Review: Air France A380 First Class Los Angeles to Paris

Introduction
OneWorld First Class Lounge Los Angeles
OneWorld Business Class Lounge Los Angeles
New Tom Bradley International Terminal Los Angeles Airport
Air France A380 First Class Los Angeles to Paris
Air France First Class Lounge Paris
Air France Business Class Paris to Frankfurt
Hilton Frankfurt
Frankfurt Christmas Markets
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge Frankfurt
British Airways Club Europe Frankfurt to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways A380 First Class London Heathrow to Los Angeles
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort


Air France 65
Los Angeles (LAX) – Paris (CDG)
Tuesday, December 10
Depart: 3:45PM
Arrive: 11:35AM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr50min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 3L (First Class/La Premiere)

I boarded through the front door on the lower deck, and to my surprise there was no crewmember in sight. That worked out well for me, since it meant I could snap as many cabin pictures as I wanted.

On Air France’s A380s, first class is on the lower deck, in a 1-2-1 configuration. There are a total of nine seats spread across three rows. Rows two and three have four seats per row, while row one only has a single seat on the left side (in the center of the cabin are the stairs to the upper deck, and on the right side of the cabin are the lavatory and changing room, which is why there’s an extra seat on the left side only).

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Air France A380 first class cabin

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Air France A380 first class cabin

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Air France A380 first class cabin

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Air France A380 first class cabin

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Air France A380 first class cabin

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Air France A380 first class cabin

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Air France A380 first class cabin

Within a couple of minutes the first class flight attendant greeted me and was ultra-apologetic. She explained that first class passengers are usually only escorted aboard much closer to departure, so I caught her by surprise.

Anyway, I took my seat, 3L, the window seat in the last row of the cabin, and began to explore the features of the seat. The seat is by no means cutting edge or private, though at least it’s fairly intuitive.

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Air France A380 first class seat 3L

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Air France A380 first class seat 3L

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Air France A380 first class seat 3L

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Air France A380 first class ottoman

To the left of the seat are the seating controls, which are easy to use.

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Air France A380 first class seat 3L controls

To the right of the seat is a storage compartment, which is also where the power ports and remote controls are.

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Air France A380 first class seat 3L console

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Air France A380 first class seat 3L storage/console

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Air France A380 first class entertainment controls

Air France has Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones, which is a nice touch.

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Air France A380 first class Bose headphones

From the console, the table and personal television also pop out at the push of a button. The PTV is small and only pops out, which I really can’t make sense of. Is that intentional because they think the cabin looks classier without TV screens, or what?

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Air France A380 first class entertainment screen

On the whole I think my mom summed the seats up pretty well when I texted her some pictures before departure:

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Anyway, back to the service. The flight attendant offered me a pre-departure beverage – “may I propose to you something to drink?” I ordered a glass of champagne, which you figure would be the signature pre-departure beverage on France’s flag carrier, though to my surprise I was informed that they don’t serve alcohol pre-departure. I tweeted Air France about this and they explained that “due to US customs laws, no alcohol can be served before the door is closed.” I think what they meant to say is “due to US customs laws, no alcohol can be served before the door is closed… unless we’re willing to pay taxes on it.” ;)

Rather cheap on the part of Air France, in my opinion, but then again I’m no alcoholic and can easily wait till after takeoff. So I instead ordered a glass of water, which was presented beautifully on a tray.

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Air France first class pre-departure beverage

Shortly after that I was offered some pajamas, an amenity kit, and slippers.

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Air France first class amenities

The pajamas were super high quality, and I immediately changed into them. She had given me size medium pajamas, though the top looked more like a tube top, so I requested a large top instead. She gave me an XL top which was a bit on the big side, though after a wash I’m sure it’ll fit perfectly.

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Air France first class pajamas

The slippers were fairly comfortable and came with a shoe bag, socks, and a shoe horn.

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Air France first class slippers

The amenity kit was also fairly basic for first class, though in a nice decorative 80th anniversary bag. The kit consisted of eye shades, a toothbrush with toothpaste, earplugs, headphone covers, and Biologique Recherche branded face cream, hand cream, and lip balm.

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Air France first class amenity kit

I placed the amenities in the pull out “trunk” under the ottoman, where I also found a light blanket.

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Air France first class “trunk”

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Air France first class blanket

One of the unique features of first class on the Air France A380 is that they have a changing room. I always hate changing in the lavatories of aircraft since the floor is filthy, so I think it’s pretty awesome that Air France has a dedicated changing/vanity room, stocked with all kinds of amenities.

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Air France A380 first class changing room

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Air France A380 first class changing room amenities

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Air France A380 first class changing room amenities

Unfortunately the tradeoff is that there’s only one lavatory in first class, and it’s really small.

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Air France A380 first class lavatory

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Air France A380 first class lavatory amenities

When I got back to my seat the rather timid-seeming purser came by to introduce himself and welcome me aboard. He informed me the flight time would be 9hr30min, and that we were expecting some turbulence about halfway through the flight. He also handed me the menu and wine list for the flight.

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Air France A380 first class menu

Shortly thereafter the escort that walked me from check-in to the lounge frantically approached my seat out of breath and said “Mr. Schlappig, I was looking for you everywhere and thought you got lost. So happy you made it.” Man, they take this escort thing seriously!

About 20 minutes after I boarded the three other first class passengers came aboard. I found it interesting that they were all escorted individually, which is a classy touch. In the end four of the nine first class seats were taken, which was perfect since we were seated at the “four corners” of the cabin, meaning we all had privacy, since the seats all face the windows. On the left side of the cabin were two older French men, and seated in front of me was a blonde American lady in her 40s.

Shortly before departure the captain came on the PA to welcome everyone aboard, and right on schedule we commenced our pushback.

Interestingly the film crew that was filming by the engine during boarding was now in an “Airport Operations” car, and drove next to us as we taxied to the runway.

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Emirates A380 and airport operations car

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EVA Air 777

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Korean Air A380

The safety video played as we taxied out, though our taxi was very short as we were taking off from runway 24L. So as soon as the safety video finished we were cleared for takeoff, and as usual had a ridiculously gradual climb out. The amazing thing about the A380 is that you really don’t feel like you’re taking off, because the plane is so quiet.

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Air France A380 takeoff

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Air France A380 climbing out

About 10 minutes after takeoff the cabin crew sprung into action and closed the curtains between cabins.

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Air France A380 first class cabin after takeoff

I took the opportunity to browse the entertainment selection, which was extensive.

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Air France first class entertainment selection

Of course I was most interested in watching one of the three cameras located at the nose, undercarriage, and tail of the aircraft. The big downside to Air France’s IFE screens having to be stored is that you can’t watch the camera during takeoff and landing… boo!

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Air France first class entertainment system camera

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Air France first class entertainment system nose camera

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Air France first class entertainment system tail camera

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Air France first class airshow

I tried to watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory, but about a minute into the episode the system froze, and it proceeded to do the same thing regardless of which show I tried to watch. I had them reset the entertainment system, though the same problem persisted. Fortunately I brought my own entertainment, and later took advantage of the entertainment from the seat across the aisle from me.

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Air France first class entertainment selection

At this point the dinner service began. The menu read as follows:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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The flight attendant didn’t even ask what I wanted to drink, but instead said “Sir, allow me to get you that glass of champagne you wanted before departure,” which I thought was a nice touch. That was served in a stemless glass and on a beautiful tray with the amuse bouche. That consisted of a crepe filled with salmon, truffle and asparagus tip, tapenade blini with oven-dried tomato, and some crackers. I thought the presentation was just stunning.

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Air France first class amuse bouche

That was followed quickly by a hot towel.

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Air France first class hot towel

Next the salad and soup course were served, which consisted of a seasonal salad and cream of cauliflower soup — both were delicious!

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Air France first class soup and salad

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Air France first class cream of cauliflower soup

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Air France first class fresh seasonal salad

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Air France first class vinaigrette, butter, and salt and pepper shaker

Next I was served caviar.

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Air France first class caviar and garnish

For the main course I selected the beef, which was served with mushrooms and darphin potatoes.

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Air France first class tournedos of beef

Next the flight attendant asked if I might want some cheese. I asked her to pick out a few of her favorites for me. She insisted on bringing over the whole plate and pointing out which ones she was going to choose, just to be sure I liked them. Nice touch!

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Air France first class cheese selection

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Air France first class cheese plate

Then I asked which dessert she recommended, and again she insisted on bringing over all three and letting me choose. I went with the opera cake, which was simple and spectacular.

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Air France first class dessert selection

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Air France first class opera cake

After that I ordered a cappuccino. I’m not sure if what I received was actually cappuccino, but it was good regardless. It was once again beautifully presented along with a box of truffles.

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Air France first class cappuccino

Lastly the lovely flight attendant insisted I have a glass of cognac. Who am I to say no?

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Air France first class cognac

I have to say service throughout the meal really was top notch. There was a single flight attendant working first class, and she was really hustling. Only two of us had dinner, and she managed to make beds for the other two passengers while being as attentive as could be to us, so I have nothing but great things to say about her. She wasn’t overly personalized in the sense that I wasn’t addressed by name with any frequency, but she was constantly smiling and very charming, which is much tougher to pull off than memorizing someone’s name.

By the time I finished my meal the three other passengers were already asleep, and the flight attendant had made the bed for me in seat 3F, located across the aisle from me.

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Air France first class cabin after dinner

The blanket and pillow were quite nice, though the mattress pad could have been much thicker. The bed was ultimately comfortable, though definitely wasn’t as comfortable as on Lufthansa, Qantas, etc.

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Air France first class turndown service

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Air France first class turndown service

I did appreciate the little touches, like placing a bottle of Evian water with a glass on a tray next to my bed.

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Air France first class turndown service

After dinner I quickly checked out the forward part of the cabin, where a small buffet was set up with drinks and packaged snacks.

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Air France A380 first class forward cabin

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Air France A380 first class snack bar

There was a “rope” at the stairs leading to the upper deck, and the purser was seated in his “office” right by the stairs so I asked if it was okay if I go upstairs. He said “of course, the rope is there so that business class cannot come down to first class, but first class can go up to business class.”

After a quick stroll I headed back to my seat and managed to sleep for about three hours. I woke up with about four hours to go to Paris, and decided to watch a movie. I watched The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. I thought it was beyond hilarious, one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while, and certainly one of the best airplane movies ever.

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Air France first class entertainment selection

For anyone that hasn’t seen the movie, here’s the trailer:

While watching the movie I ordered some breakfast tea, which was once again beautifully presented.

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Air France first class tea service

About 90 minutes out of Paris the breakfast service began, starting with hot towels.

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Air France first class airshow as breakfast service began

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Air France first class airshow as breakfast service began

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Air France first class hot towel

The breakfast menu read as follows:

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I ordered the crepes as the main course. I was first served a cappuccino, orange juice, fresh fruit, and plain yogurt.

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Air France first class fresh seasonal fruit

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Air France first class yogurt, honey, and preserves

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Air France first class breakfast service

Shortly thereafter I was served the crepes with berries. OMG, they were quite possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten. I can still taste them now, as I write this. That’s quite a miracle given that they were probably made at least 18 hours prior to being served.

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Air France first class crepes with berries

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Air France first class crepes with berries

About 30 minutes out of Paris the captain came on the PA to give us an updated arrival time, and shortly thereafter we began our descent.

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Air France first class view on descent

Pictures really can’t do it justice, but the views of Paris on approach were borderline magical. The city was covered in fog but you could see the Eiffel Tower “sticking out.”

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Air France first class view on descent

As we initiated our final descent the purser made a round through the cabin to thank each passenger for flying Air France.

At 10:45AM we had a smooth touchdown on runway 8R, well ahead of schedule. We had a fairly long taxi to the gate, during which time the flight attendant came by to bring me my jacket and thank me for flying Air France. She confirmed that I was continuing onwards to Frankfurt, and seemed almost genuinely excited about it. She spent the next five minutes explaining to me how great the first class lounge is, and asking me to remain seated when we get to the gate, as an escort would pick me up at my seat to bring me to the lounge.

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View on landing

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View on landing

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View on landing

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View on landing

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View on landing

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View on landing

On the whole I was really pleasantly surprised by Air France first class. The service and food were phenomenal. The hard product leaves a bit to be desired, though Air France will begin refreshing their first class product next year, so hopefully they come out with something cutting edge. But the really impressive part of the experience was yet to come…

Comments

  1. Charlie says

    I do like how the seats and the layout resemble a very nice living room/home theater/private plane feel. Great review!

  2. Bill says

    This summer, we had the opportunity to fly AF First Class on a 777. The seats appear to be identical to the ones on the A380. Unfortunately, we flew AF right after completing a leg in SQ Suites Class. Needless to say, the AF hard product was a huge letdown. As with your experience, the FAs were polite, attentive, and even smiled. I noticed that they all made a point of engaging the passengers in conversation while the plane taxied to the gate. So, apparently they’re trained to do that, which is a nice touch. Like you, we had a minder in CDG who brought us to the front of the immigration and security lines and brought us to the lounge. He later returned to escort us to the plane in a van. In NYC, we had an escort who took us to the front of the immigration lines and then stood in line for us in customs while we waited for our suitcases, which were the first ones out. So, as w/ most of your observations, I tend to agree that while the AF FC hard product is underwhelming, the personal soft product is quite good

  3. Mike says

    Same toothbrush and toothpaste as premium economy and business class on AF. Rather penny pinching!!

  4. Kirby A says

    Interesting that they wouldn’t give you champagne on the ground. I was on the same flight in June in business and had pre-departure champagne.

  5. Justin says

    @Mike short of an electric brush, what more could they offer? I guess it would be cool if the toothbrush said Air France La Preiere or something, but for the most part a toothbrush is a toothbrush…

  6. Lisa says

    Not that it matters, but those are vinaigrettes served with your salad, not olive oil. One is balsamic, the other is raspberry hazelnut. Hilariously, I remember flying Air France in college in the early 90s and being impressed with their beef tournedos and a printed menu in coach. I guess why stop serving something you’re good at.

  7. steve says

    That was quite an extensive report of the flight.
    I’m surprised that, based on your penchant for privacy, you didn’t pick that 1A seat.
    Was someone else in it already?

  8. james says

    WOW – that has got to be the worst first class WC I ever saw. Even some economy WC are bigger than this!!!

  9. steve says

    Thanks for the thorough and excellent report. Very civilised, a solid, clean,stylish first class product without the 1001 nights ostentatiousness of Emirates/Ethihad e.g. I like the open-air layout and muted tones/colours used. The cubicle/pod style might give more privacy, but the sense of space and oxygen is more appealing. The food looked very appetizing, indeed. Tres manifique, bravo, Air France!

  10. says

    @ steve — Generally I actually prefer having an “overview” of the cabin, so if possible I like sitting in the last row. I also find it’s the most private, since no one is looking at you, but rather you’re looking at the cabin.

  11. Chris says

    Classy and well done report which seems to be the same as the cabin service. I find it very surprising they don’t serve pre-departure champagne. Since you probably have connections, can you please check (again) whether that is policy? Am planning on taking a significant other on a special flight on AF; not having some champs pre-takeoff might be a deal breaker. Not that I haven’t brought my own on special occasions for domestic flights. :)

  12. ffi says

    The business class seats on the A380 slope but are good and the screen is certainly better
    I think it was a mistake to put the F class cabin on the ground floor
    Woul have been much better with F and Biz/ Premium Y on top and Biz and Economy on bottom

  13. Mark S. says

    @ Justin — Air France could offer a name-brand, quality toothbrush that someone would actually pay money for in a store, rather than a cheap, one-time-use disposable. I’m not saying they should, but it would no doubt be better.

  14. Stephan says

    Color scheme and carpet is straight out of the 1990s. Ugh! Color in the change room is even better.

    ” Instead I ordered a glass of water, which was presented beautifully on a tray.”

    Are you serious? Water, glass, paper napkin, stainless tray. I get it that the CDG F lounge was great, so maybe you’re a tad less critical today.

    Gotta say, I usually enjoy your reviews, but this one was not your best work.

  15. says

    @ Stephan — I mean I loved that everything was served on a tray. You can certainly argue I have bad taste — you wouldn’t be the first person to do so — but that’s just my preference.

    Look, the inflight experience itself wasn’t one I’d group with the world’s best. It’s a really *solid* product, but not quite on par with Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Swiss, etc.

    But compared to what I was expecting, I was really impressed. I flew Air France first class a decade ago and received horrible service, so the friendly service and excellent food was a pleasant surprise.

  16. Jorge says

    I always bring my personal electric toothbrush with me so I never use the ones they give me. And I also carry a small toothpaste of Colgate Total in my bag. Same goes with my Bose headset.

    The glass of champagne, I mean “glass”. So French !
    The seat looks like an F seat from the late 90s. They need to come back with something better.

    Finally, wow, that is a low low view of Venice Beach. Usually one is flying much higher by then. That A380 plane sure climbs slowly. I see it here (LH) in Miami Beach and sometimes I think it is going to hit a building. Cant imagine a QF taking off fully loaded. Thank God it leaves at night.

  17. Joey says

    Thank you for the review! I’m surprised they didn’t have better champagne but it’s quite a different touch to put it in a stemless champagne glass. I quite like it versus the delicate stem champagne glass that normally breaks after one fall.

  18. stephan says

    Hey, that might have been SpeedbirdHD – a plane spotter – who works at LAX beside your A388 He gets amazing videos right on the runways since he is in one of those airport operations cars. Check out his YT channel. BTW he’s credited in the TN video you blogged about

  19. M Simons says

    Great review.
    I really like the open feel of the 1st class cabin. The new fad of suites makes them look all boxed in. Seems you prefer the suite arrangement according to the article.

  20. Josh says

    @ Lucky – Curious – how was the noise level from the galley/lav behind you? Also, how was the head-room in the front of the center section (row 2)? Did the stairwell seem to intrude? I know you didn’t sit there but I’m curious if you have any opinion on it. I’m travelling with a companion and am trying to determine if row 2 or row 3 is more ideal (both rows are currently available on my flight). Thanks in advance for the opinion.

  21. says

    @ Josh — I didn’t notice any noise from the galley. I found row two to be a bit tight in the center seats and would probably ideally select row three center seats, but I don’t think it’s too claustrophobic.

  22. Curious says

    The metallic serving tray and teapot look kind of utilitarian…not quite a first class product?

  23. Sasha says

    I just bought tickets, I am gong from FCO to CDG to LAX, can I access the La Primere lounge at CDG even though I am getting off a business flight?

  24. says

    @ Sasha — If you’re flying business class from Rome to Paris and first class from Paris to Los Angeles you would have access. If you’re flying business class the whole way then you wouldn’t.

  25. andrew says

    love the trip report. one of the first really comprehensive La Premiere reports that I have seen.

    Am I the only person that finds aluminum ramekins unacceptable in premium cabins??

  26. Sasha says

    @Lucky I’m flying first from CDG to LAX. I have an hr layover so do you think it’d be worth my money to extend my lounge time? Your review was glowing so now I can’t decide. Thanks:)

  27. says

    @ Sasha — How much extra would it cost you? Sad to fly Air France first class without the full lounge experience, but probably not worth *that* much time or money either.

  28. Sasha says

    @ Lucky I’m thinking about changing it for earlier. Oh, and do they serve two meals on all CDG-LAX flights?

  29. greg says

    2 individual pictures of the pre-dinner and pre-breakfast hot towels? “Air France first class view on descent”? Wouldn’t it be the same no matter which carrier or cabin?

  30. Dag says

    Thanks for the report. Totally agree on the crepes, best breakfast I’ve had. I also find your comments to just like I remember AF, surprisingly good service. I liked the layout in 380 F, very nice and airy, as the cabin is wide and seats far appart. F in the 77W is more narrow, and you will miss some privacy. Thanks again.

  31. Kyle McKenna says

    You do love your beef aloft! Something I never do.
    Then again, I’m also diffident about champagne and I despise Coke.
    Chacun à son goût…

  32. Terry says

    Thanks for this excellent write up.

    I have been a United 1k / Global services flyer for 10 years – their service has gotten worse and worse.

    Based on your write up, I will try Air France FC in their 380 next trip. Thanks.

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