Air France A380 New York JFK to Paris Affaires Business Class Review

By Jonathan Spira on 4 December 2011
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Four airlines occupy Terminal 1 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, including Air France, which currently operates four flights to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris daily. A fifth flight is operated by Delta Air Lines as a code share with Air France.

One of the flights is AF007, which is an Airbus A380 route. Air France was a launch customer for this particular aircraft, which debuted in November 2009 on the JFK-CDG route.  Air France was the first European airline to operate the A380, and the airline currently operates six A380 aircraft from Paris to Johannesburg, Montreal, Washington, D.C., and Dubai in addition to JFK.  Starting in the summer of 2012, the airline will operate eight A380 aircraft, adding Los Angeles and Tokyo but discontinuing Dubai.

I arrived at Terminal 1 two hours ahead of departure time and found dedicated lines for first- and business-class passengers, as well as for elite members of SkyTeam frequent traveler programs.  I had already decided that this Air France flight would be an excellent opportunity for me to brush up on my French, and I tried it out with the check-in agent,  , who miraculously understood me.  The wait time for the agent was roughly five minutes.

Check-in took just a few minutes, and I was invited to the Air France lounge, which is past security.


The line to get through security, even for business and first-class passengers, was quite long, with a wait time of roughly 25 minutes.  The line is used by passengers of the four airlines that operate in the terminal; Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, and Lufthansa.  Terminal 1 is one of only two terminals at JFK that can handle the A380. (The other one is Terminal 4.)

The Air France lounge at JFK has a very open and modern design, with light refreshments and a variety of seating options ranging from comfortable chairs to bistro-style tables and chairs.  Amenities include showers, Wi-Fi (although it refused to work with my Apple iPad LINK), computers, television, and photocopy and fax machines.

First- and business-class passengers were invited to board first, and I was one of the first to enter the aircraft.


My seat, 60F (pictured), was in the first row on the aircraft’s upper deck, which had 80 business- class (“Affaires”) seats, 38 economy plus (Premium Voyageur) seats, and 46 economy (“Voyageur”) seats.  On the main deck, there were nine first-class (la Première) seats and 343 Voyageur seats.

Business-class seats, which were not fully flat, were in a 2-2-2 configuration, and they extended to 78” and reclined to 180°.  Pitch was 61” and each seat 21” wide.  The overhead bins were very spacious.

Air France’s approach to the interior of the A380 is to give each passenger the feeling of a small cabin.  It clearly sees the flight as an experience, versus simply transporting the passenger from point A to point B.  Lighting is a key element of the design. Mood lighting reproducing afternoon light in the afternoon and evening light as twilight approaches helps passengers adjust to the time change.

Air France has divided the business-class section, which takes up much of the upper deck of the aircraft, into several cabins that give each passenger a far more intimate feeling than if it were configured as one long cabin.  In addition, Air France uses the forward right section of the upper deck for the mezzanine, a mini lounge for first- and business-class passengers.  Several 15” monitors in this high-tech in-flight gallery display images of artwork from museums such as the Louvre in Paris and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  Unfortunately, it was inoperative on my flight to Paris, as well as my return, as was the in-flight entertainment system on the outbound flight.

I found the seat quite comfortable in both the sitting and reclining position,s but once in the sleeping position, in part because these are not fully lie-flat seats, I found myself sliding down a bit. By using extra pillows to make the seat more comfortable, I was able to sleep for several hours.

Click here to continue to Page 2 – In-flight Service, Arrival, and a Virtual Tour of the Airbus A380

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