Tag Archive | Flyertalk

Workshops in the Air France crew training center

The afternoon of the 26th April of the Air France event was devoted to three workshops, all taking place in the crew training center. The occasion for FlyerTalkers to share with Air France managers their comments about flight experience and loyalty programms !

As I already told you in the previsous posts concerning this event, Air France wanted to bring us « behind the scenes » but the company also expected feedbacks from FlyerTalkers. This afternoon was then the perfect time to discuss in small groups with top managers.

The three workshops took place in the crew training center. Some flight attendants were even having a trainee when we were there. You can imagine a big room with a very high ceiling. The reason why the ceiling is quite high is that there is a real-size Airbus A380 model ! It’s actually there that flight attendants can make emergency evacuation with escape chutes.

Escape chutes on the A380 real-size model © Sophie Figenwald

Next to the A380 model was another aircraft model where fire simulations take place. Some flight attendants were having a trainee during the afternoon. Impressive !

On the other side of the « room », there was a cabin simulator (cabin configurated as in an Airbus A340 with 2-4-2 seasts) on jacks which move and reproduce flying conditions. One workshop took place there, it was a very special sensation. With a special sound and moving, we really had the impression to fly.

The cabin simulator © Sophie Figenwald

The first workshop : flight experience

The first workshop took place on the first floor of the A380 model which is a replica of a « Voyageur » cabin. It was devoted to flight experience, especially in short- and long-haul flights (as we saw in the Air France strategy plan announced yesterday, this segment is a priority for the airline). We discussed there with Air France managers in charge of improving the service quality and they noted everything that FlyerTalkers mentioned.

We talked about seats, meals… It was nice to see the implication of FlyerTalkers. They really have precised opinions and suggestions and I’m sure managers will take their comments into account.

The second workshop : in-flight tips

The second workshop was the one which took place in the cabin simulator. We’ve been warmly welcomed by a flight attendant and a pilot.

Entering the simulator ! © Sophie Figenwald

We really did as if we were really taking off. The flight attendant asked us to fasten our seat belts and the simulator then began to move. With the sound and the move, it’s really as if we were flying.

We discussed during this « flight » with both flight attendant and pilot who gave us tips to land after a long-haul flight without feeling too much the effects of having stayed in the air for several hours. For example, ladies, don’t hesitate to ask ice cubes to stewardesses to apply on your face before the landing to feel very fresh !

During a long-haul flight, we also tend to drink a lot not to dry out because of the air conditionning. The tip the Air France pilot gave us is to breathe in a tissue (or the night mask but put on your mouth and nose) so that you directly inhale the water you breathe out. Did you know this ? It might not be very elegant but in the night, who cares ? And it surely works very well !

Other questions were raised by FlyerTalkers, for example to the pilot : which is the airport you don’t like to land at ? The pilot couldn’t give us an answer, saying that the airport doesn’t matter. The only difficulties are when too many aircrafts want to land at the same time such as in New-York on the morning. He also cited St Marteen of course with its special conditions with the low-pass over a beach.

And to conclude the discussion, the flight attendant was asked « how do you all do, Air France stewardesses to be so beautiful and elegant ? »  and the answer was : « it’s due to the uniform ! » 😉

The third workshop : FlyingBlue, Air France loyalty Programm

We were here on the second floor of the A380 model with a replica of Air France business cabin. Loyalty programms are one of the favorite subjects of FlyerTalkers. They have a lot of cards as they travel a lot and know specificites of each programm, how to use miles acquired… Most of them even have so much miles that they don’t know what to do with them ! No need to say more, they were the right people for Air France to ask if they’re satisfied or not with FlyingBlue. Here again, their comments were taken into account.

We also talked about the Air France American Express card which now gives less advantages. Managers explained us that this is because Air France wants to refocus on the reward of people who fly which is quite understandable even if people having the card could have felt disadvantaged.

On this day, FlyingBlue website was also launched. Don’t hesitate to have a look at it here : http://www.flyingbluenews.com/index.html


This was the end of the first day by Air France ! Hope you enjoyed it ! Next post to be published next week : the participation to the preparation of Boeing 777-300ER flight AF012 CDG-JFK on the tarmac !

Visit of Servair at CDG and buffet tasting !

Maybe you don’t know Servair. But actually, if you already travelled from Paris, you surely ate during your flight meals prepared by Servair. Indeed the company is the world’s three caterer. It provides other services such as cleaning of aircrafts, assistance for passengers with reduced mobility or on-board shops. During the Flyertalk event at CDG, we had the opportunity to visit Servair unit 1 which handles long-haul flights’ catering. A visit which ended with a buffet tasting with an exclusivity, the new business menu of Air France imagined by Guy Martin !

Servair employee ready to open the door of this A380-800 Air France to load the catering © Sophie Figenwald

The Servair Company

Servair is present in 19 countries and at 56 stopovers. There 54 Servair kitchen in the world which deliver every day 230 000 meals. More than 100 airlines trust their catering services.

But as you know, each meal served in each airline is different that’s why Servair proposes :

  • Standard and custom-made menus,
  • Buy-on-board meals,
  • cultural cuisine (Kosher and Halal dishes),
  • special dietary meals such as vegeterian or medical meals,
  • AB certified organic menus,
  • international cuisine (Japanese, West India, Chinese, Indian…),
  • and finally, wine services.

In France, you can enjoy Servair meals if you fly from Paris (Charles-de-Gaulle as well as Orly and Le Bourget) and Lyon.

Finally, Servair works in collaboration with worldwide known Chefs lead by Joël Robuchon under the name « Les Toqués du Ciel » to bring creativity, pleasure and innovation in catering !

« Les Toqués du Ciel » Jacques Le Divellec, Joël Robuchon, Michel Quissac, Bruno Goussault and Guy Martin in the Servair magazine of May 2012

And now, let’s come to the tour of the Servair Unit 1 to discover how meals for long-haul flights are prepared !

Tour of the Air France and Japan Airlines kitchens

Before having the right to get in the kitchens, we obviously had to prepare ourselves : mobcap on the head, a mask, a white coat and protections over shoes. Funny but above all essential for hygiene !

Getting prepared !

The tour began with hangars where milk, wines and crockery are stocked.

Wines served on-board Air France long-haul flights

Air France cups

Then we went in front of the impressive goods storage space !

After having explained us that each airline has its own storage space according to its specificities, managers accompanied us to the kitchens where Air France business meals are prepared.

In every kitchen we came into, trays with examples of menus were disposed on tables. It was always very appetizing !

Example of trays which were presented to us

You can see on the pictures that some dishes were here presented in aluminium containers but don’t be afraid, passengers of business classes don’t receive them so. Actually, meals are in aluminium because they need to be reheated by flight attendants who then place them on nice trays with cold dishes.

We then came in Japan Airlines kitchens. We immediately recognized a typical cooking with very nice crockery !

JAL tray for business class with on the left what needs to be reheated

After having visited kitchen of business classes, it’s time to discover where meals for economy classes are prepared. We just arrived at the time when breakfasts for the next morning were in preparation.

Part of the breakfast served in Air France economy class

Logistics is here different because of the quantity produced. It is less manual and more automated than for business class meals.

We also had the occasion to see the big pianos, impressive !

Once all trays are complete, they are charged in trolleys and wait to be taken by loaders to the aircrafts. Each trolley has a bar code to be tracked.

Vietnam Airlines trolleys’ storage space

Buffet Tasting…

Let’s come to another very interesting part, buffet tasting !!

We were warmly welcomed by Managers, Chefs with in particular Pascal Pugeault, the first assistant of Guy Martin and the Air France wine expert, Olivier Poussier. Everything was so well organized and so beautiful ! After having been in the kitchen, seen all the meals being prepared, we were all hungry and impatient to taste all the appetizing dishes which Servair Chefs prepared for us and especially the new business class meals of Air France imagined by Guy Martin, available on board from June. An exclusivity for Flyertalkers who, as experts, were also invited to leave comments and appreciation of these new meals.

The buffet was separated in two rooms. One for cold starters and desserts and one for hot meals with the recipes of Guy Martin. I think a picture is the best way for you to imagine how it was presented.

Table of presentation of the meals, showing how they’re presented onboard

Some of the deserts and dishes available in Air France business class © Sophie Figenwald

After the starters with foie gras, salmon and vegetables seasoned with ginger, we left the first room for the second one to taste Guy Martin recipes ! Each time, Chefs explained us what we were eating, how it was prepared and so on. It was so delicious, especially with wines recommended by Mr Poussier. Very nice combinations of flavours that I’m sure will convince all business class travelers ! After this tasting, it was time for excellent desserts with especially the apricot-nougat cups. No need to say how good it was… again… 🙂

A few words about Air France new « à la carte » meals !

This time at Servair was also the occasion to discover the new « à la carte » meals of Air France and to see how they are presented.

In the Voyageur and Premium Voyageur cabins, Air France proposes you to pay a supplement to get a special meal of your choice among three possibilities. This option is only available when departing from Paris CDG to Dubai, Hong Kong, Libreville, Los Angeles, Luanda, and Tokyo. But it will certainly be extended to other flights in a few months ! You can order these meals when booking online or in the « manage your reservation » section on Air France website until 24h before your flight.

For 18€, 22€ or 28€ you can enjoy a traditionnal meal, a 100% bio (organic) meal or the « Sélection Le Nôtre » meal… Discover the content of each meal on Air France website by clicking here !
And a few photos of the presentation of these three à la carte meals :

Traditional meal

BIO (Organic) meal

« Une Sélection LENÔTRE » meal

And that’s how I’ll end this article !  Thanks to the Servair Chefs and Olivier Poussier for their kindness and the communication of their passion. We all spent a great time with you !

Tour of the Air France Hub Control Center in CDG

The first part of the event organized by Air France for Flyertalkers on 26 & 27th April consisted in a visit of the Hub Control Center. A good opportunity to understand better how complex the organization of a hub is !

CDG, Air France Hub

As we all know, CDG Airport is the Air France main hub. The French airline represents 52% of the overall traffic of CDG !

Here are some other interesting key figures of Air France at CDG :

  • 790 daily flights
  • 32 Million passengers p.a.
  • Until 129 000 customers at the same time in the airport
  • 52% of the passengers are in connection
  • 33 000 luggages in connection to handle
  • Goal : 97% of successful connection

A380-800 Air France parked at Terminal 2E, Satellite 3 © Sophie Figenwald

Organization of the Hub

But what does the word « hub » exactly mean ? Actually, the airport can simply be seen as a connection platform. The goal is to multiply connection opportunities by creating slots of high-activity.

At CDG airport for Air France, days are divided in 6 different slots. For example the first slot of the day begins at 5:25 am and ends three hours later at 8:25. It corresponds to the arrival of long-haul flights. In 3 hours, passengers land and without having to wait can take another flight (mainly medium or short-haul flights) to continue their trip. At the end of the day, it is the contrary. Passengers from short- and medium-haul flights land and can directly board their long-haul flight.

Air France-KLM network from the Hub of CDG © Corporate Air France

The missions of the Hub Control Center

Knowing now that there are 790 flights per day and 6 slots, we can easily imagine how complex the organization is. What happens to the luggages during the connection of their owners ? How will Air France manage the delay of a flight when passengers of this flight are then in connection ? Will they delay all planes ? And in case of bad weather conditions, how will this be managed ?

All decisions are made in the Hub Control Center. It was opened in March 2007 to achieve several missions :

  • Manage punctuality
  • Improve successful connection of both passengers and luggages
  • Improve processes and reduce costs

In addition to these missions, the HCC also leads a performance measurement. They sometimes focus on a specific stopover to lead some tests of improvement and once the airline is totally satisfied with them,the new measure can be implemented to other stopovers and so on !

Organization of the HCC

The HCC is divided into two different parts. The first one is related to all the commercial activity (passengers in connection…) and the second one deals with the overall coordination and ramp activities.

You have to keep in mind that the HCC is in charge of approximately everything, excepted what is linked to taxiing for example. From cleaning and refuelling, catering services from Servair, services for passengers with reduced mobility to the police with the border controls. Air France also manages the parking spaces. It is the airline itself which decides where it places its aircrafts; this can be very helpful as we will see later.

The working place is organized as an open-space. Very useful to be sure that everyone around hear crucial information !

Inside the Hub Control Center, from the Coordination part of the room

Another perspective of the HCC

Interesting to know…

  • What will Air France do for passengers in connection if they come from another delayed flight ?

Air France and the HCC have several possibilities when a plane lands in Paris in delay to allow passengers in connection not to miss their next flight.

First of all, in case of not too dramatic delays (15 minutes), some Air France agents called « voltigeurs » in French (I guess we can traduce it in English as « acrobat ») can take in charge passengers arrived lately as soon as they come out of their plane. Their mission is to « take them by the hand » to go as quickly as possible through the airport to their next flight. I would have really been curious to meet one of them to know more about their job !

Secondly, as we saw earlier, Air France decides of the parking space attributed to its aircrafts. In case of a bigger delay than before, the HCC can make the decision to park the delayed flight in which there are 20 people in connection for Singapore for example, right next to the aircraft for Singapore. The 20 passengers and their luggages will then directly board their next flight without delaying it !

Finally, in case of a too important delay if the connection is not possible, Air France does everything it can to reroute its passengers proposing them the more convenient solutions.

  • The Apron Manager/Responsable Zone Avion we knew in the past doesn’t exist anymore in CDG !

I discovered during this tour that the Apron Manager doesn’t exist anymore. Or at least, the job as we knew it. In fact at CDG, the person responsible for all the stopover of an aircraft is not on the tarmac anymore. This person is here, in the HCC having an eye on different screens to know exactly where each participant to the preparation of the aircraft is, thanks to GPS system. Another agent on the ground is his eyes to see what he can’t on his screens. The coordination is then easier and allows to have an eye (almost) everywhere !

Screens of a « new » Apron Manager

And this is how this first tour ends…

I hope you now know better how the CDG Hub of Air France is managed and how it requires that everyone works together to achieve common goals !

Don’t miss the tour of the OCC – Operation Control Center I made last february. Here is the article (in french, sorry for non-french speaking !) Le jour où j’ai visité le siège d’Air France et rencontré le PDG !

Introduction to Air France event at CDG airport with Flyertalk members

My dear readers,

As some of you might have seen on Twitter, I had the great opportunity to attend an extraordinary event organised by Air France in collaboration with Aéroports de Paris at CDG airport last week. This first time event was imagined for 40 members of Flyertalk, the most popular frequent flyer community. You can discover their website here http://www.flyertalk.com/.

During two days, we have been guided by very kind Air France managers through various workshops. The goal was for Air France to share with us the « behind the scene » but also to collect feedbacks from frequent flyers. Indeed, thanks to their many experiences with very different airlines (which was very impressive for me who is not (yet) used to fly a lot), members of Flyertalk brought the airline very interesting feedback and points of comparison with competitors.

What I will do on my blog is a different article for every workshop we had. This article can be considered as an introduction where I will put the direct links to each detailed article as soon as they will be published.

Now, just to make your mouth water, here are the upcoming articles :

  • Tour of the Hub Operations Control Center, a giant platform organised in open space where all professions are represented, from the border police to the pilot. You can read the report by clicking here (published 11/05/2012)
  • Tour of Servair 1, the unit in charge of the catering for long-haul flights from CDG (visit of all the preparation of meals for business classes as well as for economy classes and finally buffet tasting of meals proposed in Air France flights). You can read the report by clicking here (published 15/05/2012)
  • Meeting with Air France CEO Alexandre de Juniac for a session of questions and answers. You can read the report by clicking here (published 20/05/2012)
  • Workshops in the Air France crew training center (discussions with Marketing teams about customer experience especially during short and medium haul and about Flyingblue loyalty programm and conversation in a cabin simulator with a flight attendant and a chief pilot). You can read the report here (published 25/05/2012)
  • Tour of ramp operations during the preparation of an Air France Boeing 777-300ER to JFK (visit inside of the cargo part of the aircraft, discovery of the landing gear, the engines, the process to load the lugagges and finally participation to the push-back). You can read the report here (published 01/06/2012)
  • Exclusive visit of the all-new (and not finished yet) Satellite S4 which will open this summer to welcome Air France long-haul passengers.

And discover also the Air France video made for the event ! =>  Air France à l’écoute de ses clients – Air France listens to its customers !

As you can see, a lot of great experiences ! And I would like to thank the Air France team and people from Flyertalk (especially Christian) who organised this incredible event. I’m sure all the participants really enjoyed these two days and felt like kids in the middle of a giant playground area. Thanks also to all the people I met there. And finally, a special thank to Marina Tymen, once more, who invited me even though I was (at the time) not a member of Flyertalk.

See you soon for the articles and thanks for reading ! 🙂

Final approach on CDG in the cockpit on thursday morning

Final approach on CDG in the cockpit on thursday morning © Sophie Figenwald