By December 6, 2009 Read More →

Just Getting There Would Be Good

First a thank you to Helen who has inspired me to write a blog while away on my little jolies. This effort will in no way match up to her quality writing and no one can sprinkle profanity in the english language like she does. Its a skill and she has it. Anyway on with the blog.

Got to Manchester Airport this morning fine and breezed through baggage drop off and security and on to the first leg of the Air France flight to Hong Kong. Nothing of any note to mention here as the flight worked as it should and thankfully no nutters, shrieking children or chatty ones in the seat occupied next to me – and I am not referring to John there.  Cabin announcements were in French though so I suppose that could qualify as making the flight slightly exotic.

I love the French

Paris airport

Paris airport

I love many things about the French, well I do go there a lot so I have to really, but the one thing I really love them for is their attitude to smoking. They like it, a lot of them do it, they are probably born with a Gitanes hanging from their Gallic gob. Mercifully they provide an architechts designed smoking room in the Terminal at Paris CDG airport.

Not a cubby hole the far corner fo the terminal but a fully fledged glass walled room with arty chairs,and power socket posts so you can charge

Airport Lounge Chair

Airport Lounge Chair

your ipod while you puff away. Loveley. So we made use of this puffing parlour and then toddled to the departure gate. This is when it started to go a bit wrong …

  • Flight delayed half an hour technical problems
  • Flight then delayed another half hour, obviously slightly more complicated and puzzling technical problems
  • Technical problems now become technical certainties and aircraft declared unfit to fly and Air France go in search of a spare Boeing 777 300E aircraft.



PDG Roof Architecture

PDG Roof Architecture

All that is put aside as we finally locate a spare aircraft and get bundled onto coaches and transported across the tarmac (why do we say that when most airport runway surfaces are in fact concrete???? ) for what seems like miles and have the ignominy of climbing steps onto the aircraft. I thought I had left those days behind when for the first time in ages I actually booked a scheduled airline instead of roughing it with Ryanair!!


So the flight

It was long but on the whole as comfortable as you can be with when bundled into a relatively small space with 300 other tired and weary passengers. However, I am going to take a small detour here to talk about the French again and this time it will not be so flattering (See above).

I hate the French

Now as a bit of backgroud over the last few years I have had a lot of dealings with French buiders, utilitiy suppliers, DIY and Home store staff. I have become used to the French ‘style’ of customer service. It goes something like this

  • Customer asks question (albeit in my case in gramatically poor French)
  • Customer service representative shrugs looks utterly disinterested and points somewhere in the distance and then wanders off to find the next customer to be singularly unhelpful to
  • End of transaction

I had thought that the Air France French cabin crew just might be different and actually care. Well I was wrong and can ony assume that like many things in the French economy their is a monopolistic single supplier.  In this case customer service training packages to large nationalised industries because they were exactly and I mean exactly the same on the plane.

I would describe the cabin staff as merely tolerant of the customers; and for that doff of the beret to entente cordiale they wanted you to be actually acknowledge that they were actually doing you a favour.

There was a woman across the aisle for me who politely informed one of them 10 minutes into the flight that her entertainment system was not working. After first telling her it was her fault for pressing the buttons too quickly (in France the customer is always blamed first  – Service training 101) then went away and got on with moving trollies about.

She tried again with a different one about 40 minutes later, again no action. About two hours into the flight after the rest of the plane had been playing Who Wants to be a Millonaire and long since abandoned any hope of getting to the million pound question she tried with a third member of the crew. Only after putting on a – Im getting quite pissed off about this myself now tone – she finally got moved next to a stranger a few rows up with  working screen.

So we finally arrived in Hong Kong a couple of hours late and with a distinct feeling of being a nuisance to those nice French Cabin crew for the last 10 and a half hours. We stepped off the plane and onto Asian soil – well it wasn’t actually soil, and nothing like a papal disembarkation,  no kissing of the airway platform or anything but it was Hong Kong and we were definitely there.
So lots of observations so far in the first 12 hours in Hong Kong saved up for a later post they will concern themselves with
  • Small dogs
  • Disinfection
  • Zebra crossings and how different the experience is here
  • Lots of lights

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Posted in: France, Travel Planning

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