Test: Air France’s new medium-haul Business offer

When we saw a promotion on the Air France medium-haul for July, with Bertrand, we did not hesitate for long to take the plunge.
And for good reason: €499 round trip between Paris and Stockholm, and the discovery of the new medium-haul cabin, there’s nothing like it to get two #avgeeks off on a trip.
You can find the full report at ourcolleagues and friends of Flight-Report.

Check-in at CDG

Not much new here. The check-in was done online for both of us, in the seats initially reserved, namely 1D and 1F. Strangely enough, when I checked in, I was offered to change my flight to one of the previous flights, including those from the day before, on the waiting list. Very surprising since the flight is not flexible.
IMG_0675

No need to go to the check-in counter at the airport.

Experience at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle

Arrival at the airport in a Uber 3 hours before the flight, time to finish some emails and to enjoy the snack and dinner offer of the 2F2 lounge. The lounge is equal to itself.

However, the much-marketed improvement of the offer is not there. The snack offer is quite sad:
Snack offer of the Air France lounge at CDG, T2F2

The offer at dinner is a little better, but some hot dishes would be welcome:
Dinner offer at the Air France lounge at CDG, T2F2
The offer of drinks is quite rich and qualitative, and includes a beautiful wine list.

The boarding started on time. SkyPriority was respected with the dedicated lane, but boarding began at the same time for economy class passengers:
Boarding of the flight to Stockholm at CDG

The flight from Paris to Stockholm

We are lucky on this flight: we have an Airbus 319 equipped with the new medium-haul cabins. The first impression is that of a new cabin, to which the leather gives a special elegance. The flight is full but boarding will be quick.
Microscopic view of the new Air France Medium-haul seat, here in Business
Please note:

  1. On these new seats, there is no folding shelf in the middle seat: this decreases the comfort, because this shelf is very practical to put your personal belongings. Alitalia and BA have central shelves in their new medium-haul cabins.
  2. The pitch has really decreased in Business: on the old cabins, there was more space between the seats in the first 10 rows, which is no longer the case today. The generous legroom of row 1 has also disappeared.

No welcome drink, nor any oshibori (even wrapped) will be distributed. Not good.

Once arrived at the cruise altitude, the service of the meal begins, and with it the ballet of errors of service: exchange of the hot dishes between passengers, dishes which were not very hot, no ironing drinks/bread, no proposal of digestive, forgetting a hot drink, erratic clearing. Little attention for the passenger in a way.

On the other hand, the catering is globally very good, and here is what it gives after personal reorganization (in less than 10 seconds, I specify) of the trays:
Business meal tray on CDG-ARN

The coffee service (awful, as usual) and the delicacies, including a Ladurée box was a sign of success…
Coffee and delicacies on CDG-ARN in Business
Unmet expectations because it was only sweets and various nougats!

The flight attendant will laugh and apologize with us for these few service issues… But if the passenger had not been French speaking, it would have been more tense.

Disembarkation and arrival in Stockholm

The end of the flight will be uneventful and we will arrive at the parking in Stockholm 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
Corridors of Stockholm-Arlanda airport
Terminal 2 of Stockholm-Arlanda airport is quite small, but the exit is a bit tortuous.
Nonetheless, we were out the door in less than 5 minutes and a few moments later, our Uber arrived to take us to our downtown hotel.

Conclusion

A bittersweet experience for this flight to Stockholm. If the value for money remains good because of the promotion we benefited from, the progress of the Business class in the service remains to be demonstrated. Air France has eliminated the Premium Eco class so that its cabin crew can focus on the remaining passengers in Business. Je ne pense pas que ça soit le cas. Because once the 12 dishes were served, the flight attendant hastened to leave for economy class and only reappeared at the end of the flight.
The service flaws were too numerous to disappear in a fit of laughter.

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.
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