Flight: AF1435 (Operated by JOON)
Date: 01 December 2017
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 F-HEPC
From-To: Berlin Tegel – Paris Charles de Gaulle (TXL-CDG)
Scheduled/Effective Time of Departure: 09:45/10:23
Scheduled/Effective Time of Arrival: 11:30/11:33
Scheduled/Effective Duration of the flight: 1hr45min/1hr10min
On this cold morning, I decided to try out Air France’s latest airline JOON, their new approach to getting the younger people choose theirs over EasyJet or Ryanair.
At check-in so far nothing to be seen for this first inaugural flight out of Berlin to Paris, only some balloons at the check-in desks with the logo on it but that was it. When checked in the agent told me the flight would be delayed by 35 minutes and this due to a delayed departure out of Paris.
Boarding would start at 0945 (the normal departure time). Near that time I walked at the gate and I must say the waiting space in Berlin isn’t that big … curious to see how Lufthansa will use those small waiting areas when boarding their 747 or evening JFK flight.
At the gate, nothing special to be seen either, again some balloons at the desk and on the screen a continuous message ‘We welcome all our passengers on the first flight our sister JOON‘. When boarding started they announced it as an Air France flight instead of a JOON flight.
When boarding was launched passengers were surprised with a storybook about Paris; on the incoming flight, passengers got a storybook about Berlin and a goodie box with a keychain and cookie.
The first encounter with the crew is a bit of a change, as normally you would expect ties and scarfs, but on JOON it’s all about a younger image with sneakers and polos. This being said they were very friendly and excited about this new airline (just as excited they were with their Boeing 787 the week before).
The cabin isn’t much different from an AF one as it’s basically an Air France aeroplane. The main colour is purple though… the curtains, the headrest covers in economy, the space underneath the doors of the overhead compartments.
Once at my seat (the emergency exit) I had to stow my luggage in the bin but could keep my jacket on my lap like the rest of the passengers sitting in the same row. During the boarding, they also made advertisements for their app which you could download and use during the flight with their local onboard network.
After the welcome speeches were done by the CCP and the Captain the push-back engaged and with 35 minutes delay, which they explained was due to the late departure at CDG. Load-factor on today’s flight was 100%, all seats were taken. After take off their in-flight service started which consists out of a dedicated Air France Business class and JOON economy which includes a free cold or hot drink and their buy on board offer. Best of both worlds, passengers in business wouldn’t even know they’re flying JOON apart from the plane and the crew of course as all the rest is just the AF hard product.
The good thing about a relatively long scheduled flight time (taking into account you can get a long holding at CDG) is that even when you have a delay, it can be minimized with a shorter actual flight like I had today. We only touched down 3 minutes late but with all the taxiing time and stopping time until the plane reached the gate it still was 20 minutes later than foreseen before we could leave the aeroplane.
Overall they give what you pay for … like any other low-cost carrier. With this new airline, they want to tackle the strong competition of easyJet, Ryanair and even Transavia France. The average age of their crew on this flight was between 18 and 25 (except the purser which was older). It reminded me of flying easyJet in their early days on the 737 which was more or less the same experience. The onboard app with movies music news and many other things is a great asset in combination with the installed USB ports. Also that you get something and the option to buy something is a friendly approach as people will buy something if they want. But I genuinely hope it’ll work out for them even with their long-haul plans which are very ambitious in order to tackle XL Airways as well. But I just hope it’s not a little too late… otherwise, it’ll be a waste of money, planes and people.
Pictures © Kevin Goolaerts