On board service was very good. Dedicated first class staff (ranging from one to three for the section) assisted us upon arrival and arranging the seats, brought drinks, meals, snacks, and inquired after our comfort. Ground service varied. At times it was appropriate and polite. Other times it was disappointing and substandard. On more than one occasion they demonstrated “it’s-not-my-problem” attitudes and left us hanging. In spite of that, we found the benefits far outweighed the disappointments and would seriously consider rebooking these flights on first class aboard Air France.
Class Of Accommodation First class
Flights We began our trip in Orlando on a Delta flight to Atlanta (we were supposed to fly from West Palm Beach but the airport was closed following Hurricane Wilma). From Atlanta we flew Air France to Paris arriving in the morning and remaining there the entire day. That evening we caught a late night flight to Johannesburg. The return was similar although the layover in Paris was much shorter (only a couple of hours).
Length Of Flight The transatlantic flight to Paris was seven and one half hours and from Paris to Johannesburg the flight lasted ten hours. The return flights were similar in length.
Owned-Managed Air France-KLM, the company that owns Air France, was a public/private partnership at the time of this writing. Most of the stock was owned by private investors and the French government owned less than 20 percent. We flew Delta for the domestic flights and Air France for the international segments. Delta Air Lines, Inc. is a Delaware corporation with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
Seats-Configuration Seats, which could extend to an almost completely horizontal position, were set in pairs. There were three pairs of seats from Atlanta to Paris (two on each side of the aisle) and one in the middle; from Paris to Johannesburg there were two rows of seats set in a two, two, two format across the nose of the plane. Each $5,000-seat was equipped with armrests, audio/video plugs, built-in Bose noise reduction headset, a pop up TV, electronic footrest and back controls and was capable of extending almost completely into a horizontal position.
Entertainment There was a wide music selection on the airplane system. There were also games, TV programs and movies (set times for the flight). Each seat had a dedicated small screen which popped up.
On our return we took a shower at the lounge. This process was smooth and handled promptly. The receptionist at the lounge took our boarding passes to request the shower appointment. Once we returned the key to the shower stall, our boarding pass was returned. We took advantage of one of two small shower stalls located in the neighboring business class lounge. Although adequate the stalls had paint peeling on the ceiling and plenty of mold on the shower door. There were clean towels, hot water and a convenient and appreciated amenity kit (l’Occitane spray deodorant, splash, shaving kit, shower cap, wash cloth and body lotion) in the shower stall.
Check-in was mostly pleasant although twice Air France staff had to deal with ticketing issues (or required that we do it) at another counter. This process took 10-15 minutes and was anxiety provoking because they said one of our reservations was missing (it was later found). When boarding for our flight in Atlanta we were amazed to discover the first boarding announcement invited passengers with children and disabilities only to start the boarding process. There was no mention of first (or business class passengers) at that point. When we asked, the gate agent responded rather tersely that we could stand in line behind the families and disabled passengers if we so chose. Boarding in Paris followed a similar pattern. When we arrived at the gate area in Johannesburg the line was so long we couldn’t see the gate. When we asked the gate agent about first class boarding he apologized and said all classes boarded at the same time. A few moments later he approached us and invited us to the head of the line as a special favor.
Other Air-France-KLM is considered by some the largest airline company in the world (in terms of total operating revenues), and the largest in Europe in terms of passengers miles flown. Delta was, at the time of this writing, the world’s second-largest airline in terms of passengers carried and a leading U.S. carrier across the Atlantic.
Route Orlando to Johannesburg with layovers in Atlanta and Paris, France. Johannesburg to Fort Lauderdale with layovers in Paris, France, Dulles and Atlanta.
Date Of Review November 2005
Ease Of Reserving A Seat With several months advance booking, we were able to secure bulkhead seats for all the international segments. Other seats in the cabin were easier to secure.
On Board Service Two, and in full flights, three flight attendants provided polite, efficient and accommodating service to a maximum of 12/13 first class passengers. Our flight from Atlanta to Paris had two passengers; from Paris to Johannesburg there were seven passengers. On the return flights first class was near full although there were two disabled bulkhead seats on one of the flights due to an air conditioning leak.
Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
Would You Fly With Them Again? Yes