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A Review of Air France 777-200 Premium Economy Paris to JFK

by on June 19, 2014 · 23 comments

in Air France, Flying Blue

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Last month, TPG Creative Director Adam Daniel Weiss flew on an Air France 777-200 from Paris to New York in Premium Economy; here is his review of the experience.

After an amazing trip through the south of France and Paris, I eagerly boarded my flight from Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport back to my hometown of New York City. Although I had flown Air France’s 777 multiple times, this was my first time flying in Premium Economy, which I was excited to try out. On my flight from Rome to Paris (which was all booked on the same itinerary) I was seated in Premium Economy on an A321, which differed from Economy only by way of a glass of champagne and a small meal. The seat didn’t recline any farther than a normal Economy seat. It seems that on shorter flights, the Premium Economy service on Air France is lacking. Fortunately, the experience was much better on the second, longer flight.

Booking and Boarding

I booked through Flying Blue and used 50,000 miles to travel from Rome to Paris and on to JFK, with an additional €196 ($295) in taxes. Given that I value Air France miles at 1.3 cents apiece, and considering that the two-leg flight would have cost $1,806 to purchase, this was a decent way to get home in comfort, especially since there was no business or first class award availability on any other carrier for my trip home. Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program of Air France, is an instant transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and they sometimes run transfer bonuses of up to 35%. Unfortunately you cannot book Air France Premium Economy awards using Delta SkyMiles, so my main option was to transfer Amex points to Flying Blue, which was easy and the transfer went through in about a minute.  

Boarding for Flight AF010, CDG to JFK

Boarding for Flight AF010, CDG to JFK.

After a lengthy check-in process, I boarded the Boeing 777-200 through the Premium Economy/Economy door (and sadly not through the La Premiere/Business door), and walked straight to my seat in row 11.

The Seat

Having spent a little more for Premium Economy, I expected my seat to be (for lack of a better term) a more premium version of economy, but I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the seat (and the overall experience) was more akin to flying Business class on a domestic flight.

AF 010 Premium Economy Seat Configuration

AF 010 Premium Economy Seat Configuration.

Seats were arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, so having seat 11L meant that I had only one person next to me, and I had a nice view out the window just ahead of the wing.

Premium Economy seat with reclining back, reading lights and additional amenities

Premium Economy seat with reclining back, reading lights and additional amenities.

Unlike TPG, I’m a modest 5’7″, so by lifting the foot rest under the seat, I had plenty of room to sprawl. Plus, the extra large tray table allowed me to set up my laptop and get work done, all while enjoying a bottle of Evian and perusing the on-board entertainment system.

Lots of leg room and plenty of tray space in Premium Economy are a big plus!

Lots of leg room and plenty of tray space in Premium Economy are a big plus!

Once the wheels are up, I tend to recline my seat and get comfortable as soon as possible.

My seat, while "fully-reclined" was not the most comfortable, but better than an economy seat any day of the week.

My “fully-reclined” seat was not the most comfortable, but surpassed an economy seat easily.

Although the seats have a width of 19″ and a pitch of 38″ (2 inches wider and 6″…er…pitchier than economy), the seat didn’t go back as far as I would have liked. Still I’d take it over a normal economy seat any day of the week.

Meals and Amenities

Shortly after takeoff and once we reached altitude, the cheery flight crew came through the premium economy rows and passed out amenity kits, which was a welcome surprise. The kit was modest with the standard socks, eye-mask, toothbrush, earplugs and “bonnets” to cover the headphones that came with the seat.

Premium Economy Amenity Kit and Headphones

Premium Economy amenity kit and headphones.

The amenity kit was nothing of note, but “bonnets” did the trick when I thought of how many people have used those headphones. Shortly after takeoff, our flight attendant (who, along with the rest of the crew seemed to wear a perpetually large grin) provided us with the flight menu, which featured the Air France 80th Anniversary imagery and a nice selection of items.

Air France 80th Anniversary imagery covering the menu for our flight

Air France 80th Anniversary imagery covering the menu for our flight.

As I pondered the menu, I was immediately presented with a glass of champagne and some rosemary crackers.

Rosemary crackers followed by my appetizer and main course, not bad Air France!

Rosemary crackers followed by my appetizer and main course. Not bad, Air France!

Given the choice of cheese-laden tortellini or chicken in lemon sauce with veggies, I went with what I hoped was the healthier option and had chicken presented alongside a smoked salmon appetizer. As an Air France service, of course there was a hearty portion of cheese, along with some cherry tomatoes and a peach shortbread. The chicken was unmemorable, but the salmon with it’s Madagascar lime oil was really tasty.

A coronette of sweets!

A coronette of sweets!

Following the meal I was given a little plastic coronette filled with small sweets, including a stick of Valrhona chocolate, a piece of nougat and fruit jellies from famed patisserie Fauchon, a refreshing wet towel and more.

I walked to the bathroom to wash my hands, and while waiting I discovered a small minibar area with juices, beers, sodas and snacks for the duration of the flight. Upon entering the bathroom I was pretty surprised to find what amounted to a facial station attached to the wall, complete with Clarins products including a toner, moisturizer, and pads to apply said items.

A stocked minibar in the galley and Clarins products in the bathroom, not bad!

A stocked minibar and Clarins products in the bathroom.

Given that the flight was a just more than 8 hours long, a secondary meal was served prior to landing, consisting of a container of yogurt, a soft roll, more cheese (of course), orange juice and cookies.

Final meal before landing...with more cheese of course.

Final meal before landing, with more cheese of course.

Summary

All in all I was very pleased with the service and product provided by Air France in Premium Economy. Since it costs more than standard Economy but significantly less than Business class, it can be a great deal- even though Air France does have annoying fuel surcharges. That being said, if you’re looking for a comfortable experience in a lie-flat seat, you’re not going to get it (and you won’t even in Air France business class until they retrofit their planes sometime over the next couple years). Nonetheless, given that Business class is $4,700 one way and La Premier/First is $8,900 one-way, Premium Economy was a great value and overall a really enjoyable experience- at least compared to most US carriers who offer premium economy as the same exact seat as economy, but with a little more recline and legroom.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • fordpickup

    The minibar area and facial station is a nice touch, are they new? I don’t remember it being available in January.

    One thing to note, the seat supports are quite wide, which makes the footwell a bit narrow. Other than that I’d agree that it’s a great value, especially considering the other SkyTeam prem economy options to Europe.

  • Confucius Jackson

    19″ seat width and 38″ pitch is pretty close to what United flew as business class on their 767s in the early 1990s. I think United’s pitch may have been 40.

  • John

    Do you check with the person behind you before you recline? Being 6′ 5″, in any type of premium economy, if somebody reclines it instantly takes any extra leg room that I paid for right away. Just keep that in mind.

  • Jeff

    How in the award chart is FCO – CDG (stopover) – JFK only 50k in Y+? I swear I can’t get below 55 for a non-stop…

  • AirCanada881

    lol Air France premium Y sucks, try TK’s comfort class then we’ll talk

  • Ben D

    The PE seat actually is a shell type that reclines without affecting those behind you – I think the seat portion actually moves forward a bit while the back reclines. You can’t really see that from the pictures Adam posted.

  • thepointsguy

    Ben D is correct, it is a shell seat so your recline never affects the passenger behind you. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • thepointsguy

    Yeah, I hear it’s great, I can’t wait to try it out!

  • Yankees

    How much did you pay to get bumped up to EC?

  • shay peleg

    Thepointsguy in coach ? lol

  • paulwesterdawg

    i flew this product EWR to CDG and CDG to LAX. There are times when you can price it VERY close to Economy. Then again, sometimes working with the AirFrance web site directly for pricing is like playing Pricing Roulette. If you don’t like the answer you get, you can sometimes hit refresh.

    It beats the hell out of economy or Delta’s economy comfort. But the seat does recline into a less than ideal angle. I think of it as a great value for the investment. It felt like “poor man’s business class” which I think was the goal. I would definitely buy it again. Especially at 150% MQM credit.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Back in March, I had a business trip with a strange routing. The return CDG-JFK in Premium Economy actually cost less than coach (approx half!) due to a promotion AF was running.

  • http://blog.davidciani.com David Ciani

    of course not… why would you think a silly thing like that? :P

    “Last month, TPG Creative Director Adam Daniel Weiss flew on an Air France 777-200 from Paris to New York in Premium Economy; here is his review of the experience.”

  • thepointsguy
  • thepointsguy

    We redeemed 50k Flying Blue miles for Adam’s ticket

  • Yankees

    Understand, but isn’t that just for the standard economy? How did you get premium economy with points?

  • PamAnnFreqFlyer

    champagne in plastic cups on air france? quelle surprise! not sure what the premium price difference is, but seems like cx has a far superior y+ product.

  • Alex

    So this was the 777-200, seems like the -300 version has a fourth row. How’s their business class seats on those 777? I found a decent fare from iah to ath biz for $3k. Not ground breaking but better than the normal $5k.

  • Alex

    Thought tk was slowly getting rid of comfort class. :(

  • Kacee

    That’s a reasonably spacious seat. 2x4x2 is same as UA business class on the 772! Nice food and amenities too. The bar is an especially nice touch. Tres bien fait, Air France.

  • James Marshall

    I bought Premium Economy for my parents (80 & 90) to fly TLH-ATL-CDG-WAW. They were upgraded to business by AF gate agent from ATL-WAW and on the way back home (WAW-ATL). My folks and I have no SkyTeam elite status. I’m not sure if this will happen again, but I’m definitely going to try. There is no way this would happen with a US airline.

  • http://david.ulevitch.com/ davidu

    This is an incredible view of the world. Did they not also pay to recline?

  • dB

    Well, it looks like you managed to sneak in the business class and use their bathroom and bar, which actually you were not supposed to based on the do not enter sign and the closed curtain…rules might not be valid for you I guess…

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