This post goes back to May 2022 and the return trip following several awesome Kenyan safaris. Because the flights were my first experience with Air France business class, for a change I was actually looking forward to coming home. Air France operated the flights to Paris, France (CDG) and Dallas, Texas (DFW).
The Air France flights were each ten to eleven hours in length providing excellent opportunities to experience Air France long-haul, international business class seats and service.
Air France is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air France-KLM Holding Group, which was created by a 2004 merger between Air France and KLM. Air France’s primary international hub is Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport (GDG). As of December 2021, the Air France fleet consisted of 248 aircraft. Its Flying Blue frequent flyer program has nearly 20 million members. Air France and KLM are members of the SkyTeam alliance along with 17 other airlines. Skytrax rates Air France four stars out of five.
SkyTeam partners China Eastern Airlines and Delta Air Lines own approximately 5% and 3%, respectively, of Air France-KLM. Air France-KLM owns approximately 8% of Kenya Airways. Owning non-controlling interests in other airlines seems to be a trend. It diversifies airline risk and is one way of having some influence over the activities of competitor airlines without running afoul of antitrust laws.
Air France Flight AF995 Johannesburg (JNB) to Paris (CDG)
Great Circle Distance: 5,410 miles (8,706km)
Scheduled Flight Time: 11h 05m
Scheduled Departure: 18:50
Scheduled Arrival: 05:55
Class of Service Flown: Business Class
Date: May 19, 2022
After an all too brief time enjoying the food and beverages in the Virgin Clubhouse, I headed to the gate to be there at the announced boarding time, 18:00. When I arrived, Gate A3 was a congested mess.
With some difficulty I made it through the crowd to where business class was boarding. Two jet bridges connected the gate and the plane. Using more than one jet bridge usually makes boarding easier and faster. Not in this case.
The jet bridge that was attached to the first door on the port side was reserved for first class passengers exclusively even though there were only four first class seats. I get it. People who fork over outrageous sums for Air France La Premiere first class are entitled to special treatment.
All other passengers were made to wait at the gate or on the jet bridge that was attached to the second boarding door which was located between the business class cabins. Holding up boarding for everyone else seemed unnecessary because boarding through the second door would not have disturbed anyone in first class.
Once general boarding began, business class passengers got on first but then passengers in economy and premium economy had to pass through the aft business class cabin while those passengers were stowing their gear, settling in, and flight attendants were providing pre-departure service.
The result was numerous traffic jams in the aisles. Boarding would have been more pleasant and efficient for everyone by attaching the jet bridge to the boarding door in the premium economy cabin.
Air France 777-300ER Seating Arrangement
Air France operates several versions of the 777-300ER. This aircraft was configured in seating arrangement Version 1. There were a total of 296 seats divided among four classes of service. First class was a single-row cabin of four seats arranged 1-2-1.
Business class consisted of 58 seats in two cabins immediately behind first class. The forward cabin had 16 seats, and the aft cabin had 42 seats. Business class cabins were separated by lavs and the first/business class galley. Seats were arranged 1-2-1 and angled away from the aisle in a reverse herringbone pattern.
The seat map for first class (left), business class (center) and premium economy (right) depicts the seating arrangement and the location of galleys, lavs, and closets.
Premium economy consisted of 28 seats arranged 2-4-2. Economy had 206 seats in two cabins in a 3-4-3 pattern.
Business Class Seat
These were the basics: The seat was 21.5 inches (54.5 cm) wide, reclined to a horizontal flat bed in which feet extend into the space under the side console of the seat in front, had direct access to the aisle, pitch, the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front or back, was 61 inches (155 cm).
Although the seat was similar to others, being my first Air France business class flight, I was anxious to check out all of the bells and whistles. It always fun exploring the features and options that vary slightly from airline to airline.
Controls for the seat and overhead light were located within easy reach on the console. These controls were almost too simple. It would have been nice to control movements of different parts of the seat independently. The seat moved as a unit from upright to reclining to fully flat.
A compartment with a vanity mirror provided secure storage. It was located at head level above the console and next to the video remote and reading light.
A/C and USB outlets and a bit more storage were found at knee level below and in front of the console.
Once acquainted with the immediate physical environment (hard product), I was ready to see what Air France had to offer as far as food, beverages, amenities, and service ( soft product).
Amenities and Departure
Flight attendants distributed an amenity kit and a kit sanitaire after I was seated.
The amenity kit contained a dental kit, eye shades, ear plugs, socks, pen, and Clarins hydrating crème and nail treatment crème.
There was a hangar, bottled water, a large pillow and comfy quilt at each business class seat. When I sat down an attendant welcomed me with a smile and a greeting and asked if I had any garments to be hung in the closet.
About 15 minutes after boarding, pre-departure beverages were offered followed by hot towels 10 minutes later. I had a glass of Joseph Perrier Champagne. I appreciate a drink before departure to relieve some of the stress that, for various reasons, often develops at the gate and during boarding.
We pushed from the gate at 18:53. Just after pushback, attendants went through the cabin spraying an aerosol that I assumed was an insecticide.
Orders for drinks and dinner were taken about 20 minutes after takeoff.
The beverage menu was highlighted by a great selection of wines. Paolo Basso, who won an award in 2013’s as world’s best sommelier, was in charge of stocking the Air France wine cellar.
Regis Marcon, Top Chef at the Michelin 3-star restaurant Regis & Jacques Marcon at Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, created a menu of seasonal French dishes.
I started with chocolates and Bellevoye Blue, a sweet non-peated, triple distilled blend of malts from Brittany, Alsace and Cognac.
A fresh green salad, duck breast on pineapple salsa, and mozzarella and tomato appetizers with warm bread and a 2015 red wine followed.
There were four choice of entrée including ostrich fillet which was very tempting. Since I had ostrich at the Virgin Clubhouse, I went with grilled chicken thighs, an old favorite, accompanied by red bell pepper sauce, basmati rice and chopped grilled vegetables..
I had a selection of cheese, fruit and coffee for dessert.
I gave Air France high marks for the quality of the wine, the meal and the service of the flight attendants. The dishes were served with care, at the proper temperature, and at a leisurely pace, which I appreciated being a slow eater.
After dinner I reclined and watched Breaking In on the inflight entertainment system. Air France IFE has a wide range of movies, music, TV shows and even radio stations to suit any tastes. To help passengers get some sleep, IFE also included bedtime stories that you could listen to over the noise-cancelling headsets.
I didn’t need assistance to get some shut eye. Although a little hard, the seat was adequate for sleep when reclined fully flat. A mattress pad and pajamas would have been nice.
There was an assortment of snacks that could be requested at anytime, and a portion of the galley was set up for self-service beverages.
The bathrooms in business class are the same as in economy except lavs in business class benefit from amenities like lotions and air freshener.
The remainder of the flight was uneventful with periods of sleep mixed with perusing the IFE for a movie or TV show.
About 90 minutes before landing, the cabin lights were turned on and attendants began the breakfast service.
l enjoyed the scrambled eggs and Lyonnaise potatoes option. Although the portions were slightly larger and the service was definitely fancier (e.g., tablecloths and Massuad flatware), breakfast was basically the same as in economy. Yogurt must be inexpensive and healthy because it always seems to be served with breakfast in every class of service.
Breakfast was cleared in plenty of time for passengers to put away their belongings, visit a lav, and prepare for landing.
The sun was beginning to rise on a cloudy day in Paris.
Air France Flight 995 parked at the gate at 05:37 18 minutes ahead of schedule.
I very much enjoyed my first long-haul business class flight on Air France. The selection of wine, food and other beverages was high quality. While not up to the standards of Qatar Airways, the world’s best business class, it was better than the airlines I usually fly from North America. Service was very courteous without seeming forced. A couple of little touches that I liked were having hangars at each seat and the bedtime stories on IFE.
I hope this post provided insight into the experience on this flight. Thanks for reading.
If you have an interest, please view any of the other posts from the flights, nights, sights and lounges of a spectacular Kenya trip in May 2022.
Air France 777-300 Business Class Johannesburg, South Africa to Paris, France
Air France 787-9 Business Class Paris, France to Dallas, TX
Air France Lounge Terminal 2E Hall K, Charles de Gaulle International Airport Paris