Review: Air France Business Class Amsterdam to Paris (Airbus A319)

In this review, we will take an Air France business class flight from Amsterdam to Paris Charles de Gaulle on an Airbus A319.

Boarding

It was a short 15 minute walk from the KLM Schengen Crown Lounge to the departure gate. This was a pleasant surprise as walking distances at Amsterdam Airport can be rather long at times.

Unfortunately, the gate area was on a very narrow pier with literally dozens of people hemmed in between the windows and the moving walkway, overcrowding the entire gate area.

Priority boarding was however strictly enforced and most people quickly dispersed on orders of the Schiphol Airport crew as business class passengers and frequent flyers were asked to board first.

air france airbus a319
The Air France Airbus A319-100 which would bring me from Amsterdam to Paris. ©Paliparan
amsterdam airport schiphol boarding gate
The boarding gate for the Paris flight at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. ©Paliparan
amsterdam airport boarding gate area
Passengers crowding the gate area of the Air France flight to Paris. ©Paliparan

Amsterdam (AMS) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on Air France
Flight AF1641 – Airbus A319-100 – Business class, seat 1A
Departure: 1.50p
m – Arrival: 3.10pm
Flight time: 1h20m – Distance: 248 miles
Costs: 800 EUR, as part of a ticket including 12 flights in business class

amsterdam paris flight route
The flight route from Amsterdam to Paris, which at 248 miles and just over an hour of flying time would be rather short. ©Great Circle Mapper

Cabin

As is most often the case on intra-European flights with European carriers, the seats in business class are exactly the same in economy class. The sole difference is that in business class the middle seat will remain guaranteed empty, giving you a bit more privacy and leg and shoulder room.

A movable divider and curtain separates the business class cabin from the economy cabin – and can be moved further down the aisle of the plane if demand for business class is particularly high. In this case, the divider was put after row two.

While economy seemed to be absolutely packed, business class had only a light load of three passengers. Boarding seemed to take forever as passengers and crew were struggling to place all hand luggage in the overhead compartments.

Seat

I found the seat on the Airbus A319 to be rather cramped as the seats seemed to be quite narrow, which was not helped much at all by the solid seat dividers which could not be moved up or down. Fortunately I lucked out having no seat mate as the other two passengers were seated at the other side of the plane in seats 1F and 2F.

The person occupying seat 1F behaved rather weird during the entire flight. I could not even make up if the person was a man or a woman as he/she hid his/her face the entire journey in the hoodie of his/her sweater.

The person seemed to be completely out of the world and did not even acknowledge the presence of the crew in any way during the flight, which came off as rather rude to me. Maybe the effect of some Amsterdam magic mushrooms?

seats airbus a319 air france
First row seating on the Air France Airbus A319, with in seat 1F opposite me the the weird person who continuously hid his/her face in the sweatshirt hoodie, even when talking to the crew. ©Paliparan

Pre-departure service

There are a few subtle differences to note between my previous KLM flight and Air France. Firstly, Air France had tiny red pillows on the seats in business class, which was a nice touch for a short intra-European flight.

The crew also handed out pre-packaged refreshment towels. While a far cry from a proper hot or cold towel service as customary on long distance flights (or even on short flights with Arab and Asian airliners) it was a nice gesture.

The friendly flight attendants also came by to offer pre-departure beverages of choice – something which KLM does not do at all on flight within Europe. Naturally, I opted for a glass of champagne.

refreshment towel service
Even though the refreshment towel was a cheap pre-packaged one and not proper cotton ones, it was still a nice touch on a short European flight. ©Paliparan

Departure

When the crew finally managed to help all passengers in economy get their hand luggage stowed, it was time for departure. Being a big international airport, Amsterdam is always fun territory for some plane spotting. The actual take-off was fast and smooth and before I knew it we were cruising towards Paris.

air france plane amsterdam
Another Air France plane at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, with the control tower visible in the background. ©Paliparan
easyjet amsterdam airport schiphol plane
An Easyjet aeroplane arriving at Schiphol. ©Paliparan
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An Icelandair Boeing 757 at Amsterdam Airport. ©Paliparan
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Flybe and British Airways aeroplanes at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. ©Paliparan
klm boeing 747 amsterdam
The Queen of the Skies – a KLM Boeing 747. Sadly the airline will retire all B747s in 2020. ©Paliparan
amsterdam take-off air france
Views on takeoff from Amsterdam. ©Paliparan
amsterdam takeoff air france
Views over the Dutch countryside shortly after takeoff from Amsterdam. ©Paliparan

In-flight service

Even though the Amsterdam to Paris flight time is advertised as taking one hour and 20 minutes, the actual flying time is more like 45-50 minutes as most time is spent taxiing around the huge airports of Amsterdam and Paris CDG. When the fasten seat belts sign went off, the crew immediately jumped into action.

One of the stewardesses, who was extremely polite and hard-working despite seeming to be a bit distant, handed out a menu card and asked me if I might want another glass of champagne or perhaps something else.

It’s an absolutely tiny detail, but it shows that the crew pays attention and has eye for detail if they remember what you drank before and ask if you want more of the same instead of asking “what do you want to drink?” as an open question.

menu card air france amsterdam paris business class
The menu card on the Air France flight from Amsterdam to Paris. ©Paliparan

Meal

While on longer intra-European flights Air France offers a choice of (hot) meal, there was no choice on today’s flight of less than an hour. This is perfectly understandable as such flights are all about efficiency and quick service. In light of this, it’s rather nice that they actually print a menu card to show you exactly what you will get.

Again the contrast to my previous KLM flight, which clocked at over twice as long in flying time, was staggering. Instead of the sandwich on board KLM, Air France does serve a complete meal on this 50-minute flight.

The food, roast veal in a creamy onion sauce with mashed celeriac, baby carrots and spinach on the side, tasted great. Especially the delicious onion sauce gave a great kick to the dish. The cheeses, chestnut cake and cheesecake were yummy too. A tiny piece of chocolate complemented the meal.

Air France also deserves credit for the beautiful presentation of the tray and napkin.

meal food air france business class amsterdam paris
The meal on the short hop between Amsterdam and Paris. Especially the roast veal and onion sauce tasted delicious. ©Paliparan

Landing

After I finished my meal the pilot came onto the PA system to announce we would soon set in our landing into Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. The crew immediately began to prepare the cabin for our arrival, collecting our plates and glassware. On such a short flight it’s quite impressive that they managed to do a meal service and two drink rounds.

Even though I have encountered more friendly crews, at least this crew was hardworking and extremely efficient and thorough in their service, which is really all you can ask for on a flight this short. There were some beautiful views of the French countryside on our descent into Paris CDG.

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Views on arrival into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. ©Paliparan
arrival view descent paris air france
Views on arrival into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. ©Paliparan
paris cdg arrival view descent paris air france
Views on arrival into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. ©Paliparan

Paris Charles de Gaulle

After a smooth landing, it was still quite a long ride towards our terminal and gate. Fortunately, there are some pretty cool views to be seen if you keep your eyes open.

Personally I always love it when we taxi along the retired Concorde aeroplane in Air France livery placed on a pedestal like it is a statue. What a magical beast that plane was and a pity I never manged to fly it.

paris cdg charles de gaulle airport concorde
The Concorde showcased at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. ©Paliparan
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Air France planes at one of the terminals of Charles de Gaulle Airport. ©Paliparan

In short

This was actually my first ever flight on Air France in business class and it pleasantly surprised me. Sure, the seats are  the same fake-business class seats as most other European airlines use for their short hops within Europe.

There were however some nice, small touches which made Air France stand out on this short haul business class flight such as offering pillows, blankets and pre-departure beverages. This put the airline in a positive light compared to my previous flight on KLM – which has a much less elaborate service in business class.

The crew was a bit reserved but was friendly and super efficient. Even though the flight was extremely short, we were still served a full, tasty meal with free-flowing champagne. The French sure do know how to do food well. You can’t really complain about such a service on a flight of only 45 minutes of actual airtime.

If only Air France would have had proper recliner seats in business class, it would be up there with the best of the Middle Eastern and Asian carriers.

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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