Last year (around this time, in fact), I needed to fly to France for a couple of days. Because I was living in SF at the time, I could take the nonstop on Air France or United, or I could connect on American Airlines. Even though it wasn’t good for my status requalification, I decided to take the nonstop on Air France to save some time. This also meant I flew in coach! No opportunities to use SWUs for me.
On the way there, the flight wasn’t 100% full, and I had the good fortune of having an empty seat next to me. The pitch in economy class wasn’t great, but it was fine for me (I’m 5’9″).
Each economy class seat has a personal IFE screen. The selection of entertainment was decent, and it’s on demand, which is a step up from flying in economy on American’s 777-200s. The seats all have cup holders and foot rests as well.
The flight attendants handed out packages with headphones and eye masks, and they gave out refreshing towels. They also have colorful menus in economy class. None of this was particularly fancy, but they humanize the coach travel experience, and I appreciated these small touches.
One thing that I noticed was that they have a champagne on offer for the beverage service, which I guess should not be unexpected given that it’s Air France.
For my meals, I had pre-ordered AVMLs aka asian vegetarian meals. AVMLs are supposed to be Indian-inspired, but my first AVML on Air France was just a VGML with a packaged piece of cheese. The fruit was tasty and the applesauce was fine, but the entree pretty terrible. Just some overcooked vegetables with rice.
Two pet peeves of mine that this meal highlighted:
1) One of my biggest issues with vegetarian meals on airplanes is that they just don’t contain enough calories to sustain a person for an 11-hour flight. That entree is maybe 200 calories total? With the fruit and applesauce, you’re looking at maybe 300 calories? Granted, you’re just sitting for the whole flight, but that is not enough calories. There’s also essentially no protein or fat on the plate (ignoring the cheese), so nothing to keep you satiated.
2) Bok choy is terrible when non-Asians try to cook it. Somehow, they simultaneously overcook and undercook it so that it’s both mushy and stringy at the same time. It boggles my mind.
In the middle of the flight, they handed out ice cream bars, and there were mini-cakes, crackers, sandwiches, and probiotic drinks available in the galley. I ate a lot of crackers on this flight because of the calorie-deficient AVML.
The pre-arrival meal was a proper AVML. The entree was decent and flavorful.
As a bonus, here’s the menu from my return flight.
And here are the AVMLs on the way back. Again, one of the meals is just a VGML, but the other one was Indian-inspired and decently tasty.
Overall, I had perfectly acceptable experiences flying Air France in coach.