Foreword: booking my ticket via Flying Blue
To make this trip, which was a one-way trip – my return was scheduled on Swiss with Aeroplan miles – I used Flying Blue miles with a Promo Awards promotion, as there are every month.
My business class ticket on Air France cost 39,750 miles and $324.39 in taxes and surcharges.
NB: the carrier surcharge counts here for $268.48: this is less than what Air Canada charges for a business class ticket on Aeroplan, but it is still high for an award ticket!
Note that in business class, you can bring 2 suitcases of 32 kgs, which is convenient for Europeans who regularly go back and forth to see their family!
And I was careful to book my ticket on a flight equipped with the new generation Business cabin, the BEST cabin (which offers sleeping chairs as well as direct aisle access for all seats).
To earn Flying Blue miles:
- Either you travel regularly on Skyteam member airlines (Air France-KLM, Delta…)
- Either you have US credit cards that allow you to transfer your points into Flying Blue miles
- Either you transfer Marriott Bonvoy points into Flying Blue miles (60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 25,000 Flying Blue miles)
- You can either buy Flying Blue miles with Points.com
- Or you can get lucky and take advantage of the only day when American Express Canada Membership Rewards points transfers were available to Flying Blue…!
This last option was ours (and at a 1:1 transfer rate…)! It was a mistake… American Express Canada officially replied, to our regret.
We still hope that Flying Blue will become a true transfer partner of American Express Canada as it is in the United States!
Especially since Air France has a large French diaspora in Canada that would be delighted to be able to earn Flying Blue miles via American Express!
The Air France lounge at Montreal-Trudeau YUL
After my quick passage through security, I went directly to the Air France lounge counter (at gate 57) where I was immediately received by Gérald, the Air France Flight Manager / Station Manager in Montreal. I received a very nice welcome – more than warm – with a presentation of the lounge which was well filled (hence the few pictures I could take so as not to disturb the other passengers).
A lounge that is both relaxing and friendly in a refined, sober, but somewhat cold atmosphere related to the presence of aluminum counters and neon lights. The presentation of the dishes could be improved in order to make it more neat. However, the team is very attentive at the reception and in the kitchen and everything necessary is there:
Waiting area, catering, checkroom, office etc.
The lounge is composed of 2 distinct spaces, a space for snacking, refueling with different facilities (high, classic or low tables).
An interesting choice of cold/hot drinks, alcohols and snacks was proposed, as well as a selection of newspapers and magazines (+ Air France Press).
Also appreciated is a dedicated work area with printer. There is also a separate, quieter area for people who want to be alone or to rest.
In both cases, there is something for everyone if you want to observe the planes… including mine tonight, a Boeing 777-200:
Air France in business class on Montreal – Paris
The station manager came back to me to take me to the gates of the Air France flight. I was able to attend the last operations before the boarding of the passengers, to discover all the crew and the new interior of this Boeing 777-200 which can embark nearly 400 people.
I had the right to the backstage of a boarding, meticulously prepared by the ground team and on board.
My cab tour and thanks
I had the honor of being introduced to the whole crew: imagine my luck to meet each crew member as well as the Captain and his Co-pilot.
I was able to visit the different sections of the aircraft including the cockpit with the graceful permission to stay a while, observe, understand the organization of the dashboard and talk about the flight planning with programming of the itinerary and fuel check.
So here is my turn in the cabin, before the other passengers board.
Air France economy class
In this B777-200, the economy class is divided into rows of 3-4-3. The space is optimized to the maximum.
With large screens of 9 inches, which is a clear improvement compared to other devices as Jean-Maximilien has tested a few years ago.
A pillow and blanket are available at each seat:
Away cases fit easily into the luggage compartments.
I like the stitching on the seats, even in eco:
If you must travel economy on this type of aircraft, I recommend the emergency exit row with plenty of legroom (note also the electrical outlets available at each seat).
If you are traveling with a baby, this is the row to hang the bassinet.
Air France’s premium economy class
Let’s move on to Air France’s “Premium Economy” class.
They are shell chairs, which allows not to disturb the passengers behind / be disturbed by those in front. These chairs have footrests.
The screens are a sizeable 12 inches:
The configuration here is 2-4-2, so 2 less seats per row than in economy.
And a partition between Economy and Premium Economy.
Air France business class
Now it’s the turn of the Business class, in which I will fly tonight.
The old Air France business cabin was composed of “slide” seats that were not real flat beds. In addition, not all passengers had direct access to the corridor.
Here, thanks to the recent “BEST” cabins that are gradually being deployed in the fleet, all passengers have direct access to the corridor.
We are on Air France with “Blue / White / Red” colors.
Personally, I found the cabin rather aesthetic, with the feeling of being in a cocoon. The lighting would be the weak point making the material stand out in yellowish tones.
The seats are enveloping, you feel good, a nice place for the legs. Our movements can be wide, but when we are standing in the hallway, we find ourselves a bit cramped to move around.
Once seated, I appreciate discovering an ottoman with a very large foot space: unlike other companies where the feet are locked in a “box”, here you keep the freedom of movement, especially when you turn.
Small regret compared to other business classes, I do not find full support when I try to extend my seat; the legs remain in the void until you move to the bed position.
On the side of the seat are the adjustments for the different positions. However, I find them rather awkwardly placed, having a tendency to inadvertently activate them by resting my arm on these buttons.
The counter is however big enough to arrange my things. The dining shelf is hidden under this counter and easy to unfold. Very practical, we are at ease in our space which is pleasant.
The remote control for the television is integrated on the side: touch-sensitive and reproducing what you see on the screen, it was not without defect during the flight, having bugged in the middle of the trip.
A storage box, aesthetic I must say, is available, in which is the headset, a mirror, as well as elastic bands to keep in place your various accessories during the flight. Be careful not to block the closing of the door by a charging wire for example, being a push-button system.
Also, the seat has a power and USB outlet, as well as storage for magazines and a water bottle.
The accessory kit
In Business class, Air France offers 4 different colors for the accessory kit.
I appreciate the effort put into the design of the Air France kit, as much for the softness of the outer fabric as for the interior design. 4 tones are proposed.
The contents of the kit are standard.
However, special mention for the “flight socks”, the softest and most comfortable worn so far in my business class experiences, as well as the blanket and pillow, soft and comfortable fleece!
The screen in Business is a very nice size: 16 inches and an excellent resolution. The choice is varied, with a large content of French programs of course.
I also appreciate the different videos for the exercises to be done for the well-being on board.
The service and the meal
Two choices are offered: a quick formula so that you can sleep faster, or a complete formula.
I chose the complete formula.
Surprisingly, the dessert – succulent by the way – is served at the same time as the starter (a delight)… ! So, out of carelessness, I ate it… before I was served the main course! 😳 .
The hostess tells me that I am not the only one to make the mistake. Perhaps an organization of the dishes on the tray to be revised. The dish was in agreement with the rest and the proposed alcohols were judicious.
Which makes me forget to take the photo of the main course! 🙄
Here are the different pictures related to the menu:
The armchair… in bed mode
After a little trip to the toilet – which is not modern at all…
…but in which you can sit down to change:
… I settle into my chair positioned in bed mode, with blanket and pillow.
Unlike other airlines, Air France does not offer a mattress topper to be placed on the seat.
However, this chair is very comfortable (even more than the Etihad First bed on A380… that’s saying something!), so the mattress topper is not necessary.
After 4 hours of rest, we are already flying over the French coast. It’s time for breakfast.
Natural light fills the cabin:
Here is a view of the breakfast:
Shortly after breakfast, we will arrive – 20 minutes early – at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
The last time I flew business class on Air France… was in 2011 when we arrived in Canada.
At the time, Jean-Maximilien and I had chosen to travel on business in order to bring many suitcases to Canada, without any extra luggage (and to check off one of Jean-Maximilien’s Avgeek dreams: to travel in the nose of the Air France Boeing 747… since removed from the fleet).
Since then, Air France has considerably improved its business class to compete with Air Canada, especially on the Paris-Montreal route.
Both the service on board and the product provided are of high quality. Of course, as you may have noticed, there are minor hiccups here and there, but on the whole, I welcome Air France’s move upmarket.
We can only hope that Flying Blue will become a transfer partner of American Express in Canada… or even hope for the introduction of a Flying Blue credit card in Canada (as was recently the case in the United States with Bank of America!).