Review: Air France HOP Business Class Frankfurt To Paris

Filed Under: Air France

Once boarding started I headed down the stairs and onto the bus. Once there were a few dozen passengers on the bus we drove to our remote stand, a drive which took maybe five minutes.

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View from bus to remote stand at Frankfurt Airport

The flight was on one of Air France’s Embraer E190s, which are operated by their regional airline, “HOP!”

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Air France HOP E190 at Frankfurt Airport

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Air France HOP E190 at Frankfurt Airport

Air France 1019
Frankfurt (FRA) – Paris (CDG)
Thursday, February 18
Depart: 7:25AM
Arrive: 8:55AM
Duration: 1hr30min
Aircraft: Embraer E190
Seat: 1A (Business Class)

At 7:05AM I boarded, and was greeted by the purser, Claire. She pointed me towards my seat. Air France’s E190s have a total of 100 seats. I really do love the larger Embraer jets, perhaps even more than larger narrowbody jets. They’re in a 2-2 configuration, so no one is stuck in a dreaded middle seat. Furthermore, the cabins feel spacious and modern, and the windows are large.

On most airlines, intra-Europe business class is simply economy with a blocked middle seat with better food, drinks, and service. This gives the airlines lots of flexibility, since they can adjust the size of the business class cabin before every flight to match demand.

In this instance, however, there weren’t even any blocked seats on the E190, since there are no middle seats. So if you are in business class, it’s in theory better to book a plane with rows of three seats, as you’ll have the middle seat blocked.

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Air France Embraer E190 cabin

I assigned myself seat 1A, and had an empty seat next to me, so I guess it worked out in the end.

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Air France intra-Europe business class

There was a lot of legroom in row one, so I was quite happy with my choice.

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Air France intra-Europe business class legroom

On this particular flight, business class consisted of two rows, and there were four other passengers. There was a couple seated across from me, and a couple seated immediately behind me, leaving the back right pair of seats open.

Economy was quite full, however, so the aisle was crowded for about 15 minutes while everyone boarded.

At that point the lovely purser offered me a refreshing towel, though there were no pre-departure beverages (as is often the norm intra-Europe).

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Air France business class refreshing towel

At 7:20AM the aircraft door closed, and three minutes later we began our pushback. I was intrigued by the plane next to us, as the livery didn’t look familiar. As it turns out, it was a SunExpress plane in a special livery.

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737 at remote stand next to us

At this point the purser introduced herself over the PA and informed us of our flight time of 50 minutes. The manual safety demonstration took place as we taxied out to runway 18, which took a bit over 10 minutes. The pilots taxied with purpose, and at one point I figured we were just driving to Paris, and might still achieve an on-time arrival with the speed at which we were taxiing. 😉

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Taxiing Frankfurt Airport

It was a fairly quiet morning at Frankfurt Airport, and we were cleared for takeoff as soon as we made it to runway 18.

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Taking off Frankfurt Airport

We were airborne at 7:35AM, and my eyes were glued out the window. I love sunrises and sunsets in general, especially from planes. While it was a hazy morning at first, above the clouds I was treated to a breathtaking sunrise.

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View after takeoff from Frankfurt Airport

There’s nothing quite like that moment where you break through the clouds and get your first glimpse of the sunrise…

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Sunrise view above the clouds

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View enroute to Paris

Five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, and then five minutes later the meal service began. Since I was in the bulkhead, my tray table had to be extended from the side of my seat.

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Air France E190 tray table

Breakfast consisted of a plate with some cheese and cold cuts, as well as a fruit salad on the side. While it’s common on European airlines, I don’t really get why they serve the snack with the plastic covers still on, especially given how limited space is in economy seats.

I was also offered a bread roll, though it was cold and hard — it would have been much better heated.

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Air France business class breakfast

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Air France business class breakfast

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Air France business class breakfast

Once the trays were distributed, I was offered orange juice and coffee. The coffee was served in a plastic Nescafe cup, which is actually my preference over a coffee cup, though I did find that a bit unusual. Perhaps it’s due to the limited galley space on the EMB190.

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Air France business class orange juice and Nescafe coffee

The purser was lovely, though, and checked back every few minutes to see if anyone wanted anything.

I quickly headed to the lav after breakfast, which was on the small side, as is the norm on regional jets.

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Air France E190 lavatory

The purser briefly went to economy to help with service there. The plane only has 100 seats, which means it technically only needs two flight attendants. However, the flight was staffed with three flights attendants, which seems much more reasonable to perform any sort of service on a 50 minute flight.

About 30 minutes into our flight we began our descent, and about 40 minutes into the flight the seatbelt sign was turned on. At this point the captain made his announcement, informing us we’d be landing at around 8:25AM.

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View on approach into Paris

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View on approach into Paris

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View on approach into Paris

Charles de Gaulle Airport is massive, as I could already see it a couple of minutes before landing.

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View on approach into Paris

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View on final approach into CDG

We touched down on runway 27R at 8:25AM, and from there began the taxi to our stand. On this flight we spent almost as much time taxiing as in the air, as it was a 20 minute taxi before we made it to our gate, and that was with a really fast taxi.

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Touchdown in Paris!

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Taxiing Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

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Taxiing Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

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Taxiing Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Eventually we got to a remote stand, where the Air France HOP planes seem to park.

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Taxiing Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

We pulled in next to another E190 at around 8:45AM, at which point the seatbelt sign was turned off.

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Air France Hop plane at CDG

It took them a few minutes to pull the air stairs up to the plane.

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Airstairs CDG Airport

The couple seated across from me was standing in front of me when it came time to deplane, though once the door opened an Air France representative walked onto the plane and had a quick word with the purser. She then said “Mr. Schlappig, I am here to drive you to the first class lounge.” She motioned for the people standing in front of me to move to the side, and I was escorted to the car waiting to take me to the lounge.

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My transfer from the plane

Ah, Air France first class ground services!

Air France HOP business class bottom line

In general Europe probably has my least favorite business class of any region in the world. It’s certainly nothing like business class within the Middle East, for example. Still, this was a perfectly enjoyable flight. The purser was very friendly, and the EMB190 is a comfortable jet. Between an empty seat next to me and an incredible sunrise, I was a happy camper.

The real highlight was what was awaiting me on the ground in Paris.

  1. All that taxi-ing reminds me of Heathrow to Schipol. 45 mins in the air 30 mins driving round airport either side!!

    I’ve stopped using business class on short haul, I find the best thing is to book an emergency exit row for additional leg room. The cold snack is never worth the money business in my view.

  2. I love flying the e190 jets but the most pointless business class in the world must be the ba ones departing LCY. No lounge, no blocked middle seat (as there is none), the service has been exceptional when I have done this, but it doesn’t justify the cost for a 40 minute flight to Amsterdam for example.

  3. I like the Delta/Compass setup. In first they have it as a 1-2 setup. At least the seats are bigger. I try to stay on mainline metal though, since the service is always better.

  4. I didn’t know there were airlines in Europe who don’t block the seat next to you even in Business. I’m not such a frequent flier but I know Lufthansa’s Business Class even on their regional planes with a 2-2 seat layout and they block the seat next to you so you essentially have a row for yourself.

    By the way, it would be really interesting to read a review of Aegean Airlines. I hear they have one of the best intra-european soft product!

  5. Hah! The new Peugeot 508 doesn’t look that bad in black with the Air France logo!! How typically French – when did they change from their fleet of Citroen C6s…those were sublime to ride in

  6. @jessepeng Had a 30-minute morning island hop on Aegean once and was impressed at decent breakfast service in economy. Juice, coffee/tea, croissants. It wasn’t anything over the top but for a 30 minute flight full of leisure travelers in economy, I was expecting nothing. Maybe I’m too used to short-haul trips on North American carriers, or maybe I was enjoying my vacation so much that anything and everything was pleasing.

  7. Nice review as usual Ben.
    Thank you for that.

    The cold cuts seem good for me. We know you do not eat pork: as there is no other choice, I guess you were more than happy to reserve yourself for the La Première lounge experience again then.
    I cannot wait for that review. That’s the next one!!!

    “The coffee was served in a plastic Nescafe cup”
    I believe you would have get a coffe cup on a AF metal plane in business class.
    LH is the king on the CDG-FRA route obviously. AF lets HOP! Régional doing the job during the winter season.
    The Nescafe cups are mainly used in economy. They came from more than 25 years ago on the domestic Air Inter services. Régional does not seem to bother to have a real coffe cup for the CDG routes in business.

    That’s a clever idea to offer yourself the first class ground services because the schengen services operated to/from CDG by HOP! or Cityjet on behalf of AF all arrive at terminal 2G.
    The terminal is isolated from the other ones in CDG. There is the need of a bus shuttle to join the other terminals going to terminal 2F. Getting a car just close to the stairs of the aircraft is quicker.

  8. Luda – I recently did LCY-AMS in business and for me it is sometimes worth. For start the difference between economy with bag and business was £30 and it gave me 40 TP towards my BA status. Also because I was using it as positioning flight for my ex AMS trip to Bangkok on QR I got extra luggage allowance.

    Of course no lounge on LCY is a bit if a pain but this is an airport that gives so much in terms of speedy boarding that I can live without a lounge 😉

  9. @jessepeng, neither did I. Aside from BA’s 767, I just assumed that intra-Europe Business Class always had the adjacent seat blocked. On the ERJs I’ve flown in Business, I’ve always had the adjacent seat vacant, with a sign saying “reserved for your comfort” or something.

    @rfrn, I’ve only flown Aegean in Business, and I have to say that from what I’ve seen, I’d be perfectly happy in Economy as well. With both cabins having snack service on the short domestic flights and full meals on longer flights, I sometimes wonder why they bother with Business Class at all.

  10. I flew a short-hop business class from VIE to ZRH, as part of a round trip UA redemption. The seats are 3-3, with middle ones blocked. The carrier was OS. What stood out was the meal. At that time, I just landed at VIE from PEK, on Air China. The catering at this short hop Austrian flight was so much better than Air China business. If I recall, the breakfast was muesli, toasted egg-ham-cheese sandwich, cold cuts, croissant, fruit bowl, a glass of OJ and choice of tea or coffee. I’ve never had better airline breakfast, even on business cabin, with any airline.

  11. KLM doesnt block the seat next to you on their F70 or embraers in Euro business, only on the 737.

    BA doesnt block the seat next to you on the 767 twin AC / HJ block club europe configuration (only the middle block at DF)

    Only one consistent is LH/LX/OS to block the seat in euro business even on avro/atr/embr/crj etc.

    @ lucky is it possible: when booking award/paid longhaul F (BA/KL/LH group) to drop the shorthaul connector flight from C to Y –> like many have said Euro business sucks and better to save miles/money by doing the shorthaul in Y

  12. The tight cabin gets more enjoyable if you imagine that you are flying in the Concorde 😉

    But seriously, ridiculous to sell this as business class. They should just say it is an economy class-only flight.

  13. Am I right in thinking this plane has a 2 x 1 configuration in domestic first-class on Delta?

  14. Surely if you paid full business class fares for this, you’d feel completely ripped off. Economy class seating, no blocked seats, and economy quality food???

  15. If you want really purposeful taxiing try flying Ryan Air. Company policy seems to be to set take off thrust for the taxi then use the brakes to slow down.

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