Air France Economy Class Düsseldorf-Paris – On a brand new Airbus A318
At the Airport
I checked in two hours before departure in the bright and very modern departure hall in Düsseldorf. Air France and KLM have, unlike in most European airports, a common check-in area with four desks, two baggage-drop desks, a service desk, and a desk for premium travellers. As a gold card traveller, I was able to check in at the Sky Priority desk without queuing.
A friendly middle-aged women helped me check-in and it took no longer than a minute. I had already checked in online in order to choose my seat, therefore, all that had to be done was to attach the tag to my bag and print a boarding pass. A fast track sticker was also stuck on my boarding pass before I was wished a pleasant trip.
Security control was almost completely empty and my fast track sticker was never put to use. Air France used to have their own lounge in Dusseldorf but are now using Hugo Junkers Lounge, located one floor above security control and not at all far from what later turned out to be the gate I would be boarding from to Paris. This is one of the nicer third-party lounges I have visited in Europe, with a nice and neat interior, friendly staff and an adequate supply of food and drink. During my last visit, there was a tasty chicken kebab and vegetarian meatballs on offer, but this time there was only bread, cheese, yoghurt and croissants. This is probably due to the time of the day.
Boarding and First Impressions
Boarding started 25 minutes before departure at gate B57. It was the woman who previously checked me in who took care of the boarding process, and who also proved to be excellent in French. Priority was given to Sky Priority passengers and they were allowed to board first, this included me as a gold card traveller.
It was an Airbus A318 that would take us to Paris, probably the first time I have flown on the A318. The aircraft made a good first impression and the decor felt very modern in comparison to some of the older A320 aircraft I have travelled on with Air France. Otherwise, the interior was in line with the traditional Air France design.
A punctual pushback took place shortly after 3pm, followed by a safety briefing in French and surprisingly good English (with perfect pronunciation). The flight to Paris was short, with a flight time of just over 50 minutes.
Onboard the Airbus A318 was a new seat model with a significantly thinner back rest than on some of the older short-haul aircraft that Air France have used. This is a development that most airlines are moving towards to reduce aircraft weight. Comfort-wise, it can make the chair marginally harder, but on a short flight such as this it did not matter.
A positive aspect was the table, which was of a newer model and had a separate cup holder. This proved to be very useful. Air France offers a full beverage service, even in economy class. On a short flight like this, the last passenger is served just as the plane begins the approach, but thanks to the new cup holders, they still have time to enjoy their drink in peace and quiet pretty much all the way until touchdown.
Economy class was almost completely full on this flight, while business class and premium economy, which occupied the first three lines, had only two passengers.
In economy class, we were offered a cookie and a full range of drinks, including beer, wine, juices, soft drinks, coffee and tea, all included in the fare. This seemed perfectly reasonable and acceptable given the length of the flight and the time of day. I ordered a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice.
Friendly service from the cabin crew, as expected. Nothing special was done for me as a gold card traveller.
We landed ten minutes before schedule at Paris CDG on the southern runway. It was a short distance to taxi to terminal 2F, which is used for most flights to and from Schengen destinations. Charles de Gaulle will never be a favourite airport of mine, but the changes and renovations made in recent years have made the airport a little easier to use. My transfer onwards to Scandinavia was completely painless and the signs were easy to follow, however, the transit hall, terminal 2F, tends to get slightly crampt when there are many simultaneous departures.
A fast and smooth flight. The aircraft was modern and the complimentary drink was a nice touch considering it was a short flight. Nothing whatsoever to complain about.