I had just 80 minutes to transit between terminals G and E at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Naturally, I did not get to visit Air France’s business class lounge. But I did hear that Part 1 of a new 3,200 square meter lounge launched early this year in Hall L of Terminal 2. When fully launched in July 2018, the lounge will feature an open kitchen, private saunas, a detox bar, an area dedicated to facial treatments by Clarins and a “La Table Gourmet” dining area where chefs plate hot dishes for guests to go with wines and Champagnes curated by Paolo Basso, world’s best sommelier in 2013.
Air France business class cabin has a blue-beige colour scheme that comes across as corporate compared to the bling appeal of Emirates. There are 60 seats (they all transform to flat beds with a duvet and an XXL down feather pillow) laid out in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration. It would have been nice if a set of pyjamas were provided but there were none (La Premiere does gift passengers with a set though). All business class seats have aisle access – window seats are angled towards the window while the two middle seats are angled towards each other (with an optional screen for privacy). Measuring about 54cm in width and 196 cm in length when fully converted to a flatbed with a generously sized footrest, each business class seat is cocooned in the privacy of an aerodynamic shell that comes with a swivel 16” TV controlled from a panel situated to the immediate left or right of the seat. Next to the TV control panel is a red-bathed storage cabin where a Bose noise-cancelling headphone is stored together with a little vanity mirror built into the cabin door (a small handbag would fit into this space). Next to the TV control panel, you will also find a tiny reading light. If you have a laptop bag, it would have to be stowed in the overhead compartment. To adjust your seat, look for a four-button control panel neatly flushed into the counter side, beneath which a swivel dining table is tucked. The first button turns on the light above the ottoman; the second button brings your seat to an upright position for landing and takeoff; a third button transforms the seat into a bed; and the fourth button allows you to move the seat forward and backward while reclining or raising the seat back. Below the table, you will find a universal power plug and a USB port to charge your iPhone or other devices. On the aisle side of the seat is an arm rest that can be lowered for takeoff and landing and raised for arm support.
All business class passengers are gifted an amenity kit with Clarins’ lip balm and moisturizer as well as a toothbrush set, eye mask and ear plugs. It’s noteworthy that Air France provides a number-tagged hanger on each seat for passengers with coats, suits and jackets so that these can be handed to the flight attendant for safe-keeping and easily retrieved after the flight
Food and drink
For the 12-hour plus overnight flight from Paris to Singapore, dinner and breakfast are served. In between, a choice of refreshments – think sandwiches, cup noodles, fruits and ice cream – are available on demand up until one and a half hour before arrival.
A bevy of Michelin starred chefs design menus for Air France and for this Paris-Singapore route in June 2018, Guy Martin of Grand Véfour has created a multi-course prix fixe dinner menu. Befitting the dining ritual, dishes are served in Jean-Marie Massaud-designed tableware. To start, an amuse-bouche followed by a shrimp and asparagus starter or soup, then a choice of hot dishes from a selection of three. There’s a western style veal chuck, Chinese style sweet and sour pork with rice and green bell peppers and an Italian inspired gnocchi and artichokes dish that is worth skipping lunch for. With Martin steering the menu, it makes sense to go western and my choice of gnocchi does not disappoint (the portion size is a tad big though). No French dinner is complete without the cheese course and desserts (choose from cake, fresh fruit salad and ice cream/sorbet). An Express Menu is also available in case sleeping (rather than eating) is your agenda. If you are feeling peckish in between meals, the pantry stocks fruits, Laduree candies and Haagan Daz ice cream, amongst other snacks. Do pick what you want quickly though; in my experience, they vanish even before you could count to 10.
Similarly, breakfast can be a full-on affair complete with cold (yoghurt, cut fruits) and hot dishes (think hot eggs, French toast or crepe with scrambled eggs). If you prefer something light, simply request for coffee (illy coffee, no less) and croissant. For airline food, the croissants are surprisingly tasty, particularly if eaten with the accompanying Conviette French butter roll.
From an airline that pours Champagne for all classes including economy (they reportedly pour 750,000 bottles of Champagne a year in all classes), business class passengers are pampered with Brut Classic by Deutz, a Champagne house that only uses first press juices and an unusually high (about 40%) percentage of reserve wines. Whites are from Loire Valley and Burgundy while reds are from Bordeaux and Syrah.
Given the lack of Wi-Fi on-board this aircraft (apparently some of the B777-300 on the Singapore route already have Wi-Fi), free or otherwise, the in-flight entertainment programme takes on key importance. On Air France, the entertainment programme ranges from movies, music and games to TV shows and cartoons. Since I was eating and sleeping most of the time, I did not get to test the programmes but suffice it to say that navigating the touch-screen was a cinch.
Air France flies seven times a week between Charles de Gaulle Airport and Singapore Changi Airport. For more information, visit airfrance.com
The writer was upgraded to business class courtesy of Air France