We have returned from an awesome trip to Paris and the surrounding area in France! Overall the trip was a huge success a check mark in the “win” column for our first big international adventure since having kids! Many new blog posts are on their way! 😉 As a travel agent and blogger, I wanted to start with a review of our actual flight experience, give some tips for doing long haul flights with kiddos, and give a brief review of Air France.
Son admiring his giant airplane 🙂
While we’ve done a fair amount of travel, including big international flights, this was our first experience traveling out of an International Terminal – and a big one at that – Tom Bradley at LAX. It was also our first experience on an Airbus A380 – a true TWO story airplane. Our 7yo was beside himself! And it was truly cool to have to board via escalator! The terminal itself is like a massive mall, with huge jumbo-tron TV screens, restaurants and shopping galore, and the feeling you’re in the middle of the world with all the languages, cultures, and people that surround you on their way to various destinations. You can do some serious cultural immersion without even setting foot out of the country!
General long haul tips with kiddos – let them help pack their onboard bags and prioritize what they want to have with them for comfort and entertainment. Our 7yo likes to read and has sticker puzzle books he likes, whereas our 4yo loves Magic Ink (we call them her “crack books” ) and coloring/writing. Of course, technology and screen time rules can go out the window for these types of flights, as iPads, Movies on In-Seat screens and video games can entertain for hours on end. Another tip – budget and spring for the better seats if you can! Upgrading to Premium Economy was well worth the money for us, especially as we were traveling with my senior parents as well. It gave a little more space, sanity, service, and even better food/snacks. Our outbound flight went overnight, and it definitely helped everyone young and old with catching some zzzz’s being able to recline and put their feet up a bit.
Kids had a blast boarding the double-decker Airbus
“This is a nice airplane!” she declared
Now, let’s talk about Air France! In general, we were super impressed with the service, food and ambience of the airline. They even had little activity packs for the kiddos, and were happy to replace/give more as needed. Everyone was very courteous and efficient throughout the check in, boarding, and flight process. The Premium Economy cabin was nice, the in flight entertainment was good, and we all enjoyed the cameras on the airplane allowing different views during the flight – hadn’t seen that one before! Air France is one of the few that offers direct long haul flights to Paris, in our case from Los Angeles, and going direct with kids and grandparents was super nice! Of course, the elephant in the room is Air France Call for Strike, which is ongoing right now on planned dates in the future. Lucky us – BOTH our outgoing and return flights were impacted by strike days :-/. The (very) good news – we got both to and from Paris on the days we were supposed to. The bad – it added for a lot of anxiety before both travel days, constant checking and monitoring of flight status, and wondering if we’d need to arrange hotel stays or get on the phone to rebook our flight. And, in fact, our planned flight home WAS cancelled, just over 12 hours before we were set to fly – BUT, to the credit of Air France, they automatically rebooked us on the earlier flight that same day. As many took advantage of their offer to reschedule flights to non-strike days without penalty, it opened up seats on the flights that did go without issue for those who were cancelled from other planes like us. This did mean we had to get up early on our last day and added some last-minute packing stress, but it ended up working out well for our family to get home earlier anyway, and I appreciate that we didn’t have to spend hours on the phone and they just took care of it for us. The airline seems to be handling it the best they can, and we didn’t see any decrease in service from non-striking crew on either flight. That being said, some passengers didn’t have it so easy and it’s wreaking havoc on the tourism industry over there, especially when coupled with the train strikes and other issues that are ongoing. There are additional strikes currently planned later this month, so if you are flying Air France, be sure to check your flight status and log on to your reservation constantly to see if you are impacted, or if you are able change your flight without penalty.
Live camera shot is pretty cool!
One big plane!
All in all, we were pleased with the value of Air France and would fly them again… but would also use caution and wouldn’t book a new trip with them again until their current labor issues are resolved. They really need to figure it out stat! That being said, when we booked our flights we had no idea this would be going on, and really your flight can be cancelled for any number of unforeseen reasons when traveling, so it becomes a risk vs. benefit decision that you need to make.
If you have any other questions or are looking to book a long haul trip with kids, please contact me and I’d love to help! :-)