Impressions Of Air France 787 Business Class

Filed Under: Air France/KLM, Travel

Hello from Paris! I just took the 6hr50min flight from Detroit to Paris on the Air France 787-9 (that flight is quicker than I was expecting!), which I booked using Flying Blue miles.

In this post I wanted to share my initial impressions of this flight, with a full trip report to follow.

Air France 787 business class cabin & seats

Air France has been working on installing reverse herringbone seats in their long haul business class, and their 787-9 is the only aircraft type to exclusively feature these seats.

Air France has 30 seats between the first and second set of doors, in a 1-2-1 configuration. I think Air France did a great job with the cabin finishes and accents, as I think the cabin looks really sleek.

The seat has an enclosed storage compartment to the side of it, and the footwell is also quite large.

Annoyingly Air France doesn’t have individual air nozzles at every seat on the 787-9, which is a feature I value greatly. At least the cabin wasn’t kept too warm, which is a nice change of pace for a European airline.

Air France business class food

On this flight dinner was served after takeoff, and a light breakfast was served before landing.

Service began with a snack mix and drinks. I had a glass of champagne, and they were serving Taittinger.

Next up the starter, cheese, and dessert were served on a single tray. The starter consisted of smoked salmon and a red quinoa salad, and was quite good. Dessert consisted of a chocolate truffon cake.

There were three main course choices, though I can’t say I loved the selection. The choices were braised wagyu beef, chicken in foie gras sauce, or mixed vegetables in a tomato cream sauce.

I don’t eat foie gras (I find it unnecessarily cruel), so I would have gone with the wagyu beef, but they were out of it, so I ended up with the vegetables instead. For a dish basically consisting just of vegetables and sauce, it was pretty decent.

The breakfast service was light (which is fair enough, given how short the flight is), and consisted of a small fruit plate, plain yogurt, and a choice of bread.

Overall the food was totally fine but unmemorable.

Air France business class amenities

Air France has fairly nice pillows and blankets in business class. The pillow was a good size, while the blanket was comfortable without being too warm.

There were headphones that were in theory noise canceling, though the sound quality wasn’t very good.

Then there were amenity kits and slippers, which were fairly nice.

Air France business class entertainment & wifi

This is an area where Air France impresses. Air France has an excellent entertainment selection with a huge variety of movies and TV shows.

On top of that they have wifi on all of their 787s, and it costs 18EUR for unlimited data throughout the flight. That’s tough to beat.

Air France business class service

This is where I struggle. In general I’ve found crews in premium cabins on Air France to be excellent, with friendly, confident, charming, and a uniquely French attitude.

That wasn’t the case on this flight. Now, let me note that I boarded just hours after the fire at Notre Dame, so I’m not sure to what extent that contributed to the crew’s attitude.

The crew just wasn’t friendly. They weren’t actively unfriendly, but it was also just clear they weren’t happy to be working.

I don’t know if the crew had a self-imposed word limit for the flight, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a business class crew speak so few words to me.

When pre-departure drinks were served, the flight attendant didn’t say anything. He just held out the tray and stood there.

When it came time to serve the meal, the flight attendant didn’t ask what I wanted to eat but just stood there until I said something.

That trend continued. The service reminded me of what I’d expect from an indifferent crew at a US airline.

Air France 787 business class bottom line

I love Air France as a brand, so I was coming into this flight with high expectations, which is probably why I was disappointed.

The flight was totally fine, and there was nothing wrong. The seats, entertainment, and wifi were excellent. The amenities were good. The food was fine. The service wasn’t.

I’m going to chalk this up to being an off day for Air France. I’m flying them again in a few months, and am hoping to come away with the same positive impression I’ve had in the past.

If you’ve flown Air France’s 787 business class, what was your experience like?

Comments
  1. With regard to unfriendly crew, this is probably the norm on AF, but particularly so on a DTW flight, which probably has the lowest seniority crew of almost the entire network (perhaps excluding Bangui).

  2. Interesting. Didn’t look to flash and I would say a little disappointing for Air France, especially the food and service (which they normally excel in). Wonder if this is the norm for TATL nowadays.

  3. I’ve never flown AF in business, only in first on both short-haul (EZE-SCL-EZE) and long-haul flights and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You’ve lucked out with AF crews. I’ve never been impressed with them, and service has ranged from THE WORST to okay, and that’s the best I’ve ever had.

    The most redeeming thing AF has going for it is the La Première lounge at CDG.

  4. Interesting. Doesn’t look too flash and I would say a little disappointing for Air France, especially the food and service (which they normally excel in). Wonder if this is the norm for TATL nowadays.

  5. On the flip side of the coin, I flew CDG-JFK in AF biz on a 772 last night and found the flight to be excellent. The crew were really wonderful and offered excellent service throughout the flight, especially during the main meal service. The food options were definitely better than those on your flight (I expect the catering out of CDG is generally better) and consisted of a blanquette de veau, roast guinea hen, cod with artichokes or a ricotta and asparagus lasagna. desserts were also served separately and there was an amuse bouche. I also found the new biz lounge in CDG T2L to be very nice. I will also note that when we pushed back there was 789 on either side of us, it know AF doesn’t have that many in their fleet.

  6. “Next up the starter, cheese, and dessert were served on a single tray. ”

    They serve the cheese and dessert at the same time as the starter??

  7. Wouldn’t have been happy with the meal on that flight either. Not a fan of quinoa and also wouldn’t want to eat pate… so would have been stuck with the vegetable main course too.

  8. I’ve got to say im quite impresssed by how your first impressions/10 photo reports are more detailed then most other websites FULL reports, *cough* TPG *cough*.

  9. I fly AF business regularly and it’s about 75% of the time the crew is great and 25% it’s absolutely terrible. On more than one occasions I dealt with those crews that barely address you – incredibly unprofessional seeing how much they charge for those TATL. You absolutely should complain, management does pay attention to feedback.

  10. Let me just what a sad time it must be to be in Paris right now 🙁 Off topic slightly but I’m terribly sad for them today. I’m sure you’ve, of course, been to Notre Dame before.

  11. “The most redeeming thing AF has going for it is the La Première lounge at CDG.”

    Which most of us will never see.

  12. Is the soft product worse than BA? If it is worse then when the Club Suite arrives Air France will have a much harder task trying to compete with BA

  13. Unfortunately ignorance gets in the way. The flight crew must know about the safety equipment of the aircraft. They can NOT be signed off till the do so. It’s an FAA thing

  14. Flew on AF 777 reverse herringbone from YVR to CDG. Crew was mixed, initially, but as flight went on, they warmed up a lot. They seemed to be more tense at the beginning. Seats are good, same as CX pretty much. The front bathroom is crazy spacious.

    What I remember the most is their safety briefing video, where the very French host/attendant mentioned that the seat belt will elegantly highlight your waistline. You have to be French to pull off a line like that!

  15. In my experience Air France crew is very hit and miss. I agree with the comment 75% fantastic and very professional and 25% soviet French.
    And the food in any cabin is rarely good leaving a us city especially the small ones with few international flights.
    As for the fois gras abstention, you know the AF crew make fun of Anglos (i’m being kind not mentioning just Americans) for not eating the stuff. I was on an AF flight to Dubai in C class once and the stewardess offered my neighbour an appetizer choice of fois gras or prawns. He looked at her in horror and took the prawns. She then muttered sarcastically in an ever so French way in French ‘what a surprise’. I then burst out laughing and had a friendly banter with her. She told me they always run out of the prawns on US flights because ‘they’ never touch the fois gras. I was fed food and wine from first class the rest of the flight. Albeit, the valid ethical reasons for abstaining from fois gras, you have to try a good one at least once in your life. It’s exquisite and this is from someone who doesn’t eat liver.
    Sorry for the going off topic.

  16. Never flown AF business as I stick with the Star Alliance. Compared to Brussels, LH, Swiss, Turkish & United Business class food service – I’m aghast that for a business class dinner meal service the tray include the dessert option plated with the appetizer and salad dish. Premium economy – ok…but business class ?? Weird.
    Gee…French rudeness?? Duh !

  17. Actually one thing I really appreciate about AF and some other European carriers is the quiet and the lack of incessant announcements. It’s nice if they’re pleasant (had a lovely crew LHR-SFO on United yesterday) but given a choice I’ll take peace and quiet.

  18. Ben. OMG. Don’t make excuses for AF. Having just just flown Qatar in business, the service was epic, food outstanding, great amenity kits including PJs. Crappy food and service isn’t acceptable when paying a premium and customers need to start voting with their feet and not going back.

  19. @ Jamie – not every country has gas or oil money and in European Airlines the State can’t put a penny in airlines by law. I love Qatar but if any EU or US based airlines were able to have state money put into them like that, things would be easier and fine to compare. Like that they are not.

  20. I think to trash Air France crews while they are in mourning for Notre Dame is extremely insensitive and seems to break your civility rules you just issued but don’t truly believe.

  21. I second Bob’s comment: “The front bathroom is crazy spacious.” A pleasant surprise.
    My pre-ordered vegetarian meal was not on board. The server simply said there is none, offering no apology. Somehow the veggie order never makes it onto the return flight on Air France. But the asparagus lasagna offered on the menu was delicious! There’s no excuse for the bread and butter on a flight departing Paris to be tasteless, however.
    I found the business seat to be quite comfortable, with lots of storage space. The movie choices were great and extensive. Also loved the high ceilings. Many of the women couldn’t reach high enough to close the overhead storage compartments!
    Sympathies to all on the heartbreaking Notre Dame fire. Many thanks to the sapeurs-pompiers who saved as much as they did.

  22. Where are the air vents located??? AF Trip to CDG in nov (not on a 787)crew were great and talkative,friendly in Biz..but not so in Feb unfiendly, did not talk and not happy to be refilling my ice water requests as it was warm in the cabin..

  23. The problem with brands that create such an aura centered around stubborn adherence to tradition is that it almost always has to be backed up with solid performance on all the metrics i.e. it takes about 2 instances where they don’t live up, for the brand bubble to completely burst. How is it excusable to run out of one of three meal choices and have poker face crews at such an obscenely high redemption cost? To hell with culture, what business does dessert and appetizer have being on the same plate? Brazen claim but i’d take a United Polaris experience over the one above. Lastly, as much as I sympathize about Notre Dame tragedy, if you’re working in the service industry and showing up to work, be prepared to at least be hospitable or take a day off (I imagine that’s easy to explain in France where you get half a years worth of vacation time anyway).

  24. I am confused as Lucky said the reverse herringbone 1-2-1 was exclusive to the 787 and made ti sound very new. I have had this type of seating, design and layout in the AF 777 since 2016 flying each year from YVR to CDG. I think it is just a slow part of their fleet upgrade liuke what KLM just completed. I actually prefer the room for my legs on the KLM 2-2-2 new J class seating as the AF herringbone feel tight with your feet in constricted space and sleeping is awkward if you are 6’1″. I find the AF crews very nice if you are nice to them and try a few words in French which they love. The catering out of YVR is not great for the main dishes, however, all the little French extras and the wine and digestif selection is great. KLM crews generally friendlier and the food out of AMS to YVR is good in J class.

  25. Anyone who has seen the geese RUN to the feeder at feeding time would never think it’s cruel.

    At the the worst, it’s something kinky between consenting adults.

  26. @Hugo

    I don’t know where you are getting your misinformation, but there are plenty of instances of EU and US state intervention and financing of airlines. KLM recently had the Dutch state take a decent stake, Air France has had extensive state involvement and ownership, Alitalia wouldn’t exist without government bailouts, BA actually is partly owned by Qatar Airways. Shall I go on? US support for the industry after 9/11, Delta subsidies by state governments and partnerships with China Eastern and Saudia, extensive municipal bond financing of airport infrastructure that benefits airlines, preferential hub deals, regulatory capture of DOT, lack of antitrust enforcement…

  27. I find the conditions under which the slave labour in Dubai and Qatar build the airports , hotels and malls unnecessarily cruel.

  28. Hey Beachfan, I agree with you. I have visited farms in the Dordogne and the geese are very happy and well treated and the instruments used to feed them are not at all cruel. Pigs, cows and chickens are treated worse in North America. While there may be exceptions, the French farmers loved their geese and the forced feeding mimicks how they originally fattened up for fall migration.

  29. You fly on the day of the Notre Dame fire, you expect the crew to come out and sing and dance and tell jokes for you? What kind of an clueless, self-centered lout are you? Imagine you were flying on United the day after the 9/11 attacks, and think of someone else for the first time in your life.

    Noteworthy that on your so-called “travel blog” you never mention the tragic fire at Notre Dame except for this one oblique reference. Yeah, quite the traveler you are.

    No interest for you in anything unless you can push some credit card and make a buck…

  30. I had the same experience with crew on my AF Business Class flight in January. The service attitude seemed to deteriorate throughout the flight: it began with the silent treatment and moved on to simply ignoring pax. I had the purser in Business Class of Air France tell me I could fetch water myself at the self-service bar when I ordered. Plates are consistently not cleared so space around the seat is just a horrendous clutter by the end of it. Wouldn’t fly Air France again regardless of the seat…

  31. My experiences with Air France have been positive overall. Yeah, there have been a few substandard crews and not-so-pleasant food experiences, but the positive outweigh the negative overall.

    I will say I don’t mind getting the appetizer, cheese, and dessert all served on the same tray when departing the east coast of the US for Europe, since it expedites the meal service and gives more time for sleeping.

  32. Maybe it’s just me as a catholic/architect, but I was heartbroken about Notre Dame the past 24 hours. (And no, I’ve never been there or even to Paris. Heck, I’m not the biggest fan of France, I’m Italian.) Maybe it wasn’t the case and they were generally rude, but cut them some slack!

    The person who compared it to 9/11 above is an absolute nut job (thousands didn’t die/AF didn’t lose aircraft in the Notre Dame fire), but the point is valid. It’s a trying moment for a country. Give them some slack.

  33. Lucky, I think you WANT to love AF and their crews but what happened to you is more the norm than the exception to business class passengers.

    My wife and me flew LAX-CDG recently with them and they seemed like angry robots. Not even once the crew answered to our constant “thank you” whenever they delivered something, they didn’t smile even once, they seemed to be bothered whenever something was requested and we cannot even remember a single warm interaction or even an interaction with more than two words.

    We didn’t feel welcome and they didn’t want to be there. We complained to AF on arrival and they apologized but we will avoid AF in the future if we can.

  34. Probably it looks like a union strike is coming or the service is just like that. Air France crew has always been this way. French being French everyone in europe knows what sort of ‘character’ they have labeled themselves with from the gound to up in the air. Moreover even if you are a Flying Blue Platinum you will be treated to this ‘tremendous’ one ,two words sentences. Well, if you ask me why I am still with Air France, it is because of the convenience of transit from CDG to the rest of Europe and to the US. Having had the chance to work as a ground staff, it has given me the opportunity to observe various different crews attitude. Seriously if you want good service irregardless, fly VN. I have flown on VN in bussiness many times from SIN/NRT to CDG. Moreover the aircraft is still just as fresh from the factory as AF 787-9. On a second note, I will let you guys know what is LA Primere like since I be giving AF a try out. And being the many blown out bells and whistles of the service, well let just see how. By the way, DL has also given me much much better service. The older crews are better in interpersonal skills. The younger crew can be just as bad as AF. Just my thoughts.

  35. Lauren
    Your statement says volumes about you.
    Compared to 911. Wow
    Per the above statement no loss of planes or people. I cease to be amazed by my fellow humans.

  36. “Notre Dame!

    The crew can suck because of that!”

    Gimmie a break.

    Air France crew need to be professional and friendly at all times. Regardless of Notre Dame.

  37. This was the same impression i had with Air France. I fly them regularly, in all kind of cabins and distances. There is a general pattern, the crew is just not friendly. No smiles, no pro active services, they often come across as snobbish and ‘laisez-faire’ attitude.
    That being said, I love the B789 cabin in J and the food is always on a high level as are the wines.

  38. I second the comments above regarding Foie Gras. It sounds like it might be cruel if you just hear about it. But a Rick Steves TV Episode on the Dordogne showed the feeding in progress, with the farmer explaining that wild geese naturally fill up prior to migrating, and thus don’t mind the so called “forced” feeding (sic).

    You could see the geese happily being fed, with no signs of discomfort at all. Plus the geese were all free to wander about on the farm as they pleased. So you might want to think twice about eating eggs produced by chickens kept in small cages, rather than angsting about foie gras.

  39. Horrible review. You won’t eat foie gras but you’ll eat beef. Give me break, dude. Only that the champagne was Taittinger? Taittinger what? Brut Réserve? Millésime? And not one mention of the wines? Quel dommage ! Peut mieux faire …

  40. @ Jason — I share the details of the wine in the actual detailed review. It was Taittinger Brut Reserve. And I generally avoid beef as well.

  41. The cabin looks really nice, but sorry to hear about the food. I’m surprised they don’t have some other option besides vegetables in cream sauce, if someone is not looking for a chicken or beef dish. Breakfast also looks quite sad. Yes, the flight is a short TATL, but one lone croissant on a wide plate?

  42. Last month I flew long haul with AF on a 777-300 with reverse herringbone from CDG-SIN, returning 3 weeks later. The ex-CDG flight was great, hard product was impressive and the crew could not have been more friendly and charming, they honestly seemed to be enjoying their job and engaging with the passengers. The appetiser was foie gras though which I won’t touch (1st world problems!)
    The return flight was so different, the hard product was a bit creakier and showing it’s age and signs of hard usage (don’t even think they’re that old). The crew were extremely aloof and almost dismissive in their attitude, any questions asked felt like an imposition and disturbing their valuable time.
    End result, I think AF have a great long haul J product, but the crew is what really makes or breaks it.

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