Air France to begin A380 service between Paris and Hong Kong

Air France will soon become the first airline to connect France and Hong Kong with the Airbus A380, the largest commercial jetliner flying today.

Starting May 27, the airline will operate four flights a week between Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Hong Kong (HKG), and will increase that to daily flights from June 9 to October 25.

Air France A380
The 11 hour, 55 minute outbound flights will depart CDG at 11:25 p.m., and arrive at HKG at 5:25 p.m. the following day, owing to the crossing of the international dateline. Return flights will depart HKG at 12:50 a.m., and arrive at CDG at 8 a.m., with flights lasting 13 hours, 10 minutes.

As of this post, round-trip economy fares are as low as US$1,173. Premium economy, with its extra legroom, is available from US$2,903.

According to the website, premium economy seats are on the upper deck of the aircraft, separated by dividers from business class in front and from only four rows of economy seating behind it. Overall, the configuration means about 186 passengers on the upper deck (Pont supérieur), far fewer than the 352 passengers on the main deck (Pont principal), which has the overwhelming majority of economy seating.

Air France says its premium economy seats are 20% wider and offer 20% more legroom than economy class seats. According to SeatGuru, the pitch on economy seats is 32” compared to 38” for premium economy; however, SeatGuru says both seats are 19” wide on the A380.

The aircraft’s premium economy seats use a fixed-shell design in which the seat footrest slides forward when the seat is reclined rather than having the seat back recline into the space of the passenger behind. That design limits intrusions on passengers’ personal space, though it does reduce the legroom available when reclining. I experienced this type of seat when flying aboard ANA’s Dreamliner between Tokyo (NRT) and Seattle (SEA) and found the trade-off quite acceptable.

In addition, premium economy seating includes a range of amenities normally found in business and first class cabins. Those include adjustable head and leg rests, an adjustable footrest, a noise-reducing headset, a personal, adjustable reading lamp, an electronic PC outlet to charge electronics, and amenities kit in addition to blanket, pillow, and bottled water.

Air France currently operates the A380 with service to Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Johannesburg, Tokyo, and Shanghai. The addition of service to Hong Kong will make the “Pearl of the Orient” the second destination in China served by the A380.

Air France was the first European airline to offer flights on the double-decker “super jumbo” jet with the first flight from CDG to New York (JFK) on November 23, 2009.

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Photo by Lindner, published courtesy Air France.
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