A Family Adventure in Paris – Part 6 – Air France Business Class (A380)

Our flight home from Paris was going to be the longest daytime flight our kids had ever taken.  I wasn’t quite “worried,” but I did wonder how the 8-hour-plus day time journey was going to go.  It was also the kids’ first flight on an A380, and they were very excited to go on the “two story airplane.”

I briefly considered taking the Air France bus out to CDG (which operates conveniently non-stop directly from our hotel to CDG), but calmer heads prevailed, and we decided to take a private car.  The price of four tickets on the bus turned out to be not much less than the cost of the private van that we ultimately used.  There was a private van “standing by” in front of the Meridien when we were leaving.  The doorman (who most certainly receives a small cash payment from the driver) saw us with bags, asked if we needed transportation to the airport, and promptly summoned the van driver.

I stopped the loading of our bags into the van, however, until we agreed on a price.  The driver offered €70, which I agreed to, once I confirmed he honored credit cards.  Considering the cost was well over $200 via Carey to get in from CDG, this felt like a reasonable price – and his vehicle was the same make of Mercedes van that Carey took us in.

Traffic was fine, and our ride to CDG took a little less than 30 minutes.  We were let off at the right terminal, but not near the business class check in area.  It took a few minutes to make our way to the business check in area, as it wasn’t well signed.  The queue dragon asked us twice if we were flying business class; I responded yes both times, but she didn’t seem convinced.  We just ultimately walked past her without issue.

There were a number of trans-Atlantic flights leaving at the same time, bringing the business class queue to easily 25 people.  In about 15 minutes, we were checked in.

At security and passport control, we took the liberty of using the “Acces 1” channel.  The signs for the channel don’t say who is eligible to use the channel, but I figured we’d chance it, and hide behind language if there was an issue.

As we reached the queue, there were about 5 groups waiting in front of us.  An airport security officer approached us – saw our business class boarding passes and kids – and took us to the front of the queue.  That was quite nice.  Clearing exit immigration and security were non-events.  We needed to take a train to our gate, which the kids enjoyed.

Despite leaving what I thought to be a bit early, we arrived at the gate about 45 minutes prior to scheduled departure.  There was already quite a back-up in the business class boarding queue.  If you figure there are 75 or so business class seats, add in another 75+ SkyTeam Elite+ passengers – and you get basically a full 737-800 lining up to use the elite line.  Due to the queue forming, we didn’t visit the lounge.

Our kids – perhaps definitely a bit spoiled – really have never waited in a long airport queue, and asked what the wait was about.  It was kind of funny, as they weren’t snotty questions, more purely naïve questions.  I simply answered there were a lot of people coming on the plane, without getting into the class-of-service and elite-status subtleties.

Upper deck A380

Once we boarded, we found our seats in the forward business cabin.  The seats were angled lie-flats, substantially identical to the seats on the 777 going to CDG.  I took the kids on a bit of a tour of the upstairs cabin.  The kids quite liked the small – and largely unadorned when compared to Korean's on-board lounges – lounge area in the forward-most part of the plane on the starboard (right) side.

The Starboard Lounge - Unadorned

Just as with our outbound flight, the flight attendant serving our section made a special effort to introduce herself to my family and offered to help with any special needs that we might have.  That was appreciated.

Take off was on time.  The kids quite enjoyed watching the tail camera during taxi and take off.

The main meal service was fine, and to the delight of the flight attendant, my son and I both had the foie gras and shrimp starter.  For mains, we split the beef and chicken dishes.  They were good by US carrier standards, but a little bit of a letdown considering this was Air France.

Foie Gras

The second meal service, served about 5 hours later, was quite skimpy.  My son ate what was given, but then asked the flight attendant if she had any desserts.  As luck would have it, there were leftovers from the main meal dessert, and she brought several for him to have.  It is safe to assume these were devoured.

Counting his desserts!

Yum.

There were several other kids under 10 in the business cabin.  My son made a friend, a young lady of 7 years, from Strousbourg.  She spoke no English, and my son no French, yet they played nicely for about four hours.  I helped with some preliminary translation between the two of them (names, ages, home towns, etc), and they just had a blast.  Mainly they played together in the front starboard lounge, though they walked about the cabin a few times, too.  Each time they went through the cabin, they walked quietly and calmly; I was really impressed.

After they didn’t come back for a while one time, I went to hunt them down.  They were both talking with a flight attendant in the rear galley.  I took them for a tour of the downstairs, which was quite crowded.  They liked the curving staircase at the back of the plane.  A few weeks after the trip, my son asked when he could see his “friend from the plane” again.  Sadly, that won’t be possible.

My daughter (5) played with the “older kids” for a while, but I could hear her a few rows back from the lounge, so after one warning, she was stuck back at her seat.  While she protested at first, any issue was quickly resolved with the trusty iPad.

During our flight home, we crossed over Prince Edward Island, where my mother spends her summers.  The kids quite liked seeing Charlottetown on the map, and my son recognized the city name on the map, saying that was “where grandma goes.”

Arrival at JFK was also uneventful, though we arrived a little late.  I haven’t gotten Global Entry for my wife, so we needed to enter the country the old fashioned way.  The citizens’ queue was quite short thankfully.

Considering the things that could have gone wrong with an 8-hour daytime journey, other than a weak second meal service, I’m pleased to say the flight went about as well as could be hoped.

 

Comments