by Sophie Gayot
It’s been fifty years since Air France became the first French airline to link to the West Coast of America. On April 4, 1960, the airline inaugurated twice-weekly flights of a Boeing 707, which took thirteen-and-a-half hours from Paris to Los Angeles, including a stopover in Montréal. Previously, the flight stopped in New York and lasted an extra 10 hours! Of course, things are even better today with three non-stop daily flights, done in eleven hours. From two classes of service (Luxe and Economy), there are now four: La Première, Business, the new Premium Economy (read a description of it in our Travel section) and Economy.
During the birthday party to celebrate the milestone held by The Honorable David Martinon, Consul General of France, Christine Ourmières, Air France Vice President & General Manager USA, boasted about the quality of service on La Première. The day I win the jackpot in Las Vegas, I will be able to appreciate the space and ergonomics of the 2-meter seats made to bring true comfort and well-being on board. They not only turn into a full bed, but also give a back massage!
The staff has received special training to cater to all the needs fliers might have, including, for flights leaving Paris, serving meals elaborated by accomplished chefs Joël Robuchon (who has graced GAYOT’s Top 40 US Restaurant List since 2004), Guy Martin of Le Grand Véfour and Jacques Le Divellec. Passengers can pair their meals with some of the best French wines like Sauternes from Château Sudurault, 1er Cru Classé, 1996 or Saint-Julien from Château Gruaud Larose 2eme Cru Classé 2004 and 2007. I will pass on the other luxurious details, but it is good to know that each flight attendant takes care of no more than two passengers throughout each flight. And at Charles-de-Gaulle airport, the La Première check-in is more than VIP, and includes transportation from the lounge, where the cuisine served is prepared by Alain Ducasse, by car to the aircraft.
I won’t officially admit how many years of the fifty the line has been in existence that I have been flying, but it is quite a large number. I‘m looking forward to the day when the Airbus A380 lands from Paris at LAX with the colors of Air France. (I have seen and been on it under the colors of Airbus when it landed for test flights on March 19, 2007 and November 28, 2007).
You can click on each photo to enlarge.