This is Part One of a two-part series about Silver Air and its flights to Elba. Check back on AirlineGeeks…
A Look at Frenchbee’s Premium Economy Class
Part of Paris-based Frenchbee’s low-cost strategy is to eliminate business class. The company has instead opted for a two-class cabin with 376 economy seats and 35 premium seats. While its premium is not the luxury seen on a legacy carrier, it offers comfort and relaxation for an affordable price. Here is AirlineGeeks’ firsthand account of French bee’s premium cabin.
Premium Fast Track at the Airport
Passengers who purchase premium economy have a dedicated line at the ticket counter and can fast track through security and get priority boarding at the gate. I found this to be extremely beneficial, especially since the bag drop line, security line and boarding process can be extremely long for those in regular economy.
At Orly, I was able to walk up to the premium check-in counter and quickly hand off my bags to the customer service agent, making the check-in process a breeze.
Meanwhile, security at Newark and Orly can be a nightmare, forcing people to wait over an hour to pass the checkpoint. So, taking advantage of French bee’s fast track option through security at both airports and pre-departure passport control at Orly eased my stress.
At the gate, the airline boarded premium and economy at the same time in two separate lines. Considering the aircraft can hold up to 376 economy passengers versus only 35 in premium, I was happy to board in the dedicated premium line, which had its own jet bridge that connected to the front of the aircraft.
Premium Inflight Experience
The premium cabin is set in a 2-3-2 configuration, so, unfortunately, passengers can still get stuck in the middle seat. I was seated in 5A, which was the window seat in the first row on the left side of the cabin. The first thing I noticed was the large padded seats complete with at least 36 inches of pitch, a headrest and leg rest.
The seat proved to be very comfortable for the seven-hour journey to Newark. I was provided with a pillow and blanket and a welcome drink during boarding. I was disappointed that there was not an inflight kit provided like my colleagues were given on the outbound to Paris, but hopefully that will change in the coming weeks. I thought the socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, earbuds, eyemask and headphones were a nice touch from French bee.
While there was no kit, I was happy to see power outlets available at each seat in premium. As someone who works remotely, that was essential to keeping my laptop charged for the duration of the flight.
Unlike business class, Frenchbee’s premium seats are not lie-flat beds, but they do have a generous recline. On my flight, I fully reclined my seat and popped the leg rest to create a cozy armchair, which, paired with the mood lighting, made sleeping easy. However, the recline did impede in the space behind me. Halfway through the flight, the passenger in 6A had to ask me to pull my seat up because he could not physically get out of the window seat because of the lack of room. I had no problem sitting up, andI kept my seat up for his convenience for the rest of the flight. Because of this, I highly suggest customers opt for a front row seat to avoid the spacing issue.
French bee has a great inflight entertainment system. The adjustable seatback screens were large and had a good selection of movies, games, TV shows and music to choose from. Furthermore, the system came with a USB port and external cameras to view the flight from the tail and nose. It was fun to watch the takeoff and landing right from my screen.
The system also controlled the reading light and could call the flight attendant when needed. In addition, passengers could also browse the dining menu to decide what they wanted for their inflight meal. For dinner, which was served about an hour into the flight, I could choose from a chicken or fish dish. I went with the fish that came with rice, grilled pineapple, tuna salad, cheese, a pastry and crackers. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the meal. The main dish was flavorful and the tuna salad was unique but tasty. The cheese and pastry seemed fresh as well.
Before and after the dinner service, flight attendants walked through the aisle with beverages, including soda, water, juice, coffee, tea, liquor, beer and wine. For the first round, I opted for a whisky and coke, and the second time I asked for red wine. The alcoholic beverages were good, and I was happy with my selections.
The second meal was served about an hour and a half before arrival. There was only one option, which included a cheese bread roll, a caramel dessert and small cookie. In my opinion, this meal was not as great as dinner, but it was still good.
Overall, I thought Frenchbee’s premium experience was great, especially for a low-cost airline. There are a few things that could be improved, but it’s a good product for the price. I would happily fly French bee again in economy or premium over competitors. The seats, inflight entertainment and meals met expectations, and it’s right in my budget for international travel.
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