Happy hump day from Paris! I just landed on my first Air France A380 first class flight, and don’t even know where to begin. First of all, I’ll just be sharing my general thoughts in this post, and will have a much more detailed post once I start the trip report. After all, I took this flight solely for the purpose of reviewing the product, so you can expect a report as detailed as an NTSB investigation in the coming weeks (fortunately one of those wasn’t needed for my flight, though).
Let me start by saying that I was pleasantly surprised by the experience — Air France far exceeded my expectations. And I’m trying to figure out how much of this is just psychological, because throughout the entire experience I was kind of giddy and almost felt out of place.
Since Air France doesn’t release any saver first class award space but instead requires you to book a “flex” award, I never though I’d try their A380 first class product. So there was something about the whole experience that made me feel like such a badass, kind of like when you have your first drink in the US after turning 21.
And beyond that, there was just something really exciting about trying a new product. I’ve flown Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Singapore first class all well over a dozen times and while they leave me impressed almost every time, it starts to become so familiar that it loses its luster. Today I kind of feel like I lost my international first class virginity all over again.
Anyway, on to the actual experience:
Air France A380 First Class Seat
Air France’s A380 first class product really is kind of embarrassing. Of any airline that operates the A380 it’s the most disappointing product, as the seats have virtually no privacy and really are industry average at best. For that matter there’s not even an external personal television, but rather a fairly small screen that pops out of the side of your console.
During boarding I sent my mom some pictures of the cabin, and I think she summed it up best:
I think she has been spoiled too much with miles.
In true German fashion, she speaks the truth. She knows what’s up.
On the plus side the seat felt fairly spacious in bed mode, though the bedding wasn’t amazing. Don’t get me wrong, the bedding wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. Instead of having a proper mattress pad there’s just a very thin sheet of sorts. The bed comfort doesn’t even get close to comparing to Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, or Qantas, just to name a few.
Air France A380 First Class Food
So the food was nothing short of spectacular. Not only did it taste good, but I thought the presentation was top notch as well.
Last time I flew Air France first class nearly a decade ago I thought the food was far too complex and poorly executed, while this time it was reasonably simple and extraordinarily well executed.
There were canapés to start, which consisted of crepes filled with salmon, truffle and asparagus, and tapenade blini with oven-dried tomato.
That was followed by a salad and cauliflower soup.
Which was followed by caviar.
Which was followed by a beef tenderloin.
Which was followed by a cheese plate.
Which was followed by an opera cake.
And then I finished off the meal with a cappuccino.
Now I didn’t eat everything from every course (in case some of you were worried), but I wanted to make sure I was sampling as much as possible, as this may be the only time I fly Air France first class.
The one bizarre part of the service (which is easily forgiven since everything else was spectacular) was that they didn’t offer alcoholic beverages pre-departure. Airlines have to pay taxes on alcohol opened on the ground in the US, though most airlines aren’t cheap enough to just not serve alcohol as a result. Air France is, apparently, which I found shocking. Of all the airlines in the world you’d think you could get a glass of champagne pre-departure, wouldn’t Air France be at the top of your list?
Air France A380 First Class Service
Four of the nine first class seats were taken, and there was a single flight attendant working the cabin. While she never addressed me by name, she was extremely charming, attentive, friendly, and professional.
Despite being busy doing everything on her own, my plate never sat empty for more than a couple of minutes, and drinks were always full. Between meals she came by my seat periodically to see if I wanted anything, and even made suggestions. Before landing she even stopped by my seat for several minutes to explain how the ground transfer will work in Paris, and to tell me how great the first class lounge is, and all the things I can take advantage of there. So the service really impressed me.
Air France A380 First Class Amenities
I was really impressed by the pajamas, which were high quality and extremely soft and comfortable.
The amenity kit was a bit lackluster compared to what some other airlines offer. Then again, Lufthansa doesn’t exactly offer an impressive amenity kit either.
Other airlines have some “frills” on their A380s. Emirates has showers for first class passengers and a bar for first and business class passengers, Lufthansa has two huge lavatories, Thai has a huge lavatory and a lounge, etc.
The one unique thing that Air France has – which I love – is a changing room. I always hate changing into pajamas in the lavatory since we know how dirty the floor is, so instead they have a changing room with a vanity mirror and all kinds of toiletries. Brilliant idea.
Unfortunately it comes at a cost – the first class lavatory is quite possibly the smallest lavatory I’ve ever seen in first class, and there’s only one.
Air France definitely exceeded my expectations. I knew exactly what to expect when it came to their hard product, as I’ve toured the Air France A380 before, but just haven’t flown on it. So there were no surprises there, and while I think the hard product is the most lackluster of any airline operating the A380, it’s still a comfortable seat.
But aside from that, there was something incredibly refined about the Air France product. The cabin looked very elegant/sleek, and the service was impeccable. The food was among the best I’ve had on a plane, not just in terms of taste, but also in terms of presentation.
There were so many “little touches” that impressed me, like a small box of chocolates being served with a cappuccino, the way water with turndown service was served with a glass on a tray, etc.
But what really sets Air France apart is the ground experience… stay tuned.
PS: THE GROUND SERVICES IN PARIS ARE AMAZING. AIR FRANCE’S FIRST CLASS LOUNGE IS LITERALLY THE BEST IN THE WORLD. END OF STORY. OTHER AIRLINES CAN GO HOME NOW. YES, IT’S SO GOOD IT’S WORTHY OF CAPS AND BOLDING. MORE ON THAT SHORTLY… ASSUMING I CAN’T CONVINCE ONE OF THE AMAZING PEOPLE WORKING HERE TO LET ME JUST STAY PERMANENTLY.