In this review, we will take an Air France economy class flight on the Boeing 787-9 from Paris (CDG) to Bogotá (BOG).
After spending my layover in the rather good Air France Business Lounge of Terminal 2E Hall K, it was time to head to my boarding gate for the long flight to South America.
While Terminal 2E Hall K might not have the best Air France lounge at Paris CDG, it is in my opinion the part of the airport which is the most pleasant with plenty of shops and cafes to kill the time. More importantly, the area felt spacious and bright. Especially this late afternoon it was amazingly quiet.
Boarding of the flight to Bogotá was an extremely orderly affair helped by both the excellent gate agents and civilised bunch of passengers. There were around 5 to 6 clearly marked queues each corresponding to a different boarding group.
Business class passengers were all in boarding group 1, while as a SkyTeam Elite Plus passengers I was in boarding group 2. The gate agents did an extremely thorough job. Even before boarding began they walked around to check that everyone was indeed in the right queue.
As I was the first in line in my queue, it meant that I could board directly behind the business class passengers and was the first to set foot in the economy cabin of the plane.
Paris (CDG) to Bogota (BOG) on Air France
Flight AF422 – Boeing 787-9 – Economy class, seat 18A
Departure: 5.15pm – Arrival: 10.05pm
Flight time: 10h50m – Distance: 5,372 miles
Costs: 450 EUR, as part of an OTP-PTY return ticket
Selecting a seat
I had pre-assigned myself a window seat in the fourth row of the front economy class cabin. These so-called ‘up front seats’ normally command a premium which can be rather steep. The same counts for exit row seats.
As a Flying Blue platinum member, these fees are however waived, allowing you to select any seat in the plane which you want, which is a nice perk.
Unlike KLM, where some economy seats up front in the cabin have a wee bit more leg room, there is no noticeable difference with Air France.
Although it was tempting to go for an exit row seat with more legroom, I decided to opt for a front seat as I would be able to disembark faster and beat the crowds to immigration. After such a long day of flying I just knew that on arrival my wish would be to reach my hotel ASAP.
I also thought that the up front seats would be less popular than the emergency exit row seats – both among frequent flyers who can select them for free and certainly among people who are willing to pay for a bit of extra legroom. I therefore gathered that the chances of having an empty seat next to me would be largest here.
As a side note, although I do not have any conclusive evidence, I highly suspect that Air France keeps the middle seat next to its frequent flyers blocked for the general public and only releases it for free assignment at the check-in counter if it is absolutely necessary in case of a fully booked flight.
My gamble would indeed pay off as middle seat 18B remained empty while 18C was occupied by another Flying Blue platinum member what my spying eye could see from her luggage tag. The empty middle seat would make a huge difference in flight comfort as not only does it allow for more shoulder room, it also allows you to stretch your legs a bit sideways.
The Air France Boeing 787 economy seat
The cabin on the Air France Boeing 787-9 had a rather fresh look to it and the seats seemed to be rather pleasant as far as economy class goes. I found the seats certainly wide enough and the legroom quite decent in normal position, making it an above-average seat.
However, at the moment the person seated in front of me in row 17 reclined his seat, it all felt rather more obstructed, with not much room left at all to move your knees (I’m around 1.86 metres or 6 foot 1 tall – to put this into perspective).
At each seat, a pillow and fleece blanket were put for passengers to use. Although no amenity kits were distributed, a sleep mask was available at each seat.
The great aspect of the Air France Boeing 787-9 economy class cabin is that there are both power sockets and USB charging ports – which certainly comes in handy on a long flight like this.
Although I did not really use it so cannot comment much on the speed and reliability, the Air France Boeing 787s are all equipped with WiFi. An full internet pass (stream pass) for the entire flight was decently priced at 30 euro, although a cheaper ‘surf pass’ which limits you to browsing the internet and sending emails only was already available at 8 euro.
The message pass, which allows you to send WhatsApp messages, is free for all passengers – which is a nice touch.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the Air France Boeing 787 economy class seat are the large screens built into the seat in front of you. The touch screen was responsive, its resolution good and the selection of movies, series and documentaries to watch was quite decent as well although not exhaustive.
Before departure, packaged refreshing towels were handed out, which was another nice touch. After a relatively short taxi run we were in the short queue for take-off on this lovely winter day.
Being seated over the wings, it made me realise just how big the wings of the Boeing 787 are. I’ve only flown the 787 once before (on Singapore Airlines in the forward business cabin on an evening flight) so I never before managed to take an up-close look.
Especially when at a certain moment we sharply banked to the starboard side of the plane, with the wing pointing up in the air, did the impressive size really show.
When we reached cruising altitude, trilingual (French, English and Spanish) menu cards were distributed. On this evening flight to Bogota, we would be served two hot meals. One more drawn-out meal almost immediately after departure, and one lighter dinner one-and-a-half hour before landing.
There is a wide selection of drinks available throughout the flight. Alcohol, including liqueurs and digestives, come free as well.
The first meal service kicked off with a drinks round. Air France is the only airline to actually serve champagne in economy class. Sure, it is not Laurent Perrier or Heidsieck Brut Réserve served in business class but a cheaper alternative for the masses, but it is still a very nice touch.
Needless to say, I went for a bit of bubbly as aperitif, which was served with some salty snacks.
The first meal was served about one-and-a-half hours into the flight. I went for the Basque-style chicken, which came with a winter vegetable pot-au-feu salad, some Camembert cheese and a molten chocolate cake.
One of the flight attendants passed by with a bread basket as well, generously giving two buns to each passengers. I opted for a bottle of white wine to pair with the chicken, which turned out to be highly drinkable. In another nice touch, each passenger received a small bottle of water as well.
For economy class, I found the meal to be absolutely tasty – every single component of it. It doesn’t happen often that I finish everything to the last bit when flying in the back of the plane, but this was one of such meals. Not only was the quality good, also the portion size was certainly large.
After the meal, the flight attendants passed by again for tea and coffee service. When I asked for a coffee, the flight attendant even asked “are you sure you do not want a digestif?” Ah well, if they must insist! Some cognac it is then – not bad again for economy!
Soon after the first meal service, the cabin lights were dimmed and most people decided to sleep or watch a film in all quietness.
Somehow I managed to be very productive, as during almost the entire duration of the flight I worked on my laptop, although the working environment was a bit cramped from the moment the person in front of me reclined his seat, making it impossible to put my laptop on the tray table and having to put it on my lap instead while being seated in a rather weird position.
One aspect I really appreciated on this flight was the friendly and highly pro-active crew. Where crews of many other airliners would disappear completely after meal service, it was certainly not the case on board of this Air France flight.
During regular intervals, a flight attendant would walk through the aisle holding a large bottle of water and some cups in her hand, making it easy to get a refreshment. Other requests, such as asking for another bottle of wine about halfway into the flight, were immediately followed up on as well.
About 2 hours before our arrival into Bogota, the cabin lights were turned on a wee bit more. The crew passed by serving the pre-landing meal. This time, there was no choice of food as all passengers received the same vegetarian choice: a spinach risotto and lentil salad, as well as a cake and some quark cheese.
Normally I don’t really opt for vegetarian meals being a big carnivore – but Air France again surprised me with a very flavourful and well-executed meal, with the risotto having a perfect creamy texture. Thumbs up!
As it was pitch dark outside, there wasn’t anything I could see from the window on arrival. Fortunately, we landed safe and sound and on time in Bogota.
Immigration was a relatively painless procedure and I was through relatively fast. Within 30-40 minutes after disembarking the aeroplane, I had managed to get some local currency out of the ATM and was seated in a taxi towards my hotel for the night.
Air France has a great economy class product which is well-worth seeking out. Although the seats aren’t necessarily the most spacious you can find, they aren’t bad or uncomfortable either and are pretty much the industry average. They did however feel a bit cramped when the person in front of you reclines the seat fully back.
At the plus side these seats come with power sockets and USB charging ports, which not every other airline has in economy. The Air France long-haul fleet is also equipped with WiFi internet. Flight passes are competitively priced and messaging passes are even complimentary.
It gets much better when looking at the meal and service aspects. When it comes to food and drinks on board, Air France can definitely compete with the best of economy class products. Both my meals were extremely tasty and certainly large enough. With free-flowing drinks, there is also nothing to complain in this field. Air France is even the only airline which serves champagne in economy!
Best of all was perhaps the service throughout the flight. This went beyond the welcoming and friendly manner of the flight attendants. What really stood out was the simple fact that flight attendants would actively patrol the aisles on frequent intervals, holding a bottle of water and cups in their hand.
If at any time during the flight you might need some water, any other drink or might have had any other request, you would be swiftly helped.
I had a really enjoyable flight to Bogota – which is not something I often say when flying in coach. I would therefore certainly opt for Air France again if the price is right.
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 Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)
2. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Airport Terminal 2E – Hall K
3. Review: Air France Economy Class (Boeing 787) Paris to Bogota (current chapter)
4. Review: Hotel Morrison 114, Bogota, Colombia
5. A Short One-Day Stopover in Bogota, Colombia
6. Review: Copa Airlines business class lounge Bogotá Airport
7. Review: Copa Airlines economy class Bogotá to Panama (Embraer RJ-190)
8. Review: Tryp by Wyndham Panama Centro
9. Visiting the Panama Canal
10. Panama City and the Casco Viejo
11. A day trip to Isla Taboga – the island of flowers
12. A Panama Day Trip to the Portobelo Forts and Tropical Isla Mamay
13. Review: Copa Airlines business class lounge Panama Airport
14. Review: Copa Airlines economy class Panama to San José (Boeing 737 MAX)
15. A day in the Costa Rican capital of San José
16. Review: Santamaria VIP Lounge San José Airport
17. Review: KLM economy class San José to Amsterdam (Boeing 787)
18. Review: KLM Crown Lounge (Non-Schengen) Amsterdam Airport
19. Review: KLM economy class Amsterdam-Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)