Date: September 22, 2017
Flight No.: AF166
Route: Paris Charles de Gaulle to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Airline: Air France
Type: Boeing 777-300ER
A Dreadful Transfer Experience at Paris CDG
After a bit of confusion about which part of Terminal 2E my flight would depart from, I followed the signs to Terminal 2E Gates L & M which led me to a passport control.
This is where the fairly dreadful transfer experience started. Even though I transferred at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport countless times, this was the first time I had to wait for an hour at the passport control.
In fact, the queue was so long that all the people around me were talking about potentially missing their flight. And, there was an Air France staff that came every now and then to let everyone know that the aircraft would wait for them…
Once through the passport control, I had to take a bus to Terminal 2E Gates M. In the bus waiting area, passengers were panicking as well.
“My plane is boarding right now,” mentioned one of the passengers to the staff.
The reply he got was – of course – “yes, you have to wait for the bus, we can’t do anything.”
And then a bus came. But, it was full… As such, we had to wait another couple of minutes until the next bus came and we all got on our way to our respective terminals.
From here, it was smooth, and around 10:05AM – one and a half hours after landing – I stepped into Terminal 2E Concourse M.
Luckily, I had a lot of time, but I can imagine how stressful a transfer experience like that must have been for passengers with a two-hour connecting time!
Waiting for the Air France Flight to Bangkok
As – even after the long transfer – I still had more than five hours until my next flight would depart, I headed to the Air France business class lounge that I could access thanks to my Delta Gold Medallion status.
I left the lounge around 2:15PM and made my way to gate M50 while photographing some aircraft that were parked at the gates along the way.
Here, I would like to note that – in spite of the subpar transfer experience – the waiting area of Terminal 2E Concourse M is really nice. There are plenty of seats and power outlets, and the area feels very spacious – making it ideal even for transfer passengers without lounge access.
Boarding Air France Flight 166
When I got to the gate, passengers were already gathered in front of it, and the aircraft was being prepared for the flight.
Passengers started to be processed and let into the actual waiting lanes shortly after 2:30PM – and so I lined up in the Sky Priority lane. There, I had to wait another twenty five minutes or so until the actual boarding started.
On the way to the aircraft, there was a rack with a selection of reading materials, and nice views of the Air France 777-300ER that I was about to board could be had as well.
While Air France’s 777-300ERs come in a variety of configurations, this particular aircraft was in a high density configuration featuring a total of 468 seats. That included 14 angle-flat business class seats in two “2-3-2” rows, 32 premium economy class seats in four “2-4-2” rows, and 422 economy class seats in a “3-4-3” configuration.
Upon boarding, a pillow and a blanket, as well as a package containing a headset and a “sleeping kit” were ready on each seat. Separately from that, the ancient IFE system stood out – but more about that later.
The boarding took quite a bit of time, and at 3:30PM – ten minutes after the scheduled departure time – the captain apologized for the delay and mentioned that the flight time would be 10 hours and 45 minutes, and that it was slightly stormy in Bangkok.
Departing from Paris CDG Onboard an Air France 777-300ER
Exactly twenty minutes later – with a 20 minute delay – we were finally pushed back. While we were being pushed back, the safety video was played. On a side note, Air France’s safety video is one of my favorite ones.
With the video over and aircraft ready to go, we made our way to runway 27L from which we took-off at 4:10PM.
The seatbelt sign was switched off just six minutes after take-off.
Air France Economy Class Meal Service
The meal service started about 35 minutes after take-off.
I was quite surprised that no meal choices were offered. Instead, I was handed a tray featuring chicken with lemon cream sauce. I am not sure whether that was due to me being in one of the last rows or if no one had a choice.
In either case, even if there was a second option, I would have gone with the chicken – so no big deal for me.
Exploring the Ancient Air France In-Flight Entertainment System
After the fairly tasty lunch, I played around with the in-flight entertainment system.
While some of Air France’s 777-300ERs feature a newer IFE system, there are not many nice things that could be said about the one on my aircraft. The tiny touch screen was unresponsive and had a low resolution.
While the movie selection was not the worst I’ve seen, I cannot imagine watching something like Avatar on the small low-resolution screen.
There were also some TV shows – including my favorite How I Met Your Mother – but each of them only featured a single episode. On the other hand, the music selection was a bit better since it featured both radios and albums.
There was, of course, also a selection of games.
As for airshow, it featured several views on loop. As you could have seen in the earlier part of this article, the aircraft also featured forward and downward view cameras.
Cruising to Bangkok and a Breakfast Before Landing
Around the time I finished exploring the IFE, we hit some turbulence that made the cockpit crew turn the seat belt signs on for about 40 minutes. During that time, I watched the sole How I Met Your Mother episode on offer followed by a documentary about how much impact the VHS had on society.
Other than that, I spent most of the cruise sleeping. The only thing I remember from that part of the flight is that around 4AM Thailand time, the crew came around offering ice cream. Instead of getting the ice cream and waking up, though, I just fell asleep again…
The next time I woke up, it was 6:20AM, and the breakfast was being served.
Once again, there was no choice. Also, it was fairly light – mainly consisting of a couple of pieces of bread and some yoghurt.
Landing at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
With the breakfast done, not much of the flight was left. At 7:20AM, the captain announced that we would be landing at 8AM.
Ten minutes later, we started descending and one of the Thai cabin crew members came around both of the aisles stopping by each row and thanking all the passengers. I thought that was a very nice touch.
The seatbelt signs were switched on at 7:41AM – and shortly after that, one of the overhead bins opened again. One of the passengers stood up and quickly closed it before sitting back down and fastening his seatbelt, and we were ready to land.
We douched down at Suvarnabhumi airport at 7:54AM and less than ten minutes later – at 8:03AM – we reached our parking spot.
I got off the aircraft, spent about 20 minutes getting through the immigration, picked up my suitcase, and went to my hotel to get some rest before the beginning of my Cathay Pacific first class experience.