How I was excluded from the Air France referrer client club,

Since 2014, a group of very frequent customers has been helping Air France to improve its ground and in-flight products through quarterly Focus Groups involving ground staff, flight attendants and pilots around different themes.

Since Wednesday, July 12, 2017, I am unfortunately no longer part of this club, the fault of differing opinions regarding Air France’s strategy.

A look back at these 3 years rich in major contributions.

The genesis: the FlyerTalk DO

In April 2012, at the initiative of FlyerTalk moderators and thanks to the social media manager at the airline’scommunications department, a large meeting was organized to show forum members behind the scenes at the Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Hub.

This meeting allowed to create strong links between some members of the forum, including me, and members of the different departments of the airline. From these links were born a reflection on the improvement of the various productsand services of the French airline, and the idea of the 180 Club, which later became the referrer clients clubis born. Its strength: engaged and loyal customers, and volunteer staffready to come face to face with the reality of the customer experience.

A good-natured atmosphere, always respectful of the situation and the work of each member, made this club acredible working body that was able to influence the airline’s decisions.

Major progress on the Air France product

Initially focused on medium-haul operations, the club has enabled the product to evolve both on the ground and in the air.

Upgrading the on-board catering offer

The first sessions of the club focused on inflight catering, both inEconomy and Business class cabins.

In Economy, no more systematic salty/sweet bites mixon Medium-haul: sandwiches are back, and even the sometimes hot meals on the longest distances.

In Business, the generalization of quality champagnes, hot meals on flights of more than two hours and service aligned with long-haulon the longest flights such as Moscow, Istanbul, Amman or Tel Aviv.

Photo Credit : Esteban @ Flight-Report

And overall, an attempt tobalance and standardize the dishes proposed, as innovation is sometimes incompatible with the generic tastes of a growing international clientele due to the power of the CDG-AMS double hub

The new medium-haul seat

The choice of the new medium-haul seat was totally driven by the comments of theReferrer Client Club which was able to test several models of seats and even adjust the shot, in particular on the USB plug which has just appeared on the latest retrofitted A321.

The new 2G lounge and the future 2F lounge

The group has worked hard on the new lounge inTerminal 2G. Not only on its initial need, but on its design and on the proposed catering offer. All club members were invited to the inauguration, well before the press, to see the realization of the work done.

More recently, the design of the future new lounge in terminal 2Fhas been completed, notably around the catering offer and the additional services that can be offered given its projected size, which doubles the total area of the existing lounges.

An unexpected end to my participation

On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, I rather unexpectedly received an email from the Club’s manager telling me that my participation in the club was over, and this was due to one of myrecent posts on LinkedIn about the deplorable situation with passport controls at Paris CDG. This message deplored the lack of managerial courage of the airline’s management in this situation which particularly affects the Air France hub, the other terminals being less affected by this problem: I do not understand why the CEO of Air France does not stand up – the situation is clearly different in the other terminals, especially for priority passengers. A little firmness, please!

Although I have participated intensively for 4 years,I regret that I cannot continue to contribute to the success of our national airline.

Nevertheless, I wish a lot of pleasureto the other members of the club, with whom I have great friendly relations, as well as to the club leaders at Air France. I cannot quote them here but they will recognize themselves.

I am at their disposal to give my opinion on the products and services, and continue to travel on our national airline, but not only…

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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