I was born in 1985, which puts me in the millennial generation. We are largely known for being technologically savvy, and having different tastes than previous generations. As such, many companies have been forced to adapt in order to do business with us. As our collective purchasing power grows, airlines are also adapting. Many have rolled out apps for smartphones and updated websites allowing us to purchase tickets, check-in for flights, and board planes with only a few taps of our fingers. Others are also advertising their involvement in social causes that Millennials care about. However, one European airline is taking a dramatic step to capture more Millennial travelers.
Meet Joon, a low-cost carrier created by Air France, designed specifically with Millennials in mind (for the baby boomers rolling their eyes, don’t worry, our own David Parker Brown [and his mom] designed an airline just for y’all). Joon promises many of the stereotypical products that appeal to us, including organic food options and craft beer. The overall flight experience, as I found out on a flight from Rome to Paris (FCO – CDG), is definitely designed to appeal to the younger Millennials.
My husband and I arrived at FCO in typical Millennial fashion, by taking the train from Roma Termini station to the airport. The train dropped us off close to Terminals 2 and 3. However, flights within the Schengen area are considered domestic flights, so we had to proceed to Terminal 1.
Inside Terminal 1, there are rows and rows of check-in counters all staffed by Alitalia. Monitors over some of the counters displayed different airlines, nearly all of them members of the Skyteam Alliance, but everyone was dressed in a green Alitalia uniform. Since we were technically flying “Air France operated by Joon,” we proceeded to the counter that displayed Air France on the overhead monitor. We checked our bags to Boston (BOS) and then proceeded to the Alitalia lounge since we were in business class.
The Alitalia lounge is mediocre when compared to other lounges. They had pastries laid out for breakfast and a small seating area. The staff behind the bar were fixing all sorts of coffee-based concoctions. It was early in the morning, and I was craving my daily jolt of caffeine. I ordered a coffee but forgotten that in Europe that means a shot of espresso. While strong, the espresso shot wasn’t quite enough, so I went back and ordered an Americano.
After I was sufficiently caffeinated, we proceeded to head to the security checkpoint. Business class and elite flyers have their own Sky Priority security checkpoint. The Sky Priority checkpoint enabled us to clear security in less than three minutes. We then headed to our gate where people were standing in lines labeled Sky Priority, Zone 1, etc. to board the plane, an Airbus 321-200, to Paris. We stood in line to have our passports and boarding passes scanned then made our way down the jetway.
As we reached the end of the jetway and boarded the plane, we were greeted with a smile by a young flight attendant in a stylish blue outfit, and then offered a moist towelette. We turned to the right and I noticed the business class cabin has a 3 – 3 configuration, like the rest of the aircraft. However, in business class, the middle seat was left empty. On the aisle and window seats were pillows, with colors alternating between a bright blue and a neon green. The seats themselves were black leather. Since this was a short flight, there were no virtual reality headsets. However, Joon’s long-haul flights offer this amenity for Business Class passengers.
We took our seats, and one of the flight attendants came around to collect our used towelettes. We were also offered a pre-flight glass of champagne. When it comes to drinking, most people pair Millennials with craft beer. While the menu had a nice selection of craft beer, I was more than happy to drink the sparkly, fermented grape juice before takeoff.
There were no in-flight entertainment screens, but the seat-back pocket contained the instructions for logging onto the wifi to use your own device to watch, listen, or read whatever digital content you desired. USB outlets to plug in the devices were available at every seat. Although I am a Millennial, I still read actual books when I fly. I had been reading Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-year Battle Between Marvel and DC by Tucker Reed, and I figured I would continue making my way through the book. However, after we took off, our flight path included amazing views of the sapphire blue Mediterranean followed by the snow-capped peaks and crags of the Alps. Thus I didn’t get much reading done.
While we were over the Alps, it was time for lunch. A flight attendant came by to offer us hot towels and asked us what we wanted to eat. The Millennial staple avocado toast was not on the menu. I ended up having quiche with a side of fruit. The dessert was pie with cream and truffles.
We finished our meal as the Alps faded behind us. The flight attendants came by again to collect our dishes and see if we wanted anything else. We had quite a bit of time before landing, but I was content to just gaze at the countryside below.
We began our initial descent over the suburbs of Paris. Since Charles De Gaulle airport is north of Paris and we were flying from the south, as our descent continued we were soon treated to views of the center of the city. Famous landmarks including the Arc De Triumph, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre were immediately recognizable as we flew roughly parallel to the Seine River. Our plane then banked to the right to begin its final descent. The landing was smooth as glass and after taxiing to the terminal we deplaned. We made our way through passport control and the security checkpoint in terminal 2E. Once we were through security, we visited the Air France lounge to wait until boarding time for our flight home.
In conclusion, Joon’s marketing and branding team have done a great job at making it seem chic millennial. However, the overall experience is not that different from any other legacy airline. The cabin service consisted of essentially the same rounds as on a U.S. domestic medium-haul flight. The food and drink selection was also similar to what mainline Air France would offer. The biggest difference I found was that the front of the plane did not feel nearly as formal as on other airlines. Part of that probably has to do with younger flight attendants in business casual uniforms.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly on Joon again, but if it is flying where I want to go, for the lowest price possible, I will be giving them my business. In the end, I think a good deal is appreciated by any generation.