AF 787-9 Dreamliner – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter
As far as airline journalism gigs go, I hoped that this would be a beauty. And it did not disappoint. I missed an opportunity to visit the Air France (AF) CDG hub experience in November 2015 due to a lost passport. However, AF gave me a second, even juicier, bite of the cerise with an invitation to try its business class product on board the airline’s recently arrived Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. We would fly out from London Heathrow (LHR) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on 23 March 2017. You’d perhaps be forgiven for raising an eyebrow seeing a long-haul bird deployed for a painfully short 45-minute hop over La Manche.
Our Air France A319, parked at Gate L21 at CDG
We had purchased a Premium Economy fare to fly from San Francisco to Istanbul (IST) via Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) with a 60-minute layover. While I was looking forward to checking out Air France’s medium-haul Premium Economy service from CDG-IST, the carrier quietly eliminated the class on everything but long-haul flights and placed passengers into regular Economy. Not nice.
Fast-forward to our landing at CDG — our inbound flight on the A380 was delayed taking off from SFO and spent its time circling the airport grounds, finally docking 45 minutes before our next flight. Would we make it in time, or would we have to spend four hours waiting for the next flight and losing an entire evening in Istanbul?
Our Air France A380 parked at SFO. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Thanks to Delta, I found a smashing deal to fly an Airbus A380 for the first time, and not in economy! My wife and I were married late last year, but postponed our honeymoon because we wanted to visit Europe during the warmer months.
We lucked out and found a very low fare valid for this past September, from San Francisco to Istanbul, in the Premium Economy section of Delta partner Air France. This would be our first time flying the A380, as well as the first time in decades flying on Air France. I was cautiously optimistic about what flying Premium Economy would be like, and I subscribed to the mantra of, “anything’s better than coach,” or even my flight on a CRJ-200 the day before.
Would I be severely disappointed?
Air France’s inaugural Paris to Vancouver flight touches down on YVR’s Rwy 08L, just after noon on a rainy Sunday
C’est magnifique! Air France’s first flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) touched down in a huge spray of water on a soggy Sunday afternoon. The Boeing 777-200ER landed on YVR’s Runway 08L, after a nearly ten-hour flight from Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
This inaugural flight ran a bit late, arriving at 12:04 PM. The normal schedule has Flight AF374 departing CDG at 10:35 AM, arriving YVR at 11:50 AM, the same day. The return flight, Flight AF379, leaves YVR at 1:55 PM, and arrives CDG at 8:35 AM the following morning.
Flags flying from the cockpit, AF374 taxiies to the gate at YVR
After touchdown, the 777 received a special escort by YVR’s emergency services along Taxiway Mike, before having the traditional “new airline water cannon salute” from two fire trucks. Mind you, with the monsoon-like rain, it was tough to see the water arch!
Then, with Canadian and French flags flying from the cockpit windows, AF374 taxiied to Gate 65 at YVR’s International Terminal.