June 19, 2017
Flight Review: Air France Premium Economy 777-200 Boston-Paris
I used to fly Air France between the US and Europe a lot back when I was a kid, and I remember consistently hating the experience. The service was bad, the seats were uncomfortable, and I didn’t enjoy flying through Charles De Gaul airport. Eventually I got to the point where I swore to never fly Air France again. I’ve been boycotting the airline for the past 10+ years. After faithfully upholding my oath for so long, I decided it was time to give Air France another chance and see what it was like in 2017.
Boarding at Boston was an absolute mess. Gates E5 and E4 are right next to each other and there was an Air Berlin flight to Dusseldorf scheduled to depart 25 minutes before the Air France flight at the neighboring gate. That led to two planes worth of people swarming the boarding area. Air France’s boarding procedure wasn’t the best either. It’s divided into Sky Priority and General boarding. Sky Priority covered Business Class, Premium Economy, and flyers with SkyTeam elite status. Having just two boarding groups on a large international flight always leads to messy and confusing boarding.
The Premium Economy cabin on this aircraft is laid out in a 2-4-2- configuration, compared to the 3-4-3 configuration in Economy Class. Every seat came with headphones, a pillow, a blanket, and a small bottle of water. The seat itself was comfortable and I liked the blue with red stitching color pattern. Premium Economy seats come with a pull down foot rest which came in handy when I was trying to sleep. The recline on the seats were pretty bad however, as they felt the same as an Economy Class seat.
The flight attendant passed out amenity kits shortly after everyone was settled into their seats.
I was VERY impressed with the in-flight entertainment. This was probably the smoothest operating touchscreen I’ve interacted with on a plane. Often times you need a remote to control the system or it’s a very laggy touchscreen. The touchscreen on these seats worked about as well as my phone. There were tons of movies, TV shows, games and music available on the system (I used it mainly for watching our plane’s progress over the Atlantic).
The Premium Economy dinner menu offered the above two options along with free alcoholic beverages. It looked like wine was the drink of choice on my flight bound for Paris 😉
I went with the chicken dinner. The shrimp appetizer tasted good, the chicken not so much. About half the chicken is dark meat (which I don’t personally like) and it was very oily.
The flight attendants served breakfast about an hour before landing. It consisted of yogurt, a blueberry muffin, orange juice and coffee/tea.
A couple points about food service. We were at cruising altitude for a while before meal service began. I wish I had timed it but I forgot. The flight attendants also picked up the empty food trays well after everyone was finished eating. This could very well be a cultural thing, as the French generally like to take their time when eating. However since this was a short overnight flight, which departed at 8PM, it was a bit frustrating as I wanted to be done with dinner as soon as possible to maximize my sleep.
I enjoyed my overall Premium Economy flight with Air France. The flight attendants were polite and friendly and the seat was comfortable enough for a 7-hour overnight flight. It was difficult for me to sleep since this wasn’t a lie-flat seat like airlines offer in Business Class, but that’s to be expected. I’m glad to see Air France has improved its flight service since my bad memories from 10+ years ago.