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Trip Report: French Bee Premium Blue to Newark
The French low-cost carrier connects Paris with several long-haul markets.
French Bee is a Paris-based airline that has a modest fleet made up entirely of modern Airbus A350s with flights operating from the smaller Paris Orly Airport, making the travel experience less hectic in theory.
Unlike most flights from Europe to the United States, this flight was scheduled to leave in the evening, at 6:55 p.m. with an arrival into Newark around 9 p.m., meaning arrival into the country will be much easier as many of the European flights arrive in the early afternoon to early evening.
I arrived at Paris Orly much earlier than I needed to, seven hours prior, as there was a major sporting event happening that evening and I wanted to be able to catch as much as I could and not be in the customs line when it was happening. I also spent a lot of the time in the lounge, which I wanted to use to the fullest as I don’t often get access to lounges.
Day of the Flight
Check-in is shared with the airline’s partner Air Caraibes, which has opposite departure times from French Bee, so the screens at the ticket counters do change based on which airline has flights the closest away. But, if you do happen to get to the airport before the French Bee signs are up, just see an AirCaraibes airport agent and they will have no problem checking you in for the flight early. But, it is also good to know that check-in closes for each flight one hour and 30 minutes before departure time.
After leaving the lounge, I headed down to the gates. Paris Orly is much smaller than its counterpart Charles De Gaulle on the other side of the city, and it didn’t take long to find my gate which ended up being F06. And while security and customs were busy here, it would be absolute chaos if I had flown out of Charles De Gaulle.
The airline A350-900s are laid out in a two-class configuration; 376 in the main cabin in a 3-4-3 configuration and 35 seats in its premium cabin which it calls ‘Premium Blue’, in a 2-3-2 configuration.
Every seat came equipped with power outlets and an IFE screen, which is great as the airline’s shortest flight is still over six hours long, and happens to be this flight from Paris to Newark. The seats were very well padded and had a water bottle, pillow, and blanket waiting for us, even with this not being an overnight flight. For this flight, I was seated in 7K, a window in the Premium blue cabin, and also the same seat I took over to Paris on board the carrier’s inaugural flight from Miami a couple of days prior.
For each IFE screen, you could choose what language you wanted it to be in: English, French, or Spanish. There was also the classic Airbus A350 tail camera which doesn’t leave much to see in the darkness, but it was still cool. Prior to pushing back from the gate, they offered a drink of either orange juice or champagne, and I opted for the OJ.
The aircraft I was on that night was F-HREU, and it was actually the 5th A350-900 ever produced and served as an Airbus testbed from 2014 until 2017 when it was delivered to the airline.
We pushed back from the terminal pretty much on time and made our way to the runway bound for Newark. While there isn’t much to see with the tailcam while in the air, it did give off quite a pretty sight on the ground with all of the airport lighting.
As we took off from rainy Paris, I could see the Eiffel Tower in the far background, although were pretty far away from the airport, this is the closest you’ll see it while taking off from Paris, as Orly is closer to downtown than Charles De Gaulle. The Eiffel Tower is that taller light structure just to the left of the winglet in the picture below.
It was pretty seeing all of the lights on the outskirts of the city before we disappeared into the cloudy skies. About 30 minutes or so after takeoff, the flight attendants came around with a hot towel for us, and 30 minutes after that they came around with drinks and a light snack, which consisted of crackers with sesame seeds on them.
After the snack, I reclined and began to watch one of the English-offered movies on the flight, as they did have many of the blockbuster movie options as well as a few that had just been taken out of theaters.
Roughly an hour-and-a-half after takeoff they began to serve out dinner. The main meal was chicken with pineapple and rice, with a side of noodles with shrimp, blue cheese, and a baguette, and for dessert was tarte tropezienne. They also had more drinks with dinner, which this time I chose to be a mimosa.
The cruising altitude for the flight was 38,000 feet or 11,582.40 meters, but as it was nighttime over the Atlantic Ocean and it was cloudy, there wasn’t much to see except the dark sky.
The next couple of hours I spent either watching one of the many movies they offered or sleeping, and sometimes I couldn’t distinguish between the two. Sleeping was so relaxing on the Airbus A350 as with the more humid cabin and lower cabin pressure altitude, it made you feel like you were on the ground, except for the fact you were sitting in a seat on an airplane.
The crew also turned the cabin lights down after the meal so that people could sleep if they chose to, which most did as it was now late in the evening Paris time.
About an hour before we landed, they turned the cabin lights back up and served an additional small meal. This time it consisted of warm pesto and cheese rolls in a plastic bag, along with apple sauce. I chose hot chocolate for my drink on this flight, as I wanted to be relaxed for bed once we landed in Newark.
It wasn’t long before we went below the cloud layer and I could see the lights below me. As the lights became closer I realized how nice I felt after this flight, given the humidity of the newer Airbus A350’s cabin.
We touched down in Newark at 8:44 p.m. after 7 hours and 24 minutes of flying time, although it didn’t feel like over a seven-hour flight. In typical Newark fashion, we sat on the taxiway for almost an hour due to gate congestion, but that’s not French Bee’s fault and is just a byproduct of flying to the NYC area.
It was a wonderful flight with French Bee and despite it being a low-cost carrier, I would definitely do it again, especially in the Premium Blue cabin which is comparable to domestic first class in the United States. Since I took this flight, the airline has since put their new, much larger Airbus A350-1000 on the route to Newark.
A video account of this flight can be found below in 4K quality:
Editor’s Note: French Bee provided AirlineGeeks with the seat on this flight, but this trip report is an objective portrayal of the events and is in no way swayed by that aspect.
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