After having reviewed almost every domestic airline in the country, it was time for me to check out the international carriers for my upcoming trip from Bengaluru to Berlin. With a travel plan to Berlin, Germany, I decided to try out some reputed European carriers.
While I browsed through the air fare and extra baggage allowance, Air France came out as a good choice for me, with one-stop option to BER and cheap extra baggage price (Flying Blue members get additional discounts).
Though Vistara was providing extra baggage (under student’s fare), I did not choose it, as I would have to fly via Delhi only until Frankfurt. From there, I would have to take a train to Berlin.
Want to know how my experience was with Air France? Sit back enjoy this detailed review on-board Air France A330-200 & Airbus A220: Bengaluru to Berlin via Paris.
Air France: Bengaluru to Berlin via Paris
- Flight Number – AF 191 (BLR-CDP), AF 1234 (CDP-BER)
- Departure Airport – Kempegowda International Airport (Bengaluru)
- Arrival Airport –Berlin Airport via Paris Charles De Gaulle International Airport
- Registration – F-GZCG, 21.2 Years old and F-HZUU, 0.8 years old during the time of flight.
- Aircraft Type –Airbus A330-200 & Airbus A220-300.
I was able to pre-select my seats without paying anything extra – the Airbus A330 comes in 2- 4 -2 configuration whereas the A220 comes in 2-3 configuration.
The application was very user friendly and easy to navigate. Though I couldn’t get my boarding card after completing check-in (I think that had something to do with the type of Visa I held), I was now all set to start my new journey!
Arrival at Bengaluru Airport
All international departures fly out of the new T2 terminal which has won many awards for its marvelous infrastructure.
Check-in at Bengaluru Airport
I headed towards my check-in, where I found out that my check-in baggage was 2.4 kg overweight. I thought I could pay for their additional weight and take it, but for some reason Air France has a policy which states even if you are 1kg overweight you have to end up paying for the entire 23 kg.
This costs around 150 USD, which for me personally felt a little bit unfair! But at end of the day, it is what it is, I decided to just remove some stuff from the bag!
Security Check at Bengaluru Airport
Security check at Bengaluru airport has always been well organized and with the help of DigiYatra the process was efficient, so in roughly about 5 minutes I had cleared security and Immigration check and was headed towards the gate.
The 080 Lounge Bengaluru Airport
The 080 lounge at Bengaluru airport’s T1 was one the best lounges in the country, I was excited to check out the 080 lounge at international departures in T2.
Currently in India the lounges are usually overcrowded, at time people end up waiting up to an hour just to enter the lounge!
This is mainly due to how many debit/credit cards in India are offering lounge access to most of their card holders. Not only premium cards, but many banks currently offer lounge in their entry level card as well!
I was expecting something same outside the lounge at T2 as well, but surprisingly many cards did not offer lounge service when it comes to the international side of the airport!
Thanks to this I was able to use my IndusInd Privilege debit card to access the lounge. Once again, the 080 lounge met my expectations, though the food options were limited.
There were plenty of seating spots, just like other premium lounges outside India, this lounge offered complimentary shower facilities to all its users. It was clean and well stocked up with basic amenities, after a quick shower there I headed to have some food and rest.
My flight was delayed by almost 40 minutes or so, I was running with mixed emotion of leaving my friends and family behind and moving towards something new!
This time I wasn’t annoyed by the delay in flight as somewhere a part of me wanted to stay back! Eventually the boarding started, and soon enough I was on-board the Airbus A330-200!
Air France A330-200 comes in three class configuration which consist of Business class, Premium Economy, and Economy.
The economy class comes in 2-4-2 configuration, and I was seated on 38A, the seat looked fresh and there was a pillow and bedsheet waiting, alongside a not so good quality earphone!
The leg room was quite good for a 10-hour flight – my height is 5’11” and I did not face any discomfort during the duration of the flight.
The adjustable headrest was working fine, and the infotainment system had a good response with no lag! The seat next to me was vacant, which was good news for me as it meant I would have more space to myself during the entire duration of the flight.
The IFE of Air France had good selection of Hollywood and Bollywood movies along with some famous series. What disappointed me was the in-flight Wi-Fi of Air France.
The Wi-Fi was supposed to be free for sending messages on WhatsApp and other messaging applications, but for the first 2-3 hours I wasn’t even able to connect to it, and after that when I was able to connect, it did not work at all or kept getting disconnected, somessages took ages to be sent.
I was surprised by this as some of my colleagues who traveled with Vistara to Frankfurt had a stable Wi-Fi connection free on-board their Dreamliner. The situation was same on their A220 aircraft as well on the second leg!
Soon after take-off crew started snacks and drinks service, I had already pre-booked Hindu veg meal choice for this flight, we were served some fruits with snacks and Lassi (an Indian drink) the crew did come around with alcoholic beverages as well.
After this service, the lights were turned down for the passengers to settle in and sleep. The earphones were of poor quality, as even on the highest volume one could still not get the audio output properly.
There was a snack service kept at the galley for passengers who wanted to grab a quick bite, and they had some veg and non-veg sandwich options along with some chocolates and choices of beverages.
An hour or so before landing the crew served the only meal of the flight – I was super hungry by now and was looking forward for their meal.
As I had pre-selected the vegetarian option I was served before the other passengers, but I was left disappointed by both the taste and quantity.
I have flown various domestic sectors with country with Air India and Vistara, who serve a better meal on domestic flights than this one.
Arrival in Paris
We arrived at Paris Airport after a delay of almost an hour or so, which meant I had already missed my connecting flight to Berlin.
After landing I had received an email from Air France stating that I have been rebooked on an alternative Berlin flight which leaves almost four and a half hours from now, and to compensate for this delay the airline offered me an 11 Euro voucher. By this time, I was exhausted, disappointed and hungry.
With no choice left, I went towards the Air France counters soon after arrival, where after waiting for almost 40 minutes the agent simply scanned the passport and handed me a voucher – no apology given.
I was definitely expecting more from Air France in terms of customer service!
In my honest opinion, if some would ask me if I would fly Air France again my answer would be a big “No”, especially on routes which are served by other Indian carriers. I would choose them over Air France any day.
The food served for a 10-hour long flight was definitely not sufficient at all, and the way airline handled my delay and rebooking was poor.
There were other flights leaving earlier than the one I was rebooked on, but I was never given an option to choose them.
Air France definitely has a lot of scope to improve when it comes to customer experience and support, and with the Indian airlines upping their game, Air France has to catch up to it.
I have another trip scheduled to fly back to India from Frankfurt and this time it is with Vistara, looking forward to that experience as well, so I can compare their service with Air France.
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