After visiting Sky Lounge Schengen using my Priority Pass membership, I headed to gate F31 around 4:30PM – 50 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Boarding started at 5:05PM, and two minutes later, rows 18 through 30 were called to board. With my boarding pass for seat 23D in hand, I headed down the jetway, and got onboard.
At 5:30PM, after an unusually super-polite “Dear Cabin Crew, arm the slides, please,” from the flight deck, the doors were closed. With the “ABC” side of my row remaining unoccupied, I quickly switched my seat from 23D to 23A before we started taxiing.
A welcome announcement by one of the four cabin crew members in German, English, as well as French. A minute later – 15 minutes behind the scheduled departure time – we were pushed back.
Ten minutes later, after taxiing through taxiways M2 and L, we took off from the A1 intersection of runway 29. The shaky take-off run and sharp lift off were followed by a left turn and a climb into the darkness.
Austrian’s New Wi-Fi Service
Currently, Austrian Airlines is in the process of equipping its 31 Airbus A320 series aircraft (A319/A320/A321) with onboard wi-fi. As part of the roll-out, Austrian Airlines is using four of the aircraft to test the wi-fi, offering it to passengers for a limited period of time for free.
I was lucky as my flight was operated by OE-LBP – one of the four.
The wi-fi was turned only only a few minutes after take-off, and stayed on until we were in the middle of our descent into Paris.
The performance was very good – miles away from Emirates’ cheap ($1 per 500MB), but almost unusable wi-fi. I had no problem browsing websites, and even watching YouTube.
Once the free trial is over, Austrian plans to offer three reasonably priced plans:
- FlyNet Message for 3 EUR per flight allowing the use chat apps like iMessage and WhatsApp
- FlyNet Surf for 7 EUR per flight allowing the above as well as regular Internet browsing
- FlyNet Stream for 12 EUR per flight allowing all of the above as well as the use of streaming services such as YouTube
About fifteen minutes into the flight, the snack service begun.
Once the crew got to my row, I was offered to choose between a chocolate bar and an orange. I decided to go with the healthier and more interesting option, and picked the orange.
The orange being a “clementine” came in an appropriate packaging titled “Sweet Clementine.” Of course, the song “Sweet Caroline” immediately came to my mind…
When it came to choosing drink, I spoiled the previous healthiness, and went with a cup of Coke.
Having finished the orange, I decided to take a look into the seat pocket. Checking the in-flight magazine, I was happy to find an article about the beautiful Iranian city of Isfahan in it.
Bienvenue a Paris
At quarter to seven, the first officer came on the PA, and announced that we had received clearance to start our descend, and that we had about 35 minutes left. He also mentioned the weather in Paris – clear skies and minus one degree.
Shortly after the announcement, just as we entered French airspace, we begun our descend, and ten minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched on.
We descended to 11,000 feet, and kept flying at that altitude before commencing our final descend. The approach offered us some great view of Paris.
The landing gear was lowered at 9:18PM, and three minutes later, we landed on runway 09L. The hard and bumpy landing was followed by a ten minute long taxi to the terminal.
After waiting for most of the people to get off the aircraft, I took some cabin pictures, and headed out of the aircraft.
Once in the terminal, I called it a day quickly found the hotel shuttle bus stop – it was time to rest – the Air France 787 inaugural was waiting for me the following day.
While I was not initially planning to write about the flight, eventually I decided to given my luck with being on one of the Wi-Fi test planes, as well as the great views of Paris before landing.
…and then, there was Sweet Clementine. Even though service on intra-European flights is nothing to be excited about, I found the piece of fruit more enjoyable than a pack of peanuts.