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
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
Arrive: 11:35AM (+1 day)
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).
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.
To the left of the seat are the seating controls, which are easy to use.
To the right of the seat is a storage compartment, which is also where the power ports and remote controls are.
Air France has Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones, which is a nice touch.
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?
On the whole I think my mom summed the seats up pretty well when I texted her some pictures before departure:
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.
Shortly after that I was offered some pajamas, an amenity kit, and slippers.
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.
The slippers were fairly comfortable and came with a shoe bag, socks, and a shoe horn.
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.
I placed the amenities in the pull out “trunk” under the ottoman, where I also found a light 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.
Unfortunately the tradeoff is that there’s only one lavatory in first class, and it’s really small.
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.
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.
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.
About 10 minutes after takeoff the cabin crew sprung into action and closed the curtains between cabins.
I took the opportunity to browse the entertainment selection, which was extensive.
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!
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.
At this point the dinner service began. The menu read as follows:
And the wine list read as follows:
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.
That was followed quickly by a hot towel.
Next the salad and soup course were served, which consisted of a seasonal salad and cream of cauliflower soup — both were delicious!
Next I was served caviar.
For the main course I selected the beef, which was served with mushrooms and darphin potatoes.
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!
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.
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.
Lastly the lovely flight attendant insisted I have a glass of cognac. Who am I to say no?
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.
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.
I did appreciate the little touches, like placing a bottle of Evian water with a glass on a tray next to my bed.
After dinner I quickly checked out the forward part of the cabin, where a small buffet was set up with drinks and packaged snacks.
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.
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.
About 90 minutes out of Paris the breakfast service began, starting with hot towels.
The breakfast menu read as follows:
I ordered the crepes as the main course. I was first served a cappuccino, orange juice, fresh fruit, and plain yogurt.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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…