I recently enjoyed a terrific holiday in the Maldives, one of my favorite beach destinations in the world. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Air France B787 Dreamliner Business Class from Paris to the Maldives (today)
- Review: Transfer to Soneva Fushi with Soneva’s private seaplane
- Review: Soneva Fushi, the Maldives’ original island hideaway (my best holiday ever)
- Review: Soneva In Aqua, the Maldives’ most exclusive yacht
- Review: Air France B787 Dreamliner Business Class from the Maldives to Paris
Today (July 10, 2019): Review of Air France’s B787 Dreamliner Business Class from Paris to the Maldives.
I recently flew Business Class in a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner of Air France from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Velana International Airport (MLE) in the Maldives. France’s flagship carrier operates a small subfleet of Dreamliners with a total of nine aircraft. Currently, these Boeing 787s are crisscrossing the skies and transporting passengers to destinations like Bangkok, Boston, Detroit, Bogota, Guangzhou, Osaka, Bamako, Abidjan, Nairobi and Malé. The B787s feature the latest Air France travel cabins, with an excellent 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout in Business Class. My flight experience onboard the Air France B787 was excellent, with a comfortable lie-flat seat, delicious food, state-of-the-art entertainment, great amenities, and attentive service.
Have you ever flown Air France’s Business Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Paris (CDG) to the Maldives (MLE)
- Airline: Air France
- Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
- Aircraft registration number: F-HRBC
- Flight Number: AF222
- Date: 2 March 2019
- On time departure: yes (9 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (10 am; + 1 day)
- Miles: 5140 miles
- Flight time: 9 hours
- Seat: 7A
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- Air France Business Class lounge at Paris CDG airport
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (crew, bar, lavatory & views)
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid 1850 euros for my return ticket from Paris to the Maldives. I made the booking on the KLM website where the price was significantly cheaper compared to the same itinerary offered on the Air France website. KLM and Air France merged in 2004, and represent one company.
2. AIR FRANCE BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT PARIS CDG AIRPORT
Air France operates several airport lounges at Paris Charles De Gaulle airport. Its flagship Business Lounge is located in Hall L of Terminal 2E, which is reviewed here.
Reopened in 2018 after a complete redesign, the light-filled lounge is spread out over one (very) large area, featuring dozens of seating areas in addition to two large co-working tables with individual sockets to work quietly. Having a capacity of more than 500 seats, the lounge is an ambassador of chic French style with a contemporary décor that strikes a subtle balance between elegance, comfort and creativity. From a design’s perspective, this is one of the better airport lounges I encountered during all my travels.
At the heart of the lounge is an incredibly beautiful bar area, called “Le Balcon”. Created by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, the bar is set within a curved wooden structure sheltered under an immense golden mirrored ceiling. The space includes a central bar and a succession of outlying theatrical box seats upholstered in blue velvet. Every evening, Le Balcon serves a selection of cocktails, specially designed by the head bartender of the Hotel Lancaster in Paris.
One end of the lounge features a Parisian bistro styled dining corner called ‘The Gourmet Table’. There’s an excellent buffet on display with a selection of hot and cold dishes, including salads, soups, cheeses, pastas, and pastries. A selection of fine wines and champagnes – designed by Paolo Basso, one world’s best sommeliers – is available. The Gourmet Table’s eye catcher is an open kitchen, where a chef prepares hot dishes in front of the guests. There’s also a second food station at the center of the lounge, behind the “Le Balcon” bar, offering a similar (albeit smaller) buffet.
Next to the main lounge is an extensive wellness area, which features a relaxation room with mini suites, a Clarins spa with two treatment rooms, large luxury showers, two private saunas, and a detox bar offering organic teas from the Palais des Thés as well as Evian flavoured waters. The spa has a three-dimensional digital sculpture at its heart, a surprising piece of artwork that changes shape, intensity and colour throughout the day. Also integrated within this wellness area is ‘Le Petit Salon’ (a quiet area where smartphones are silent) and ‘Le Club’(a VIP room for top-tier elites of Air France’s loyalty program Flying Blue or special VIP guests).
Other facilities at the lounge include a kids corner, two press kiosk (offering French and international newspapers and magazines), shopping display cabinets, and a concierge desk where Air France staff can help to book a spa treatment or assist with flights (e.g. delays, seats, etc …).
3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Air France has a fleet of nine Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which all feature the same layout: 30 lie-flat seats in Business Class, 21 recliner seats in Premium Economy Class, and 225 seats in Economy Class. The 30 lie-flat Business Class seats are all located in one cabin. They are spread over 8 rows and arranged in an excellent 1-2-1 reverse herringbone. The seats on the side angle out toward the windows while those in the plane’s center are angled toward one another. This configuration maximizes privacy and ensures direct aisle access for all passengers. IMHO, this is currently the best Business Class layout in the skies, and you also find it onboard the planes of American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Finnair, Avianca, Air Canada, and SriLankan to name a few (click the links to read my reviews of these airlines’ Business Class products).
The Air France B787 Business Class cabin itself has sleek look and chic design. The color palette is neutral with dark grey seat covers and white seats shells, but does feature some playful splashes of blue (the TV screens) and red (seat trims and storage cabinets), reflecting the brand colors of Air France.
Click here for a seat map of Air France’s B787 Dreamliner.
4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
Air France has installed the popular Zodiac Aerospace-made Cirrus Business Class seat onboard its B787 planes. This is the same seat which you also find on Air France’s retrofitted Boeing 777s. With a pitch of 106 cm (42 inches) and a width of 53 cm (21 inch), the seat feels comfortable and private. Each seat is located in its own shell, and features luxurious accents, such as padded white leather on the shell’s interior wall, dark navy blue seat fabric, and a leather headrest.
One side of the seat – located towards the cabin wall for the window seats or the center line for middle seats – features a large console with a bright red storage space inside. This console holds the noise-cancelling headphones upon boarding, but once you remove them it has enough room to store your smaller personal belonging (e.g. cellphone, wallet, glasses). There’s also a vanity mirror inside this console, as well as elastic stripes to keep your stored items in place. On this console’s outer wall, you find a reading light (at eye level), a wired handheld controller for the inflight entertainment system, and a metal trim holding the seat controls. This side of the seat also features a trapezoid shaped working surface, with a bi-folding tray table hidden underneath; it’s very easy to slide the table out and swing it back and forth according to your liking.
Each Business Class seat has its own 16-inch HD touch entertainment screen. The screen is locked in the sidewall, but it is released and swings out towards the seat at the push of a button. The suite’s apex features a footwell with an additional storage area underneath (which is perfect for stowing away a handbag or shoes). The ottoman is wide and also open on one side, which enhances the sleeping comfort when the seat is fully reclined. Speaking of being reclined all the way, the flat-bed has a length of 2 meters (6.5 feet) and the soft seat cushions feel very comfortable. When sleeping, the aisle armrest can be left up for more privacy, or lowered for providing some welcome extra bed width.
What are the best Business Class seats on Air France’s B787s? For a seat map, click here.
- Solo travelers should choose one of the window seats.
- Travel companions should go for the middle seats. However, due to how private they are, they really don’t lend themselves all that well for traveling with a partner, as you have to lean forward when you want to have a chat (the consoles of both seats are located in the middle).
What are the worst Business Class seats on Air France’s B787s? For a seat map, click here.
- I suggest to avoid the very front row (row 1) due to its proximity to the galley and lavatories.
- I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class (row 8) which is in front of the Premium Economy Class bassinet seats.
Air France provides the following amenities to Business Class passengers on longhaul flights:
- An amenity kit, which contains the usual longhaul travel items such as toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, ear plugs, pen, comb, eye mask, and Clarins spa products. On this flight, the kit came in the form of a bag with a colorful geometric design marking Air France’s 85th anniversary.
- A hanger
- A shoebag, holding a pair of slippers and navy blue socks
- Sleeping amenities, comprising a silky duvet and a large feather pillow (unfortunately, no quilted mattress is provided, which you sometimes get on other airlines).
- Air France branded noise-cancelling headphones, which are hard wired into the storage cubby and of decent quality.
The hanger, blanket, pillow and shoebag are put on the seat before boarding starts, while the amenity kit is distributed by the crew after boarding is complete.
During this overnight flight, two meals were offered: a dinner after takeoff and a breakfast before landing. Menus were nicely executed (with all options mentioned in English and French) and both the presentation of the food and its taste were excellent. The dishes were created by Anne-Sophie Pic, a chef whose expertise has been awarded 7 stars in the Michelin guide for her restaurants in Valencia, Paris, London, Lausanne and Singapore, making her the world’s most Michelin-starred female chef.
I choose the following selection from the dinner menu:
- Appetizer: beet mousse with cheese crumble and spicy mixed nuts
- Starter: sautéed shrimp and mango tartare, couscous with edible flowers, grapefruit and vegetables
- Salad: mixed green salad and toasted pine nuts
- Main course: pollock with creamy black rice, butternut and coconut curry sauce
- Dessert: apricot tartlet
Breakfast was served 90 minutes prior to landing in the Maldives and included fruit juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fresh fruit salad, organic curd cheese, croissant, bread, brioche, butter and jam. There was also a choice of one hot dish and I had the scrambled eggs and grilled veal sausage. While the breakfast was ok, I felt it was slightly underwhelming compared to the excellent dinner served a few hours earlier on this flight.
As mentioned above, each Business Class seat features a 16 inches entertainment screen in the sidewall which swings out towards you at the push of a button. The inflight entertainment features a wide selection of movies, series, TV programs, music, games and reads. Air France has loaded more than 1400 hours of entertainment in its system. One of the best features is the interactive 3D Voyager flight map, which ranks among the best in the industry. You can navigate the entertainment selection by directly touching the screen or by using a handheld remote which has its own small screen. This allows you to watch a movie or TV show on the main screen while you can keep track of the flight’s progress on the wired controller.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
Air France’s B787 are equipped with WiFi. I did not use it since I went to sleep immediately after dinner. Note that not all of Air France’s planes currently offer WiFi, although the carrier plans to install Wifo on its entire fleet by the end of 2020.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: Service during this flight was efficient, friendly and personalized with a French twist. Once I arrived on board, the head of the cabin crew introduced herself to me (as she did to all Business Class passengers). Whatever I needed during the flight, the crew was always ready at hand.
# TOILET: There are two lavatories onboard Air France’s B787 aircraft for Business Class passengers, both of them located behind the cockpit. The lavatories are stocked with Clarins toiletries.
10. MY VERDICT
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 9/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 8/10
- Food (quality): 9/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,5/10