After a few hours in the Salon Lounge, I headed for my gate which happened to be immediately next to the escalators that took you down to the Salon Lounge. I was not as excited about this flight as it was operated by an A320, but I was interested to see how the service and food compared to my last Air France flight where I was the only one in the cabin.
As I mentioned before, I booked my flights between Amsterdam (AMS) and Lisbon (LIS) a mere 4 hours prior to departure. That meant that my options were not great for award tickets. While I could have paid ~$145 for a direct flight on TAP Portugal between the two cities, when I saw that Air France was operating an A318 between Amsterdam and Paris (CDG), I opted to use my Delta SkyMiles for an award ticket. The award ticket cost me 25,000 SkyMiles + ~$45 in taxes and fees. Now, I will be the first to admit that this was a horrible redemption given the cost of a direct paid ticket. But, Delta used to be my primary airline so I have a ton of SkyMiles and flying TAP (an airline in the Star Alliance where I hold no elite status) would have meant no lounge reviews in Amsterdam. When I added in the ability to cross flying on an A318 off of my list, as well as to review Air France for the site, I figured why not.
Introduction – Europe On A Whim
Review – United 737-800 BusinessFirst – RSW-IAH
Review – KLM Crown Lounge – IAH
Review – United 767-300 BusinessFirst – IAH-EWR
Review – Lufthansa Senator Lounge – EWR
Review – Austrian Airlines 767-300 Business Class – EWR-VIE
Review – Sky Lounge (Non-Schengen) – VIE
Review – Sky Lounge (Schengen) – VIE
Review – Austrian Airlines Lounge – VIE
Review – Austrian Airlines A320 Business Class – VIE-DUS
Review – Holiday Inn Express Dusseldorf
Review – Element Amsterdam
Review – KLM Royal Crown Lounge – AMS
Review – Air France A318 Premier Class – AMS-CDG
Review – Air France Salon Lounge – CDG
Review – Air France A320 Premier Class – CDG-LIS
Review – Intercontinental Lisbon
Review – ANA Lounge – LIS
Review – Iberia A320 Business Class – LIS-MAD
Review – Iberia Sala VIP Velazquez Lounge – MAD
Review – British Airways 767-300 Business Class – MAD-LHR
Review – British Airways Galleries Lounge – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – No. 1 Lounge – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – Swissport Lounge – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – American Airlines Admirals Club – Terminal 3 LHR
Review – American Airlines 777-300ER (77W) Business Class – LHR-DFW
Despite arriving at the gate right on time for boarding, there was no one at the desk yet. That was because boarding would ultimately be delayed 25 minutes. Interestingly, at no point was an announcement made by the gate agent (when she finally showed up 15 minutes after the scheduled boarding time) that boarding for the flight would be delayed.
Air France 1124
Paris (CDG) to Lisbon (LIS)
Depart: 8:50 PM
Arrive: 10:20 PM
Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A320
When boarding finally commenced about 5 minutes prior to departure, I quickly scanned my ticket and proceeded down the jet bridge.
Waiting again on the jet bridge was a small trolley with a selection of various French, Portuguese and English newspapers. I quickly boarded through door 1L and turned right into the business class cabin of what looked like a brand new aircraft. The cabin looked identical to the cabin on the A318, which the exception of slightly more legroom and a slightly more padding on the seats.
Waiting at my seat was a small red pillow bearing the Air France logo.
Although the seats on the A320 offer slightly more pitch than those on the A318, the legroom was still pretty limited for my tall 6’5″ frame.
Sitting with my feet flat on the floor, my knees just grazed the seat back pocket.
While sitting with my feet stretched out under the seat in front of me offered me a bit more leg room, though not much.
Having someone in the middle seat would have been torture for someone my height, so I was pretty happy that I opted to redeem my SkyMiles for a business class award ticket.
As with the A318, I really liked that the tray tables offered a separate cup holder that could be utilized in lieu of the full tray table being down.
After settling in, a flight attendant came around offering refreshing towelettes from a giant bowl. Although I prefer the hot towels, I still thought it was a nice touch.
While boarding was finishing up, I was nose deep in a book. Since it was getting dark out, the flight attendant came by and proactively turned on my reading light for me. Although I was perfectly capable of turning it on myself, I still thought it was a great service touch that she was paying enough attention to the cabin passengers during delayed boarding to turn on my reading light for me. She would turn out to be one of the best flight attendants I have had on a short haul flight in a long!
Boarding finished up about 5 minutes after our scheduled departure and our pushback was delayed about 10 minutes. Although the business class cabin was not just me on this flight, I was still one of only 3 business class passengers.
After pushing back, the pilot came on the PA to announce our flying time of just under two hours and advise that he would be kicking it up a notch to get us an on-time arrival despite the delayed departure and after a quick taxi, we were airborne. It was cloudy and rainy when we departed, so the views were not great on the climb out.
It was also pretty bumpy on the climb out due to the weather, but that smoothed out as soon as we broke through the cloud ceiling. And once we broke through the cloud ceiling, the views were spectacular!
I absolutely love flying just before sunrise and at dusk as the views are truly surreal and stunning. I reclined my seat for a bit and took in the views.
One thing I did notice that I did not care for was that the seats only reclined a few inches at most which would make it fairly uncomfortable for anyone trying to sleep.
About 20 minutes after takeoff, the meal service began. Although I was expecting another light snack, this time the meal was a bit more substantial featuring duck breast. The full menu for the meal read as follows:
The meal was served all at once on a single tray – which is what you would expect for such a short flight anyways – and was served along with a selection of bread from the bread basket.
The super friendly flight attendant came by to take drink orders after serving the meal and I opted for another Heineken.
The duck was a bit chewy, but had good flavor – especially when paired with the sauce. The real winner of this meal though had to be the vegetables marinated in orange zest. They had fantastic flavor and were still crisp. And of course, the desserts were also delicious as well – though admittedly did not pair very well with my beer.
While I had two beers on this flight, the two gentlemen sitting in row 1 were absolutely crushing bottles of champagne on this short flight. I counted 3 bottles of champagne between the two of them. They did not appear to know each other and both seemed to be businessmen. In any case, as a lover of drinking on airplanes, I like their style!
The fantastic flight attendant working the business class cabin came by to check on me every 15 minutes or so and was just as friendly and attentive as could be. She spoke 5 languages and was in the process of learning Portuguese so she could work the flights between Paris and Brazil. To help her learn the language, she requested to be put on the flights to Portugal. Speaking with her made me realize how much I need to bone up on my foreign language skills again!
About a half hour out of Lisbon, we began our descent. The night sky was absolutely gorgeous as the combination of the moon reflecting off of the top of the clouds and the clouds being backlit by the city lights beneath was mesmerizing. I spent the next half hour glued to the window.
Our descent into Lisbon was as smooth as could be and after a quick taxi we arrived at our remote stand gate. There were two buses waiting to take the passengers over to the main terminal, though loading took at least 15 minutes for some reason. Around 25 minutes after we landed, I connected to the airport wifi and ordered an Uber to the Intercontinental excited to check out Lisbon.
Although not as exciting (for an aviation nerd like me anyways) as flying on the A318 with an empty cabin, Air France’s Premier Class product on the A320 exceeded my expectations. The catering on these short intra-European flights is fantastic and the service is pretty good as well. Although I would love to have a bigger seat like U.S. domestic first class, the standard economy seats with a blocked middle seat were not horrible given the short duration of the flights. I can see it getting a bit cramped though for flights lasting over 2 hours.
In any case, I would definitely take Austrian Airlines intra-European business class over Air France’s intra-European Premier Class, though that really just boils down to Austrian offering slightly better food and better, more friendly service from their crews.
What are your thoughts on Air France’s intra-European business class product?
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