For a friend’s 30th birthday, we decided to surprise him at the exit of his work – in front of the Montreal-Trudeau airport, it’s good timing – to take him for a long weekend to Amsterdam for an electronic music festival.
The first flight will be to Paris to catch our connection to Amsterdam.
Booking your flight with BMO Rewards points
For this group trip, I didn’t use Aeroplan miles as I usually do when traveling in business class on Air Canada, Swiss, Lufthansa or United or even Turkish Airlines. I also did not use Avios miles to fly on British Airways.
I could have transferred starpoints from Marriott Bonvoy to Air France’s Flying Blue program… but it wasn’t worth it at all considering that the round trip ticket cost less than $700… and the other members of the group were taking that same route.
So I turned to the points on my BMO World Elite MasterCard. By using the BMO Rewards booking portal, I was able to apply a portion of my points towards the purchase of the flight, in this case 40,000 BMO points.
So this is not a business class flight as I usually do, but rather a trip in economy class, completing the collection of those made by my friend Matthieu during the last months with Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, WOW Air and short-haul flights of Air Canada and Porter.
Check-in on Air France and Boarding at Montreal-Trudeau
36 hours before the flight departure, we were able to check in from the Air France mobile application. Since we didn’t want to pay the extra fee for a better seat when we bought the ticket (between 50 and 100$ for a seat at the emergency exits), we had to make do with what was left.
With no luggage to check – having made sure we all had carry-on luggage for this short stay in Amsterdam – we headed straight to the security line. On this Wednesday evening, there are not many people and the passage will be done in less than 5 minutes.
The aircraft is displayed on time on the screens. We have an hour ahead of us which we will spend, as usual, at the National Bank World MasterCard lounge thanks to the Priority Pass offered by the American Express Platinum card. This card allows the holder AND a guest to enter free of charge.
Installation on Air France flight AF347
As this was a surprise for our friend, we boarded the last flight to Paris. Indeed, I had his ticket and he did not have to show it himself at the security checkpoint or at the show.
Boarding in the last few seats is rather risky for your cabin luggage… the plane being almost full, you may have to check your luggage. This was not our case, and we found space.
Air France has configured the cabin of its Boeing 777s with 10 seats per row… which is starting to become a standard, whereas the aircraft was originally designed to accommodate 9 seats per row. As much to say that the comfort is not optimal…!
The best seats are those at the emergency exits or facing the partitions dividing the travel classes (more legroom). If you can’t get one of these seats, the back of the plane is a good compromise: on both sides of the cabin, the 3-4-3 becomes 2-4-2 (8 seats per row) which frees up some space in the aisle.
Legroom is not exceptional. However, my friend sitting next to me points out that it’s not the worst he’s seen (he’s 6’1″).
I am used to the large spaces of business and first class, but I am obviously cramped. I don’t really understand the purpose of the footrest, preferring to stretch my legs out under the seat in front of me.
The individual screen is small… and very old. It is difficult to see a movie properly on it.
No USB port or electrical outlet, so you won’t be able to recharge your electronic devices. Flight attendants distribute menus before takeoff.
This evening, we will offer a common starter (orzo pasta salad with curry) and the traditional choice between Chicken or Pasta.
Air France differentiates itself from other airlines such as Air Transat or Air Canada Rouge with a good selection of drinks and spirits. It is also possible to request champagne, which is often reserved for premium economy or business class.
A bottle of water will also be served before take-off. The remote control reminds me of the controller of my very first video game console… in the early 1990s.
Shortly after takeoff, I visit the back of the aircraft, located only a few rows behind me. This is where one of the kitchens and toilets is located…. and the place where you can stretch your legs.
The toilets are rather large.
After reaching our cruising altitude, dinner will be served. Being close to the kitchens, we will be among the first to be served.
Tonight I opted for the chicken with a small bottle of red wine. The meal is very correct (Air France distinguishes itself here from the sandwich provided by Air Transat).
However, despite all the goodwill of the flight attendants (I would like to emphasize the quality of the service provided), we will wait a long time before seeing our trays being served. Indeed, the plane being full, the service is affected.
Here is where we are at the time our meal trays were picked up.
There are only 4 hours of flight left to try to sleep a little.
The alcohol mints, the sleep aid pill, the earplugs and my noise-reducing headphones will help me get some rest. I wake up 3 hours later, just at lunch time.
We then fly over the United Kingdom.
The lunch is very simple.
The landing will be on time and the disembarkation will be rather fast. A few pictures when leaving the plane to realize that it has not been cleaned for a while. Air France is “famous” for this among Montreal spotter.
The B777’s engine, still as impressive as ever.
A last view on the plane that brought us to our destination (and that still hasn’t changed its livery).
For many years, Air France has kept the unfortunate habit of positioning its oldest aircraft in Montreal – with the exception of the A380, which unfortunately disappeared from the Montreal landscape due to the lack of profitability of its business class.
For Air France, this is a “vacation” destination and not a “professional” one like Toronto or New York. Air France is therefore competing with Air Transat or Air Canada Rouge.
But other “traditional” airlines are adjusting: Air Canada has revised its travel cabin serving Paris, and British Airways has put the famous B787 Dreamliner on the route serving London.
So Air France is lagging behind and you can see it in the aircraft. Let’s hope that the upcoming entry into service of the B789 within the tricolored airline, but especially the refurbishment of the cabins will help to restore the reputation of the airline’s 2 to 3 daily Montreal-Paris flights!