This is the story of my first ever Business Class flight. I bet you think you know which carrier it was on too, but you’d be wrong.
My first ever experience in Business was on Air France. It was a flight from Manchester to Beirut via Paris CDG. I was travelling to the Middle East for work and this flight was the best option. I also did not pick it.
At the time I took this flight, I wasn’t a points geek like I am today. In fact, it would take some time before that became a thing.
The Air France experience
The first flight from Manchester to Paris CDG was very standard. Air France, even today, like other European carriers offer a “Business Class” short haul product. But really, it’s the same seat as Economy with some extra benefits thrown in. Only on the long haul routes which have wide body airliners do you get the full Business product.
On the Paris to Beirut leg I got the last generation Air France Business Class seat (image below). I’d only ever flown long haul once before this trip (to Canada). So this Business Class experience was out of this world. In reality, looking back – it actually wasn’t great. The Joe of today would undoubtedly turn his nose up at this experience.
I was so inexperienced at the time I took this flight, I do not even remember using the lounges! Imagine that.
The seat configuration on the Air France 777 at the time was a 2-3-2 recliner. In fact, some airlines still operate this type of seat. Although most have moved on to better products now. It’s a bit annoying because if you’re in the middle seat, you do have to step over someone. Likewise, if you’re in the window seat, you will have to step over the person who’s in the aisle seat. But for my first experience, I guess it was OK.
I remember being blown away by the room I had to move around. The cabin was also only half full, which helped.
Not only could I move around easily but the service was top-notch. I am not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination, but the food offered on this flight was pretty decent. I was pretty hungry and didn’t have much option but to eat whatever was served. I don’t remember the main meal, but the starter of cold meats, salad and warm pieces of bread was surprisingly good.
At the time, I was 18 years old and it seemed nothing short of magical that I could press a button and someone would appear with alcohol.
The return flight
On the return flight, I got stranded in Paris for the night as there was a huge snowstorm. I missed my connection to Manchester and I remember spending the night in the lounge. Back then, airlines would book hotels for stranded passengers but the disruption was so large scale that all the hotels were full. And I did not know the rules back then either.
I spent the night and then most of the following day in the airport until Air France managed to get me back to Manchester.
A tiring experience for sure. Not one that most people would think was very “Business Class”!
This wasn’t the flight that got me hooked on points travel… that’s a story for another day!
Back then I didn’t know anything about long-haul travel. But now there are plenty of tips in my other posts. Check out the rest of the blog…