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Flying new airlines is one of my favorite things to do. I always see interesting looking jets at airports and wonder what it’s like inside their cabins. And when I spot decked-out flight attendants I wonder if their in-flight service is even half as good as their immaculate outfits!
Last summer I tested out Air Seychelles, which was a really unique experience (see those reports here and here). While the seats were outdated recliner style business class, the service was great and the food and amenities truly unique. I mean how many times have you gotten scented home aroma oil and cocoa de mer shaped soaps on a flight?!
Anyway, I was excited to be able to book Air Mauritius as part of my 120,000 mile Delta summer award which also included business class on Air Europa, Air France intra-Europe and KLM World Business Class (reports to come). Air Mauritius and Seychelles are not part of Skyteam, but because their flights are loaded as Air France flights and Air France assigns availability in award buckets, you can use Delta miles to book them, which is one of the best uses of Skymiles in my humble opinion.
I had flown Barcelona to Paris earlier in the day and had a couple hours to kill, which I did in the lounge and browsing nice terminals in the CDG lounge (which prompted me to write my post about duty-free shopping). Many people complain about CDG, but I think its a pretty decent airport to kill a couple hours.I like the sunny, open terminal and decent shops.
I ended up waiting at the gate for a while, because I wanted to people watch and get a flavor for who was flying CDG-Mauritius. It was a good amount of honeymooners, but since it’s winter in Mauritius I feel like the flight was filled with a lot of business people. The gate area was packed and before I knew it, they were calling business class passengers to board. I like taking pictures when the cabin is empty, so I was one of the first people to board our A340 “The Pink Pigeon.” This trip was already starting off on the right foot!
I snapped a couple pictures of the coach cabin before turning left to business class. The coach seats were a bright yellow and business class a deep orange. I loved how Air Mauritius was unapologetically tropical in the decor. The coach seats actually looked really comfortable and padded and the bulkhead seats had tons of legroom. While I still wouldn’t want to ride in them for 11.5 hours, I was impressed.
Business class was a 2x2x2 configuration of shell style seats.
Flight attendants soon came around with choice of champagne or fruit juice (not sure which kind, because I obviously opted for the champers). While awaiting take-off I occupied the time by reading their in-flight magazine, “The Islander” and learned all about their frequent flyer program: Kestrel Flyer. An interesting aspect of their program is that upon reaching elite status, you can add relatives to your account and get 50% of the miles they travel. I think that’s pretty interesting that they let you take a cut of your family’s travel since most individual non-frequent flyers don’t earn enough miles to reach an award (I don’t think big-time credit card bonuses exist in Mauritius!).
After take-off the flight attendants were quickly in the aisle passing out menus, which looked pretty good. Some solid wine choices and a very inspired list of options. The starter was duck liver with fig mango and papaya chutney and for entrees a choice of either Salmon with Saffron and Citronella, Chicken with Green Curry or Pan Fried Lamb with Rosemary and Cream. I chose the Salmon, which would end up being the least impressive part of the food experience. The wine was great – I went with the 2002 Brio de Cantenac Brown Margaux 2002 (note: when they poured the wine, the bottle said 2007, so I think 2002 was a typo).
Overall, the food was above average, but not mind-blowing. I always give points for creativity and maybe I was just blown away by the “raspberry dacquoise with raspberry coulis” dessert, that I forgot about the underwhelming and dry salmon.
After dinner, I popped my 2mg Lunesta and headed for la-la land. Before I entered my artificially induced slumber paradise, I checked out the in-flight entertainment, which looked decent at first glance. An average-sized personal screen that came out of my armrest. Except you could only watch the movie selection that was playing on the main screen. That’s right – even the music was at the mercy of whatever choice they had playing on the one music channel. Overall, a very disappointing experience, but it didn’t really affect me because my main goal was to eat and sleep on this flight.
I changed into my British Airways First Class pajamas, which I bring on 10+ long flights because they are light and comfortable. Although they weren’t made for long-term use, so if anyone has any other in-flight pajama solutions for a 6’7″ person, please comment below!
The bed was an angled lie flat, similar to the seat on the Delta 747. I found Delta’s business class to have more legroom – I felt a little bit cramped when fully stretched out, but that didn’t really stop me from getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep. The pillow and blanket were meager, but luckily the in-cabin temp was kept pretty neutral, so I didn’t end up waking up with teeth chattering or in a pool of sweat.
I was woken up for breakfast, which was a nice tray of fruits, cereal and yogurt. After I finished, they also asked if I’d like an omelet, which I declined – to me airlines and eggs rarely mix to make an enjoyable combination. Plus, I was just happy sipping on my instant coffee (which actually wasn’t bad) and getting ready to hit the ground running.
Landing was smooth and I was one of the first people through customs. I was waved through after a 10 second glance through my passport and I was on my way to enjoying Mauritius! Unfortunately, Hertz had lost my reservation and I had to make a last minute reservation with Europcar, but that ended up being a blessing in disguise. The hotel was a solid hour-long ride from the airport and I really would not have wanted to do the drive just getting off a 12-hour flight, especially since there ended up being crazy rush hour traffic.