Bordeaux-Paris in Economy on Air France: an excellent crew makes all the difference!

This flight between Bordeaux and Paris in Economy on Air France reconciled me for a moment with the airline’s short-haul service, which is totally negleted by the airline. It just goes to show that all it takes is a few inexpensive details to delight a passenger.

There’s no need to beat about the bush: while Air France has made a lot of progress on long-haul routes in recent years, the same cannot be said for medium-haul and even less so for short-haul. Bland, insipid and with crews who seem to have lost all desire and pleasure in doing their job. So I booked this flight without any expectations, and the outward journey confirmed my opinion!

But what about the return flight?

You’ll find all the articles about this Bordeaux getaway at the bottom of the page.

Check in and ground course

I arrive by Uber early in the morning at Mérignac airport under a beautiful spring sunrise.

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Unlike the outbound flight, the Air France app worked properly and I was able to get my boarding pass in Wallet on my iPhone.

It’s indicated “Hall B” on the boarding pass, which is half right. While check-in takes place there, boarding takes place in Concourse A while Concourse B is still under construction.

It’s a bit crowded this morning.

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So I head for Hall A and the security checkpoint: no one in priority queue. I went through in two minutes.

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On the other hand, this area is very poorly designed: there’s virtually no room around, and you’re only two meters from the shops. Very uncomfortable when it’s more crowded.

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No Air France lounge here, since we’re not in the right terminal, but an airport lounge where Air France temporarily sends its passengers.

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The place is completely empty. The lounge is moderately large, but much larger than the Air France, and the design is rather correct, at least better than I remember. On the other hand, there’s no privacy when it starts to fill up – it feels more like a waiting room.

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Another advantage: it’s not one-eyed, and large bay windows overlook the tarmac.

There are even workspaces.

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In terms of catering, the solid offer is poor…

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The drinks are very basic, but there is alcohol. Not very useful at this time of day, though…

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There’s only one toilet, so even early in the morning there’s a queue. It’s still better than the Air France in the other hall, where the toilets are outside.

In short, a mediocre lounge? Yes, but it does the job with respect to the terminal’s normal traffic. The catering is mediocre too? Not worse than the Air France lounge.

It’s not such a bad fallback solution, considering what the normal lounge has to offer.

I leave the lounge to reach the gate a few minutes before the theoretical boarding time.

Boarding

The boarding lounge is not at all sized for an A320 and is not very pleasant.

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An announcement is made asking the three babies travelling on the flight to report to the gate. In my opinion, they should ask the parents…

We finally board (on time).

This terminal is really badly designed…stairs to get to the jetway (a point already raised when disembarking on the outbound trip). I wonder who the idiot architect is who thought it was unlikely that passengers would have bags and suitcases!

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I make my way to my seat and see the purser standing in the middle of the aisle, exactly at its level. As I settle in, she greets me with a big smile and asks me to confirm my name.

She then greets me warmly once again, thanks me for my loyalty and tells me that she has placed a bottle of water and a cake on my seat to help me wait during boarding.

The discussion continued with, again, a lot of thanks, curiosity about my travel habits and rhythms… she asked me if everything had gone well so far and reminded me that if I needed anything she was at my disposal.

I can’t believe it…it’s been years since I’ve had anything but robotically behaved, detached, dispassionate and unmotivated short-haul crews. Day and night.

I wasn’t wide awake, but all of a sudden it gave me a boost and put me in a good mood for the whole day.

The cabin

No need to spend too much time on it, and it’s far from my favorite Air France model.

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The seat is even thinner than Lufthansa’s NEK, and not very comfortable. And the width isn’t much better: you’re stuck with your neighbor if one of you is a bit corpulent.

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Legroom is decent, but nothing more.

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The table is really small, barely enough to hold a tablet and hardly enough to hold a computer.

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The welcome service provided by the purser. A little thing that makes a big difference.

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There are USB sockets but I can’t find anything to hang my jacket on.

Boarding continues and I find it very pleasant to have something to drink while I wait, even if it’s just a bottle of water.

Whenever the purser passes near my seat, she’ll ask to see how I’m doing.

That’s it, we’re ready to go.

The flight

We’ll be leaving ahead of schedule, even though the flight is full. Another thing that hadn’t happened to me for a long time!

I notice at the opposite window that another passenger had the same “welcome gift” as me… if they only did it for platinum I’m surprised there are so few of us… or just lifetime platinum?

My seatmate is a cabin crew member who apparently joins Roissy to officiate on a long-haul flight. She wasn’t exactly smiling, but I think she probably hadn’t had much sleep and had abused the charms of the Bordeaux nightlife. But the attention she’ll put into inspecting her Instagram during her rare phases of wakefulness in flight makes me think of a budding influencer.

We push back. A last look at the control tower designed by Philippe Starck.

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Let’s take off.

After a few minutes, we fly over the Gironde estuary…

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Uneventful flight and I’ll settle for a coffee during the flight. Sorry, I forgot the photo of the service. The cabin crew serving me will be very polite, ask me how I’m doing and remind me that he’s there for me if I need him. When it’s time to clear away, he’ll ask me if I want anything else.

I’ll be dozing a bit until the arrival.

Arrival and disembarkation

As we begin our descent, we’re told we’ll arrive 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

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We land safely and drive to our parking stand, where I take a photo of an A220 preparing to depart.

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We disembark and I walk through the empty baggage hall to catch my Uber.

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The crew

There’s nothing to be expected on a short-haul flight, let alone an economy one. And even Air France’s medium-haul development, regardless of travel class, leaves me dubious about the future and the ambition the airline has for these products.

In fact, when I say there’s nothing to expect from them, it’s because the service they’re asked to provide is so minimalist that they have no opportunity to contribute to the customer experience.

The only thing they can do is be pleasant, smiling, attentive. And I find that in recent years we didn’t even have that anymore! At least less than when I used to fly this route two or three times a week, and I find that the crews spread something else.

In short, this crew was perfect, because they were very pleasant, smiling and considerate, and you could see that they were really happy to be there, to have got up in the morning to do this job, and to share it with the passengers.

The difference between a good flight and a bland one is a crew that spreads this kind of feeling. And a bottle of water? It was welcome, but only symbolic. But when the service protocol only allows you to be symbolic, these symbols are overvalued by customers.

Bottom line

I’ve given up on Air France a lot lately, but with a crew like that I would fly with them every day.

If anyone from the crew of AF 7431 on April 16 is reading this article…thank you very much, you’ve put me in a good mood for the day.

Articles on this Bordeaux getaway

Review #TypePost
#1DiaryPreparing a getaway in Bordeaux
#2HotelMoxy Roissy
#3FlightParis-Bordeaux – Air France – Economy
#4HotelSheraton Bordeaux Airport
#5HotelMoxy Bordeaux
#6RestaurantTentazioni Bordeaux
#7RestaurantL’entrecôte Bordeaux
#8RestaurantLa Tupina Bordeaux
#9RestaurantL’Embarcadère Bordeaux
#10RestaurantCromagnon Bordeaux
#11RestaurantUn Soir à Shibuya Bordeaux
#12RestaurantMaison Nouvelle Bordeaux
#13DiaryBordeaux travel guide
#14FlightBordeaux-Paris – Air France – Economy
#15DiaryDebriefing this stay in Bordeaux
Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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