Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1741
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

Air France Boeing B 787-9: Heathrow to Paris

Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:46 pm

Here's the link to the photos.

INTRODUCTION
It’s 07:30 on a Saturday morning as I step off my British Airways flight from Basel. We actually arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule and we weren’t even penalised by ATC for it!

I have no particular business in London today and in fact I’m only here now to make a connection from T4. Air France recently received its first Boeing B787-9 and is deploying the aircraft on the Roissy to Heathrow route for training purposes. This will be my first flight on the larger B787-9.

CHECK-IN
In Heathrow Air France and the entire SkyTeam alliance use Terminal 4, which used to be British Airways’ long-haul hub until Terminal 5 opened. I have checked in for the flight using the Air France app.

There is an airside bus transfer from Heathrow’s T5 to T4 which runs every ten minutes and takes roughly 15 minutes to complete the journey. There are only two of us on the bus making the trip.

Transferring between terminals at Heathrow really is the best and by the time we eventually pull up at the bus stop for Terminal 4 I’ve all but drooled all down my front at the sight of so many A 380s of so many different carriers on the ground in the same place at one time.

LOUNGE
The SkyTeam lounge is located opposite gate 10 and I must say, the entrance is rather stylish. Inside, the lounge looks clean and modern and features these walls with greenery growing out of them. I know there’s probably some more appropriate and totally hip description or term for the thing. But if there is, I don’t know it. But it sure looks nice.

Toilets and showers are available in the lounge. I do not try the shower but the toilets are in very good condition. On a side note, it strikes me that in England the pissoirs tend to be mounted much lower on the wall than they normally are on the continent, which kind of forfeits the purpose – unless you’ve been very disciplined with your target practice…

Moving along swiftly before this blog starts listing precariously towards the bottomless pit that is toilet humour, have I mentioned the food in the lounge at all? I don’t think so, which is a pity because it’s brilliant. I live in Switzerland, where people tend to be awfully health conscious and start ‘tsk-tsking’ with disapproval if you so much as confess that you occasionally enjoy a good old English fry up.

Which is why my wee little hearts starts beating just a little faster to a gentle pitter-patter at the sight of the breakfast spread in the SkyTeam lounge! Although the pitter-patter might also be from the cholesterol invoked semi-coma I lapse into after demolishing three sausages… But there are healthy options too, things like fruit salad, yoghurt or doughnuts.

BOARDING
Boarding is from gate 9, which is awful for so many reasons that you start to suspect they did it on purpose. First of all, it’s impossible for my to take a decent photo of the aircraft taking me to Paris today. Which was sort of the point of coming to London in the first place. And secondly, it’s awfully cramped and once boarding starts, it’s really just a complete mess. There is a SkyPriority queue, but trying to reach it is not so easy.

CABIN & SEAT
Air France still knows how to treat its passengers. As a Platinum member of the Flying Blue frequent flyer programme I am able to select any seat in both Economy cabins free of charge. And so I park myself on 10B, which is an aisle seat on the second row of the Economy Extra cabin.

The Economy Extra cabin on the Boeing B 787-9 consists of three rows in a 2 + 3 + 2 configuration, for a total of 21 seats. Much to my surprise, Air France seems to be fairly confident about the B 787’s reliability because they’ve sold most of the seats on the flight today.

The seat itself is very nice. In fact I think if I really had to, I could well imagine doing a daytime long-haul flight in this seat. Recline is good and the padding seems adequate enough to remain comfortable even on long flights. There is also ample storage space.

The inflight entertainment system is very good and has an extensive selection of media available to while away the time on long flights. The system is touch-screen operated and is very responsive. More over, the moving map is pretty cool and the transition between the different types of views on the map is smooth.

Wifi is available on board the aircraft, which I don’t try out on this flight, and there are individual A/C power ports and USB plugs at every seat.

SERVICE & CREW
The crew are rather nondescript on this flight, although to be fair, with a flight time of only 30 minutes, it’s not as though they’re given much of a chance to shine!

THE MEAL
Once the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off, pretty much as soon as the main lading gear doors have closed, the service begins. There is a choice of hot chocolate, tea, coffee or cappuccino. To eat every passenger is given a rather large and tasty croissant.

ARRIVAL
No sooner have I taken my last bite of croissant, the captain comes on again to advise the cabin crew about the ‘début de descente’ and down we go. It’s a nice sunny day in the Paris area today and we’re lucky to be given a straight in arrival. Presumably to make up for the forty minutes delay we picked up leaving Heathrow.

Our flight arrives in terminal 2E, which is the non-Schengen terminal. My next flight will leave from 2F.
 
dcajet
Posts: 1392
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 9:31 am

Re: Air France Boeing B 787-9: Heathrow to Paris

Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:27 pm

Living walls, I believe, is what they are called.
"Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten"
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1741
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

Re: Air France Boeing B 787-9: Heathrow to Paris

Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:21 pm

dcajet wrote:
Living walls, I believe, is what they are called.

Yes, that sounds about right. Thanks!
 
sk736
Posts: 597
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 4:47 am

Re: Air France Boeing B 787-9: Heathrow to Paris

Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:05 pm

I did this flight yesterday, in seat 12A in the premium economy cabin. It was my first flight on a 787 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a very quick hop at just 37 minutes and I was very impressed with the service on this short flight from a very friendly cabin crew. I agree that Gate 9 at T4 is an absolute disgrace!
 
Knightsofmalta
Topic Author
Posts: 1741
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:51 pm

Re: Air France Boeing B 787-9: Heathrow to Paris

Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:43 am

Hey all

First of all thanks for the clarification regarding the living wall. I wasn't even aware that that's a thing! Come to think of it, I think the SkyTeam lounge in Hong Kong has one of those too!

It's interesting that your flight left from gate 9 too, sk736. I would have thought they would park the aircraft on a more prominent stand to advertise their product a bit more prominently.

Cheers,
William

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