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Flight Reviews French Bee Reviews s-reviews

(Very) Deficient Guy’s Trade Elegance: Economic system on French Bee’s A350 From Tahiti to San Francisco

There are only two airlines in the world that operate an Airbus A350 with 10-abreast seating. Both of them are low-cost airlines based in France, and one of those airlines offers cheap flights between the US and Tahiti. So when I needed a cheap, one-way back from Tahiti, my curiosity — with maybe a tad …

TPG Ranking

66/100
  • 5 Floor Enjoy
  • 14 Cabin & Seat
  • 9 Facilities & IFE
  • 16 Meals & Beverage
  • 22 Provider

PROs

Pleasant provider, affordable buy-onboard food and drinks, respectable inflight leisure. Plus, a mild load intended I stopped up with an entire row to myself. General, a cast price for the associated fee.

CONs

Extremely cramped 3-4-Three seating association. Simple to be nickel and dimed with charges. Closed front room and behind schedule boarding. No Wi-Fi in this airplane.

There are best two airways on this planet that perform an Airbus A350 with 10-abreast seating. Either one of them are cheap airways based totally in France, and a type of airways provides affordable flights between the USA and Tahiti. So once I wanted an inexpensive, one-way again from Tahiti, my interest — with possibly a tad of masochism — used to be an excessive amount of to cross up the chance to test it out.

Reserving

I booked a one-way AAdvantage award to get myself to Tahiti, after which wanted an inexpensive one-way to get again to the USA. Fortunately, United and French Bee had been in the course of a price cutting war between San Francisco (SFO) and Papeete, Tahiti (PPT). One-way flights on French Bee value as low as $200 one-way in this course.

Then again, I had to move farther than simply San Francisco. I checked round to value the day trip from Tahiti to the East Coast. The most affordable one-way price tag from Tahiti to Atlanta (ATL) used to be over $1,000 one-way. Cautious of each the operational efficiency of cheap carriers and the prime accommodation prices within the Bay House, I didn’t wish to chance reserving two other tickets.

Fortunately, I discovered another choice: Kiwi.com. Whilst I’ll speak about the provider in additional element in a separate put up, I used to be in a position to e book two one-way flights (PPT to SFO and SFO to ATL) thru Kiwi for $473 general — together with insurance coverage that will rebook me free of charge if the French Bee flight arrived too past due to make the United flight.

Kiwi famous in my reservation that it didn’t come with a checked bag, so I thought I used to be booked into the most affordable, Elementary fare. However in accordance with the perks I gained, it’s transparent that I were given the Good fare as an alternative:

Taking into account {that a} checked bag on my own prices $45 on-line a minimum of 48 hours ahead of departure — or a punitive $95 on the airport — it’s almost definitely price it for many passengers to shop for as much as the Good fare. Along with the integrated bag, the Good fare features a meal and a convenience package.

In an effort to get on board early for footage of the empty cabin, I attempted so as to add Precedence Boarding for $16.79.

However I were given an error message each and every time I attempted so as to add this to my reservation.

French Bee’s upsell recreation is robust, with a variety of perquisite packs to be had, reminiscent of:

  • Convenience Pack: improve to top class economic system and airport front room entry for $277 or 41,770 CFP francs ($391)
  • Serenity Pack: line leaping, precedence boarding and airport front room for $55 or 5,370 CFP francs ($50)
  • Categorical Pack: devoted check-in, line leaping and precedence boarding for $40 or 4,177 CFP francs ($39)
  • Duo Pack: duo seats (rows with best two seats), two glasses of Champagne and petits fours for $62 or 5,967 CFP francs ($56)

The French Bee web site indexed a large number of seating sorts, each and every with its personal value:

  • Same old seat: center and aisle seats within the rear cabins for $20
  • Seat sea view: window seats costing a bit extra at $25
  • Maxi leg seat: exit-row seats and seats with further legroom value $45
  • Duo seat: rows with best two seats in them value $50. The one ones of those I noticed had been within the emergency-exit rows.
  • Comfy cabin seat: the primary 5 rows of the economic system cabin forward of the boarding door. Whilst the pitch is identical in those rows, French Bee fees $35 each and every for seats on this cabin.

I handed on paying to make a choice a seat and located it attention-grabbing that I used to be assigned a window seat free of charge all the way through on-line check-in. If I sought after to transport to any other window seat, it’d nonetheless value $25. Maximum different seats nonetheless value $20.

At check-in, there weren’t many seats that I may just select free of charge, however there have been a couple of random aisle seats to be had free of charge — together with 19H, 21C, 39C, 39H, 40C and 40H.

I snagged 39C, hoping that French Bee would board again to entrance. Plus, I figured I had an outdoor likelihood of having my very own three-seat row. Either one of the ones gambles paid off.

Floor Enjoy

TPG Ranking

5/10

Tail

F-HREU

Age

5yr

Past due

58%

Avg. Prolong

0h 49m

Departure

7:00

Period

7h 48m

With the check-in counter supposedly remaining at 5:30am, I were given to the airport at 4:45am for the 7am flight. Since I had checked in on-line, I used to be in a position to make use of the internet check-in line. This helped me skip a long-looking same old economic system check-in line and stroll proper as much as a safety agent doing US inbound safety tests. After you have a snappy once-over through the agent, I used to be waved thru to the table.

From coming into the road, it took simply 5 mins to test my bag and get my boarding cross — however that’s best as a result of I requested numerous questions. The internet check-in line had grown once I checked again after returning my apartment vehicle, nevertheless it used to be nonetheless shorter than the overall line.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

After being unsuccessful in buying precedence boarding all the way through on-line check-in, I inquired about it all the way through counter check-in. The agent checked his value record after which with a manager ahead of telling me that precedence boarding isn’t to be had from Papeete. I discovered this moderately abnormal, as precedence boarding used to be an element of a couple of add-on packs.

I additionally requested about the price for upgrading to top class economic system. The check-in agent referred to a pricing chart and quoted me $240 for the walk-up improve. Whilst I had to assessment the economic system cabin, between the inexpensive $252 fare and $240 buy-up, I can have scored a one-way top class economic system flight for only $500 one-way. That’s not up to the already affordable $665 one-way that TPG‘s Zach Honig paid for his French Bee top class economic system assessment flight.

Observe that the Papeete rental-car middle doesn’t open till 5am. So in case you rented a vehicle — optimistically the usage of AutoSlash to make the associated fee inexpensive than a round-trip taxi — you’ll almost definitely wish to examine in with French Bee first ahead of returning your vehicle to be sure you make the 5:30am check-in-counter cutoff. Simply make sure you line up on the front to the rental-car desks early, because the passengers on early-arriving and early-departing flights will probably be covered up.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Go out immigration and safety had been a breeze, taking not up to 10 mins blended. Safety procedures had been very similar to non-TSA PreCheck US safety however best with a steel detector: sneakers off, electronics out, no massive liquids and not anything to your wallet.

There used to be now not a lot airside to stay you busy ahead of boarding. The obligation-free store and one open cafe noticed a tight quantity of site visitors whilst passengers waited the space between the check-in counter remaining and boarding — which used to be scheduled one hour and 10 mins ahead of departure.

There used to be one Precedence Cross front room in Papeete, an Air Tahiti Nui front room. Then again, the living room door used to be closed and locked, and nobody responded the doorbell once I checked round 5:30am. The Precedence Cross app notes that the “front room opens 150 mins previous to the primary flight scheduled departure. Scheduled flight instances exclude Hawaiian and LAN Airways.” Between this and the truth that French Bee sells front room entry, the living room will have to’ve been open.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Boarding used to be scheduled to start out at 5:50am, however preboarding didn’t get started till 6:03am. Preboards — which integrated households with young children — had been held on the backside of the walkway till 6:10am ahead of they had been in a position to proceed out to the aircraft.

The 13 top class economic system passengers had been referred to as to board at 6:11am. Economic system started boarding with rows 37 to 51 at 6:16am — simply 14 mins ahead of the boarding gate used to be intended to near.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

A amusing undeniable fact that I didn’t in finding out till after the flight: the A350 that operated this flight used to be the 5th airplane to ever roll off of the A350 manufacturing line. The primary 4 A350s had been retained through Airbus, that means that is the oldest A350 in use through an airline.

RELATED: Take a photograph excursion inside of the second one A350 ever constructed

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

French Bee used two staircases to board the aircraft, and there used to be no path to boarding passengers about which to make use of. Boarding finished and doorways closed 13 mins to departure. The flight took off at 7:03am, simply 3 mins after scheduled departure. Passengers in window seats (at the A-seat facet) had been handled to an exquisite view of Mo’orea at first light.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Cabin and Seat

TPG Ranking

14/25

Configuration

3-4-3

Width

16

Pitch

32

Tray

14in X 7.5in

Lavs

8

Maximum Airbus A350 airplane are configured with 3-3-Three seating — 3 sections of 3 seats each and every — in economic system. Then again, French Bee and its sister airline Air Caraïbes stand on my own some of the dozens of airways working the A350 in choosing a cramped 3-4-Three configuration. This association reduces seats to 16.75 inches vast — leaving simply 16 inches between armrests. Aisles measure a decent 16 inches vast.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Between the additional seat in step with row and no business- or firstclass cabin, French Bee A350 airplane are fitted with a whopping 411 seats. Airbus advertises the A350-900 as accommodating 325 passengers.

French Bee incorrectly advertises its economic system cabin on its web site. It claims to have 9 seats abreast in 3-3-Three seating as an alternative of the particular 3-4-Three association. And there are 376 economic system seats as an alternative of the 350 seats it claims.

Then again, the remainder of the ideas in this web page in most cases tests out. Each and every row that I checked measured 32 inches of pitch — which felt virtually spacious when in comparison to the 30 to 31 inches that’s changing into same old in economic system.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

If you wish to have a bit extra space, you’ll wish to goal rows 48 to 51. The curvature of the aircraft narrows the cabin, so French Bee put in 3-3-Three seating. Whilst lots of the more space is added to the aisle, the seats are ever-so-slightly wider in those again seats.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Simply be aware that there’s no overhead bin within the center segment of rows 47 to 51, because of the staff leisure overhead.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

The tight seats weren’t an issue on my flight, due to there being greater than 130 empty seats (234 passengers as opposed to 376 seats). My number of a seat within the again cabin paid off. Whilst the ahead cabin used to be somewhat complete, the rear cabin used to be a lot much less complete. Many {couples} were given a four-seat row to proportion within the center seats, and lots of unmarried vacationers were given a complete three-seat row to themselves.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)
The ahead economic system cabin used to be most commonly complete on my flight.

With each center armrests up, my poor-man’s-business-class seat measured a complete 52.Five inches vast. That’s wider than even a Cathay Pacific firstclass seat — nevertheless it didn’t make for an excessively lengthy mattress.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

The seat’s tray desk measured 14 inches vast and eight.Five inches deep at the aspects with a curve within the center that lowered the intensity to as low as 7.Five inches. The tray desk slid again through as much as Three inches.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Passengers taking a red-eye will admire that seats reclined a cast 6 inches. Sadly, this made running on a pc tough and lowered passengers’ already cramped house much more.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Whilst I may now not had been in a position to paintings on my pc with the seat in entrance reclined, the inflight leisure display screen tilted sufficient to counter the recline.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

The seat’s headrest had wings that folded in from the perimeters and shifted upward through greater than Three inches.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

The huge, 376-seat economic system cabin had 8 bogs — that means one loo had to serve as much as 47 passengers. There have been two within the boarding-door galley (one used to be inoperative on my flight), 4 within the center galley and two within the rear galley (one used to be inoperative). That suggests we had six of the 8 bogs to be had this flight, however the gentle load resulted in brief traces.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Facilities and IFE

TPG Ranking

9/15

Display

10in

Films

32

TV Displays

18

Are living TV

No

Tailcam

Sure

Headphones

Sure

Each and every seat used to be supplied with a pointy, 10-inch inflight leisure display screen with a modest number of films and TV displays.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

In general, the device used to be stocked with 32 films and a complete of 18 TV episodes from seven collection. Then again, don’t plan on catching the newest and largest that Hollywood has to provide, as the flicks had been most commonly older picks. That in truth labored in my prefer, as I’d best observed two of the 32 (“House By myself” and “Titanic”). So I had lots to make a choice from.

The TV displays weren’t in particular well-suited for a flight, consisting of random clusters of episodes — reminiscent of episodes Four thru 6 of Season Four of “Breaking Dangerous” and episodes 11 to 13 of Season 1 of “This Is Us.” Whilst this turns out to be useful in case you simply occur to depart off at the episode prior, it’s now not arrange for binge gazing.

Along with the flicks and TV displays, there have been 32 albums from more than a few genres. London Grammar’s “Reality Is a Gorgeous Factor” helped energy me thru penning this assessment.

Each and every seat had a USB outlet on the backside of the IFE display screen. And there have been two common energy shops for each and every set of 3 or 4 seats, underneath and between each and every seat.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

AvGeeks have a good time: The French Bee A350 had each a tail digicam and a nose-gear digicam.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

No facilities had been supplied at seats all the way through boarding. Passengers who booked the most affordable Good fares had to pay Five euros (about $5.50) for a convenience pouch together with a small blanket, eye masks, neck pillow, a couple of socks and earbuds.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

The relief package that Good fare passengers gained used to be a little smaller, lacking the blanket and the neck pillow. Flight attendants handed during the cabin in a while after takeoff at hand those out. Those minikits integrated a small card that passengers may just redeem for a meal all the way through mealtime.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

French Bee closely advertises its Wi-Fi connectivity on its web site. And the costs mirror simply how proud French Bee is of this provider. At the inflight-internet-access webpage, French Bee lists the next information plans:

  • HELLO PLAN: $Nine for a 10-minute plan
  • SOCIAL PLAN: $19 for a 30-minute plan
  • GEEK PLAN: $29 for a one-hour plan
  • ADDICTED PLAN: $49 for a four-hour plan

As soon as at the A350, I discovered that the ones costs had been just for French Bee’s A330. The A350 has a lot more affordable Wi-Fi costs for its On Air-powered provider:

  • HELLO PLAN: $Four for 30-minute plan
  • SOCIAL PLAN: $Nine for a two-hour plan
  • GEEK PLAN: $17 for a six-hour plan
  • ADDICTED PLAN: $29 for a full-flight plan

Taking into account the flight from Tahiti to San Francisco used to be best 8 hours, the Geek Plan reputedly made essentially the most sense. Then again, for passengers touring the entire manner from Tahiti thru San Francisco to Paris may be able to make the most of the Addicted Plan for each legs of the adventure.

All of this used to be for naught, although. The airplane working this leg (F-HREU) wasn’t supplied with a Wi-Fi antenna.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

French Bee had an in depth 56-page duty-free e book. Along with the everyday watches, jewellery, perfumes and cosmetics, the duty-free mag integrated sensible pieces like energy adapters (20 euros, or $22), water resistant telephone case (13 euros, or $15), compression socks (31 euros, or $35) or even pieces for AvGeeks, like type planes.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Meals and Beverage

TPG Ranking

16/25

Comp Meal

1

Foods for Acquire

Snacks and beverages

Comp Alcohol

No

The most affordable Elementary fares best were given complimentary water for the eight-hour flight. You had to deliver snacks with you, purchase snacks on board or acquire a meal on-line a minimum of 48 hours ahead of departure. The foods value $25 or 4770 CFP ($45) — relying on which nation’s model of the web site you selected. Good fares integrated a sizzling meal.

The buy-onboard food and drinks used to be fairly priced. More than a few food-and-drink mixtures introduced the most efficient offers, together with a sizzling ham-and-cheese sandwich and a lager for Eight euros ($9) or a tapas plate with two glasses of wine for 10 euros ($11).

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

It used to be unclear when the new meal could be served all the way through the flight. So when the staff handed during the cabin with snacks and beverages about an hour after takeoff, I made up our minds to make breakfast out of it.

Because it used to be an early-morning flight, I handed at the alcoholic mixtures and put in combination an a l. a. carte meal as an alternative. The croque monsieur (sizzling ham and cheese sandwich) value 6 euros ($6.70) and justified that value in dimension. The moment Nescafe coffee (2.50 euros, $2.80) supplied a great addition of power for the early-morning flight. On request, the double coffee got here with powdered milk and sugar.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Assuming that the sandwich used to be going to be at the small facet, I additionally ordered the tapas plate (6.50 euros, $7.25), figuring I may just all the time snack on it later. After working my bank card for the acquisition, the staff couldn’t in finding that any had been loaded at the aircraft. As an alternative, they introduced me the tortilla chips and highly spiced tomato sauce, which value Five euros ($5.60).

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

In general, I cobbled in combination a fairly sized meal for €15 ($17). I put the bills on my Ritz-Carlton Rewards bank card (now not open to new candidates), as I was hoping to use my $300 airline-fee credit score to the acquisition.

Complimentary glasses of water had been to be had within the galley all the way through the center of the flight.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

About 4 hours into the flight — midway to San Francisco — the flight attendants flipped at the lighting and started serving sizzling foods to passengers from the again of the airplane to the entrance. In trade for the new meal, the staff requested for the meal card that got here within the small amenity package.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

The recent meal matched precisely what used to be indexed on French Bee’s web site for the Tahiti-to-San Francisco course for Might.

The pasta-and-raisin salad used to be a refreshing get started. The hen consisted of excellent chunks of meat, and the curry used to be enjoyable with out an excessive amount of spice. The cream cheese appeared peculiar indexed on my own at the menu, nevertheless it used to be a welcome topping for the chilly roll that used to be served with the meal. And the apple tart and small cookie had been a pleasant, barely candy method to finish the meal.

My best criticism used to be that the meal used to be a little bland, and no salt or pepper had been supplied. I used to be a lot happier with the meal once I added a little of salt from a packet that I had in my backpack.

Later within the flight, I made up our minds to have one remaining Hinano Tahiti beer. As an alternative of ordering one for Four euros ($4.50), I used to be simply talked into ordering two for six euros ($6.75) as a part of a perpetual happy-hour be offering.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

But even so glasses of water, the one complimentary merchandise given to all passengers used to be items of sweet, passed out simply ahead of touchdown.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Provider

TPG Ranking

22/25

On a cheap airline, there is now not a lot that one can do to head above and past. However, this staff used to be pleasant and delightful.

I anticipated that the staff individuals could be, effectively, stereotypically French: standoffish and impersonal — in particular to non-French passengers. That wasn’t the case in any respect. From my first interplay with the staff (asking if I may just take a photograph of the boarding door) to the remaining, the flight attendants had been pleasant and accommodating.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Noticing my AvGeek-fueled photo-taking all the way through boarding, some of the denim-clad staff individuals introduced to take my photograph with the most commonly empty cabin. Every other used to be personable when taking my meals orders.

After I went to the again galley about an hour and a part ahead of touchdown, the staff didn’t appear troubled after they needed to seek the duty-free carts for a type French Bee aircraft and bag tag. And there have been no proceedings once I used separate playing cards for each and every acquire — to check in the event that they took place to code as airfare.

On account of the cheap setup of the airline, there used to be now not a lot that the staff may just do to head above and past. However my interactions with the staff had been delightful right through the flight.

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

General Impact

I went into this flight totally ready for it to be the worst of the 430 economic system flights that I’ve logged. Nevertheless it didn’t turn into that unhealthy. I used to be in a position to get myself and my checked bag from Tahiti to San Francisco with beverages, snacks and a meal for only $280 all-in. And I didn’t get to revel in the real horror of the 16-inch-wide seats due to the sunshine load (234 passengers as opposed to 376 economic system seats). As an alternative, I stopped up with a deficient guy’s enterprise category — 3 seats all to myself.

Whilst I were given an out of this world price out of my French Bee revel in, I nonetheless hesitate to counsel it. Passengers fascinated by reserving the most affordable fares are most likely now not going to be at liberty about being nickel and dimed — particularly taking into consideration the punitive $90 checked-bag commission on the airport. And flying in a 16-inch-wide center seat for 8 hours between San Francisco and Tahiti is without doubt one of the worst tactics to start out or finish a holiday.

However in case you’re on the lookout for an inexpensive value to fly to an out of this world vacation spot, French Bee is extraordinarily tempting. Simply ensure that to concentrate on all the related prices to get a real value for the day trip. And the 16-inch-wide seats might come up with a bit further motivation to persist with that pre-vacation nutrition.

All footage through the writer.

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