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Trip Report Air France; Amsterdam-Paris-Dubai, Economy Plus

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Since Air France is promoting its new Economy Plus product, so I got interested to try this new class (between economy and business). There was also a promotion of 50% of the normally required miles, I decided to use my accumulated miles for this trip. The Amsterdam-Paris (Charles de Gaulle) portion was booked on an earlier departure (1 hour 15 minutes) on AF1241 i.s.o. the regular connecting flight since I wanted to check out the Paris terminal a little bit. There was no seat available in this particular class, but no problem since it’s only a short stretch to Paris. Seat assignment could only be done at time of booking for the CDG-DXB stretch, while the economy seat from AMS to CDG could be done during check-in.
It was quite foggy on the day of departure (06DEC10), the morning of departure. Check-in was already done the day before via internet and with only hand luggage, the formalities at Schiphol where solved very quickly. My flight was expected 1 hour late coming in from Paris.
Checked at the gate if there where seats available in the economy plus cabin, but was told that booking class on my ticket did not allowed an “upgrade” even though I paid (with miles) for the complete stretch for the economy plus product. In the “old” days (prè E-ticket times) you where given a paper ticket with the paid service class on it and put on waitlist if your paid class of service was not available at time of booking.
This is apparently not possible anymore in the electronic age of E-ticketing………..
We left at the same time that the following Air France was scheduled to depart, so 1 hour and 15 minutes late and in other words now on the official connecting time at Paris. No blame for Air France, it was just the weather. Many passengers of the next Air France flight tried to get on our flight so they could still make their connection in Paris.
It was an Airbus 321, quite roomy in economy but I am a small guy. The service was quick with a small bite and a few drink choices available.
After an uneventful short flight we landed at Charles de Gaulle where it started to snow during taxiing to the gate. Before we disembarked, you could already see a white blanket over the platform.
We arrived at terminal 2F where the departing flight was supposed to depart from with a transfer time now of 1 hour and 35 minutes.
After quite a long walk and a check point for the passports and another check point for hand luggage I had still about 20 minutes before the boarding was scheduled to start. At that point, there was already about 3 centimeters of snow on the ground, so was kind of worried if the flight was still going on-time (or even worse= being cancelled). But no worries, boarding started right on-time. First-, Business, special pass holders and Economy Plus passengers could board via a separate boarding gate and boarding was quite quick.
The plane was a Boeing 777-300ER with First-, Business-, Economy Plus- and Economy Class. The seat next to me remained empty, which is a bonus. The seat itself is a so-called “fixed shell” seat so you do not get the seat back of the passenger in front of you in your lap. The seat reclines within its own shell which is a nice feature!! There was already a bottle of water and an amenity kit, little pillow and blanket waiting for you. The amenity kit is the same as the one you get in Business class.
The head set is fixed to your seat and was already worn out. You suppose to cover the head set speakers with very thin cover (provided in the amenity kit) but many previous passengers had used the head set without these extra provided covers. Quite unhygienic, if you ask me, even with the provided (very thin) covers. The sound was good and you can question (or not) the provided amount of English movies but for me it was adequate.
I started to wonder why we did not departed (the doors where already closed) but then the captain came on and explained that due to the snow, all the planes had to be de-iced and that there was a long wait. We could only start our engines once it was our turn to be de-iced.
In the end we got airborne 3 hours after our scheduled departure time.
The service and service items (meals/drinks) are the same as in economy. You could choose from 2 hot meals. It would have been nice if the cabin staff did a little bit extra effort to hand out extra drinks during the flight in this cabin.
After a while I got a soar but as the seat cushion was apparently too thin (I only weight 65 kilo) which was quite uncomfortable!
The Economy Plus cabin can be separated from Economy with curtains, but they remained open during the whole flight! This meant in practice that (for my feeling) the complete Economy section had visited our section (come check it out) and used the toilets in “our” section at least once during this flight.
The Air France staff have probably not been instructed yet to close the curtains so that the Economy Plus cabin has a much more pleasant and quiet environment which I think is the intend if you want to attract the higher paying passengers traveling on business and want to work but who are not allowed to fly Business class.
There are power outlets in every seat and a nice size tray table where you can put your laptop on. The seat recline and amount of space is also reasonable so it could be a good product (but not to be compared with Business class!!) but definitely better than Economy.
So, with a little bit extra effort, this Economy Plus product of Air France could be very interesting, but for the moment I am not totally impressed yet.

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