October 23, 2015

Traveling to Paris and Back in a Cocoon

I'm not sure why, but I feel like writing a review every time I find myself sitting on a plane, especially when traveling Business Class. This time, it wasn't just any Business Class, but the new "Best" option out of Beirut.

I believe I was one of the first to have the chance to travel onboard AirFrance's newly refurbished planes, a series they called "Best", equipped with cocoon seats and a new approach to traveling. Paris-New York was a dream, eight hours over the Atlantic passed in seconds, the food was delicious, the comfort was unmatched and the new entertainment system made me want to fly even more.

Before moving on, I want to make myself clear about something. It surely is more enjoyable to fly Emirates or any of the gulf airlines which offer amazement in the air, but who can afford it? Or even if you can, would you be able to even relax when a ticket is priced in thousands? Anyway, for a "business" class, I believe Air France have found the perfect combination at a reasonable price for you to reach your destination with a smile. It's my airline of choice on my trips out of Lebanon.

It's 4pm onboard the Boeing 777-300ER leaving to Paris. Slippers, relaxing pillows, bed covers and a refreshing kit are offered to every passenger while the hostesses offers a glass of champagne. Sit and relax, as the flight is about the begin, it's not a trip, more of an experience. I rarely sleep on a plane to ensure that I enjoy every single detail of it.

A quick reminder about the new cocoon seats. Individual seats separated from other passengers with a wall in the middle and protected from the aisle's movement by a rounded cocoon-like envelope. A seat that transforms into a bed, a large touch screen, an individual storage box, noise reduction headphones and a joystick.

I enjoy AirFrance's Business Class crew. Smiling and joyful, they seem to enjoy their job and reflect certain positive vibes making sure the traveler is king. The words they use have a certain finesse, their movements are professional and their work is done with class.

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Beirut-Paris

A movie... While dinner is served. 

On the menu:

  • Mise en bouche: Marinated salmon
  • Gourmet appetizer and seasonal salad (crab salad served on endive, Swiss air-dried beef with Parmesan cheese, potatoes with bell peppers).
  • Special selection of cheese
  • Dessert duo: Rolled wafer filled with chocolate, orange French macaroon.
  • Sorbet and fresh fruits salad.

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Choice of main course:

  • Grilled Noisette of lamb with mint sauce, scalloped potatoes, grilled bell peppers, carrots, zucchini and eggplant.
  • Grouper roulade with fine herbs, pesto sauce, couscous, sautéed zucchini and carrots.
  • Orecchiette pasta with spinach, tomato, pesto and eggplant caviar.

Today's suggestion: Roast chicken with fine herbs, chicken velouté sauce, Riri-color pasta, sautéed zucchini.

Today's' movie:

Max (the story of a dog that served in Afghanistan)

Dinner is served:

  • Marinated salon served with plastic spoons decorated with yellow bell peppers. A good salmon it is, not too fatty and offering a good texture with the light crunch the bell pepper adds. With that I tried the only white wine available. Vallee du Rhone Blanc, 2014 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Viognier. A light bodied wine with floral notes and a fruity aspect on the palate. With that a crunchy biscuit from TraouMad de Pont-Aven, biscuits with tomato and olives. Tasty bites of olives and tomatoes, a crunch and a sour flavor, a balanced taste with a long lasting after note of enjoyment. I loved them!
  • Bourgogne rouge, Savigny-les-Beaune 2012, Albert Bichot followed. A medium bodied, lightly dry red. With that was the salad of fresh crab on an endive with swiss air-dried beef and parmesan on the side with a hint of enjoyable saltiness and a choice of vegetables marinated in lemon and olive oil. A good combination, but with some overdoses of salt and lemon. The seasoning is not very balanced.
  • Bordeaux rouge, Pessac-Leognan 2010, Les Chenes de Bouscaut. A bit too dry for me, a bit too strong, a fine wine for sure, richly bodied, but I personally prefer the Burgundy.
  • Main plate now: Since the grouper and the pasta contained garlic, I had to choose the lamb. An extremely chewy chunk of lamb marinated in a flavorful mint Soave with grilled veggies on the side. Generous and full of taste, but the meat was far too chewy.
  • Dessert: I expected better. The macaroons were a bit over chewy and sweet. The cigars filled with cream are in fact too creamy and heavy despite their interesting crunch. Good for plane food but coming from Paris to Beirut the taste was way better. I strongly believe that they need to search for better suppliers locally.

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Design mistakes... because I'm too picky sometimes:

  • When chair rises, your arm on the outside heads into the air. The armrest should move with the chair. Actually Delta has the same issue. it's an Airbus mistake.
  • The seat setup buttons are located next to the other arm. When touching the screen the chair changes position by mistake.
  • The table, when open, doesn't have a lock mechanism. It can easily be closed and spill all the food and drinks.

The pluses:

  • Business Class has all the advantages one dreams of. You are literally pampered in the air.
  • The food on the way back from Paris is always exquisite and sometimes on the way out of Beirut is also good, but today it seems the chef wasn't focusing much on quality. Using the services of Beirut's Airport kitchens, AirFrance wasn't so lucky. The food lacked flavor, decoration and style.
  • Out of Beirut, I have a favorite airline now, especially now that the new planes are making it to Beirut. A staff that's so professional with a continuous smile on their face, cookies from Fauchon, a welcome kit, slippers, a huge screen, noise reduction headphones and a fine selection of fresh wines. 
  • Business Class from Beirut to Paris or back, and despite the little imperfections, I'll always choose AirFrance.

Paris-Beirut:

And the experience continues this time back to Beirut. I love this trip because AirFrance offers delicious meals as well as having hostesses who are leaving their country after spending a long night or week with their families. 

The refreshing kit, the duty free preferences leaflet, the group towels, a loaded entertainment system, noise reduction headphones... Lie back and relax.

Today's menu:

  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Coffee, tea or hot chocolate
  • Cereal and yogurt
  • Croissant, butter and preserves
  • Smoke-dried chicken, comté cheese, dried apricots, lamb's lettuce
  • Crepe filled with chicken, creamed corn, hazelnut and Parmesan cheese breadcrumbs, vegetable julienne with olive oil
  • Moroccan-style pear pie with caramel, berry compote, mini pear

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Breakfast is served:

  • Metal cutlery, a plastic tray and porcelain plates specially designed for the airline company. Coffee, orange juice, beurre d'signy butter, la Roumaniere jam, savoie yogurt and a plate of diced fruits with  oranges, grapes and melon. The main plate was be two slices of cheese, two chunks of marinated chicken and purslane. Bread, croissant and a Parisian brioche all land on my plate.
  • The main plate is good! One crepe rolled around and filled with shredded chicken and bathing in creamed corn, hazelnut and parmesan cheese with breadcrumbs. Crunchy bits, a tender crepe, a juicy and warm heart, salt and pepper and flavor. On the side is a vegetable julienne with olive oil and a light, sweet taste.
  • The pie is good! Sweet and juicy, jam and a puff pastry with a pear on the side. That's good plane food, you would eat that on the ground and be happy.
  • Do not miss "Gavottes' Crepe Dentelle", crispy Brittany crepes covered with dark chocolate distributed with a drink before the plane starts its decent.

That's it for now until I travel again with AirFrance. Next week I'm leaving to New York, but traveling with Delta, another member of Skyteam.

 

 

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