we got to CDG around 7AM to drop off the rental car and leave enough time to go to the lounge. The Air France lounge in Terminal 2E-Hall K has just undergone renovations for the past 3 months and was reopening that day. I was looking forward to seeing the new lounge, expecting it would look something like AF's flagship lounge in Terminal 2E-Hall M (Also known as S4 for CDG connaisseurs).
For what is a busy travel day with the end of the French summer vacation period, the Sky Priority counters were surprisingly not busy.
We dropped off our 5 ginormous bags full of our yearly provisions of good French stuff to bring back home to the States :-)
Security and immigration was pretty fast with Sky Priority/Accès Numéro 1.
Upon arriving at the lounge I looked around and thought to myself….ummmm, what, it looks exactly the same as before!?!
And my favorite spot upstairs was closed… :-/
I had to tweet my disappointment, lol…#fail
I had read that the lounge had mainly been closed to equip it with new kitchens capable of handling a wider selection of hot food offering.
….and yet, there was absolutely no hot food to be found, It was the same cold stuff as before. I always wondered why some lounges in outstations had better food offerings than some lounges at CDG, AF's main hub. I'm thinking mainly of my home lounge at Washington-Dulles.
From what I'm told, hot food is now on offer at CDG 2E Hall K. Maybe just a first day hiccup.
But hey, I'm not complaining–I was just mostly surprised. As long as there's bubbly I'm happy! #FirstWorldProblems
We left the lounge a few minutes before boarding.
I like the architecture of 2E, but it's not very spotter-friendly for AvGeeks like me…except at both ends of the concourse, that is.
The best view I could get of our B744.
Boarding started on time. The flight was very full judging from the large crowd at the gate. As is often the case in CDG you kind of have to fight your way through the crowd to get to the Sky Priority lanes. But living in the US, I'm very used to that.
An A330 next door.
Living in the US, I frequent DL's 744s more often. It had been years since I'd been on board an AF 744. I think the last time was when I was a kid in the 90s when we had AF 747s at IAD. This would also be my first time in the nose of an AF 744. The best place to be! You must be thinking…but upstairs is the best place…on AF, upstairs is all Economy. So yes, if you're in Y, the hump is where you want to be.
Most pax have boarded by the time we get on board. I discover the forward Business cabin which looks generally pleasant.
My seat in 4A
View from my seat.
The seat pitch
This aircraft is equipped with the NEV4 model, AF's latest business class product prior to the introduction of the Cirrus flat beds back in June 2014. AF has some versions of the NEV4 with big IFE screens and some with small…as you can see, we have the small screens today.
The seat controls. They are simplified when compared to the previous generation of seats, NEV3. NEV3s had a massage function, but NEV4s do not. Probably to save weight.
Pre-departure drinks arrive several minutes after we settle in to our seats.
Boarding finished early despite a very full flight. Before we know it, the doors are closed and we're ready for departure.
Puchback is right on time.
The taxi time is quite long as we have to get all the way to the North runways. It's a good opporunity for more planespotting :-) And there were A380s galore.
With all these Delta jets, you'd think we were in ATL. Yes, I do realize CDG is technically a DL hub :-)
Let's get in the conga line!
Oh look, our beautiful reflection. What a nice bird.
AF Skyteam 77W
Terminal 2F, oddly empty.
Terminal 1 - the flying saucer
A340-300 F-GLZP on which we flew on the way over from YUL a few weeks earlier.
LOT Polish E190
US Airways A330
UA and some A380s at T1
And finally we take off after a good half hour of taxiing.
I had chosen seats on the left side of the aircraft to get views of Paris if the weather was clear. We were spoiled with nice views, although there was a bit of haze.
Although the PTVs are small, the IFE has a good amount of content.
Menus were distributed shortly after takeoff.
Pre-meal drinks and the amuse-bouche were served as we were leaving the French coast behind.
When I booked the tickets, I had chosen seats in row 4 for a greater amount of privacy as the seats are kind of tucked away in a corner. However, I found during the meal service that these seats would have been a poor choice on a night flight as there was a lot of noise from the galley.
For a day flight like this one, however, it's fine.
The appetizer and salad are served as we are over Cornwall.
I found the piece of Foie Gras to be on the small side, however the portion of salmon was rather generous. The appetizer was good, even if it's not at all what was written in the menu…like, where are the scallops?
For the main dish, I chose the beef despite my good instincts, and yeah…it was a bad idea… The meat was tough and overcooked, but that's never really surprising with beef on a plane. The worst part was the chewy potato cake…seriously, McDonald's hashbrowns are way better…not good for a premium cabin. And then there's the presentation, you would think someone could have made an effort to put that poor greenbean back into the plate. Did noone notice that it was hanging out? I don't think I'm being overly nit-picky here…it just seems like when you pay for Business class…food shouldn't be hanging out of your plate. Then there's the lovely aluminum cup for the sauce, super classy, right?
This is what I should have gotten. My husband made a much better choice than me.
sorbet and dessert trio…no complaints there.
And a cognac digestif to finish things up. The FA didn't offer after dinner drinks as they normally do. I had to ask for it, which made me feel like an alcoholic :-P
Air-to-air with an AA 77W, probably coming from LHR.
The cabin after the meal service. Many people are napping.
I got up for a bit to strecth my legs.
The NEV4 seat in the full-sleep position…whatever that means :-P Full-sleep is a term invented by AF marketing when the NEV4 came out. They technically couldn't claim it was full-flat, so I guess full-sleep means ALMOST flat…just not quite. All kidding aside, it's actually quite comfortable.
I started to watch a movie but ended up falling asleep. I slept for much of the flight.
When I woke up we were already over the province of Québec.
The pre-arrival meal was served about an hour before landing.
Hmmm…it's a bit sad looking… Compared to what Delta serves on Transatlantic flights, the portions are downright tiny.
We have nice views of the St. Lawrence the whole way to Montréal.
After some great views of Paris on departure, we were treated to some nice views of Montréal on landing, although with less ideal weather. I was glad I chose the left side of the aircraft!
We flew really close to the St. Joseph observatory. I was impressed by how close it was.
We landed early and got to the gate about 10 minutes ahead of scheduled arrival time.
My hometown airport of Dulles isn't the only place with mobile lounges :-)
One last view of our 747
Immigration was pretty fast, and I once again found the agents to be very nice. We then head to the Transborder Terminal to catch our connecting flight to the US. Because Canada is a pre-cleared destination, you go through US Customs and Immigration upon departure at the airport. It's very convenient.
There are no SkyTeam lounges in the Transborder Terminal, so I occupied my time with some planespotting :-)
And this is the end of this series of flight reports. Thanks for reading and see you soon for new flights!
Air France Lounge - 2E, Hall M
Paris - CDG
Montreal - YUL
Overall, it was a good flight. The NEV4 seats are pretty comfortable and well suited for couples travelling together (If you're by yourself, not so much). AF has taken steps to improve its product this past year and it shows (new larger feather pillow, bigger quilt, slippers, and a better amenity kit). Catering was disappointing, however. From the appetizer that is different from the menu, to the main with burnt potatoes and beans falling out, to the tiny portions of the pre-arrival meal, the dining experience fell short of expectations for the French Flag-Carrier...Ah France, that land known for its amazing food. I've flown AF in J many times over the years and knew not to expect too much, but this was even below my low expectations. The crew was generally professional, but the FA on our side was not overly warm or attentive, without being unpleasant.
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