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
- Review: Transfer to Soneva Fushi with Soneva’s private seaplane
- Review: Soneva Fushi, the Maldives’ original island hideaway
- Review: Soneva In Aqua, the Maldives’ most exclusive yacht (today)
- Review: Air France B787 Dreamliner Business Class from the Maldives to Paris
Today (August 7, 2019): Review of Air France’s B787 Dreamliner Business Class from the Maldives to Paris.
I recently flew Business Class in a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner of Air France from Velana International Airport (MLE) in the Maldives to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG). 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: Male (MLE) to Paris (CDG)
- Airline: Air France
- Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
- Aircraft registration number: F-HRBE
- Flight Number: AF223
- Date: 9 March 2019
- On time departure: yes (12.40 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (17 pm)
- Miles: 5140 miles
- Flight time: 10 hours
- Seat: 7K
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip):
- Cost of my ticket
- Business Class lounge at Male 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. BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT MALE AIRPORT
Male International Airport is quite small and has only one Business Class lounge, located one floor above the main concourse. Called Leeli Lounge, the contract lounge is used by all airlines, including Air France. The lounge is essentially one large room, with plenty of seating areas, some of them equipped with in-seat power outlets. The lounge is rather dark (there isn’t much daylight) and the decor is rather unappealing, which is disappointing in a country that resolves around luxury travel. A buffet area with some dining tables is located close the lounge entrance and offers a selection of international food, including salads, sandwiches, pastries, fruits, curries, and marshmallows. No alcohol is served inside the lounge (probably because the Maldives is an Islamic country). Complimentary high-speed WiFi is offered to all lounge guests.
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 day flight, two meals were offered: a lunch after takeoff and a light meal 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.
I choose the following selection from the lunch menu:
- Appetizer: Bündnerfleisch with pesto and mozzarella sauce & spicy mixed nuts
- Starter: grilled shrimp with a citrus sauce, slices of tandoori chicken on a bed of marinated feta
- Seasonal salad
- Main course: fillet of beef with a herb jus, potato gratin, spinach, and sautéed asparagus
- Selection of gourmet cheeses
- Dessert: strawberry tartlet, mango and passion fruit cake, mini chocolate eclair
- Starter: bell pepper caviar with stuffed vine leaves
- Main course: chicken Saltimbocca, with herb potatoes and ratatouille
- Dessert: fresh fruit salad
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 B787s are equipped with WiFi. Passengers pay a flat fee for a fixed amount of data. Note that not all of Air France’s planes currently offer WiFi, although the carrier plans to install internet 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.
# VIEWS: We enjoyed clear skies all the way from the Maldives to Paris, affording some incredible views.
10. MY VERDICT
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Seat comfort (upright position): 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