BACKGROUND Air France flies twice daily to Paris (CDG) from Mumbai (BOM). I flew on flight AF 217 that departs from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Terminal 2 at 0210 and arrives at Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2E at 0735. Air France operates its B777-300 for this service that has 280 seats.
CHECK-IN The upgrade to business class came as a surprise after I spent a lot of time in the queue for economy class during check-in. However after that immigration and security were a breeze through the airport’s dedicated section for business and first class. I spent some time in the East Wing of GVK Business Lounge before walking to gate 65 for the flight.
BOARDING Boarding was swift and began 45 minutes before our scheduled departure time. I was seated in 5F — a left-facing aisle seat. Upon settling down, welcome drinks (orange juice or champagne) were offered. We took off on time and received a menu card for food and drinks soon after. I sipped on champagne and began exploring my seat.
THE SEAT Seats are diagonal facing and configured as 1-2-1. A bag with socks and bathroom slippers, a light blue comforter and a coat hanger were kept on the seat. I hung my jacket on the hanger and placed my bag on the stowage area in front of the seat. On the left side of my seat was a button for the reading light. Next to this was a handset to control the television screen (16-inch) that has a push button to change its position. Noise cancellation headphones were kept inside a cabinet that I ended up using for more stowage. A power socket and a USB port were on the left above another additional stowage space. Magazines and a water bottle were placed here too. The handle on the right rises up upon pushing to increase privacy when you’re asleep. Seat controls are beside the armrest along with another button for light. In classic French minimal style, a scheme of blue, grey and white decorates the cabin.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The business class cabin is the first on this aircraft. So anywhere between rows one and five is good. Pick a window seat for more privacy as in an aisle seat, your view is a fellow passenger.
THE FLIGHT Take-off was on time and the meal service began shortly after. Since it was a late night flight, dinner and breakfast was being served. I skipped the shrimp appetiser due to my allergy and picked the crispy sole fillet with herbs and butter sauce. Dessert was praline ice-cream that I enjoyed with an espresso. An interesting selection of digestifs included Pear eau de vie and Bas-Armagnac Château du Tariquet Folle Blanche aged 12 years. On the wine list were the likes of Laurent Perrier Brut (chardonnay) and Pouilly Fuissé 2015 (chardonnay). After the meal service I chose sleep over catching up on television shows and flattened my seat to 180-degree. Two hours before arrival, the cabin lights were switched on and breakfast was served. The cheese omelette with Lyonnaise potatoes, grilled tomato and sautéed chicken was quite delicious.
ARRIVAL We arrived on schedule at Charles de Gaulle Airport. As business class passengers, we were allowed to exit the aircraft shortly after taxiing.
VERDICT Understated luxury with excellent F&B, making the journey to Paris an absolute delight.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek business class flight from Mumbai to Paris in mid-January start from €1,299/₹97,922.