17 Sep Air France A330 Business Class Review: Rio de Janeiro to Paris
On my return from Brazil I was fortunate to be able to fly Business Class on Air France from Rio de Janeiro to Paris Charles de Gaulle. I’ve flown Business on numerous airlines including Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Emirates, so it’s always interesting to be able to compare.
The Air France Lounge
There’s a dedicated Air France lounge at Rio de Janeiro airport, but since I arrived at the check-in desk with only 10 minutes to spare before it closed (Rio traffic is just terrible and it was rush hour), I didn’t actually have much time in the airport. In total I probably had about 10 minutes in the lounge before my flight was ready for boarding. Note to self: arrive at the airport earlier.
The lounge has free Wi-Fi and although on the small side, it wasn’t very crowded when I arrived. There’s a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and I particularly liked the way there were bottles of champagne and wine on ice in the centre of the table on the way in. I helped myself to a glass of port and a few little snacks like chocolates and little sandwiches. There wasn’t a huge choice of food, but then again, I knew I would be eating like a queen on the flight.
I was flying on an A330, so bear in mind that this aircraft doesn’t feature Air France’s new Business Class with fully flat beds. The new Business Class is being rolled out on the 777s, followed by the A380 and then the A330s by 2017.
The Business Class on the A330 is laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration, which means if you’re at the sides of the aircraft you have the choice of either a window or aisle seat. I had a window seat at the front right of the cabin which suited me just fine as I didn’t have anyone climbing over me to get to the toilet.
Being at the front of the cabin meant my TV was stowed in the armrest, as opposed to the seat in front. The seat is fully adjustable to any position you like and it lies almost flat, but not quite flat. I still managed to sleep like a baby, but then again this was a night flight and I was very tired after a long day indeed. There’s a reading lamp next to the headrest and a little bit of storage space to the side of the seat, but I would have liked to have had a bit more space for my belongings.
I wasn’t able to find any plug sockets or ports for charging my electronics- I should have probably asked the flight attendant in case I just wasn’t looking in the right place, but I had a portable phone charger with me so I wasn’t too bothered.
It’s always exciting to see what amenities there are in Business Class. If it’s a nice amenity bag I’ll usually re-use it again and again after the flight for holding my make-up or toiletries while travelling.
I was presented with a pair of slippers and an eye mask, then a member of cabin crew brought around our amenity kits, which have a really cool lining celebrating 80 years of Air France. Inside there was Colgate mouth wash, toothpaste, a toothbrush, moisturiser, comb, ear plugs and lip balm.
Of course my favourite part of flying business class is the food. I was offered a pre-take-off glass of champagne and once we were up in the air, I ordered a Bloody Mary cocktail as a pre-dinner drink. The meal began with an amouse bouche of marinated shrimp with lentil salad, served on a plastic spoon.
Next a flight attendant laid my table with linen and served my started course, which included foie gras, caramelised plantain, Cayenne cherry reduction, marinated salmon and fennel salad. There were four main courses to choose from, one of which was a ‘special’ dish of the day. I opted for the sauteed shrimp with lemon, white wine and chive sauce, with saffron rice and grilled baby vegetables. I did still have food envy though when I saw my neighbour’s grilled tornados of beef! Next came my favourite course- the cheeses- followed by a trio of desserts. To finish it off I asked for a glass of port, before getting ready for bed. Once my bed was ready, I watched a movie for a little while and drifted straight to sleep. The next time I woke up was when the lights came on for breakfast.
The breakfast consisted of a hot omelette option, but I went for the cold cuts of meat with cheese (I have an obsession with cheese). It came with fruit salad, yoghurt and granola, butter, jam, a pastry, orange juice and a choice of tea or coffee.
As always with flying Business Class, I was pretty disappointed when the pilot announced we were getting ready to land- I could have slept for a few more hours!
In future I’d love to try the new Air France Business Class cabin and those fully flat seats with direct aisle access. I really like the look of the personal storage compartment with bright red interior- check it out.
My flight was sponsored by Air France UK, but all opinions expressed here are my own.