Review: Air France Economy Class Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)

In this review, we will fly with Air France in economy class on the Airbus A320-200 from Bucharest to Paris.

Early flight

Ugh, early morning flights at. I will never get used to waking up at like 3am in the morning to catch a plane at six. Yet somehow I was much more awake than I normally would be this early in the day.

Half a decade ago I would still feel the excitement and anticipation a day before the start of a new trip. Many travel experiences later, those feelings have pretty much faded away as taking a flight feels as normal to me as going to the supermarket. Unless I’m flying on a completely new airline or to a destination which really excites me – that is! Then the good old excitement at the start of the trip comes back.

As I already explained in the trip report index, I was hugely excited about my upcoming visit to Panama as Latin America is region I never really managed to visit before except for a four-day jaunt to Rio de Janeiro and a day across the US border from San Diego to Tijuana in Mexico.

The last one doesn’t even really count as a ‘Latin American’ experience. Mexican friends would slap my face if I would even dare to suggest that visiting Tijuana counts as a visit to Mexico due to it being so Americanized and therefore not being a true Mexican, let alone a Latin American experience.

At the airport

As I was travelling with hand luggage only and had already checked in online, I could head straight to security. Unfortunately, Bucharest Otopeni Airport does not have priority security lines, so I had to wait for some 10-15 minutes in the queue to get through, with another five minute wait at passport control.

Bucharest (OTP) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on Air France
Flight AF1089 – Airbus A320-200 – Economy class, seat 12A
Departure: 6.05a
m – Arrival: 8.20am
Flight time: 3h15m – Distance: 1,154 miles
Costs: 450 EUR, as part of an OTP-PTY return ticket

cdg otp flight route map
The flight time from Bucharest to Paris is just over three hours. ©Great Circle Mapper


After a quick coffee in the TAROM Business Lounge, which I could visit courtesy of my Flying Blue platinum status, I headed to the boarding gate. As usual, priority boarding is neatly announced at Bucharest Otopeni Airport, although you better make sure you are standing near the gate as there are no clear demarcation lines or queues.

I was the first to walk on board the Airbus A320-200 and was warmly welcomed by a cabin crew who all seemed to be in a very good mood.

sky priority boarding
Sky Priority is normally observed well at Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan

Seat allocation

I walked down the aisle of the Airbus A320-200 to my seat 12A, an emergency exit row seat. As a platinum member of Air France/KLM’s frequent flyer programme Flying Blue I can pre-assign myself any seat I like on the plane free of charge.

This is a great benefit as non-elites have to pay extra if they want to snag a seat in the front of the cabin or in an emergency row. Only when the plane load is full are these seats also assigned without charge at check-in. Apart from this, all other passengers are able to assign any other seat in the plane for free during online check-in, which starts exactly 30 hours before departure.

Air France economy seat

For short and mid haul hops within Europe, the seats on the Air France Airbus A320 are certainly decent enough. The leather seats are fairly comfortable and seat pitch and legroom are OK too.

It is certainly nothing luxurious or special to write home about, but then again, which airlines are known for their spacious economy class product? In my book, there are only airlines with extremely tight or uncomfortable seats, and those which are decent enough. Air France clearly falls in the latter category.

If you do manage to snag a front row or (especially) an emergency exit row seat, you will have a few inches more space. Although this is of course welcomed, I personally don’t think it is worth paying for it unless you are a really tall person.

The seats on this plane did not have USB charging ports, nor was the plane equipped with WiFi internet or in-flight entertainment systems. Air France is currently working on retrofitting their short-haul fleet and in the future they should however be outfitted with WiFi and USB charging ports.

cabin air france airbus a320 economy class
The economy cabin of the Air France Airbus A320-200. ©Paliparan
cabin air france airbus a320 economy class
I was lucky enough to have an emergency exit row seat, which have a wee bit more legroom. ©Paliparan

Cabin crew

I always say that a good-natured and friendly cabin crew can be a huge factor in the way how passengers perceive their flight. An average flight with a lovely crew will mean I will disembark the plane with good memories. However, a decent flight with a grumpy, disinterested crew will leave me with a worse opinion of the flight than I would normally have when looking solely at the hard product itself.

This flight crew was absolutely fabulous and one of the best I had in recent months. I was first warmly greeted by two flight attendants in their mid 40s in the front galley when I boarded. Upon taking my seat, a young male flight attendant about my age also warmly welcomed me on board.

It surprised me that they were all in a smiley, chatty mood – as usually a short night sleep and an early start of the day are not always beloved among flight crews.

While the rest of the plane slowly boarded I had a fun chat with the male flight attendant standing in the middle of the cabin in the row behind me. While he asked me about all kinds of Bucharest-related questions and tips for the next time he would need to fly there, I asked him all kinds of questions about Air France rotas and crew life which aviation geeks like me would ask.

It turned out that his Air France crew arrived in Bucharest in the early afternoon the day before, then stays for the night before flying back to Paris CDG in the early morning. The crew which operates the last flight out of CDG to Bucharest – which arrives around midnight – then only flies the mid-afternoon flight the next day back to CDG. The plane operating that late evening flight is thus parked overnight at Bucharest Otopeni in order for another crew to fly it back the next day.

Meal time

The plane had a full flight load and the seats next to me ended up being occupied as well. We departed right on time from Bucharest and made our way towards Paris, a flight which would take a little over three hours.

Once we reached cruising altitude service kicked in. Air France has a proper meal service on its Bucharest to Paris flights in economy class – and you can expect something similar on other flights around 3 hours or longer in length.

For breakfast, we were served an omelette with some unidentified meat, tomatoes and mushrooms. Although it might not look like much, it did taste quite good.

Besides the eggs, we could select up to two pieces out of a bread basket. The meal was further complimented with a package of orange juice, jam and butter, and a sweet. To drink, I opted for a cup of coffee.

Service was extremely friendly throughout the flight as well, with both the male flight attendant as well as his two female colleagues frequently inquiring if I might need something else. I’m not sure whether this is due to my platinum status with Air France (they never mentioned it/thanked me for being a frequent flyer – which sometimes they do) or if it was just a courtesy as I had some friendly interactions with them.

It was however something quite remarkable as they did not ask such questions to any of the other passengers around me.

air france breakfast meal economy class
Air France economy class breakfast. ©Paliparan

The joys of flying

After finishing the meal, I dozed off for a bit. About an hour out of Paris Charles de Gaulle I woke up to a glorious sunrise somewhere over southern Germany.

I put on some evocative Panamese music as I admired the great views from the window. It only added to my already great mood and made me really excited about the hours of flying ahead and the moment I would finally arrive in South America.

sunrise plane
Sunrise as seen from my flight to Paris. ©Paliparan


With the sunset colours slowly fading away, we landed on time in Paris Charles de Gaulle on this February winter day. After a relatively short taxi ride through the premises of CDG Airport, we parked at our jet bridge, bringing this enjoyable flight to an end.

I thanked the crew for their great service and slowly made my way towards the K gates at Terminal 2E where my connecting flight to Bogotá would depart.

sunrise paris cdg
There were still some great sunrise colours on final descent into Paris Charles de Gaulle. ©Paliparan
landing paris cdg
Landing at Paris Charles de Gaulle. ©Paliparan
paris cdg
Taxiing at Paris CDG along some parked Air France, MEA and Delta planes. ©Paliparan

In short

For an economy flight, you cannot ask for much more than this. The seat was fairly comfortable, the meal edible and the service great. If you can sleep a bit, eat well, and get some refreshments on an economy class flight, then you certainly do not have many reasons to complain.

As Air France is slowly improving their short and mid haul product even further by configuring narrow-body planes like this with USB power sockets and WiFi internet, it is a product that will be even better in the near future.

Even though it might not be the world’s best economy class product on such flights, Air France does an all-round excellent job and will not leave you disappointed.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘A Piece of Panama With a Bit of Bogota and a Slice of San Jose‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Air France Economy Class (Airbus A320) Bucharest to Paris (current chapter)
2. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Airport Terminal 2E – Hall K
3. Review: Air France Economy Class Paris to Bogota (Boeing 787)
4. Review: Hotel Morrison 114, Bogota, Colombia
5. A Short One-Day Stopover in Bogota, Colombia
6. Review: Copa Club Bogota Airport, Colombia
7. Review: Copa Airlines Economy Class Panama to Bogota (Embraer RJ-190)
8. Review: Tryp by Wyndham Panama Centro
9. How to Visit the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal
10. Into the Casco Viejo – Exploring Panama City’s Old Town Centre
11. Isla Taboga: A Day Trip to the Island of Flowers
12. A Panama Day Trip to the Portobelo Forts and Tropical Isla Mamay
13. Review: Copa Club Panama Tocumen International Airport
14. Review: Copa Airlines Economy Class Panama to San Jose (Boeing 737-800)
15. Destination San Jose: A Day in the Capital of Costa Rica
16. Review: VIP Lounge Costa Rica, San Jose Airport (SJO)
17. Review: KLM Economy Class San Jose to Amsterdam (Boeing 787)
18. Review: KLM Crown Lounge (Non-Schengen) Amsterdam Airport
19. Review: KLM Economy Class Amsterdam to Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)

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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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