June 29, 2015

Pampered for Eight Hours Over the Atlantic

Simply awesome! You can't imagine how excited I was to discover the new business class cabin of Air France - a plane they say is "Best" fitted with the cocoon seats.


It was a long day of traveling from Beirut to New York, but hours passed by in a blink of an eye as I enjoyed the trip minute by minute. My flight from Beirut to France was great, where I enjoyed meals onboard the A340 as well as the four hours spent publishing my reviews while relaxing in Lounge L at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, as I waited to board on Air France flight heading to New York. I was excited to enjoy the latest luxury innovation on Air France’s business class.

The new business cabins have been designed to ensure comfort and well-being throughout the flight. Those Air France seats serve as an office, restaurant, entertainment lounge and bedroom all combined. My recommendation is to book your seat in advance and take a window position; this way you'll be alone and not facing anyone.

This cocoon business seat transforms into a full bed to ensure a good night’s rest. The surrounding space is uniquely designed to keep your personal effects close at hand while providing privacy and direct aisle access. A variety of custom entertainment programming is updated monthly on 16-inch HD touch screens. The seat adapts to the shape of each individual, from seating position to a true bed close to two meters long. The seat’s soft foam is designed to offer impeccable quality of sleep. The bed’s enveloping and padded headboard conveys an impression of being in a warm, contemporary room, a signature feature of Air France seats. The soft duvet and XXL-sized feather down pillow have also been designed with the passenger’s optimum sleeping comfort in mind.


The seats new features:

  • The large screen is fully touch with possibilities to scroll and click.
  • Every passenger has noise cancellation headphones installed while the jack plug has been installed next to tour head for easier access.
  • Next to the seat is a cupboard where passports and phones can be stored. Each of your electronic devices—smartphone, tablet and laptop—has a secure place in the storage areas. You can also charge them using a personal power outlet and USB port.  This personal storage compartment features an elegant red interior and contains noise-reducing headphones as well as a mirror. Store your daily-use items here to keep them close at hand. 
  • Magazines are now below eye level.
  • The seat is turned towards the windows offering a view as well as more privacy.
  • A large tablet offers optimum comfort feeling like sitting is your office.
  • The screen opens for a direct view of the movie.
  • Sound is even better.
  • The seats now reclines to flat position sliding under the front passenger's table
  • A remote control with touch screen allows easier control of the entertainment system.
  • Other than the electricity plug, a USB plug has been added.
  • The seat can be forwarded to be closer to the screen.

Let the ritual begin... 

A wet napkin served warm to refresh yourself before sending the menu your way. The menu includes a note from Jean-Marie Massaud about the new cutlery, Anna Sophie Pic, the famous three stars chef which produced one of the plates followed by drinks and meal suggestions. 



  • Amuse bouche: shrimp with guacamole and grapefruit.
  • Gourmet appetizer and seasonal salad: duck foie gras, dried fig chutney, zucchini fracassee, mozzarella cheese and cherry tomato brochettes with pesto.
  • A choice of main course.
  • A special selection of cheese, petit chèvre and Camembert.
  • The dessert trio: nougat macaron, caramel-chocolate mousse parfait, lemon-almond pastry.
  • Sorbet and ice cream, fresh fruit salad.

Today's suggestions:

  • Veal shoulder with blanquette sauce: sautéed mushrooms with parsley, caramelized pearl onions with thyme and basmati rice.
  • Fillet of cod: black peppercorn sauce, sautéed spinach with cream and curry, mashed potatoes with lobster.
  • Lightly grilled fillet of duckling, a recipe by Anne-Sophie Pic; Duckling, lightly grilled skin-on, is the highlight of this dish, green pea Royale, infused with ginger and lemon, adds color and sweetness to the juiciness and flavor of the duckling, while red currants and pearl onions temper the sweetness with a hint of tartness.
  • Sautéed struggling pasta: zucchini purée, fennel with tarragon, mozzarella cheese pearls.

The special addition to Air France's pampering is pre-ordering your own meal from the cities of the world. Asian, Japanese, Italian, Asiatic or French, one can satisfy his cravings with a simple click until 24 hours before departure. 

I will be ordering one for me on the way back to have an idea. I personally like surprises; I enjoy opening the menu and reading its content.

Mini-twist crackers, the ones I fell in love with, on my way from Beirut as well as the same wines which I enjoyed again one at a time. A drink, crunchy crackers and the amuse-bouche, a creation of a master; a layer of avocado guacamole mousse, grapefruit adding a subtle bitterness and the freshly cooked shrimps on top. A tiny bite was enough to open up my appetite cause the best was yet to come.

Have I ever told you how much I love planes and the experience onboard them. Sitting calmly in my seat, watching one movie after the other or simply writing reviews… It’s amazing each time. And every time is like the first time. It never gets old. 


Dinner was served:

  • Some people find it strange while others will surely not believe me... But food prepared by Servair, the Charles de Gaulle kitchens makes me feel like I am dining in a fine restaurant down the tiny alleys of Paris. It starts with the bread, so tender and so soft, so airy and so tasty served next to a chunk of foie gras, one of those premium ones laying on a dog jam purée. Next to that, in those rectangular plates changing from the average usual round ones is a skewer of two mozzarella balls with crunchy grilled vegetables. Balsamic or basil, choose a sauce to go with the fresh greens salad. A great start before the main plates arrived.
  • I like the concept behind those plates but they surely are heavy. I think the staff also thinks the same and even the plane itself. I would go for a lighter material while designing a new set in the future. 
  • The staff works with such a finesse, they smile with such a class rare are the companies who can do that. The Arab companies do promise magic but this kind of service or class is not learned, it's a way of education and the French are known for it.
  • Now for the main dish. A complicated and well-researched plate that contains a small duck, bathing in its juice with a pea mousse block as well as mini onions and more peas add a decorative touch to the plate. The hostess proposed ground pepper and mustard while serving it. The duck is well cooked but the skin is the problem, not possible to be removed and too chewy. A good job, that's too complicated for me and doesn't fit as plane food in my opinion. Deceiving for a three stars chef.
  • Cheese followed, more bread while the butter melted. I added salt and butter to enjoy it even more.

It was getting closer to sleep time while the movie reached its end, desserts landed in front of me. Sorbet and fruits, more wine and sparkling water. Illy espresso or Nescafe cappuccino, both are available in the air. I declined my seat and dozed off for five hours. 

In no time the plane was preparing to land in New York. 

Something I love with Sky Team is the special access at the airport. At Charles de Gaulle, they call it "Access number 1"; waiting time is reduced tremendously. 

This is when the refreshment kit is used; creams, toothbrush and mouthwash…. 

One would say, "a business ticket is expensive" but... 

  • Sleeping on a flat bed; priceless!
  • Watching movies on a 16 inch screen; priceless!
  • A gastronomical experience; priceless!
  • Clean toilet; priceless!
  • Premium selection of wines; priceless!
  • Living inside your cocoon; priceless!
  • Arriving to the US fresh and ready to start a new day; priceless!

Twenty hours passed in no time, I am actually excited about the trip back… but in the meantime…

New York here I come.


Beirut-Paris: The Air France Business Experience


Paris Charles de Gaulle, Terminal E-L Business Lounge