In this post: Hide
- How I booked my Air France business class ticket
- Air France business class boarding & departure
- Air France business class cabin & seats
- Air France business class amenities
- Air France entertainment & Wi-Fi
- Air France business class lunch service
- Air France business class pre-arrival snack
- Air France business class bathrooms
- Air France business class service
- Poor cabin cleanliness and maintenance
On my way back to the US after this year’s Aircraft Interior Expo, I decided to book a flight in Air France business class from Paris Charles de Gaulle to New York JFK in the hopes of trying out what some have called the best business class seat on earth.
Alas, it was not meant to be.
Just days before my flight, I discovered that the refurbished 777-300ER I thought would fly me to New York had been switched for one with Air France’s older business class cabin. Always the optimist, I shrugged off disappointment and resolved to use the flight as an opportunity to review this old product one last time before flying the updated one.
My main takeaway is this: those new cabins can’t come soon enough. Seats in this old business cabin are very exposed to the aisle and, more importantly, are falling apart. Though my flight was ultimately salvaged by Air France’s excellent food and drinks, it has me eagerly awaiting the wider rollout of refurbished cabins.
How I booked my Air France business class ticket
I redeemed 55,000 Flying Blue miles and paid $377 in taxes and fees for this flight. I earned my points with the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard, though Flying Blue partners with a bunch of major transferable points currencies, so I could’ve also used Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou points to book this flight.
My flight details were as follows:
- Air France 10
- Paris (CDG) – New York (JFK)
- Departure: 4:30 PM, June 8
- Arrival: 6:40 PM, June 8
- Flight Time: 8h 10m
- Business Class, Seat 15L
Air France business class boarding & departure
45 minutes before departure, I left Air France’s dingy non-Schengen business class lounge in Terminal 2E. I walked through Charles de Gaulle’s Hall K, among the most beautiful concourses in Europe, to arrive at gate K43 just as boarding had begun.
I walked down an absolutely stifling transparent jet bridge and was treated to views of our plane and the Dakar-bound 777 parked next to us.
Air France business class cabin & seats
Air France’s business class cabin on this 777-300ER is really, really big. Laid out in a 1-2-1 across 15 rows for a total of 58 seats, the first four rows comprise a forward, mini-cabin and the other 11 rows sit behind it in a larger cabin. My favorite seats are in the mini-cabin, which feels more intimate and quieter than the main cabin. Unfortunately, I was seated in 15L.
Theoretically window seats, 15L and 15A both lack windows and, due to my own poor planning, were the last available seats by the time I checked in.
Seats are in a reverse-herringbone configuration, meaning they’re angled away from the aisle. That grants some additional privacy, though the seats still feel pretty exposed since they sit right up against the aisle.
My seat, like Air France’s new business class seat, was 21.5 inches wide and in bed mode measured a comfortable 79 inches (6’7”) long.
Above the right armrest on my seat were tactile metallic seat control and lighting buttons.
Above the right-hand countertop is a small cupboard with a mirror on the inside.
The tray table is nested below the countertop and swings out. It’s one of the larger tray tables out there and easily accommodated my 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Around shoulder level is a reading light and a touch screen IFE remote.
Near foot level is a beaten-up panel with a USB port and universal power outlet.
At the front of the seat is a 13-inch IFE screen that can be unlatched and swung outwards toward the seat.
Below the IFE screen is a footwell that I found fairly spacious. I was easily able to move my legs around comfortably as I slept.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that these seats do not have individual air vents. Luckily, the cabin was kept chilly during my flight so it wasn’t issue.
Air France business class amenities
Shortly after boarding, flight attendants walked through the cabin with amenity kits in a choice of either beige or blue. The kits are made from sustainably sourced and recyclable materials (which I’m all for) but felt flimsy and cheap.
Inside was a toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, a pen, earplugs, and Clarins creams.
In terms of bedding, there was a large pillow that was lumpy and much less comfortable than it looked, as well as a warm comforter.
Finally, and I’m not sure whether to call this an amenity, there’s a small self-service bar area between the mini cabin and the main cabin with wine, soft drinks, juices, and water.
Air France entertainment & Wi-Fi
The entertainment selection was good and featured a wide array of movies and TV shows, in addition to music and an interactive flight map. The touch screen was showing its age and wasn’t particularly responsive, so I mostly used the remote.
The supplied headphones were poor so I’d advise you to bring your own.
There were four options for inflight Wi-Fi:
- A free “message” tier that allows passengers to message on apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WeChat
- A one-hour “surf” tier for 8 euros that allows passengers to send emails and other low-bandwidth activities
- A full flight “surf” tier for 18 euros
- A full flight “stream” tier for 30 euros that is “ideal for streaming and downloading”
Despite paying a hefty sum for the fastest “stream” tier, I was not only unable to stream anything but couldn’t connect to the internet at all for 95% of the flight.
Air France business class lunch service
Menus were handed out shortly before takeoff. Air France does a great job with these–they’re printed on thick paper and look very sleek. For reasons I can’t exactly express, I love the fact that Air France puts the route on the first page of the menu, and I think other airlines should follow suit.
I ordered the salmon and a glass of 2016 Chateau Fombrauge from a number of tasty-looking options. The meal service began an hour after takeoff with an artichoke and goat cheese amuse-bouche. It doesn’t look like much, but it tasted excellent.
The appetizer, a trio of green salad, quinoa salad, and crab salad, arrived a few minutes later on a tray. All of it was fresh and flavorsome. Unsurprisingly, Air France does bread really well, and the mini baguette was my favorite item on the tray.
Next came my salmon, which I’m ashamed to admit I dug into so quickly I forgot to get any pictures. After that was cleared, I was given a cheese plate with Crottin de Chavignol, Cantal, and Fourme d’Ambert.
Finally, dessert was served, which comprised a cherry tart, chocolate and hazelnut fudge, and a pistachio macaron. All three were excellent.
Overall, I was impressed with the lunch. The menu was impressive, and the food and drinks were delicious, though service was a little slow, with long gaps between courses.
Air France business class pre-arrival snack
90 minutes before landing, cabin crew came around with a pre-arrival snack consisting of a brioche-croissant hybrid bun, a bowl of diced pears, dried berries, and almonds, and a madeleine. Everything was below average, and the bun, which came out stone cold and stale, was pretty gross.
Air France business class bathrooms
Air France’s 777-300ER business class has three dedicated bathrooms, all located between the forward mini cabin and the larger primary business class cabin. I found them clean and well-stocked throughout the flight.
In terms of amenities, there were two Clarins hydrating toners available.
Air France business class service
The service on my flight was generally good, with the cabin crew showing professionalism and courtesy. For a European carrier, it was slightly above average, though the experience certainly wasn’t exceptional in any way: two of my drink orders were dropped and I waited about 40 minutes after finishing my appetizer for the main to arrive.
Poor cabin cleanliness and maintenance
The low point of this flight was a poorly maintained and somewhat dirty cabin. On the cleanliness front, I found a large number of food crumbs and crumpled tissue in the cupholder next to the charging ports, which you can see in the photo below. Above the cupholder, there were coffee stains and dust, and the surface looked like it hadn’t been wiped down in a while.
With respect to maintenance, surfaces throughout the cabin were pretty dinged up. The biggest issue was that my seat was literally falling apart–a piece of curved plastic near the armrests actually fell on my head while I was sleeping.
I understand that this plane is old, but I’d expect better upkeep here from Air France, and almost got the sense that they’ve given up on this aircraft while they wait for the retrofit.
My business class flight with Air France from Paris to New York offered a mix of highs and lows. The highlight was undeniably the meal service, with its range of tasteful offerings and excellent wines. This, coupled with a cabin crew that was professional and courteous, left me with a positive flavor. The aging cabin, however, marked by damaged and unclean surfaces, took away significantly from the overall experience. Wi-Fi connectivity was a letdown, further underscoring the need for cabin and aircraft upgrades.
While it wasn’t the “best business class seat on earth” experience I had anticipated, it served as a reminder of all the enhancements I can look forward to in Air France’s refurbished cabins. I’m eagerly anticipating the opportunity to experience the revamped business class product soon.