Review: Air France 777 First Class

Filed Under: Air France

I’ll keep this review relatively short, and will focus on what made this flight unique. I was more detailed in my review of the New York to Paris flight a couple of days prior. Then there’s my most detailed Air France first class review ever, which was from a Paris to Houston flight a couple of years ago.

Air France 990
Paris (CDG) – Johannesburg (JNB)
Saturday, August 31
Depart: 11:20PM
Arrive: 9:55AM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr35min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 1E (La Premiere First Class)

Ahhhh, back in Air France’s stunning La Premiere cabin! At the door we were greeted by the cabin manager and “our” flight attendant, and were informed that we had the cabin to ourselves once again.

Can I just stop for a second to point out the degree to which I was pinching myself at this point? We had private cabins all the way from New York to Paris to Johannesburg. I couldn’t possibly think of a more special flying experience out there… we’re not worthy!

Flying first class is awesome enough, but having a private cabin? That’s next level…

Air France La Premiere cabin

Already waiting at our seats were slippers.

Air France La Premiere ottoman

There were also bottles of water on trays at each of our seats.

Air France La Premiere bottled water

Then we were offered pajamas and amenity kits — the same as on the previous flight.

Air France La Premiere amenities

The guy taking care of us was incredibly friendly and polished. He offered us pre-departure drinks, and we all had some champagne (which was the Veuve La Grande Dame 2006). We were also offered some crackers to go along with it.

Air France La Premiere champagne & snacks

We were also presented with the menus for the flight.

Air France La Premiere menu

As I mentioned previously, the crew was totally in on this being a surprise trip for my dad, so at no point did they mention where we were flying — I won’t harp on that too much, so rather check out the previous post about this.

The friendly captain also came out during boarding to greet us and inform us of our 10 hour flight time to our undisclosed destination. 😉 We pushed back right on schedule at 11:20PM, and had a really quick taxi — we were airborne by 11:30PM.

After takeoff we did the unthinkable, at least when trying to celebrate and maximize a flight — we went straight to sleep. We had an amazing dinner in the lounge, with lots of food and drinks. We were tired, and as much as I would have loved to “party” the entire flight, the reality is that you can only eat and drink so much.

So we told the flight attendant we’d make this flight super easy for him, and that we’d eat the main meals before landing. We just asked to have our beds made. He promptly took care of that — my dad slept in the left window seat, Ford slept in the right window seat, and I slept in the right center seat, so that we all had our own space. If we have four seats we might as well enjoy all of them!

Air France first class bed

Air France first class bed

Air France first class bed

A bottle of water and box of chocolates was placed at all of our seats.

Air France La Premiere after takeoff water & chocolate

Air France’s beds are just so comfortable, and we slept really well. I went to sleep with about nine hours remaining to Johannesburg…

Air France moving map

Air France moving map

I slept for a solid four hours, and woke up with five hours remaining to Johannesburg. While I would have ideally slept more, I decided to get up at this point as I wasn’t very tired, and we also had an easy day ahead of us upon landing.

Air France moving map

Air France moving map

I decided to watch a couple of TV shows, and ordered a cappuccino. While there are lots of things Air France does well, their cappuccinos aren’t among them, and they almost taste powdered.

Air France first class cappuccino

Within the next couple of hours my dad and Ford both woke up, and then with around 2hr45min till landing, we decided to all dine together.

Air France moving map

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

Service began with warm towels being distributed.

Air France first class warm towel

Then we were first offered a selection of water or juice.

Air France first class drinks

My dad, Ford, and I all took different approaches to our one meal for the flight:

  • My dad had breakfast, since that’s the “natural” meal you’d have after sleeping
  • I had dinner, because on principle I wasn’t going to have my only meal on an international first class flight be breakfast
  • Ford took a hybrid approach, and had the dinner starters and the breakfast main course

We all dined together in the center section — two of us dined at one table, and one at the other.

Air France first class table setting

To start, both Ford and I had the caviar sturia quenelle accompanied by whipped cream with vodka and lime, which was excellent.

Air France first class caviar 

Air France first class caviar

Then for my main course I had the poached fillet of John Dory with verbena, sautéed baby spinach, and girolle mushrooms. The dish was pretty good, though by no means memorable.

Air France first class dinner

Ford had a custom salad next, which he enjoyed.

Air France first class dinner

For his main course, Ford had the scrambled eggs with creamy chive sauce from the breakfast menu.

Air France first class dinner

My dad only had breakfast, including fresh fruit and yogurt to start.

Air France first class breakfast

Then for his main course he had blueberry french toast.

Air France first class breakfast

Then some tasty desserts were brought out. I love how they bring them out with the glass “covers.”

Air France first class dessert 

Air France first class dessert

At the conclusion of the meal I had a coffee.

Air France first class coffee

Overall I thought the meal was solid, though I do think there’s some room for improvement (and I only mention this because La Premiere is as good as it gets, all things considered):

  • It seems to me like yogurt should be served in proper bowls rather than containers, unless it’s some super-premium brand
  • They could improve their juices — the flight attendant recommended a cranberry apple juice, but then brought out the bottle and it showed that it was Tropicana
  • There’s definitely room for improvement when it comes to the coffee drinks, especially the cappuccinos

All minor in the grand scheme of things, but these all seem like easy enough fixes.

The crew just couldn’t have been lovelier, between the excellent flight attendant taking care of us, as well as the cabin manager who constantly checked on us.

At around 9AM the captain announced that we’d be landing in 40 minutes. Five minutes after that the seatbelt sign was turned on. The views on approach were great, initially of the wide open landscape, and then of sprawling Johannesburg.

View approaching Johannesburg

View approaching Johannesburg

View approaching Johannesburg

We ended up touching down in Johannesburg at 9:40AM.

Taxiing Johannesburg Airport

Qatar Airways A350 Johannesburg Airport

From there we had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we parked between a Qatar Airways A350-900 and a Lufthansa 747-8.

Upon getting off the plane we were met by two Air France agents, who would help us get through immigration (Air France offers La Premiere passengers escorts through the airport globally). It was quite a walk to immigration, though they walked with us the whole way.

They couldn’t actually get us a cut in line (not that we expected it), so when it came time to queue they just left us alone, and met us on the other end. Fortunately the line was very short. Both were friendly, and escorted us all the way to the InterContinental Johannesburg, where we’d spend the night.

Air France La Premiere Summary

I can’t even begin to sum up how memorable the whole journey was from New York to Johannesburg via Paris. Not only does Air France have one of the world’s best first class products, but on both flights we had the cabin all to ourselves.

What an incredible way to fly. What made this flight extra special was the great lengths the crew went to keep our destination a secret from my dad, which I didn’t talk too much about in this post, but which you can read more about here.

These were two flights none of us will even forget, and this was only the start to one incredible adventure.

  1. The cappucino is powdered. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Air France does this.

    Also even Alaska Airlines plates yogurt/granola. What on earth, Air France.

  2. In the world of First frankly I totally enjoy AF much more than BA certainly far more superior than any US metal going over the pond. The’re pick up, escort through security, lounge and then what’s even greater is the service if you’re transferring in Paris to another city. You never see customs, your picked up plan side driven to a private access elevator up to their lounge, white table cloth food service incredible red/pink champagne bar then back to the private car and escorted to you next flight. ALL of this done flawlessly. To gribble about powered cappuccino or yogurt is missing the whole point of the experience. I should not say this but I always have had great flight either F or Biz on AF, really bad service in First on BA just plain crap that I would expect on AA, of course EX is also a favorite FC.

    And I am looking forward to my next flights on AF to Florence, Venice and return.

  3. Looks like an amazing flight. I would agree about the coffee. Surprising for such a luxurious premium cabin the coffee selection and quality of much better. The plates and glassware look beautiful!

  4. I flew AF F between CDG and JNB twice, both time on the way down I ate in the lounge on earlier dinner at 6-7pm (have light lunch to work up appetite), so by midnight once in the air, I have appetite to eat again.

    One time it was A380 (the other time was 77W), everybody went straight to bed or had a quick caviar dish, I had lobster done in French style. So yummy and easy to eat. It was the best dish on AF F so far (flew AF F 13 times), so I told the flight attendants to keep lobster for me got breakfast!! It’s so good to eat lobster twice 🙂

  5. I was also curious to know which site the flights were booked. YYZ is my local airport and haven’t been able to find FC fares for <$10k

  6. Lucky, many folks have asked since the first AF post about how you got this fare.

    Assuming it’s legit, at this point shouldn’t you tell us how you booked it or at least why you can’t disclose it? I don’t think any site has come anywhere close to that price.

  7. Ben,
    Can you please adult and develop your palete for wine? We get it; you like vintage champagne. It reads like you rarely fly First as if champagne is something you only drink in the sky. Maybe that’s true but it does not expand my knowledge of inflight service when you only love Krug and VC La Grande Dame 2006. Who does not?

  8. Great review as always!

    One little thing… Remember that Ukrainian guest blogger you had with the super awesome camera? I think the exposure might be a little off with these pics. Maybe he could help with some tips?

  9. @ Robert
    To give credit though, at least he’s a step or 2 above the clueless nouveau twits often found in F, who choose the caviar and champagne because they know it’s expensive ( but in reality couldn’t distinguish them from aerated cat piss and canned sardines). Re-badge cheap Spanish plonk with a famous French label and they’ll swear it’s magnificent.
    As for the flight: again, great accommodation but pretty lousy otherwise. It’s not ‘F’ standard, by a long way.

  10. Question: Do you ever check luggage in? I can’t remember reading about your experiences (good or bad) retrieving your bags in any of your journeys.

  11. Ben

    Now that you have experienced a wee bit of heaven, be good day you prayers and you will make it!!

    I think it is outstanding that you are so good to your father . You will look back fondly for many years on this quality time.

  12. Impressive. However drinks like juice or coffee are not acceptable. First class is a symbol of luxury. Tropicana isn’t. But for $4200 good enough I guess. Wouldn’t be happy with $10 000 or so.

  13. To whom it May Concern
    Yes Af has It together with the AC design, There are big changes since their
    merger. To be frank . The standards today are very different in Western Carriers. The presentation With today is efficiency and practicality.
    It appeared to be above average , First Class with Af inflight was another world
    Few years back. The gastronomy and presentation was over the top.
    The crews Stewards and hostesses.knew this.The China place settings glass ware with the classic Sea Horse logo. Not to mention the quality napery And Yes I said it. SILVER PLATE .forgot to mention with juices grapefruit and oranges were$3 hand squeezed.
    . The masses were not flying. And the passenger in most respects.
    Were well mannered. I don’t think this is really first class .the yogurt. Presentation was surprising .Yes I would fly them over any carrier with the standards of today.

  14. Four Seasons JNB sent a car service that included an escort from the flight through immigration – with line cutting. The guy was hard core “local” and clearly on friendly terms with many of the workers and officials in the path from jet bridge to airport exit. It can be done, but maybe not “officially,” so an airline can’t help.

  15. Cappucino is not part of the French cuisine. Its Italian. As easy as that. French normally have cafe au lait for breakfast.

  16. I just want to point out how utterly disappointing this flight looks, especially from a value or dollars spent standpoint. The bed looks great, sure. The champagne is the same that’s served on EVA biz class. There are only 2 main course choices which aren’t over the top. Where are the truffles? And the liquor section has Jack Daniels as a choice, smh. Where are the fine liquors and aperitifs? Overall for what this flight goes for from a dollars or points perspective, I’d expect a much better soft product.

  17. Regarding the fare, if you refer back to Ben’s first post, he said that he paid $4,200 ONE-WAY. Roundtrip would have presumably been at least double, which would be closer to the estimated $10k. He said he saved 50% by flying through YYZ, versus New York…

  18. @N that’s not true. One first class way fares are often the same price as Round trip.
    @Sean if you throw away a ticket will you still get the frequent flier miles though ?

  19. @N
    Ok so he saved by going thru YYZ instead of NYC. Still, we have been searching one-way (and RT) fares from YYZ without getting close to $4200.

    If it is indeed true that he did throwaway the return in Y, then couldn’t he have told us that? First of all that can be a risky thing to do especially for FF miles also it’s not easy to search for these mixed class RTs.

    The longer we are kept in the dark about this…the more fishy it smells.

  20. I’m with everyone else who is more than amazed at the $4200 fare on these flights. Even if there were return flights booked in economy and not used, I am still shocked about the pricing. And the other mystery is the empty cabin on the JFK-CDG segment with such amazing fares one would think all seats would have been booked.

  21. Last week my yogurt was served in a bowl and the orange juice was fresh squeezed. Had the cabin all to myself on the 777 ATL-CDG. I was also the only one in La Premiere on the 380 last month as well. Sadly the 777 with La Premiere ended Saturday and the 380 will end next month out of Atlanta.

  22. I flew CDG-MEX F and ORD-CDG J in July for $2700, AF sometimes has great promotions that you have to jump on right away, I am currently looking at a RT from EU again in AF F for <$3500 . It really comes down to relocation and jumping in promotional fares when they are available

  23. @ Andy, how are you finding promotional fares? Are you focusing on departing from certain airports, what websites do you use to search?

  24. I never had a real nice foam on inlicht cappuccino: BA KL GA SQ don’t do this very well either. Apparently it is the airpressure/altitude that makes it almost impossible to make good foam, so I’ve been told.

  25. @ M AF will run specials from city pairs 2-3 a year. it really comes down to relocating and being flexible to when and where you are going. they are public fares so any website will have them

  26. While I would love to try this product, I would be so depressed at the only beer choice being Heineken. As the French say, beurk grave.

  27. It looks like Air France is swapping out B777 with A380 on this Paris to Johannesburg route, as of Oct 26, 2019. Sad….

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