Book your flights on Air France here.
Courtesy of this mistake fare, I had booked myself on the Los Angeles to Paris flight AF65.
Air France operates the route daily from the Los Angeles International Terminal with a new Airbus A380.
I had used the Air France website to check in and the website does the job pretty well. Although this was an Alitalia code-share, I was able to add my Flying Blue number, change seats and add all my passport data.
The website also offered an upgrade to business class for a reasonable $579 per segment. I refused, but thought it wasn't a bad deal.
Check-in was quick (actually quicker than many business class flights recently) and with very friendly staff members who helped to scan my passport one more time.
The Tom Bradley International Terminal is still under heavy renovation and the security lines were long but well-managed. I was able to get into the TSA Pre line and spent all but 5 minutes there, although Emirates and the Air France A380 were both sending people through at the same time.
On that day the flight departed from Gate 159 – it was the same gate I'd flown westwards from a couple of weeks earlier with Cathay Pacific in first class.
Boarding was surprisingly quick and orderly. There were 516 passengers on board the aircraft, which seems like half the terminal, but the gate agents clearly had this under control with large signs and a system to line up people in different gate areas. That was pretty impressive and got us all on board in less than 25 minutes. Many A320s take longer to fully board.
However, that was to no avail, as ATC delayed our departure by an hour once we had all settled in.
The A380 is still fairly new and while the economy class seating is never luxurious, it still looks rather good. I found the seat pitch reasonable – I'm 6'4" and wasn't able to stretch out much, but it did not feel claustrophobic.
To my surprise, the flight attendants were uber-friendly and knowledgeable. Drinks were served about 90 minutes after takeoff into a windy LA sunset and food was served after 2.5 hours.
I liked the food – it was missing on spices but it was a solid meal. Air France serves good champagne, a lovely Syrah red wine and even dessert liquor in economy. I found the alcohol on par with recent international business class flights (though Dom Perignon it was not).
Just a few seats in economy were free, so there were no empty rows to sleep in. That wasn't an issue though and after watching 'The Maze Runner' I quickly fell asleep and did not wake up until breakfast service. I did not like breakfast (and forgot to snap a picture).
I was worried about my transfer time in Paris with the delay, since the airport continues to get a bad rep for people missing connections . However, on this day, security and immigration from the international terminal into the Shengen terminal was a quick 15 minutes with minimal lines.
I was at my gate well before boarding and had time to buy myself an $8 water bottle from the cafe stand nearby.
All in all, I felt this was as good as transatlantic economy class gets (in a full plane). VERY friendly staff, good food, excellent alcoholic options and some seat comfort.
Book your flights on Air France here.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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