Tried & Tested

Air France A320 Voyageur (economy)

10 Jun 2011 by BusinessTraveller

First impressions I was taking this short-haul Air France flight to Paris with the intention of connecting onto the carrier's A380 service to New York JFK. Unfortunately the long-haul leg turned out to be operated by an older B747-400 jumbo – for a review of the Paris-New York flight, click here.

I arrived at Heathrow at 0900 for my 1010 departure - Air France flights depart from the Skyteam hub at Terminal 4, with check-in at zone F. I hadn't checked in online, so with hand luggage only I used one of the self-service kiosks to print off my boarding pass. Unfortunately it was unable to print my pass for the Paris-New York leg of the flight, as I was travelling on a journalist visa rather than the ESTA visa waiver programme, so I then had to queue to see an attendant who checked my passport and issued the boarding pass.

Boarding Security checks were quick (laptops out and shoes off), and I headed straight to departure gate 20, which is located next to a Starbucks and the Skyteam lounge. Boarding commenced at 0940, and after a while sat on the tarmac we took off at 1045.

The seat This service was operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft, configured 3-3, with the middle seat kept free in business class. I was sat in seat 28E, a middle seat in the penultimate row. As far as I could see the flight was completely full. The seat was comfortable enough, although certainly not new and being six foot tall the legroom was a little tight, although fine for this 50-minute journey.

Where to sit? On such a short flight the choice of seat is less important, but in terms of practicality I would have chosen a seat nearer the front of the economy cabin, as drinks were served from the front backwards. Disembarkation is also from the front, which could have been important with a short connection time like mine (just over one hour) had the short-haul leg been significantly delayed.

The flight Drinks were served quickly after take-off, along with a couple of coconut flavoured biscuits. The flight was smooth, aside from the occasional shrieks from a toddler a few rows in front. There is no inflight entertainment on this short flight, but I took a look through Air France's inflight magazine, in particular making a mental note of the films I wanted to watch on the long-haul leg. Little did I know that this was all in vain as the B747 that was rostered on to the flight had communal TV screens.

Arrival We touched down at 1235, and after taxing to the gate disembarked at 1250. The carrier's Heathrow-Paris flights arrive into Terminal 2E, which is conveniently the departure terminal for flights to New York, so it only took around 15 minutes to pass through security and reach gate E72, where the long-haul service had already started to board. For the review of this leg click here.

Verdict Impressively quick inflight service to serve everyone drinks on such a short flight, and a convenient connection at Paris CDG.


Mark Caswell

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