AF690 – CDG – MIA

Having killed another 30 minutes in the airport already I was really beginning to wonder how on earth I could entertain the JTFs (Junior Travel Freaks) when the announcement was made.  A sixty minute delay was posted due to a “technical fault” which I believe, was the entertainment system.  Anyway, we had a 60 minute delay anyway.

We found some ridiculously expensive chocolate at the airport which vaguely amused the JTFs however the early start was starting to catch up with them.

As a “by-the-way” this flight was way oversold and listening to some other passengers it seems that this is usually the case; may be a nice upgrade opportunity if you are Sky Team Elite (or better), certainly lots of upgrades were given out at the gate.

The next announcement was made and we joined the business line thanks to my Flying Blue card.  With some 400 odd passengers to board we weren’t leaving any time soon anyway.

It appears that on ever flight to the US some of the passengers are selected completely at random and asked further questioning and / or subjected to another search. It seemed that I was one of the chosen few and I was asked to empty my carry-on bags, take shoes off etc. As I began to undress someone shouted (in French of course) to the team carrying out this extra layer of security. It appears that I wasn’t selected at random at all. It was one of the JTFs who had been selected.   The security team gave him a cursory pat down but didn’t really consider a three year old boy a security threat. If only they had seen him having one of his tantrums…

We found our seats and as expected, my (aisle) seat had limited leg room due to the presence of the equipment box for the entertainment system. It took a further 30 minutes for the aircraft to be fully boarded and then another 15 minutes after that before we were in the sky.

Shortly after take-off we were given our comfort pack which contained some headphones, ear plugs and an eye mask.

Air France make a pretty big deal of serving Champagne in economy. The first service was drinks only and we were given a selection of red or white wine (both better than average), lager, champagne or a selection of soft drinks.  Mrs Travel Freak opted for the champagne which was fine for what it was. A pretty decent amount was poured but the real issue is the glass. Who wants to drink champagne from a plastic glass?

Now by this time the JTFs had plugged themselves into Toy Story 3. The cabin was fairly quiet and things general seemed calm. I should have known this would not last long.   I had just started my very own viewing of Toy Story when the first announcement was made.

“We are having a technical problem with the entertainment system which is preventing most passengers from using it. The solution to this problem is to restart the system which we will do momentarily. The restart process will take around 30 minutes and we request that you do not use the system during this time. We apologise for this inconvenience and thank you for your patience”.

When an announcement is made all of the entertainment systems are paused. As anyone travelling long haul with kids will tell you this is not what you want to hear.

We were trying to explain what was going on to the now grumpy JTFs when we saw the lunch service being served. A distraction was just what was needed.

At booking I had requested a kids meal for each of the JTFs. It appeared that the “special request” meals were being served first. Alas the fat teenager in the row ahead of us clearly couldn’t wait for his meal and instead took one of theirs!  I know that he shouldn’t have been offered it but by the time it was all sorted out one of the JTFs was a Mars-bar down.

Anyone reading this that has a normal adult life without two under – fives is unlikely to fully understand the battles that this incident could cause. I did the only nobel thing and promptly ate the remaining Mars bar. They stopped arguing with each other and instead focused on hating me. Job done.

Now that the distraction of food had passed, it was back to Toy Story. The system had reset and we (and indeed most of the other screens that I could see) could restart the movie.

It appeared however that some other passengers could not. My estimate is that the screens in business didn’t work and thus all of the fools in economy just had to put up with another reboot. As you can imagine the JTFs were not amused. To be honest, I wasn’t very amused either.

To cut a long and somewhat rambling story short, the entertainment system did not work.  They did not restart it a third time; however it seemed that the system could only deal with a limited number of movies showing at once.

Lunch for the grown- ups was, I thought, a little strange.  The starter was almost a salad but not quite (I didn’t see anyone eat it), the main a standard “chicken dish” with potatoes etc. was fine.  Add in some more wine and a cracker with some cheese, some sticky fruit salad and you get the idea. “Fine” would probably suffice.

We got a couple of additional servings of drinks throughout the flight (not all with booze I may add, however a quiet word with the stewardess in the galley sorted that.

When the flight landed almost an hour late (which is apparently normal), we had all of immigration to ourselves which was a bonus I guess.

Based on this flight we wouldn’t be in a rush to fly Air France transatlantic economy again, however it wasn’t as ridiculous as it could have been… and much better than Delta!

Aircraft – B747-400

Class – Economy

Price – £460 for Mr and Mrs TravelFreak, £380 for the JTF’s

Air France Website

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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