RANT: I Should Have Known Better Before Booking a Joon Flight on April Fools’

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On November last year, Air France published a press release announcing the new destinations (both short and long haul) that would be served by their new brand Joon, their take on a low cost carrier marketed for millenials. Among the new destinations and dates announced, the press release included Cairo and Teheran as first medium-haul destinations, and added Cape Town as the first long haul destination with “3 weekly flights from April 1st 2018 starting at €279 including tax”. On December 12, 2017 the airline updated their schedule, filing additional routes to be operated by Joon, inclunding CDG-CPT, starting April 1st, 2018.

Last week, based on this information (which had not been updated since), John and I decided I should try their new economy class product on their first CPT-CDG flight, scheduled for April 1st. I went all the way there and not really to my surprise, this flight never happened.

Instead, the flight was operated on Air France metal, on an ancient A340-300, with no previous advice or communication from the airline about this fact from the airline until my check-in!

If this was an April Fools’ prank from the Airline on us bloggers, it is one of the most elaborated pranks I’ve ever seen, involving several levels of coordination between press, web design, revenue management and operation scheduling, but who are we kidding, it’s Air France we’re talking about, and competence is not their strongest asset.

Their website showed promotional information on the flight starting on April 1st:

Their booking engine displayed the April 1st flight as operated by Joon:

The confirmation email was Joon branded:

My booking on the mobile app showed the flight as operated by Joon;

Even the online check-in reminder email was from Joon, 24 hours before the flight

But surprise surprise! at check-in my boarding pass showed the flight as operated by Air France:

And it was an awful flight. It made me question how that miserable airline still keeps on business. To put it on scale, this flight makes my experiences in United economy look good.

The aircraft, according to tail registration, is 20.6 years old, and the economy class cabin hasn’t probably been refreshed ever. The screen of the IFE reminded me of an old Nintendo Game Boy. And the arm rests had ashtrays! Remember when was the last time you saw someone smoking on a plane? There you go.

In the best Air France fashion, the dinner choices boarded on the plane did not match the printed menus handed to the passengers. This was the menu:

But when the flight attendant came, he informed me that the choices were not correct and showed me a leaflets with the new choices. NOT AT ALL To my surprise, The leaflet corresponded to the Premium Economy cabin menu. Last year I flew their premium economy product and I thought the seat was odd and the food was from the economy class cabin and not a “sophisticated” menu “especially designed for premium economy class”. My suspects proved right.

The food was plain awful. The Macaroni and beef tasted worse than it looked like:

The breakfast didn’t look or taste any better (the fruit was OK though):

Air France even had the audacity to send me a survey on my opinion about the flight through the mobile app. Seriously? It seems they need reassurance from their customers on how their product and service sucks at so many levels. Either that or there’s a few masochists (whose performance bonuses clearly don’t depend on customer satisfaction) in their operations department. My answer to the survey was not positive:

Conclusion

Air France’s branding is pretentious, trying to associate the airline with French style and design. The problem is that this couldn’t be further from reality. They overpromise but then under deliver. Their level of disorganization is brutal. Someone clearly was too busy planning strikes, striking or in cigarette breaks to either realize the press release and the operation schedule were not correct until it was too late (or probably they never did). Incompetence at its best.

I had never flown Air France in long haul economy before, and after this experience, never again in this old planes, Their product is sub-par at all levels. How people voluntarily pays for this is beyond my understanding. Seeing this, I can understand why Norwegian is hitting them hard on the transatlantic market. For the bad food they serve, better not paying for it and bring your own choice from an airport snack bar.

 

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