We’ve had our ups and downs with Air France, but even though they’ve done okay since we had the worst experience with them roughly 2 years ago, we are always bracing ourselves for the worst when we go on a family trip with the kids. So we did Friday night, when we planned to board an Air France flight to Paris once more.
We’ve learned a lot in the past few years on how to optimize our chances to get the seat allocation we want when traveling with an infant. You have to call the airline some 30 hours or so before boarding to try to get some of the coveted seats in the row with bassinets. Why not simply check-in online? Well, rows with bassinets are usually blocked for online seat choice and, anyhow, you cannot check-in online when you have an infant connected to your ticket. But even if you call the airline, there is no guarantee that you will get the seats you want. This arguably depends on many factors, one of them being the number of babies on board and their respective age.
Lamia had called Thursday morning and she got two choices: one of us sitting in the bassinet row with Thomas with Oskar and the other one of us placed 4 or 5 rows behind, or all of us sitting together in a regular row. We picked sitting together. Thomas is anyhow too tall and heavy now for a bassinet, so while the bassinet row clearly would be nice and convenient to sit in due to the additional leg space, being separated by several rows is just such a shitty option (as we know from our poor experience two years ago).
We arrived at the airport and – because my miles account is fat and juicy right now – we could check in at the business class desk. We walked over and I already got a déjà vu headache. No joke: one of the ladies ushering us in was the one we had had fierce discussions with on the plane about their seating screw-up two years ago. I was getting mentally ready for another torturous 14 hours.
But then we came to the check-in counter and everything went differently than expected from then on: just to confirm everything, we asked what seats had been pre-booked for us after the phone call the day before. Imagine our surprise when it turned out we all had been booked to sit together in the bassinet row. Now look at that…
Another positive surprise: I did not realize that with my Gold status I can already bring a guest into the lounge. This way I could bring Lamia – and kids come for free anyway.
🎶 Awesome 🎶
So this was a great start and we spent some quality time in the lounge where we had some food, wine and annoyed regular business travellers with kid noises. Afterwards, we walked to the gate, passed security and boarded the plane in the group of the first passengers (this is the baby and toddler advantage regardless of your miles status or how much you’ve paid for your ticket: you can always board early – remind the staff if they don’t think of it by themselves… always works).
Here we are sitting in our seats.
The flight went actually really good, too. In the beginning, Thomas was sleeping on me, then later on Lamia. This was hardly comfortable for us, but it was manageable and being in the bassinet row with the extra space clearly made this more bearable. Oskar watched Finding Nemo, then Cars and then also slept like a champ.
I did not really watch any movie, slept as much as possible (alas, not very comfortably) and time passed surprisingly swift. And suddenly we had arrived in Paris. I got to say, this was likely the most pleasant flight we had with the kids, ever. Also, Oskar – who still struggles to keep things dry at night – did not wet his pants while sleeping, which was also a relief (not that it’s a big deal, but not wetting the seat in the plane is clearly preferable).
Oh, before I forget: in the row behind us sat another family with a girl and a boy, and it turned out that the boy is actually a class mate of Oskar. How crazy is that? Funny that the kids acted as if it was normal that they see each other on that flight. I took a photo of Oskar and Camille just before immigration in Paris…
And to make this even more bizarre, their teacher Marie was also on our flight and she was sitting three rows behind us. I know, it’s not that surprising that French people in Singapore take a flight to Paris on the eve of the start of the holidays and then run into each other on the plane. I still think it’s kind of remarkable.
This is today, of course: after immigration we picked up our luggage, found our taxi driver and soon arrived at Joïakine’s and Yann’s place where the French side of the family was getting ready for us (we arrived unexpectedly early at 7:30-ish or so, because at this time on a Saturday there’s not much traffic). The day passed quickly with organizing our usual pile of luggage, handling the kids, some quick Paris shopping for Lamia, an Allosaurus for Oskar and a tiger for Thomas, dinner and exhaustion.
We’ll stay two days and then fly to Germany on Tuesday…