Air France Boeing 787: A flight in real conditions

After the article you recently read about Air France’s Boeing 787-9, which entered service on January 9 to Cairo, and which I discovered during a loop over France, I decided to fly this aircraft in real conditions, this time in Business.

When I learnt that the plane would be used on the Paris-London routefor crew training reasons, I jumped on the opportunity and booked a round trip for the modest sum of 310 euros, a fraction of the price proposed for the loops over France (in this case, 787 € in Business).

It is thus not without a certain enthusiasm that I awaited this weekend of February 11 to make this “real” flight.

Service on the ground

After a restful night at the Sheraton Paris Charles-de-Gaulle, as a result of my exhausting week, I got up at the crack of dawn to go to the terminal 2E of the airport, from which Air France flights outside the Schengen area traditionally depart.

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At this hour, the terminal is deserted.

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Having already my boarding pass on my cell phone and having also picked it up the day before at a Self-Service kiosk, I go directly to the PARAFES automated passport control.

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…Which was running smoothly this morning, then to the security control, with very unpleasant agents, or badly awake, the second problem generating the first one… Then to thehall K lounge, which I know well.

Lounge

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I am very familiar with the Hall K lounge, and particularly appreciate its mezzanine.

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Unfortunately, as the La Première lounge is currently under construction, this mezzanine is used as a temporary lounge to accommodate these passengers, and is therefore inaccessible to Business class passengers during this 2-month period.

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The offer is more or less the same as usual for breakfast, with a choice ofhot dishes, cold snacks, and a liquid offer as qualitative as ever.

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The press offer was almost non-existent:

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Here is my selection for this morning:

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It’s always time for a glass of Billecart-Salmon!

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Boarding

Boarding takes place from Gate K,at the usual LHR boarding location at Gate K49.

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Self-boarding is in place, but with a document concordance check beforehand.

Priorities are respected, but I’m one of the last Business passengers on board.

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Only one jetbridge is in place, which causes a small traffic jam… Even if the pleasure of turning leftmakes this moment a pleasant and quite rare moment in medium haul, unless you are a pilot!

Flight

No specific pre-flight service:no welcome drink or coat check. However, as on long-haul flights, IFEs are active from the moment of boarding.

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As on the renovated 777s, these are the BEST cabins, made up of Cirrus seats manufactured by French equipment manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace, and ticking all the 3 Fs checkboxes: Full Flat, Full Access, Full Privacy.

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However, as the 787-9 Dreamliner cabin is narrower than that of the 777, we had to cut back on storage space and, unfortunately, on the table.

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And this is where it shows the most: the shelf is tiny: even unfolded, a medium-haul Business tray does not fit on it.

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This hasty design also accentuated the fragility of this equipment, which was already broken on my seat barely a month after the aircraft was put into service!

Then, for an unexplained reason,the flight was heavily delayedat departure, a delay accentuated by the de-icing phase necessary in this season.

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Once in the air, it’s a bit of a rush for the flight attendants because they have to serve 28 passengers in J, for a flight time of 45 minutes. But the large number of crew members and the experience of the flight attendants made it possible to carry out this service without any problem.

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For unknown reasons, the Wifi on board was not working.

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Good quality service, by the way:

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Only a few minutes to enjoy the meal, then final descent initiated after a short waiting circuitover London.

Bottom line

A very good wayto test this new cabin at a very reasonable price. But there is still room for improvement, especially the design of the shelf, which needs to be completely redesigned to increase its surface and improve its solidity.

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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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