Review: Air France Business Class B777-2, Paris – Vancouver.


Our travels home would have us departing from Europe’s largest Skyteam hub at Paris Charles de Gaulle. With a competitive overseas marketplace, Air France goes head to head against Lufthansa from their co-bases in Frankfurt / Munich, and British Airways from their busy hub at London Heathrow. How would Air France stack up against these heavy weights?

This post is one chapter on our trip to Malta, Italy and Germany. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status and credited to Alaska Mileage Plan and Air Canada’s Aeroplan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Air France Business Class B777-200 ER, Paris Charles de Gaulle – Vancouver International Airport.

After experiencing a few great wines at the Salon Air France Lounge Paris Charles De Gaulle, we headed to Gate L42 at about forty five minutes prior to travel. The clouds had burned off from our earlier arrival and it was a beautiful sunny morning looking down on Paris today. The boarding was already underway with most passengers already on board. There was proper double jet bridge boarding today with a separate bridge for business class.

Boarding at CDG T2E Gate L42
An Air France B777-2 taking us from Paris to Vancouver
Double Jet Bridge Boarding Today
MrsWT73 headed to Business Class with intent
Air France
Business Class
CDG-YVR (Paris Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2E – Vancouver International Airport)
AF 0374
September 25, 2016
Booked: Boeing 777-200
Flown: Boeing 777-200 ER
Departure: 10:45 AM
Arrival: 11:40 AM

On Board Air France Business Class:

We headed on board and settled in. The plane looked a lot cleaner and newer than the past flight that we have took to Europe. The seating configuration on this Air France Boeing 777-200ER was 2-3-2 in business class. This is a dated angle flat seat configuration. While the 2 seats on the window are great for travelling with a partner, they are not so great for travelling as a single for business purposes. The window passenger does not have direct aisle access.

Air France Business Class B777-2
Air France Business Class B777-2 Cabin Views
Air France Business Class B777-2 Cabin Views

As in regular Air France style, a coat hanger was waiting for us on the seat. This is a nice touch as it’s not all that regular that coats get collected on Business Class flights.

Business Class Coat Hangers, marked by seat

The seat entertainment system offered the wired remote controls that were consistent with this generation of seat. It included the usual channel, volume, flight and call features.

Wired Remote

The seat console offered storage for in flight (or personal) magazines. It also offered limited space for the amenity kits or other personal articles. The spaces were not large enough to store purses or other items such as a computer. In a plus, the seats did feature in seat power with North American power outlets.

There was a view from our seat of what appeared to be an A380 gate with a Boeing hooked up to it today.

Views while Waiting to Take Off

Pre Departure Services:

It was a bit slow with the service of the pre-departure beverage. Air France seemed to prefer to wait until all passengers have boarded, prior to offering a pre-departure beverage. In this case, it was us being the last to board, despite boarding within 5 minutes of the recommended time on the boarding card.

Today’s choices were grapefruit juice, water or champagne. The drinks were passed out at about ten minutes before the flight and then efforts were made to collect them in a rush shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, there was no relaxed sipping or savouring your champagne here; please get it down the hatch and I’ll take back your glass!

Pre Departure Beverage: Champagne

Unfortunately, there was a 30 minute ground wait at the gate due to British air traffic control”not allowing us to depart. We eventually headed on a long taxi towards runway 27L behind a Delta widebody aircraft. I managed to see an Air France Airbus A380 on final approach as we waited.

Departure Taxi to CDG Runway 27L
Spotting an Air France A380 on Final Approach at CDG

As we were waiting for departure, for the first time ever, despite about 100 flights reviewed, I was approached by the purser, and asked in French, if I was working for a commercial airline reviewer magazine? I answered no which followed up a question from her if these photographs were going to end up on the internet? I had taken about 5 photographs total of my seat at this point. I described that they were for personal use and were not commercial in any way. She seemed satisfied by that answer and left. I never saw her again. I don’t think that this had much effect since the service levels didn’t improve too much after this. It seems that the purser is not a hands on like on some Asian or Middle East carriers where they come around and introduce themselves to you. 

Amenity Kits:

About 45 minutes into the flight, the amenity kit and menus were passed out. The kits were similar to our outbound flight. The kits were a contemporary case, with some basic middle of the road items. There was no specific branding partnership with the items within the kit.

Contemporary Styled Amenity Kits
Contents of the Air France Amenity Kits

The Meal: A Tasting Menu Lunch

Today’s menus offered chef Yves Camderborde, alleged Pioneer of the Bistronomy movement at the Relais St Germain Hotel and le Comptoir restaurant. This seemed to be unique to the Paris departing flights as these items were not offered on our outbound Air France Business Class Vancouver – Paris flight; leaving Vancouver.

Air France Business Menu; Paris – Vancouver
Air France Tasting Menu: Paris – Vancouver

Along with the great wines located at the Salon Air France Business Lounge, the wines on board Air France Business Class featured quality french wines. It was great to have wines that highlighted their region.

Air France Wine List: White Wines & Champagne
Air France Wine List: Rosé and Reds

We started with a towel service. This was followed by a Mis en Bouche of Creamed Peas with a gin and tonic, which was served without ice. This wasn’t a choice, rather its how it arrived and it seemed the staff were rushing.

Pre – Supper Cocktail with an Amuse Bouche

The next course was the gourmet appetizer and seasonal salad with toasted pine nuts: Duck Foie Gras terrine with lemon, chantrelle mushroom salad with golden raisins, goat cheese timbale with sunshine vegetables, celeriac mousse with lemon, carrots with hazelnut oil, celery with olive oil with Bourgone Blanc Chablis 2014 Jeam Marc Brocard

A trio of appetizers: including foie gras,
Duck Foie Gras terrine with lemon, chantrelle mushroom salad with golden raisins, goat cheese timbale with sunshine vegetables, celeriac mousse with lemon, carrots with hazelnut oil, celery with olive oil
Air France Branded Trays

For the main lunch course, I went with the suggestion du jour of slow cooked veal shank of veal confit, with salt cured lemon, sautéed artichoke and penne pasta with white sauce, paired with Bourgone Rouge Reserve du Bastion 2013 Domaine Chanson. Despite the celebrity chef, the meal didn’t look all to appealing. It was okay, but for a famous chef, maybe I had greater expectations than having a dish with a side of pasta? I suppose I could have ordered something else, but I found it a bit odd when it was presented.

Slow Cooked Veal Shank, with Salt Cured Lemon, Sautéed Artichoke and Penne Pasta with White Sauce
A celebrity chef main accompanied with pasta

For dessert, I went whole hog with brownie, vanilla cream puff, strawberry-raspberry vacherin parfait, and apple sorbet and ice cream.

Brownie, Vanilla Cream Puff, Strawberry – Raspberry Vacherin Parfait

The staff pretty much disappeared again after the dinner service. MrsWT73 went to get a drink refill after the movie and the staff ran away from her into the do not enter area presumably busy eating their lunches? The service was typically French; with jokes that are seem like they could be half true. You are having dessert and sorbet?

Dinner was a leisurely affair, with the meal service being concluded at around 2:30 PM local time or 3 hours after departure. Window shades were drawn down around the cabin at this time as we were traveling with the sun.


Views from the Wing: Spotting Arctic Glaciers

One of the best features of this particular flight was the fact that this flight crosses the artic during the day time. Most of these flights from Europe to the West Coast are typically in the late afternoon or at night, and you can’t see anything. As we passed over Greenland at about 4 PM, you could see all the glaciers and even some icebergs breaking apart off the glaciers from the air. It was truly unique and a first for me despite all my trans-atlantic crossings.

Flying Over Greenland
Amazing Arctic Views from the Wing
Glaciers Ending in the Ocean
Spotting Glacier Break Ups in the Arctic Sea

The glacier spotting over Greenland was definitely the highlight of this flight.

I attempted to get a few hours of sleep. The seats were angle flat and even on the return journey they were not what I would describe as “comfortable”. They did allow some relaxation but not much deep sleep. The seat has limited functionality as it only goes down, or up; with no other settings.

Limited Seat Functionality

Another first for me on this flight- we had an Asian family of six in the center of the business class cabin and seated immediately next to us. They were traveling with a 2 year old (with his own seat) and they allowed him to treat the cabin like a nursery. There was frequent “yelping” and “shrieking” without any effort to calm junior by the parental units or the Air France staff. The minders did get “instructed” not to change junior’s diaper on the business class seat in the cabin, which they seemed to ignore mid change. Needless to say, it was not easy to get a restful sleep while this was going on and the staff seemed to take a “laissez faire” attitude about the whole thing.

As a result of boredom, junior clambered and draped himself over the row of business class seats visiting some random people while the minders pretty much ignored him. I certainly don’t mind kids in the business class cabin having traveled with mine several times but Air France’s approach to this situation, like their service, was relaxed for most of the trip; poor kid.


The Second Service: Refreshments

I did manage to get in a little snooze and awoke outside Northern Saskatchewan. The lights came on and Window Shades were pulled up about 1:50 hrs left of flight time for the final food service.

The Second Service Started Two Hours Before Landing

The last service was a strange quinoa lunch snack that really didn’t have much taste.

Quinoa and Sun-dried Tomato Subric, Sautéed Baby Spinach and Yellow Zucchini Jus

We had an over water arrival on runway 8L coming into a cloudy Vancouver today.

Our Air France B777-2 on Arrival at Gate 51 in Vancouver

We went through the Vancouver International arrival hall and we were through customs with Nexus, although we had the most nexus users I have seen with all 8 kiosks occupied on arrival.

Vancouver International Airport

Compared side by side, I can’t see the advantage of flying Air France vs Lufthansa to Europe. The transfer expreience at Paris Charles de Gaulle and the somewhat dis-interested service that was Air France on board didn’t make it appealing or a reason to chose Air France over another carrier. The food and beverage that France (as a country) is famous for did not translate into the same service on board. Overall the quality of food was quite disappointing and below average.

I found that Air France were far behind our last Lufthansa Business Class Munich – Vancouver flights, which had far better food and beverage, better seat configurations and more pleasant and attentive professional service. The accolades that Air France La Premiere First Class seems to get doesn’t seem to have any trickle down effect to their business class product in terms of food, beverage or service. I would sadly even rate Air Canada mainline as offering a higher level of service than Air France. As a result, I’m hesitant to provide any endorsement for them and we’d probably chose another carrier if the prices were even.

My Thoughts on the Air France Experience:

If this flight is any representation of Air France, it was pretty underwhelming overall. There are much better equipment and service offerings out there- Lufthansa’s newer full flat seats and Air Canada’s reverse herringbone seats are much nicer. The food and service offerings are miles ahead on other carriers as was the service these days. I got the impression that the staff were just going through the motions and didn’t really appear to interested in their jobs. I think that had we paid a regular price business class fare (instead of the smoking deal that we got) that we’d have been quite disappointed. All in all, I can’t say that I would ever choose Air France again if I had the choice between Lufthansa or even Air Canada. Be forewarned if you happen to be flying Air France in order to watch out for these older business class cabins.

If you’ve flown Air France, did you find them competitive versus Star Alliance or One World ?

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