Welcome to this new Flight review. Today, we will fly from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, the busiest French airport, and the main hub for Air France, to Montreal Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport on board a brand-new Airbus A350, received a few days before my flight by Air France.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
I welcome you to Paris, Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle Airport. We are at Terminal 2E, the usual terminal for Air France's long-haul flights.
Following the baggage problems in most European airports, Air France invites its customers to check in their baggage sometimes 4 hours before the flight departure. However, you can check in your luggage much earlier. To do so, you must use the check-in kiosks. After labeling your luggage, you simply place it on a conveyor belt. This operation was actually quite quick.
After check-in, we headed to customs. I already saw from away that we would wait a lot. Indeed, I waited. I waited almost one hour in front of half of the kiosk closes!! Also, when I looked closer, I realized that the kiosks were closed only because policemen were playing on their phones! It is very irritating. But well, I finally passed through the longest customs in my life.
Connection train, security checks, and gates
Once controls passed, I headed to the gates and the security check. All is quite great indicated in Paris Charles-de-Gaulle. It was very quick to find our way.
As my gate was the L53, it was needed to take the little train that links the K hall, where I am now, to the L and M hall. I didn't have to wait for the train; it came right when I came onto the platform.
After a 2-minute trip, I arrived in the L hall. I should now pass the security controls. Lucky me and surprisingly, there was almost no one! I pass through it in 5 minutes.
After the controls, I headed for the boarding gates, passing through the duty-free shops, all well stocked with cheeses, wines, foie gras, and perfumes. If you're looking for a caricature of French culinary culture, the duty-free at CDG is full of it.
I came after that to the boarding hall. Everything is clean and bright. There are no crowds for the moment (I am quite early). But this permits me to do some spotting.
An A350 of Air Mauritius is taxiing just in front of me.
But, by receiving an SMS from Air France, I learned that my flight was delayed by 30 minutes, meaning a departure at 6:50 P.M. A few minutes later, another message teaches me that my flight got another 40-minute delay. It means that my flight should now leave at 7:30 P.M. and not 6:20 P.M. as planned.
I will learn afterward that this delay is due to a technical problem, without any other information. By looking on Flightradar24, I saw that F-HTYR returned to Paris overweighted a few days before. I think that the plane was in maintenance after this landing
At 6:35 P.M. the boarding finally started. Passengers with small kids, followed by passengers in Business Class, Premium Economy Class, and SkyPriority passengers board first. After that, other passengers are invited to board in groups (3, 4, and 5). At 7 P.M., I am boarding, walking in a jetway that looked more like a Sauna than a glass bridge.
Cabin and seat
I'm boarding Deauville, an Airbus A350-941 which joined the fleet 2 months ago, in June 2022. My Yankee-Romeo is brand-new. I boarded through door 2L. It offers a magnificent view of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine.
A stewardess welcomed us with a smile and indicated our seats. I am seating on 32L, a seat that offers a splendid view of the wing and the winglet of the A350, which I love.
Once at my seat, I found a red blanket as well as a blue pillow. Also, there are headphones that are way better than traditional earphones. I think that it is much better and brings a more premium feel.
Concerning the equipment of the seat, there is no universal power outlet. I think that it is something that is required on today's long-haul flight. I can understand that on older planes like the 777 or the A330, there is no power outlet, but on planes like the A350 or the 787, there is no question of it. At least, there is a USB port available on every IFE screen, but can only be used to charge phones or tablets.
The legroom is very nice for me (I am not so tall, but the man who was seating next to me was much taller and the legroom was nice for him). The screen and the Inflight Entertainment are also excellent. There is a nice diversity of films, series, and live TV. You will also be able to hear music.
The map is interactive and is available in several languages. Many views are also here (cockpit, outside, left side, right side, etc.). From the screen, you can switch on the personal reading light as well as the button to call a flight attendant. The small negative point is that when the seat in front of you reclines, there is no more space between your head and the screen which is not reclinable.
In general, the seat is very nice, even if the universal power outlet would be welcomed.
Push-back and taxi
It is now time to go. A departure that will be a bit special for me.
Indeed, I will do my first take-off from a cockpit. A steward came to my seat and invited me to go with him to the cockpit.
The captain and the first officer were very nice as well as the chief purser.
We are now ready to taxi to runway 08L. We taxied next to the Concorde, we lined up, and “AF348, wind 90°, 10kts, you are cleared for take-off runway 08L”. – 100kts. – Check. – V1, Rotate. – Positive rate, gear up. – Gear Up!
We are now in the air. The take-off went very well, and we are slowly climbing in the Parisian sky. We were directly cleared to climb to FL280 (8500m). About 20 minutes after take-off, we reached our cruise altitude of 36000 ft.
It is now time to go to my passenger seat. When I arrived at my seat, I found disinfectant towels and a “Sanitary Kit” with a mask, hydroalcoholic gel, and one towel.
The service will start soon!
The menu is the next
Starter: Courgette and tomato tartare
- Chicken with tarragon, green beans, and mashed potatoes
- Gnochetti pasta with three-cheese sauce
Dessert: Clafouti with plums
I took pasta with cheese. The meal was very good. It's been a long that I didn't eat something in Economy class. Concerning the drinks, Air France offers a large panel of drinks, from Champagne to fruit juices. I think that the service Air France offer is very nice for a 7-hour flight.
After dinner, the crew was frequently asking passengers for a drink or something else. At that time, I went to the toilets. They are clean, and there are hygienic products and a coat hanger.
Before landing snack
3 hours after the main meal, the crew served us a little snack with a sandwich, a liquid yogurt, and a chocolate muffin. Hot drinks were also proposed.
It is now time to start our descent into Montreal. It is the third Canadian airport after Toronto-Pearson (YYZ/CYYZ) and Vancouver (YVR/CYVR). The descent into Montreal is simply magnificent. The sunset we witnessed was amazing. The sunset lasted a good half of the flight.
We are now above the attraction area of the francophone city. The huge highways remind us that we have arrived in America.
Landing and taxi
After a bit less than 7 hours of flight, we landed at Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. It was almost a kiss landing.
The taxi to our gate is very short. On the tarmac, we pass an A350 from Lufthansa heading for Munich, and a Boeing 787-8 from British Airways heading for London Heathrow. As for us, we park next to an Air Canada Triple 7 that will be flying to Frankfurt.
Deboarding and Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport
The disembarkation goes well and is quite fast. Once out of the plane, I say goodbye one last time to Yankee-Romeo, aka Deauville, and now head for the border checkpoints.
Everything is very smooth. Automatic kiosks allow you to fill in your documents online and a simple passport check afterward is enough to enter the Canadian territory.
We did not wait long for the luggage. It arrived very quickly. Once we had our luggage, we headed for the exit.
We have now arrived in Canada.
To conclude this Flight review, I would say that the flight itself went well. The crew was very friendly and helpful to the passengers. The meal was relatively good but lacked a bit in quantity. The snack before landing is always a plus for transatlantic flights. Although I didn't enjoy the sandwich too much, the whole thing was satisfactory. As far as the cabin is concerned, the A350 has a nice high ceiling so you don't feel cramped. For me, the legroom was more than adequate. For a person of 1m90, it will feel a little more cramped, but it will remain correct. As for the seat, it was comfortable for a 7-hour flight and the IFE offered a wide choice of entertainment. The only big downside was the lack of an international plug. It seems to me that this should be mandatory nowadays.
For Paris Airport, check-in by kiosk is a good idea to avoid congestion in the hall by endless queues. We find endless queues at the customs but not at the security checkpoints.
As for the Montreal Airport, I liked it on my first visit. It is modern, fluid, and clean. Going through customs was a breeze.
So I've reached the end of this Flight review. I hope you enjoyed it and I'll see you soon for the return flight between Montreal and Paris, this time on a Boeing 777-300ER.