After crossing the Atlantic from east to west and spending two weeks in the land of caribou and maple syrup, it is time to return to France.
At that time, it was the 27th of August 2022, and I was in Montreal. Our luggage was ready, and we were about to board a Boeing 777-300ER to Paris. However, on the morning of our departure, Air France informs us of some somewhat surprising news...
No, it's not an upgrade or a new plane, but a message from the airline telling us that for operational reasons we couldn't board our flight and that we had to take the next day's flight.
So, on August 28, 2022, I meet you here in Montreal for my return flight to Paris.
Montreal-Pierre Trudeau Airport
Welcome to Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Canada's third busiest airport after Toronto Pearson (YYZ) and Vancouver International (YVR).
We checked our luggage in the only terminal of the Canadian airport. There was almost no waiting time. As on the outbound trip, check-in is done autonomously, thanks to self-service counters dedicated to the Air France - KLM group and their other SkyTeam partners. After that, we had to put our luggage on the conveyor belts at the check-in counters.
Once we have checked in our luggage, it's time to go to our gate. But first, we have to go through the security checks.
During these checks, a little more waiting was to be expected. Indeed, a long queue stretched along the main hall. We spent a little less than 20 minutes getting through. Surprisingly, there were no passport controls at all, neither at the entrance to the international zone nor on the plane.
After passing through security, we finally arrived at the airside of the airport. Here, many shops, restaurants, bars, and lounges were at our disposal. More luxurious bars with a piano and waiters in suits were also present. But there is no need for a bar in an airport when you can enjoy the magnificent view through the large, clean windows of the international terminal. Air Canada, United Airlines, Delta Connection, Air France, Lufthansa, and Air Algérie were served on a platter! In addition, a magnificent sunset crowned the whole thing!
After an hour of spotting and star gazing, it's time to board. Our plane is a 13-year-old Boeing 777-328ER. Equipped with 472 seats, it is one of the 777 with the COI or 'Caraïbes Océan Indien' configuration originally intended for the French overseas regions. However, it is not uncommon to find them on busy leisure routes such as Bangkok, Toronto, or, as in our case, Montreal.
A long, long queue is forming in the terminal. After 30 minutes, we finally board F-GZNG, aka Belfort.
Cabin and seat
On board, the crew welcomed us with a smile. The 777 is very long. From the 2L door we boarded through, the Economy class cabin feels and looks very long. In fact, of the 472 seats on the plane, 422 are reserved for Economy class. The cabin in Air France's high-density 777 is the same as that on the A350. The only difference is the length of the cabin and its configuration (3-4-3 on the triple seven, 3-3-3 on the 350).
I arrive at my seat just as the sun begins to shine an orange light. On the seat, I found a blanket, a pillow, and headphones, as on the outward journey. As the cabin is the same as on the A350, the screens are also similar. A very good definition of the screen with very good content. Films, series, music, games, interactive maps, information on Air France destinations, and a platform for children are available. A very good point on this side. The only downside is that there is no universal power outlet. Economy class passengers will have only a simple USB port under the screen.
It is now time to go!
Push-back, taxi, and takeoff
Accompanied by the new Air France safety video, we started to push back and start the taxi to runway 24L.
The taxi went very well. After having taxied next to the maintenance hangars of Air Canada
The taxiing goes very smoothly. After passing the Air Canada maintenance hangars and the Bombardier Challengers FALs, we lined up and took off as the sun was setting.
A few turns later, the flight crew began their service on board. Drinks and meals were served at the same time.
Two choices of dishes were offered. The choice was the usual: pasta or chicken. As a pasta lover, I let you guess which dish I chose.
The dish was actually quite good. The starter, a vegetable salad, left something to be desired. The dessert, a cheesecake, was very good. Air France accompanies their dishes with a piece of bread, butter, and a bottle of water. In addition, a large choice of hot and cold drinks, alcoholic or not, was also available. Very good service for a 7-hour flight.
After the meal and a good movie, I go for a little walk in the cabin, and I take the opportunity to go to the toilets. Very clean, several soaps and other products are available.
Approach and landing
I return to my seat to sleep a little before our arrival.
Shortly before the beginning of the descent, the crew came to give us small bags which contained our breakfast. Contrary to the dish that I appreciated, I remained on my hunger for breakfast. The sandwich was cold and not very tasty.
But it is still correct for Air France to offer its passengers a small snack before arrival.
We will soon start our descent to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.
That's when the chief purser came to my seat and asked me to follow her into the cockpit to perform the landing at the Paris Airport. I'm not going to lie to you that I was very excited. I grabbed my camera, my phone, and my sunglasses and went to join the captain and his first officer.
The pilots were very nice. We had a friendly chat all along the approach. The views were magnificent. The Cherbourg Peninsula, the Mont-Saint-Michel. In a word, a magnificent sight that I will not forget.
We made a straight-in approach to runway 08R of the airport. The landing went smoothly, and we cleared the runway by the second last exit.
Once landed, we taxied to our gate L33 in Terminal 2E.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Thanking the pilots and the crew, I exit the plane by the door I boarded 7 hours ago.
Once deboarded, I go to the border controls of the Parisian airport. What a surprise, as the outward journey, it was very, very long. Half of the counters were closed, and the automatic gates were only opened when the line had reached the other end of the terminal. Once again, a bad point for Paris Airport.
Once I passed the immigration, I went to the baggage claim area. We didn't have to wait very long here.
As soon as our luggage was collected, we headed for the airport train station in the direction of Strasbourg.
This flight with Air France was very tumultuous.
From the beginning, the announcement that we would not be able to take the flight initially planned surprised us a bit.
Although we would be back in France one day later, the French airline fully compensated us. The tickets were fully refunded, and the extra costs were paid. The only thing that was not taken care of was the meals.
Concerning the flight itself, it went very well. The service was very good and the crew was very friendly.
The experience at the Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport was good. The check-in went very well while the security check was a bit longer. The boarding hall was very nice, and the large windows bring light to the terminal which is really a bonus. Moreover, for us enthusiasts, it allows us to take very nice pictures.
Finally, Roissy-Charles de Gaulle was once again very bad in terms of fluidity. Very long waits and a very bad organization gave me a very bad look at this airport.
This is how this trip to Canada ends and I'll see you soon for a new review