August 21, 2017
Flight Review: Air France Business Class A330 Paris-Boston
A couple months after flying Air France Premium Economy from Paris-Boston on a Boeing 777-330, I got to fly Air France Business class on the A330 on the same route. I had originally booked a Premium Economy ticket for this flight. When I checked in online, I was offered an upgrade to Business Class for just $221, which I happily took. The cabin ended up being empty so Air France was upselling their seats for cheap! Alternatively, it’s possible to upgrade from a paid Premium Economy ticket to Business Class with 10,000 Air France Flying Blue miles.
While I paid to upgrade to Business Class, it’s also possible to book this as an award flight using miles. The easiest way to book Air France awards is with Flying Blue miles. It costs just 62,500 miles for the one-way Business Class flight. It’s fairly easy to create Flying Blue miles, as you can transfer points from Starwood, Chase, ThankYou, and American Express to the frequent flyer program.
The Business Class cabin on this A330 was laid out in the older 2-2-2 seating configuration. Air France is currently upgrading its aircraft to a newer 1-2-1 configuration, with the A330 scheduled to get the newer seats starting at the end of 2017. The main drawback with the 2-2-2 layout is that there’s really no privacy if the cabin is full.
Each seat came with a pillow, blanket, coat hanger, socks, slippers (it’s always nice to see slippers in Business Class), a small bottle of Evian water, and noise cancelling headphones (these aren’t Bose like some other airlines offer in Business Class).
Storage space was fairly limited. It’s just that small cubby between the two seats. It held my iPad, book, and earphones just fine. A laptop wouldn’t fit in that compartment though. The seats also have two power adapters between them, but they don’t have USB outlets.
Most of the cabin was empty and I had no seatmate, so it was a fun flight. I used one seat as a normal seat, and the other seat as a bed. The main problem with these seats is that they don’t fully recline 180 degrees. This is as far as the seat reclines, so you’re sleeping at an angle. I was able to sleep for a couple hours and it wasn’t that bad, but I’m looking forward to the new Business Class seats, which are actually fully flat.
In Flight Entertainment
The biggest problem with my flight was the IFE. You can tell right away that it’s an outdated system. The screens are small, they’re low resolution, they don’t respond to touch, and the remote wasn’t responsive every time. There also wasn’t a very large selection of movies. To top it off, the movies and shows didn’t load for the whole flight. The flight attendants restarted the system three times but it didn’t fix the problem, so it was essentially useless. I imagine installing the new Business Class seats will fix these problems.
Amenities & Wi-Fi
Here’s the Air France amenity kit. Shortly after boarding, I was given three bag color options to choose from and went with this design. In addition to the amenity kit, we also had socks and slippers at every seat.
There was no Wi-Fi on this aircraft, so that’s a huge miss for Air France. Business travelers need Wi-Fi on board these days and not offering it puts you behind the competition.
Air France really shined when it came to the food. Everything was presented beautifully, as one would expect from the French 😉 and you could tell they put a lot of care into selecting great cooking ingredients. Here’s some of what I had:
The asparagus mousse with parmesan cheese tasted incredible. The flavors complemented one another brilliantly.
The main starter was a salad with beetroot, shrimp with cucumbers and pistachios, and what I think was a potato & celery salad. I don’t like beetroot but Air France somehow made it taste good here.
I selected the roast chicken fillet for my entrée. I realize from the photo it doesn’t look all that great, but trust me it was good. Once I removed the top layer of skin, I found large piece of chicken breast waiting for me. It’s bathing in a delightful mushroom sauce and accompanied by well cooked vegetables (which again, tasted better than they look). The FA also gave me a bottle of Dijon mustard to have with the chicken (the French eat mustard with chicken). This wasn’t a bland watered down airplane mustard, it was authentic French Dijon as good as any I’ve had in France.
After a course of cheese, I was given this assortment of dessert. Delicious!
This was the last meal served about an hour before landing. By this point, I was still stuffed from dinner but I forced myself to try everything. My favorite part of this dish was the apples in berry sauce on the top left. I also liked that it was a somewhat substantial meal shortly before landing and not just a small snack like some airlines offer in Business Class.
Service was excellent on this flight. The purser introduced herself to every passenger shortly after boarding and asked us to come to her if we had any issues. Every flight attendant I interacted with was friendly, professional, helpful, and was trying to make the flying experience as positive as possible. I asked the attendant who was passing out the amenity kits if it was possible to have two. She told me it’s normally not allowed but gave me a second one anyway and just told me to hide it. One of the flight attendants opened the bathroom door for me. Another attendant apologized profusely when I informed her of the IFE difficulties. It was just a series of small gestures that helped make the flying experience positive even though the seat wasn’t fully flat, the IFE wasn’t working, and there was no Wi-Fi.
Here’s my overall rating of the flying experience broken down by category:
In Flight Entertainment- 3/10
Departure/Arrival Timeliness- 4/5
Cumulative Ranking: 6.7/10
While a 6.7 isn’t a particularly good rating, my main issue with this flight was the lack of Wi-Fi and non-functioning IFE. Those are easy fixes that Air France is in the process addressing. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my flight.