Now Open: Air France’s New JFK Pre-Flight Dining

In late October I wrote about how Air France’s JFK lounge was being closed for a period of several weeks. This was being done so that Air France could refurbish the lounge to enhance the pre-flight dining area.

The lounge reopened yesterday, and Air France has unveiled their renovated dining area, which is available to business class passengers traveling on their night service. Air France says that the new space has a “more convivial and contemporary feel.”

First it’s worth noting that Air France is pretty limiting when it comes to which flights are eligible for their night service:

  • AF9 New York to Paris departing 10:50PM arriving 12:00PM (+1 day)
  • AF11 New York to Paris departing 9:30PM arriving 10:50AM (+1 day)

Only business class passengers on these services are eligible for this, and not elite members, or anyone who accesses the lounge through other means. Furthermore, flights departing earlier aren’t eligible for this service, and neither are flights operated by other airlines.

Here’s how Air France describes the new dining area:

In this area located on the mezzanine, new furniture and imitation leather couches, inspired by a Parisian brasserie, have been custom designed to offer a convivial atmosphere. Blue and grey tones along with atmospheric lighting have been added to create a more intimate atmosphere. The mezzanine floor has also been redesigned, incorporating light and anthracite grey shades. In total, the area is equipped with close to 34 tables for 2, a high table with 6 seats for dining opposite the runways and a round table seating 6.

Obviously the intent of pre-flight dining is that you can maximize your rest onboard, especially given how short flights from New York to Paris are. What makes Air France’s lounge dining unique is that they say they’re offering the same gourmet French meal in the lounge as you’d be served onboard, including a starter, hot dish, cheese, dessert, and a wine and champagne list.

I’m not sure if they’ll actually have an identical menu, or if the intent is just that the food will be similar. Usually offering airplane food on the ground isn’t a selling point, so… šŸ˜‰

Passengers can still eat onboard if they’d like, so it’s not necessarily one or the other.

Air France says that since this service was launched in 2016, nearly 50% of their customers choose to take advantage of this feature.

Air France also says that the lounge will introduce a “range of new attentions dedicated to its customers’ well-being.” It sure sounds to me like they’re referring to a spa, though the lounge already has a Clarins Spa, so I don’t think that’s it.

Bottom line

I haven’t had the chance to enjoy Air France’s JFK pre-flight dining, though I’ve heard pretty good things. While quite a few airlines offer pre-flight dining nowadays, most airlines just offer buffets, since it lets people eat as quickly as they want.

Personally I prefer a la carte dining, assuming they can serve the food quickly, which I imagine they can.

Have you experienced Air France’s JFK pre-flight dining?

Comments

  1. I know this exact area of the lounge as my husband and I sat there prior to our business class flight in late August.
    This sounds great and I would love to see it on other AF CDG bound flights (ours was earlier) and I would have taken an Ambien to get more sleep than I did.
    The only negative… or maybe it’s a question.. during the time that AF is not serving dinner there, is it still available for use by business class passengers.
    I love planespotting from this area and would hate to see that disappear.

    Enjoy,
    BJ

  2. I wonder why not also making this available for AF7, the 6:30pm departure. Anyone with a good Ambien prescription will still try to use that to get some sleep despite the early-ish departure.

  3. Are priority pass users who happen to be on those flights but in Economy eligible to the preflight dinner as well or is this a cordoned off area?

  4. @adi_t
    It’s for Business class passengers only. They’re not giving Skyteam elite plus access, so def not for priority pass.

  5. I’d be interested to see a comparison of the major trans-atlantic business class ground services from NY. How do Lufthansa, Air France, BA, Swiss, United, Delta, Virgin and American compare on these business-traveler heavy routes on the ground? I haven’t tried all of these, but have been disappointed by the Lufthansa and Swiss lounges at JFK, even though these are flagship routes. So, I would be keen to hear your thoughts and comparative analysis.

  6. Used this service in September 2016- at least then, the meal was the exact same as what was available on-board. This is a positive change, as the dining area before was in a more institutional looking part of the lounge away from the windows, this is much nicer.

    The service is great- for the 9:30 flight, get to the airport around 7:00, eat/relax in the lounge from 7:30-8:30, go on board around 8:45, settle in (change, brush teeth), and when the plane is in the air and you can put your seat down it’s around 10 PM. Pretty great timing for close to a full night’s sleep.

    The earlier flights don’t make a lot of sense for this service- even the 6:40 flight means you are probably in the air and able to recline around 7:30- not many people are able to fall asleep that early, and for most it’s prime time for dinner- or later if you are French!

  7. I took advantage of this service this past March when flying on the 10:30pm flight to CDG. The lounge staff offers you the invitation to the dining area after they check you in and check your credentials. Presumably if you aren’t travelling business class on the 2 AF flights eligible, you won’t be offered entrance. There is also a podium in front of the escalator going up to the mezzanine level restricting access. (I also recall having my name checked off a list on the business class manifest indicating that I had already eaten, indicating that I wouldn’t be offered dinner on the plane, but I was still offered dinner on board)

    In addition to the dining menu available (which I recall is the same as the on board menu) there is a salad/dessert/snack buffet set up, so there are additional options available. The plating and silverware were also the same as offered on-board. Not sure if that has changed, but the meal and presentation were almost the same as on board. The service was more restaurant style, and it is of course more comfortable to eat at a real table with lots of space.

    I really enjoyed the service. I was happily fed before boarding the flight, so I was able to pop my half ambien and and get a good 6+ hours of sleep off to Paris!

  8. It’s a great service. They check you off on the manifest but you can still eat on the plane (AF specifically mentioned this for those with more ‘robust’ appetites ;))

  9. Dining in said lounge at the moment. Iā€™m on the 4:30 from JFK to CDG and have to say although the lounge renovations are nice, the ā€œhotā€ food options up here are absolutely dreadful. You can choose from three entrĆ©es. The chicken medallion dish that I just ordered is essentially leather. Inedible. Very disappointing for AF and their fancy new Business Class lounge. (Iā€™ve done the pre-flight meal before and much enjoyed that service offering and the meal was fantastic.) Tempted to just go downstairs and see whatā€™s on the buffet there. Alas. Maybe I just ordered the wrong thing, but be forewarned.

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