Review : Air France Business, Paris – Madrid, Airbus A321-200

As part of a personal weekend in the capital of Madrid, I chose to fly with Air France for ease, being accompanied by my fiancée on the way back. A look back at an experience full of surprises.

Purchase and check-in

I bought this ticket several months in advance, a family event requiring me to be in the Spanish capital that weekend. Despite this advance purchase, the prices are not sweet, close to 250 € a round trip.

I proceeded a little less than 30 hours before departure to my check-in, but my seat had changed: the 3D became 4D, for no apparent reason since row 3 is still economy class, but now full. Strange, but I would not have liked to have been relegated to rank 27…

Ground and lounge experience

At Paris CDG 2F, there is a priority screening station at the far left of the terminal, which is much more efficient than the “mixed” one in the middle.

I take this almost deserted passage and am airside in less than 2 minutes.

Air France operates two lounges in terminal 2F in each of the satellites, and I categorically refuse to call them 2F1 and 2F2: it is absolutely anti-ergonomic.

I then join the one closest to my boarding gate, which is full as an egg.

The welcome is more than average, since the agent doesn’t deign to look up from his screen, takes my phone, scans it, and just says “Welcome” – Yes, Paris loves you!

As it is totally full, I go to the basement, generally less busy, and manage to secure a table (without power outlet, of course), in the middle of many others, occupied and not cleared.

I try to download newspapers from the AF Play application, but nothing works…

The buffet is completely empty.

In short, the usual, which doesn’t even outrage me anymore because I’ve had enough of it at Air France for 10 years.


The boarding is, as usual, messy, fault of its architect who thought that the traffic of CDG would never grow or that people would remain seated at the time of boarding, waiting wisely for the calls to be made…

I now wait a good 5 minutes after the start of boarding on the screens before leaving the lounge.

When I arrived (after having made my way through 3 boarding lines of other flights), the SkyPriority line was almost empty and I heard the magic beep and the phrase “Seating Issue” on the scanner, synonymous with an upgrade… However, the flight attendant doesn’t tell me, and I have to refresh my boarding pass on my app to discover my new seat, 1D.

Cabin and reception

The cabin is the classic Smart&Beyond with leather seats, and consists of two rows of Business. The road is difficult and extremely competitive for Air France.

The reception is rather cold and I settle in 1D. No welcome drink even on this flight of more than 2h block, but distribution of a small bottle of water and a refreshing towel magnified.

We leave with 10 minutes delay for Madrid.

Service and catering

The service is rather fast, starting shortly after reaching cruising altitude. Strangely, even with two rows of Business Class, they use the trolley, for no apparent reason.

The tray is served without particular attention, leaving the lids totally inelegant:

Without the lids and after serving champagne and sparkling water, it is much better:

I must note the nice progression of the catering: it is much better, the products respect better the prolonged refrigeration and the foie gras of duck is a noble product always appreciated.

Note the absence of menu, now institutionalized on Air France.

The service, however, is far from the new standards of aviation. No beverage refill is offered despite the length of the flight which allows for a neat service, especially on Airbus A321 where the purser is normally dedicated to the Business as there are 5 crew members.

No offer of a hot drink or digestif will be made either, I will be forced to ask for it and I hate that.

Arrival and disembarkation

We will arrive in Madrid slightly ahead of schedule despite being ten minutes late at the start.

Bottom line

Even when upgraded by Air France, they manage to disappoint us. The road to success is still long.

The routing :

  • Paris-Madrid : Air France Business (here)
  • Madrid-Paris : Air France Economy (to come)
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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