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Review: Air France Business Class A321, Rome to Paris

Introduction to a European Birthday Adventure
New Delhi to Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways First Class 777-300ER)
Abu Dhabi to London (Etihad First Class A380)
London to Rome (British Airways Business Class A319)
Hotel Boutique Nazional (Rome 1)
Mainson Tofani Guesthouse (Sorrento)
Best Western Plus Hotel Milton (Rome 2)
Hotel Palazzo Manfredi – Relais & Chateaux (Rome 3)
Aroma Restaurant (Rome Michelin Star Restaurant)
Rome to Paris (Air France Business Class A321)
Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (Paris)
Paris to Doha (Qatar Airways First Class A380)
Al Safwa First Class Lounge (Doha)
Doha to New Delhi (Qatar Airways Business Class 787-8)


Air France A321
Rome - Paris 
Depart: 12:55pm
Arrive: 3:05pm
Class: Business Class

Originally this was meant to be an economy flight - my only of this trip - however, by hap-chance I got a mail from Air France the night prior to my flight, asking me if I wanted to upgrade to business for only $100. Considering the original ticket cost me $50-60, I thought why not, and booked a Business class. Of Course - this still meant no points as it was upgraded post purchase, but still!

I left my hotel in Rome after a lovely experience, ready to see what Air France regional business class had to offer. I got the airport earlier than expected because of no traffic and an outrageously fast driver. Upon arriving at the airport, I proceeded to the Sky Team/Alitalia and proceeded to the business check-in, where I was quickly checked in and given my boarding pass. I wasn't sure which lounge to go to so I asked once past customs, and I had to walk for a good 10 minutes to get to the Alitalia/Sky Team 'Borromini' Lounge, which was quiet when I arrived with only a handful of people, and breakfast was still being served along with a few juices.

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Breakfast had a couple options, along with some hot bacon in the other corner, which was decent for a smaller lounge.

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Food was fresh-ish, but not the most tasty, but good enough for a quick brekky. Halfway though my 1.5 hour lounge stay, breakfast was replaced with lunch, which didn't look as appetizing, but I appreciate the effort in the food department. The lounge was filling up slightly so I can see why the food changes were required, though everything was self service apart from the alcohol/coffee.

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After accidentally breaking a glass, I decided it was time to head for my flight, and checked out the bathrooms on the way out, which were clean but without any shower facilities (fair enough for an Inter-Europe Lounge).

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I wasn't impressed per se with the lounge, but I thought it was perfectly alright for people travelling Inter-Europe. Couches were comfy, but definately in need of a refresh, along with the decor (or lack thereof).

As I got to my gate, it was already in pre-boarding mode as people were lined up, so I went and joined the Business Class line. Economy looked packed, so I'm glad I did upgrade. Being one of the first people to enter, I quickly snapped a shot before the seats filled up. Air France uses the same method as British Airways for business - in that they use economy class seats (3 - 3 configuration) with the middle seat free, and portioned off from economy.

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I was hoping to get Air France's newer Inter-Europe business class seats, but unfortunately that wasn't my luck, as they look much nicer than the current batch. These seats did feel slightly better than BA's one oddly, but they were still regular Economy class seats. As they closed the door to the plane, I realized Business wasn't completely full (probably why I was offered the upgrade). I was quite tired still from an early-ish start, and dozed off before the plane even took off, and when I awoke they were starting to serve food and drinks, which meant I had dozed off for an hour.

There was no choice of meals, so they gave me the regular plating all in one go.

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Yea.. wasn't incredibly impressive to be honest, but at least warm bread was offered, as it should be on a French Airline. I thought I would try the main course, which didn't look appetizing, and it actually turned out to be disgusting. I have no idea what it was - but they should kill it before it breeds.

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I picked up with the salad side on the left of the plate, which was at least edible, along with some ham wrapped in cheese which was nice. The bread was decent as well, but the star was the dessert which was quick delicious (not sure what it was - perhaps a custard of some sort), but this made me thankful I snacked a little at the lounge before boarding - because overall the meal was killed the moment the main course was touched.

I wish I could say much about the service, but as I was dozing off here and there, I didn't get much interaction time with them. Although they were professional, there wasn't any friendliness in them, which I guess being French flight attendants, seems about right. I did doze off again but luckily I woke up just as the captain was telling us about the beautiful view we were passing, which I believe was the Alps. I took out my phone quickly as we were just passing the end of it, but it was a gorgeous sight nevertheless, despite the glare ruining the pic a bit.

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We landed on time and cruised to the terminal at CDG, and proceeded to exit quickly. Just ahead of I noticed an American couple also in Business who were greeted by what seemed like a driver or host inside the aero gate, just outside the plane and were led to baggage pickup. I realized that the host/driver was actually from the Four Seasons as they were staying there, but this is the first time I've ever seen anyone pick them up from the aero gate, rather than just inside the terminal upon exiting the aero gate, but I guess staying at the Four Seasons in Paris must have some perks!

Luckily, my bags came first, before said Four Seasons folks (yea take that!) while I headed to find a cab and they head to get their Merc. Can't win em all I guess.

Lounge7.5
Seat + Cabin7.5
Food5
Ammenities6
Flight Crew7.5
The flight wasn't as bad as the score says, but since all parts hold equal weightage - the food (main course) absolutely ruined the meal. It was terrible and Air France should never have that again. Overall, worth it for a $100 upgrade, not so if I was actually paying full price, but a decent quick way to get to Paris from Rome.
6.7
Jay