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Air France, The A380 & Kids!

If you’re considering flying Air France long haul (and in business class), some great tips here from Celine.  Who also likes to call this review ‘the complaints of a spoiled mum flying business’ 🙂

Airbus A380

Who:

Celine + 2 boys, 3.5yo and 1yo

What:

Air France A380 Hong Kong / Paris / Hong Kong

Outbound : leaving 00:50 from HKG (now it s a tad earlier, 23:xx I guess but this summer they could not park A380 in Paris before 8am)

Inbound : leaving 23:25 from Paris

How did you book the flight? 

Website and phone (for infant)

Were you able to prebook a bassinet seat and/or bassinet? 

I supposedly did but it turned out that I did not, which turned out for the best because bassinet seats are not the best ones.  The TV is half the size (not that it changes anything when you are flying 12h with a 3.5yo and a 1yo ) and more annoying, you’re right next to the toilets/kitchen so people are queuing next to your seat and the light is coming through the half closed curtain.

Did you prebook your children’s meal?

Nope, given the schedule anyway my kids don t really need a meal at 2am and I travel with plenty of small snacks to kill time so I had their breakfast in the hand luggage.

Do you belong to your airline’s loyalty scheme and did this give you any extra benefits?

My 3.5yo and I are Flying Blue members, I guess flying business already allows you priority boarding and all, but note that with flying blue, kids can collect airmiles from 2 year old.

AT HONG KONG AIRPORT

Easy peasy… We were rushed in the family queue, when asked if my stroller (with sleeping baby) needed to go through the machine I was replied, of course not! They hold my 3yo hand while I was pushing the stroller and I did not open a single zip with a bag containing milk, snacks, diapers, cream etc…

Facilities in HK airport are great, easy with a stroller, lifts, disabled toilets big enough to fit a stroller and 2 kids. I usually skip the lounge part and just make the kids walk and run as much as possible before boarding.

That was my first trip with the Babyzen stroller, I must say this one is awesome. There was about 4 attempts to take it before the gate, which I “politely” declined, then when I told the flight attendant it could fit in the luggage compartment, I took the stroller all the way to the seat.

AT PARIS CDG AIRPORT

Here is where you have all the fun really… Basically… if you can avoid stopping in Paris, just do it.

Check In:

I had requested 2 seats (obviously together), on the upper deck, not the front row ones… I ended up with front row, separated by the aisle

Security:

Stroller needs to go through the machine, so you have to fold it, always a pleasure with a toddler, a baby sleeping in it and a hand luggage for 12 hours flight. I had to remove my kids jacket. Then I had to put the bag back in because I forgot to take the ipad out.

Diapers were checked one by one (and left all over, don’t think they will put it back where they took them from), they asked me to empty my kid’s bottle of water. The food pouches even sealed were checked one by one and it seems that the machine does not like strawberries so I had to wait extra 15 min so it could go to the “lab”. No you cannot leave it either… So after the 15min you end up with a folded stroller, stuffs all over the place and two kids in the wild. I could say it’s probably bad luck this time, well it’s kind of bad luck every year then .

Going to the gate:

Make sure you allow time if you depart from 2E cause the A380 gate needs a quick train ride.

Note that the changing rooms in 2E terminal have a kid size toilet in them and they all located at the very beginning of the ladies so dads can actually go in (not that I see so many dad travelling alone with babies but…).

Flight was late, but I cannot say it’s a surprise in Paris, less than 45min delay is probably considered as on time. 

Boarding:

A flight attendant actually came to me to rush me in front of the queue so I could be the first one to board… theoretically. So at this stage I still had my stroller. First challenge : upper deck, well there is no lift access only stairs of escalator (which is a bit tricky with a 3yo and a stroller), I politely asked a member of the airport staff to help but apparently it was not part of his job description. So anyway, here am I at the top of the stairs. Challenge number two, access door to the plane was closed. I think it took about 50 people to come up (then the escalator was stuck) before someone actually decided to go and ask for the door to open…

Once I got the flight attendants I must say they were extremely helpful, carried all my luggage and one kid.

On my way back I ended up with 2 separate seats in the front row, explicitly what I asked not to have, people refused to move from window seats (I still cannot believe it, it s business class why do you care window or aisle), anyway luckily a couple was late so I was given their seats and they were given mines when they showed up. The flight attendant even tried to get me a spare seat cause business class was not full, so I could have a seat for my 1yo but it did not work since I could not send my 3yo alone 3 rows in the back.

Onboard The A380

As I said, avoid front row. Upper deck is great and quiet and you even get an empty area where the kids can play next to the stairs! I would not recommend the bassinet, you can easily fit a baby in the width of your seat if you’re not that big.

Business Class Kids

Did your baby sleep well on the plane and behave?

Being two overnight flights, yes my kids slept 8 hours on each but I must say they’re easy on plane. My 3.5yo knows that he has to get is big night sleep before unlimited ipad, having a flatbed seat he goes down quite easily, then lives his life with snack and ipad.

1yo is trickier, I find it to be the worst age to travel, impossible to entertain, not steady enough to walk, messy to eat . But overall he was ok.

Business class on the upper deck has a disabled toilet which makes it much easier when you’re alone with two kids (my 3.5 yo still needs help in the bathroom).

I had the ergo but did not use it. When we landed I asked if I could unfold my stroller in the plane and was able to do it.

The staff was awesome both ways, there were a couple of moms in the flight staff and obviously knew the joy of travelling alone with kids. They offered to help my eldest in the bathroom, happily went to check on them while sleeping if I needed to go etc.

The entertainment seems good, I obviously had my own with 2 kids and loaded ipad is my best travelling companion.

Just to complain a bit more …

A380 is really nice, brand new and so silent… well so silent that you actually sometimes wish the engine noise would cover kids screaming and in business class, I found that you hear a lot the bzzzz from your neighbour’s seat going up and down.

1 comment

  1. Laura

    Which stroller did you have that they let you board with? I am flying Air France business class with my 3 year old from NYC to Paris next month and considering buying a new stroller but it looks like Air France has strict limitations on what size can be stowed in the cabin.

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