Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flight Report: Air France 174 from Bangkok to Hanoi, Or How One Flight Attendant Can Sell An Airline

Flight Report: Air France flight 174, Bangkok to Hanoi, Airbus A340-300, Economy, Seat 24A, September 2010, US$228 round-trip.

The male flight attendant stared at the plastic cup, saw a spot, threw the cup away and, in that moment, sold me several thousand dollars in Air France tickets.

The cabin had made a strong and positive first impression. The aircraft was my favorite model, an Airbus A340 (pictured) with a smooth ride and lots of passenger comforts. The 2-4-2 economy seats were covered with dark blue cloth decorated with rows of small white dots. The seatbacks and armrests were molded from a dark but bright blue plastic that wasn’t as contradictory as that sounds. The carpet was dark grey, with irregular lengths of black, white and red striping.

I was tagging along for the last part of a long ride. Thirteen hours earlier, the airplane had taken off from Charles de Gaulle airport. Its mission was to connect the metropole with the capital of its former colony. As a matter of euros and baht, the plane touched down in Bangkok, its final destination barely over the horizon, to take on additional passengers.

More than half the seats in the roomy cabin had white plastic tags reading “Final” slipped behind the headrests. These were the passengers, heavily ethnic Vietnamese, who were there from start to finish.

The flight from Bangkok to Hanoi offered a long-haul product on a regional route. Although the last leg was in the air for only 90 minutes, the accouterments of a much longer and more expensive flight were on offer.

The welcome package included headphones, moist towelette, eye shades and a pair of North EP-08 earplugs. The seatback offered a full in-flight entertainment system with movies, games, TV shows and news, with the drawback that the metal box containing the system took up legroom under the window seat. Lunch consisted of a half-sandwich, Dutchie brand yogurt with mixed fruit, crumble cake and a pre-sealed cup of orange juice.

But it was during the after-dinner beverage service that Air France made its sale. The male flight attendant was about to pour cola for the passenger in front of me. A spot caught his eye, he took a few moments to focus, and then he threw out the cup and started again with a fresh one.

That’s service. That’s a well-trained, conscientious, professional flight attendant. That’s what I want when I spend money on air travel. That’s why I’ll be spending more on Air France.

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Blogger bc said...

seriously. air france all the way. i was over a couple of years ago. had to send my daughters back unaccompanied. air france had lovely french flight attendant escort them like they were her own.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I flew AF business class from LA to Nice back when. I arrived rested and fresh... If I could afford to do it again, I would. Much better than my experience on Virgin Upper Class to London. (I hate pods...)

2:58 PM  
Blogger LoDog said...

We're getting to be regulars on AF83/AF84 between Paris and San Francisco. The equipment alternates between modern 777s and older 747-400s without individual TVs. But we always have very good service.

6:07 PM  

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