September 15, 2022
Following are my real-time notes made Tuesday and Wednesday, August 30-31, documenting my Air France flights JFK to Paris and connecting CDG to Ljubljana:
Air France AF7 JFK/CDG (777)
We made it to Air France and are now inside security. Took 90 minutes from the time our flight landed at JFK Terminal 8 (American) to get to Terminal 1 (Air France) on the JFK Air Train, get our boarding passes, and endure the conga line at security. But, unlike Delta, Air France got TSA Pre correct on our boarding passes AND reinstated my precious seat assignments. Now recuperating at the Priority Pass primeclass lounge near gate 8 from the stressful morning (documented in last week’s post).
At the gate, I was impressed with the simple, yet effective, method Air France uses to board planes. Queues are set up for groups 1 (business class), 2 (premium economy), and then 3-4-5. Reminds me of Southwest. We are due to depart at 1930 (730p) and are boarding on time.
My wife and I were first in the Group 2 line, so first to enter Premium Economy. Premium Economy seats were comfortable and roomy. Plenty of pitch (distance between rows) and generous legroom. Not the claustrophobia of coach seats. Cushy blankets and large pillows were provided. We needed the blankets later, along with our jackets, when the cabin turned cold and stayed that way.
Hardwired “noise-canceling” headphones worked well enough to watch videos and dampen the baby’s incessant screaming some rows to the rear.
Bottles of Evian at our seats were refilled as needed.
Small but adequate flight kits were distributed with the usual items: socks, eye shade, earplugs, toothbrush, and paste, etc. Plus Covid stuff (mask, wipes).
Boarding went smoothly and efficiently; buttoned up on time at 730p. But didn’t push back until nearly 800p and were not airborne until 905p (90 minutes late). Not weather-related; entirely JFK ground congestion of many aircraft jockeying for the runway.
No service until 1025p, a long interval after takeoff. Then an all-at-once dinner and beverages arrived. Flight attendants came back at 1050p to clean up & offer 2nd rounds.
Monopole Champagne offered! But disappointingly served at room temp.
Ruth got a very sad vin rouge labeled as from France. Not quite insipid. We drank it, though. Any port in a storm.
So-so tray meal of either veal (tasty) or pumpkin gratin (boring) entree, weird “salad” (spit-out bad), a nearly stale roll made palatable by rich butter, pretzels (pretzels? On Air France?), a rubbery wedge of cheddar wrapped in plastic (too salty; unworthy to be called a French cheese), and a mango-coconut custardy dessert with a graham cracker crust (best part of the meal).
Uninspiring movie list, but “Reservoir Dogs” didn’t disappoint (haven’t seen it in at least 10 years). I’d forgotten that Tarantino’s character gets a bullet in the head.
“Breakfast” came one hour before landing in a small bag unceremoniously dumped at our seats. The contents were frigid and the appearance unappetizing. Okay, I didn’t expect much on a seven-hour flight in a cabin that includes the word “economy.” But this IS Air FRANCE, after all. Not even a croissant?
Nope. Instead, a day-old mushy mini-muffin that must have fallen off the prison farm food truck. Along with a hard roll accompanied by the usual itty-bitty single-serving packages of butter, jelly, and cream cheese.
We threw out the awful muffins and stored the rest to paw through between flights in the terminal. Our connection from Paris to Ljubljana isn’t for three hours.
Altogether, despite my whining, Air France service is competitive or even a little better than aboard Delta, American, United, etc. in Premium Economy. I’m happy. It’s a far cry from business class, though soooo much superior to Economy.
Air France Hop! AF1036 CDG/LJU (E190)
It was a long, long walk, plus a terminal connector train, from Paris CDG Airport Terminal 2E to the bus which goes to diminutive Terminal 2G for our flight to Ljubljana.
Before reaching the bus stop we encountered a TSA-type security screen that required us to put liquids and lotions in a separate plastic bag. We didn’t have to remove shoes, however. Very friendly and professional.
Also uncrowded on this Wednesday morning.
Then the immigration screen where our passports were stamped.
Finally a bus ride to Terminal 2G. A really long ride, too. Ruth and I got a landside tour of the other CDG terminals en route. When finally discharged at 2G, we were underwhelmed. It’s functional and clean, but modest and plain: a typical commuter flight operation.
We deplaned into Terminal 2E from the JFK flight at 940am (70 minutes behind schedule due to the previous evening’s JFK runway congestion) and reached 2G at 1051a. We were both surprised that inter-terminal transit took 71 minutes. I was relieved we had a long connection.
Not many folks wearing masks on planes like us. Hard to pin down an accurate number, but less than 20%, I reckon. Young people especially eschew masks.
I was very pleased with the Air France Hop! Flight CDG to LJU: on time, no fuss but clean and efficient operation, and comfortable seats. We reached Ljubljana Airport on time at 230p and had our Avis car by 300p. Ruth expertly navigated as I drove to Bled (Lake Bled) by 415p where we stay tonight and tomorrow night at the Penzion Mayer.
My first impression of Slovenia is of Tyrol. It looks so Bavarian and Austrian. And thus happily familiar (since lived in Munich 1975 through 1976).
Tomorrow we explore Lake Bled and its surroundings. Tonight we dine at a traditional Slovenian restaurant called Old Cellar.
It’s a great feeling to finally be here and to have been transported so efficiently and comfortably by Air France. Bravo to the airline. After a bad start from Raleigh, I am relaxed.