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Trip Report AIR FRANCE= GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Air France; Amsterdam-Paris-Buenos Aires, Business class, Friday 07JAN11.
We booked these flights already in May using our well earned miles (see also trip report 26/27JAN11). We could already assign seats and we choose the first row (window and aisle) on both flights. The first stretch (AF2041) was scheduled on an Airbus 321 (seats 1D/F) and the second one (AF418) on a Boeing 777-300ER (seats 3K/L directly behind the First class).
We decided to book the earlier flight out of Amsterdam just in case the weather would cause winter related delays and otherwise we could check-out the Air France lounge at Charles de Gaulle so we had an extra 2 hours and 45 minutes compared to the “official” connecting flight with 1 hour and 20 minutes.
In August I incidentally noticed that the original booked seats on the CDG-EZE stretch were changed without letting us know?! What was even more upsetting was the fact that we had been placed apart!! We had now been given separate seats 4K and 6A!! I was not happy, say the least. Hé Air France, that is not how you treat your passengers (and even in Business class!). So I tried to rebook the original seats but the system said that these seats had already been taken…………. I called the reservation department but they could not help. At the end booked seats 6A/B at least together again but now in the second section of the Business class since the first 2 rows in the first section had already been taken by other passengers.
If I would have not noticed this until internet check-in and the flight would have been full, than we potentially could not have been seated next to each other. Not a very good start.
Since I did not liked this at all, I started an email exchange with the Flying Blue desk with no result. The emails are not read properly or not answered at all. At the end it turned out that they could not help me and I had to fill out a complaint form for the service desk of KLM The Netherlands which is representing Air France. We are talking the end of October already. Since this department had a backlog of too many complaints, it could take more than 6 weeks before they were able to answer me……… I called this department the beginning of December to see how long it would still take and the lady promised me she would ask to get my complaint answered in “advance” i.o.w. before we would leave….. And indeed, we got a telephone call half way December. The explanation given was that these first row seats where “baby cradle seats” and they could be taken away at any time upon the discretion of Air France (I learned later that there are no baby cradles in row 3). Of course apologies where offered and some miles for compensation. No explanation was given as to why we were separated during this action.
Do not laugh, but I now also noticed that even on the short haul flight from Amsterdam to Paris we were also bumped of our pre-booked seats (1D/F) and given other seats of course on different rows not next to each other! They do not like you to sit together for whatever reason?!

Pré check-in could be done within 30 hours before departure of the first flight. So I did. Guess what, row 1 on the first flight- and row 3 on the second long haul flight where available! So I quickly assigned ourselves our favorite seats and printed the boarding passes. The next day dropped of our 2 bags of just under 23 kilos each (you are allowed 3 bags of 23 kilos each per person in Business class and with extra payment up-to 32 kilos each). It would be great if the airlines allowed 32 kilos for free again in Business class. I would happily exchange my 3 bags of 23 kilos into 1 of 32 kilos. It strikes me that the airlines forcing you now under the new baggage rules to divide your luggage into2-3 suitcases creating more handling cost and more lost luggage cost while at the same time still allowing 32 kilos per bag, but now at a cost. Not very passenger friendly if you ask me while this suppose to be a service oriented industry………………
Anyway, the drop-of our 2 suitcases went very smooth at the KLM drop-of points at Schiphol and we could quickly go through the security check points via the priority lanes due to our Business class boarding passes.
We went to the KLM lounge number 25 mend for the European flights opposite the beginning of the D-pier.
The lounge looks very appealing, modern and new. Various drinks, snacks, soups, fruit etc., are offered for free while quite a selection of newspapers and other reading materials are available. Of course power outlets are available everywhere while 1 hour of free internet if offered (wifi) with very good bandwidth.
Our flight AF2041 was scheduled to depart from gate C5 at 18.55 (since time of booking the departure time was changed from 18.00 into 18.55 hour) while boarding would start at 18.15 hour.
It was an Airbus 321 and boarding was quick (separate economy another line for passengers with special cards, Business- and Economy Plus boarding passes) since the flight was almost empty.
The Air France short- medium haul business class is quite attractive= 2 rows of 3 (economy) seats but with the middle seat blocked and serves as a table in between the 2 seats. The seat pitch is also better while the first row is perfect (for us). The service is normal and the promised “dinner” is in fact a tray with several small bites.
The flight was short and on-time. Our arrival in Paris (Charles de Gaulle) was at terminal 2F while our ongoing flight to Buenos Aires was scheduled to depart from terminal 2E gate E38 (boarding at 22.35 with scheduled departure time at 23.20 hour).
After quite a long walk (interrupted by a passport check point) we arrived at a bus transfer point where we were driven to terminal 2E where we arrived about 30 minutes after arrival in Paris. We then went through the security check into terminal 2E and proceeded to the Air France lounge. The lounge has had it’s best time and is in need of an upgrade. A limited number of alcoholic drinks is offered and several non-alcoholic beverages, next to several type of snacks. Also several (mainly French) reading materials are offered. Later on a trolley past where champagne was offered. Power outlets are available everywhere while also free wifi is offered but with a rather small bandwidth.
The time passed quickly and we went to the boarding area where there were 2 boarding lanes; 1 for Economy and 1 for First-, Business- Economy Plus class and passengers holding special passes.
Boarding was quick (it was a Boeing 777-300ER) and we explored our seats and amenities. The seats are very comfortable with a very nice seat pitch and the recline is within a fixed shell, so no seatback into your space which I really like. Small bottles of water are already provided into the seat area together with an amenity kit (the same as in Economy Plus). A small pillow and a blanket are also provided. The head set is fixed to your seat and has a very good sound. You suppose to cover the head set speakers with very thin cover (provided in the amenity kit) quite unhygienic, if you ask me, even with the provided (very thin) covers.
The plane left the gate about 20 minutes late (the captain explained why but we could not understand his English) and soon after we were airborne, we turned our seats in the sleeping position (completely flat) for a nice long rest. The flight had an expected duration of 13.30 hours, including taxiing etc., so time enough for a good rest and we declined any food which was offered. The bed itself was very comfortable, we liked it a lot. The only improvement for me would be a real pillow, since this one was very small/thin. Unfortunately, it was quite bumpy for more than 60% of the flight due to very high cloud layers.
The flight tracking system was set at a time difference of minus 3 hours (Argentina) while my own information (from the KL/AF electronic timetable) gave minus 4 hours. On that basis we booked a pré-arranged transfer to our hotel at 09.30hr while the flight was scheduled to arrive at 08.50hr according to the booking information. But now this flight tracking system gave an arrival time of 09.50hr. According to the flight crew, there system was correct but fortunately it proofed to be incorrect so we found out after arrival at Buenos Aires airport so we worried for nothing.
A few hours before landing, breakfast was offered which we thought was quite poor compared to the KLM Business class for example. The landing did not go as expected since we had to make an overshoot due to a thunderstorm and heavy rain hanging over the airport, so after a while the captain tried it again and we landed safely about 30 minutes late, but SAFETY FIRST! Our priority tagged suitcases came of the conveyer band after quite a while only after many regular tagged luggage so it proved again that the priority tags do not always help you save time upon arrival (in my experience about 50% of the time it really helps). The airlines could improve here as well and do as they promise.
Overall I would give this flight an 7 1/2, not taking into account the very bad pré-flight seat assignment problems we experienced.

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