This review details my experience on an Air France HOP flight from Prague (PRG) to Paris (CDG) on an Embraer 170 in business class.
Air France HOP
After a short visit to the decent Erste Premier Lounge at Terminal 2 of Prague Airport, it was time to catch my flight to Paris.
This morning’s flight from Prague to Paris would be operated by HOP, the regional subsidiary of Air France.
Air France HOP (previously stylised as HOP! with an exclamation mark) operates a fleet of Embraer aircraft, using both the Embraer 170 and Embraer 190 to operate flights within France and some lower-demand international routes.
When I left the lounge and headed down towards the C gates from where my flight would depart, I already bumped into the Air France crew that would operate the morning flight to Paris.
Prague (PRG) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Flight AF1883 – Embraer 170 – Seat 1A
Plane registration number: F-HBXE
Departure: 7am – Arrival: 8.45am
Flight time: 1h45m – Distance: 531 miles
My flight to Paris departed from Gate C2, the first gate on the right-hand side of the C pier.
Priority boarding was neatly enforced and I was the first passenger to board the Air France HOP flight to Paris, which was operated by an Embraer 170.
Air France HOP Embraer 170
The Air France HOP Embraer 170 has 76 seats in total in a 2-2 configuration in both business and economy class.
The cabin divider between business and economy class can be moved up or down the cabin according to demand and on this flight only the first two rows were used as business class seating.
That means that you can expect the same seat in business class as in economy class when you fly on one of the Embraers of Air France HOP.
Although I was lucky and didn’t get a seatmate on my flight, it can get a bit snug in these seats if there is another passenger seating next to you.
Even though the seat is fairly comfortable and certainly acceptable for a short-haul flight, the lack of shoulder and elbow room is a disadvantage of Air France HOP business class.
Another disadvantage is that unlike (most of) the narrow-body Airbus fleet of Air France, there are no power sockets or USB charging ports on the Embraer 170 and these planes aren’t equipped with WiFi internet either.
Despite the early hour of today’s flight, the Air France crew operating the flight seemed well-rested and happy to work.
The flight attendant serving me and the 4 other passengers in business class came by to introduce herself and handed out pre-packaged refreshment towels.
No pre-departure drinks – not even bottled water – were served however, which seems to be the standard on HOP flights.
It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous autumn morning to fly.
Already upon pushback from the gate the sky showed some beautiful pastel colours.
When the plane turned to line up for departure on the runway, the sun started to rise above the horizon behind us.
The sunrise departure views from the window were equally stunning, with some valleys between the hills being obscured by the morning fog.
I will let the pictures below do the talking!
Air France HOP in-flight service
Once we reached cruising altitude, the in-flight service kicked in almost immediately.
There is no real difference in meal service between a mainline Air France flight within Europe or a flight operated by HOP.
As a frequent Air France flyer I can say that the airline usually serves some quality meals in short-haul business class, although the food on my Air France HOP flight from Prague to Paris was a big disappointment.
There was no choice of food as everyone received the same breakfast, which included some ham and melon, cheese sandwiches, a small fruit bowl and a pre-packaged bun with some butter and jam.
To drink, I had some coffee and orange juice with my meal.
Although the ham and melon was tasty, the pre-packaged bread was rock-hard and the cheese sandwiches rather dry.
Leaving aside the meal quality, I do think that serving two small and simple sandwiches as the breakfast main is disappointing for Air France business class even on a flight this short.
Having flown the exact same Prague to Paris flight just weeks before around lunchtime, I thought the main I had on that flight was similarly lacklustre, although at least it included an excellent tarte Tatin as dessert to make up for it.
After the meal, the flight attendant came by to inquire whether I wanted to have another cup of coffee or something else.
I couldn’t resist asking for some champagne and the flight attendant was happy to oblige and open a bottle.
Air France seems to change their champagne regularly and on this flight Pommery was served.
I certainly enjoyed my glass of champagne (or two as I might have had a refill..) while looking out over the endless blue skies.
Landing in Paris
About an hour into the flight we started our descend towards Paris Charles de Gaulle.
The weather in Northern France was quite gloomy today.
Only minutes before landing I could finally spot some bits of the French countryside through the thick cloud cover.
We landed some 15 minutes late on one of the faraway runways of Paris Charles de Gaulle and it took quite a while more to taxi to our final parking position.
As I had the time I didn’t mind too much as Charles de Gaulle Airport is always great for some plane spotting from the window.
We passed by multiple Air France widebody planes, a WestJet Boeing 787 and the heritage Concorde among others.
Unfortunately, we ended up being assigned at a remote stand in an equally distant corner of the airport next to a bunch of other Embraers of Air France HOP and a Luxair Dash 8.
Because of the slight delay and the eternity it took to reach our remote stand, some people were visibly worried about their flight connections.
This was not helped by the fact that our bus to Terminal 2F ended up being stuck behind a slow-moving baggage train.
Although I don’t think Paris Charles de Gaulle deserves its bad reputation it has for connections as the situation has significantly improved over the years, you can get unlucky at times at this airport.
Even though the breakfast was a bit disappointing, I had a perfectly enjoyable flight with Air France HOP.
The on-board service was friendly, the champagne was flowing freely and the views from the window upon departure from Prague were fantastic.
Although the business class soft product is not much different whether you take a short-haul flight on Air France or its regional subsidiary HOP, there is a big difference in hard product.
When you fly short-haul on a mainline Air France flight in business class you will get an empty middle seat and on-board charging outlets, while you won’t find any of this on the Embraers used by HOP.
Some destinations in the Air France network are served by both mainline Air France flights and by its regional subsidiary HOP.
If this is the case and you have the scheduling freedom to choose your exact departure, I would go out of my way to ensure I’m on a mainline Air France flight in an Airbus when flying business class instead of one of the Embraers of HOP.
Trip report index
This ‘Trains, Planes, Beer and Tapas: A Trip to Prague and Madrid’ trip report consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Ryanair Bucharest to Chania (Boeing 737-800)
2. A Rainy Chania Stopover
3. Ryanair Hell: My Bad Chania to Budapest Flight Experience
4. Review: T62 Hotel, Budapest, Hungary
5. Review: EuroCity Train “Hungaria” Budapest to Brno
6. A Walk Through the Historic Old Town Centre of Brno
7. Review: EuroCity Train “Metropolitan” Brno to Prague
8. Review: K+K Hotel Central, A Prague Art Nouveau Delight
9. Beer Boozing in Prague: Sampling Some Czech Brews
10. Praha Hlavní Nádraží – Prague’s Stunning Art Nouveau Station
11. Review: Leo Express Train Prague to Olomouc
12. Olomouc Guide: Baroque and Belle Epoque Beauty
13. Review: RegioJet Train Olomouc to Prague
14. Review: Erste Premier Lounge Prague Airport
15. Review: Air France HOP Business Class Embraer 170 (current chapter)
16. Review: Air France Schengen Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
17. Review: Air France Business Class Paris CDG to Madrid (Airbus A220)
18. A Madrid Tapas Crawl: Bar Hopping in Spain’s Capital
19. Review: Ibis Madrid Aeropuerto Barajas
20. Review: Puerta de Alcala VIP Lounge Madrid Airport
21. Review: Air Europa Economy Class Madrid to Milan (Boeing 787)
22. How To Transfer Between Milan Malpensa and Bergamo Airport