Thursday, 22 April 2010

Air France

Air France


Air France   UK      0871  66 33 777  (8am-8pm mo-fr, 9am-5pm sat-sun)
Air France  USA    1800 237 2747

Air France and KLM  one of Europe's largest and best know airline groups,  offer a vast network with over 550 aircraft.   The service on board is average with little to distinguish it from other airlines in the sector.   Many still believe that KLM have the edge, with more friendly staff although this is slowly changing.   The Air France on time record is fairly shaky,  only 62.5 per cent of its Long Haul flights arrive on time,  whilst 87.7 per cent of short and medium haul flights do.

Another key issue is safety,   whilst the airline prides itself on instigating a complete safety review,  by key aviation people,  it still has a reputation of doubtful operation.  Recently the wing tip of an Air France A380 struck the rear of a Delta CRJ aircraft in New York,  before that was an incident in Paris that required an evacuation of a Boeing 777 aircraft,  of course there is the downed Air France A330 aircraft over the Atlantic enroute to Rio in 2009.   That has claimed 228 people and whilst  there is speculation of maintenance issues the cause of the incident has yet to be established.  In 2005 passengers had a lucky escape when their Air France aircraft skidded off the runway at Toronto, down a bank and burst into flames.  Air France blamed Toronto airport,  but the fact remains that the crew landed way down the runway and as such there have been a number of lawsuits against Air France,  which its insurance has paid.

Other notable incidents with Air France aircraft include the famous flight296 crashing into the true at an air show.   There are many details still unclear of the crash including various findings, one of the most worrying aspects was not the crash itself, but during the investigation afterwards when it was found that the airline had presented 'black box' flight recorders, which were not the ones from the aircraft that crashed.

Of course no one can forget the horrific scenes of the Concorde disaster, which still haunt many and started the end of operations for the supersonic aircraft.

Flying Blue is the frequent flyer programme of both airlines and whilst has a good earning ratio, it is incredibly difficult to communicate with them for another other than the most basic enquiries.  One editor of a travel publication shared 32 emails and 16 phone calls to have his miles transferred to Delta when moving back to the states.

Our rating,  3.5 stars.

. The Air France and KLM networks have been combined to form a perfectly complementary network.  The hubs at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol are the cornerstones of this dual network linking Europe and the rest of the world, with 244 destinations in 106 countries.

With record load factors on long-haul and medium-haul sectors alike, Air France and KLM carried 71.4 million passengers in 2009-2010. 

It's true they do offer an amazingly large network and a fleet of over 550 aircraft,  most of which are under ten years old. They also operate 4 Airbus A380 aircraft.   Service is improving,  with a re-branding of economy and premium economy.