Trip report: Air France, Split

Date: April 28, 2024.

After a short three-day trip to visit family and friends, it was time to return from Split (SPU) to my hometown of Paris (CDG), where I moved last fall. Fortunately, my return trip coincided with Air France's (AF) first non-stop flight of the season, so I didn't have to transfer through KLM's Amsterdam Airport (AMS) as I had on my outbound flight. What made this relatively short flight so special for me was that the aircraft on the schedule was none other than an Airbus A318. This extremely rare aircraft is now operated only by Air France and Tarom Airlines, and is the last “mainstream” aircraft I have ever flown on, out of around 500 flights I have flown on. It was a plane. Equipment needs to be replaced at the last minute. As it turns out, I narrowly avoided it, but more on that later.

As it was a Sunday, the ride to the airport was smooth, with the Bolt getting from downtown Split to the airport (recently renamed St. Jerome) in about 30 minutes. Even better, her first 5 rides as a visitor were able to take advantage of his 40% off promotion, so in the end he only paid 24 euros. This is a bargain compared to the 50 euros (or more if it looks good) that he takes in a regular taxi. Especially naive tourists). Since I had checked in online the day before, I didn't have to go to the check-in desk and went directly to the security checkpoint with my mobile boarding pass. Speaking of check-in, one of the most annoying features of SPU (and DBV for that matter) is that airlines are not allowed to use their own online check-in systems, and instead use Niko's check-in system. It is necessary to go through the inn. has only a '90s-era interface, but it's notoriously unreliable, not allowing you to choose a seat for a connecting flight, nor correctly encoding your mileage status and other metadata on your boarding pass. you can't. Since SPU and DBV are both government-run, the company behind it has entered into lucrative contracts with the two airports to provide check-in services, leaving passengers and airlines with suboptimal profits. , I doubt there is a third party with enough connections. experience as a result.

Anyway, I headed in a safe direction. There is a separate line on the left for business and status passengers, but there was literally no one at security when I got there, so I didn't bother and went through the regular gate instead. Once there, he had to do a 50 meter slalom unnecessarily because there was no one to actively adjust the line according to the flow of passengers.

At the checkpoint, I was asked to remove liquids from my backpack, but not my laptop or electronic devices. I was grateful for this. I breezed through security and headed to a contracted lounge operated by the airport. At the bottom of the stairs was a sign indicating which airlines pay for lounge access for business and status passengers. I noticed that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was back on the list, but SAS was still not on the list (both airlines try to avoid paying for contracted lounges whenever possible). Please note that there is no lift to the lounge level and he only has to climb two flights of stairs, so I am not sure what provisions (if any) there are for disabled passengers.

The lounge itself is simple, but spacious and comfortable. Only half of the lounge is open during off-season, but even then it never felt crowded (not available with services like Priority Pass or LoungeKey).

There is a wide selection of hard liquor and non-alcoholic drinks, but the only wine available is an inexpensive white Graševina from northern Croatia. I think it's a shame that Dalmatian wines are not well represented at key consumer touch points such as airports, as this region produces some really great wines. I also found it interesting that the Coca-Cola cans served in the lounge were from Poland, not Croatia.

The food selection is best described as light fare. There were muffins, donuts, several types of packaged snacks, and finally bread with a choice of spreads, but the latter didn't seem very fresh, so I stuck to the peanut and chocolate/vanilla pudding. This was delicious.

Workstations are also available, some with monitors, keyboards, and mice for Internet browsing. There are also plenty of power plugs in the lounge.

At one point, I felt the call of nature and went to the toilet, which surprised me in several ways. On the one hand, this was probably the cleanest, best-smelling lounge toilet I've ever visited in my life, and it remained impeccably clean throughout my visit. On the other hand, I'd like to know whose idea it was to install reflective surfaces around the urinals. I don't know about you, but I'm not a huge fan of exposing my private parts to anyone entering the urinal section.

As I was preparing to leave the lounge, I received a call from Air France informing me that my flight would be delayed by 1 hour and would be scheduled for 7:15pm. However, from the lounge he could overlook Gate 2, where the flight to CDG departs, so the screen displayed a new departure time of 20:00, which caused him to be delayed by 1 hour and 45 minutes. I realized that. ah.

Further investigation revealed that the outbound flight had experienced some sort of technical failure with the CDG, causing the pilot to return to the gate from the taxiway until the problem was resolved, delaying departure by two hours. Fortunately, there was no aircraft change in the end and I was relieved to see the A318 take off from CDG towards SPU. At 7:15pm, we finally made our way from the lounge to the gate. I was surprised at the number of people on the plane considering it was the first flight of the season. I think these passengers probably transferred via AMS or ZAG on the way to SPU, and returned via CDG on the way back. As far as I know, most of the passengers were neither French nor Croatian, and there were also a few large groups of Americans. At 7:35pm, boarding finally began. Families, business class, and status passengers (in that order) can board from separate lines, but in this case that advantage was moot because gate staff started boarding both lines at the same time. So by the time the whole family had passed, a third of the economy class passengers were already on the plane.

The SPU doesn't have a jetway, so it's not ideal (especially in bad weather), but the advantage is that it gives us aviation geeks a better view of the aircraft we're flying. Although the A318 is not exactly majestic, I was still excited to fly a new (to me) type of airplane.

The A318's cabin is among the least economy of Air France's short-haul fleet, with slim seats with minimal padding, similar to those of Croatia Airlines and Lufthansa Group. Legroom is similarly unimpressive (for reference, I'm 1.90 meters tall), and my knees were always a few millimeters away from the seat in front of me. That said, every seat has a USB-A port, and there's also onboard Wi-Fi, so anyone can send messages for free. Not bad for a 17 year old airplane.

Sadly, due to our late departure, we missed out on the best part of the trip: the sunset. We took off in a westward direction. You can usually get a great view of the Dalmatian Islands when you take off, especially during sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be the case. By the time we took off, it was already almost completely dark.

Service began shortly after takeoff, with a choice of chicken or vegetarian sandwiches and a drink of choice. I chose a chicken sandwich, red wine, and sparkling water. Although small, the sandwich was one of the best I've ever had on a plane, extremely fresh and delicious. The wine, on the other hand, was average, but good enough for economy. In my opinion, in-flight service is where Air France really shines. Because I can't remember the last time an airline offered wine and sparkling water in a stand-alone package as part of their regular catering on short-haul European flights. The crew seemed enthusiastic and in a good mood throughout the flight.

After an uneventful flight, we landed at CDG after 1 hour and 49 minutes of flight time, followed by a 12 minute taxi to the gate. This is CDG standard time. It took less than 10 minutes from the time I got off the plane to the time I arrived on the train to Paris. CDG gets a lot of flak for being a complicated airport to connect to (and rightfully so), but it's a great airport for arrivals from the Schengen area.

All in all, it was a perfectly pleasant trip, apart from a two-hour delay in arrival due to force majeure. I have been flying Air France frequently over the past 6 months, both short and long distance, and although I have been almost completely loyal to Lufthansa his group for 10 years, Air France is in every way I can definitely say I'm better than them. One of the last airlines in Europe to offer anything resembling a legacy product in economy. Add to that the irony that French staff are much less likely to go on strike than their German counterparts, and it's easy to see why I don't look back.

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