Review: Air France Business Class Lounge Paris

Introduction
KLM World Business Class 747 Los Angeles To Amsterdam
KLM Crown Lounge Amsterdam Airport (Schengen-side)
Air Europa Club Business 737 Amsterdam To Madrid
Apartments Vs. Hotels In Madrid (And Elsewhere)
Air France Business Class A321 Madrid To Paris
Air France Business Class Lounge Paris Charles DeGaulle Airport
Air France Business Class 777 Paris To New York
Delta SkyClub New York JFK Airport
Delta One (née BusinessElite) 757 New York To Los Angeles


Having had a harrowing experience on my flight from Madrid, I was desperate to land on solid ground and head to an Air France business class lounge for a bit of rest before my next flight.

I just wanted solid ground.

Upon deplaning, I noticed my connecting flight to New York was leaving from Terminal 2E, Gate M49, and we had arrived into terminal 2F.  Now, in most airports, you’d think, “oh, Terminal 2E and 2F must be right next door to each other.”

Not at Charles de Gaulle!

Now, I’d known that Terminal 2E was sprawling and not particularly close to Terminal 2F, and that the whole concept of “Terminal 2” was really a universe of multiple terminals located a mile from another complex of terminals comprising “Terminal 1.”  But what I didn’t know was that the “M” gates of Terminal 2E aren’t connected to the “K” gates or the “L” gates.  They’re all separate buildings with various methods of getting from one to the other.

Terminal 2 at CDG Airport. Confusing, n'est-ce-pas?
The terminals at CDG Airport. Confusing, n’est-ce-pas?

So, feeling queasy anyway, I walked and walked and walked, went through a random passport control check, and kept walking, following the signed for Terminal 2E, “Portes M.”  Kept walking.

And walking.

(And wanting to just sit down somewhere since my nausea was still in full force.)

And finally, followed an escalator down to a waiting area where I realized: the only way to get to the M Gates from Terminal 2F is by shuttle bus.  By a rickety, fume-y shuttle bus.

“Excusez-moi, monsieur,” I asked the nearest employee as sweat drenched from my pale face.  “But is the shuttle bus the only way of getting to the M Gates?  Is there any other way?”  (I asked that in French, by the way, but I’ll spare you the pretension of writing it out that way.)

Non.  La navette seulement.

So I endured a bumpy, diesel fumed shuttle bus ride that curved around every which way until finally, it dumped me off at the M Gates.  I rushed out in desperate search for the lounge.

The M Gates are a beautiful, airy hall, by the way, filled with too many luxury boutiques and high-end eateries to count.

I quickly found the Business Class Lounge (Salon d’Affaires) and entered.  It’s worth noting there’s a Clarins spa in the lounge, but that it unfortunately closes at 1:30PM.  I wandered around and found the “relaxation area,” with chaise lounges, but I did not find the relaxation area particularly relaxing (at least in my then-current state) or private, although it was airy and well-lit, with touches of artificial “landscaping” that were quite pleasant.

Air France business class lounge seating
Air France business class lounge seating

No matter, because almost as soon as I reclined, I felt a powerful wave of nausea kick in and I hightailed it to the restrooms.  Once I had involuntarily emptied myself of every piece of Serrano ham I’d eaten in all of Spain, I decided to use the shower rooms.

Air France business class lounge shower room
Air France business class lounge shower room

The shower rooms are located behind the Clarins spa, and are basic (though I appreciated the hair dryer), but a cold shower made me feel a bit better than I had beforehand.

Business class lounge shower room sink area
Business class lounge shower room sink area

The lounge was fairly empty.  Interestingly, there were only two flights departing from the “M” Gates for the entire rest of the day (and note that it was only mid-afternoon) — our flight to New York and another flight to Ouagadagou, Burkina Faso.  Needless to say, you could generally tell pretty quickly who in the lounge was headed to JFK and who was headed to Burkina Faso, typically by how loudly they talked and pointed at things (and by that, I’m referring to the New Yorkers).

Air France business class lounge "landscaping"
Air France business class lounge “landscaping”

I’m really not quite sure I get how CDG’s operations work.  The hall containing the M Gates is massive, with at least two dozen gates and thirty or forty restaurants, stores, newsstands, etc. And yet the entire building was open for business for two flights.  It would seem to make a lot more sense for Air France to consolidate its operations around a few gate areas and leave the (inconveniently-located) satellite gates for overflow as needed.

I wandered around to check out the food and beverage area of the lounge for the sake of you dear readers, since my appetite was still hours from returning.

Because of the mid-afternoon timing and the lack of outbound flights, the food offerings were relatively spare.  They seemed to consist of breads, cheeses, fruit, and the like, but to be honest I didn’t want to really inspect the area too much since the sight of food alone was making my skin crawl.

However, for y’all’s sake, I did swing by the self-serve bar area, which was impressively stocked.  They had a variety of wines, and the champagne on offer was Deutz, a very respectable bottle of bubbly that retails for about $40 in the United States.  Had I been in a position to drink, I would have happily tasted it for the sake of Ben’s blog.

Champagne and wine offerings
Champagne and wine offerings

In any event, I headed back to the check-in desk to ask if they had any antacids or pain relievers available, or if there was a pharmacy in the retail area of the M gates, and was told no, but that all of those medicines would be available onboard.  It was just about time to board, anyway, so I headed toward my gate to settle myself in my seat with an Alka-Seltzer as soon as possible.

Air France Business Class Lounge Bottom Line

Again, since I was feeling quite sick hungover, I didn’t get to use or experience as much of the lounge as I’d wanted to.  However, physically, the lounge in the M gates is an enormous space, with a very new, modern and “refreshed” feeling.  Air France has tried to make the space feel airy and bright with the addition of greenery walls and artificial “landscaping,” and the lounge does feel quite relaxing.

I was disappointed that the hours for the Clarins spa were rather limited and that it was closed during my visit, and I’m not sure I understand Air France’s thinking behind that, especially since it was within ordinary business hours.

Though I didn’t pay special attention to the food spread for the sake of suppressing my nausea, it looked serviceable, but my no means impressive and certainly rather spare for a Sunday afternoon.  The alcohol and beverage selection, however, was on point.  Air France really prides itself on taking a very “French” approach to wines, and in my experience they’ve always had a more-than-impressive spread of white, red, rose and champagne wines available for consumption.

The M Gates have quite a bit of luxury shopping and food and wine outlets, however, and the airy and swanky feel of the departures hall itself is worth exploring a bit.  In some cases a business class lounge can feel like a retreat from a crowded, unpleasant terminal, but this isn’t the case here.

It’s certainly worth popping in for a bite to eat, a glass of champagne and a spa treatment (if you can get one), but don’t feel obligated to spend all your connection time here.  You may find yourself bored.

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Comments

  1. My 1st thought at the beginning of the blog, “You’re pregnant!?!?!” Then I saw your name at the end of the blog… oops

    Air France’s paying customers are snobs and are willing to pay the 50% surplus in fares to compensate for the CDG Terminal 2.

  2. Groan. What was the point of this blog post? It was long-winded and tedious and was light on any useful information about the Air France business class lounge. The take-home message here could have been communicated in a few simple sentences which described the counter-intuitive layout of terminals at CDG.

  3. For information, the M-gates closes at 2pm. For the rest of the day, K and L gates are the gates serving AF long haul. And also, wonder where you went wrong, since it should only be a few meters to walk from 2F to the buss to 2E/M.

    Seb 🙂

  4. Hello!

    So (if I’m not mistaken) what I get from your article is, without ever leaving airside, that you didn’t go under T2F after deplaning to get to the tunnel that would’ve gotten you to T2E in a minute? Once there, there is a shuttle train from T2E-K to T2E-L and to T2E-M. It’s super efficient and so rapid.

    And again, from my French perspective, thanks for highlighting this Air France lounge whose the airlines’s 2nd best after the La Première one. You’re lucky because your plane to NY could’ve departed from K or L and the lounges there provide you with less space, light, air etc but there’s still Champagne!
    Regarding T2E-M opening-closing hours, it has indeed been closing early ever since it opened in 2012. The vast majority of AF transcon and transocean flights leaving by 2pm they only use K and L after this hour. Too bad since it’s an amazing Terminal.

    Best,
    Olivier

  5. If I am remembering correctly I think there is in fact a train-shuttle thing that connects 2E K to L and M, though to get there from 2F you would have to go landside and reclear security at 2E-K. Only 2G truly requires a bus. That said, aside from your unfortunate condition, the direct bus from 2F to 2E-M is probably the fastest route by some margin.

    But yeah CDG’s layout is insane. It is not at all clear what they were thinking.

  6. Hello @Bgriff,

    If you don’t mind I’ll repeat what I say in my comment in case you’re going to read it. There’s a tunnel now from T2F to T2E so if you have a connecting flight you can go through it without leaving airside. It’s super convenient 🙂

    Best,
    Olivier

  7. Hello @Bgriff,

    If you don’t mind I’ll repeat what I say in my comment in case you’re NOT going to read it. There’s a tunnel now from T2F to T2E so if you have a connecting flight ticket you can go through it without leaving airside. It’s super convenient 🙂

    Best,
    Olivier

  8. @Olivier: That’s good to know. I followed all the signage for T2E-M from my arriving gate at T2F, however, and was led directly to the navette, so if there is a tunnel then Aeroports de Paris needs to put in some better signage!

  9. @Rajul: I could have pared it down, but my point was:

    1. CDG Terminal 2 is unnecessarily confusing
    2. As a useful point of information, the M Gates wind down early, so if you are flying on AF10 you’ll find the Lounge is mostly operating on bare-bones staffing with no spa and with limited food service
    3. As always, the champagne and wine selection was strong

    Sorry you didn’t like this particular post, but don’t let it ruin your day!

  10. Ya agree with some other readers that this review is rather pointless. I’ve used different AF lounges at CDG (the big int’l one and smaller domestic one) and JFK too. The big ones definitely are great — delicious desserts and savory items. Fauchon tea bags, espresso machines, MACARONS! And a huge selection of beverages and package snacks. You can take a few bottles of Evian onboard or juice too.

    Clarin Spa is rather pointless as the appointment slots are always filled up. Besides that, the service is friendly and frequent and the F&B is wonderful–better than Sky Club in JFK or ATL or NRT for sure. The interior design is colorful yet calming, modern yet approachable. Plenty of power outlets around and wifi is stable.

    So there you go–my quick and sensical review and I do not drink alcohol when/before/after flying.

  11. @I like AF lounges!: If you don’t drink alcohol when/before/after flying, I’m not sure you’re qualified to review anything on Ben’s blog 🙂

  12. +1 on the champagne. We had a few hours here last November when someone drove a truck into our A380!

    @Oliver – It is news to me that there is a non-bus airside connection between 2F and the M-gates. Do you just follow signs to 2E K-gates and then once you get there you take the train? How long does it take? I always like walking rather than waiting in line.

    The buses at CDG are awful. I once had a two hour connection from 2C to 2E F-gates and needed every minute. The gates were only a few hundred yards apart, but when you have to go clockwise around the terminal on the bus, it takes forever. If I hadn’t had sky priority, I would have gotten stuck in a huge security line too at 2C before boarding the bus and missed my flight.

  13. Seriously, anyone who can’t navigate CDG T2E/F shouldn’t leave his country. T2F to T2E-M is as easy as it gets, despite the bus. And a bus is certainly better than walking miles, like in AMS from B to G.
    Moreover, there’s not much quality added to Lucky’s site with reports of puking travelers.

  14. @TKF: I didn’t say I couldn’t navigate T2F to T2E-M, I just said it was a pain in the ass. If you think T2F to T2E-M — a 10-15 minute walk followed by a 7 minute shuttle ride — is “as easy as it gets,” you’re delusional and obviously very poorly traveled.

  15. Nick

    You need to get some tougher skin if you want to write blogs. Just ignore the comments you don’t appreciate. No reason to stoop as low as some of d readers

  16. @Tom (and @Nick I guess) -> you’re 100% right, the shuttle buses system is a real pain at CDG; especially to get to 2G.
    I navigate with my eyes closed at CDG airport so I don’t remember all the signs but yes, you should just follow the them to T2E the second you get out of the plane to get your connection without exiting. Aéroports de Paris who is in charge of CDG airport is SUPER proud of this tunnel! You can even see the violet bridge/tunnel above your head in baggage claim of T2F.

    Tom to answer your 2nd question, it REALLY takes 5 to 7 minutes of walk from your arrived plane to gate M for example (passport control included between F and E and with fast track).

  17. It seems that with the new security rules the best way to carry a couple of bottles of French wine back home is to wait until you are at the airport and buy from a duty free store that will seal the carry on so that you can transfer airports in the US without giving up the wine………..that said which is the best spot in CDG to make those purchases?

  18. Hello. I’m travelling in July to LAX via LHR in business class. Whilst I am not 18/21 yet, and alone, will I have any troubles with entering lounges? What do you think?

  19. @ Mateusz — I’d say you have about a 50/50 chance. Be confident and they’ll probably let you in.

  20. I have travelled CDG for the pass 20 years about 200 times but I still get lost it I a confusing airport for sure but one of the best lounges around off course you have to love French wine like I do to love it

  21. Hi Olivier,

    I will be arriving at Terminal 2A from Hong Kong at 4.40pm and need to clear customs & immigration. My next connection is on Air France to Naples 8.40pm. Can I please seek your advice on the 2 points below:

    a) Should I check through my luggage directly to NAP, or is it safer to recheck-in at CDG in case of delays?
    b) My flight is at Terminal 2F and I am at Skyteam Elite Plus. Is it possible/advisable to check out the AirFrance lounge at terminal 2E before leaving 30mins before boarding? Or should I just stick to Terminal 2F?

    I have been to CDG several times but they were all in Terminal 1. Thanks for your help

  22. that is embarassing. If imbeciles are going to spend ~$5-6K USD on “business” class–then at least have real, quality hot food in the “lounges” and much better furnishings , vastly upgraded shower facilities (looks like public school gym class) with very clear signage of the lounge itself. what is this spareness, and lack of real food and service–cheap, low quality stuff–it’s as if the americants have been the consultants?!?

  23. We always find the business class lounge a great place to begin our trip and, especially, end the trip. The Paris Charles de Gaulle lounge is much larger than the one is Los Angeles and it is always nice to spend a little time there before the flight. Yes, the airport is quite large but one can navigate through it.

  24. The ‘business class’ lounge in LAX (Korean Air) is awful for AF customers. The food is sparse (pretzels/nachos..!?!) and some cold cheap finger food. Cheap. paucity of beverages. There needs to be major changes there for improvement. Perhaps, Korean Air can get their act together.

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