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Is Air France what it used to be?

Helsinki, Finland
posts: 2
reviews: 8
Is Air France what it used to be?

I used to like Air France as a long haul carrier; I have flown from Paris to Buenos Aires 6-7 times with them. Delayed luggage trouble with flights departing from Paris CDG is nothing new but my most recent experience was very unpleasant and distressing. At the end of June I flew from Rome to Paris (Alitalia) and Paris to Buenos Aires. The economy class food tasted very cheap and stale - a first for me with Air France. I had checked in early in Rome and there was 4 hours transit time in Paris; however, my luggage did not appear. In fact, Air France did not deliver it during my entire week's stay. Their (unsurprisingly) overburdened luggage information was impossible to reach by phone - my hotel concierge tried practically for a whole day. All for me already familiar Air France ground staff seemed to be gone and replaced by people who spoke limited english. The baggage tracking function on their website is useless - I strongly suspect that the piled up delayed baggage just isn't entered into the system. So there you are without your bag and worrying is it really gone for good. Air France had one more nasty surprise: when I was leaving Buenos Aires and had stood for 55 minutes in the mysteriously non-moving check-in line I was told I can't get on the overbooked flight. They did this althogh aware of my luggage trouble and the staff behaved with the grace and empathy of North Korean communist officials. The alternative flight with TAM via Sao Paolo was ok and I was quite ready to say goodbye to the surreal Air France nightmare. I received my luggage in Paris but I have received not one word of an apology or explanation from Air France, including no reply to my text on their Facebook site.

There now, I got it off my chest. I see no reason to prefer Air France in the future. What do you think about how I got treated?

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 14,190
reviews: 73
1. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

Hi,

A few thoughts..

While we know that your bag didn't show up in EZE, we don't know (or you haven't disclosed) if its known *where* the breakdown occurred.

While in the end it doesn't matter as your bag isn't there, to me, if you're going to assign some element of "blame" I think its prudent to make sure you're assigning it to the correct entity..

Could it have been AF staff (or their chosen agents) who mishandled it at some point?? Yes, it very well could have... But ....it also could have been AZ staff, airport staff on FCO or CDG or a governmental entity (like baggage security personnel) that might have been the culprit..

Point is, while delayed bags are never fun, it not always the carriers fault.. And if you're going to assign that failure on someone, I think we should be reasonably sure of fact. This isn't to minimize the impact it had on you, but speaks to the idea of whose "fault" it is/was..

As far as the overbooking... I don't see any real failure there... Most carriers overbook to a degree to offset no-shows etc.. and most carriers have policies in place that dictate and tell their staff who or what order they will "bump off" passengers if they need to ...

Therefore, *so long as* they followed all their internal rules *and* all applicable regulations (overbooking is commonly something that is regulated) then I don't see any real failure here..

I read your post in such a manner as to imply they should have somehow extended you some discretion and *not* bumped you due to the luggage situation in the inbound flight.. If so, I'd disagree.. I think that they should follow their internal rules and policies and be consistent in its application.

While I'm not against discretion per as, I am also aware that if used to often of broadly, does open the door to being accused of "randomness" of "favoritism" claims.. Therefore, unless a strong and compelling case exsists, I think they should have kept to the rules as written.

Lastly, the food... I think it is true that carriers largely have sought cost reductions in the onboard F&B part... but ... Wether or not that was the reason you disliked your food is hard to say...

Like movies and music, food is very, very subjective in its assessment and a hard to "please all" things..

The reality is that no matter what you serve, someone isn't going to like it.. What I'd be looking for is things like portion size reductions etc.. That to me is a more tell-take sign of cost savings.

All told do I think this is a case of "old was better"? Perhaps... But its hard to say as I can't make a lot of objective, quantifiable measurements to look at the "old" versus the "new"

The baggage issue isn't clear (to the extent disclosed) as to where or who was truly at fault.. It could have been all AFs fault... Or not... Overbooking I think they did that right to the extent of administering the bump process... And the meals.. That's hard to very draw a fair and objective measurement.

But I do think that most all carriers have looked to cut back on expenses and that can show up in things like staffing - both how many and direct versus 3rd party contract ... As well as meals - speaking more to portion sizes and cost components..

Travel Safe,

Edited: 10:05 pm, July 23, 2013
Italy
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,355
reviews: 139
2. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

I think it probably was the luggage handlers in FCO that lost your luggage, if at all possible I never fly from Rome, it's one of the most disorganized airports i've ever flown from and the last time I flew from there they lost our luggage to Bangkok. However the overbooking was o doubt AF's fault and I'm surprised they didn't ask fo volunteers to go on another flight with a money compensation.

Portland, Oregon
posts: 10,147
reviews: 43
3. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

I was disappointed with food and overcrowding on Air France on a trip from the US to Turkey. I flew the A388 because I like elbow room, but it was considerably more cramped than many B772's, and I found the service level much below that of Asiana. I think the truth is that AF/KLM has not been very profitable of late, and passenger services have suffered. I am still bothered by that A330 crash in the South Atlantic, and I will not be returning to AF any time soon.

Oxford, United...
Destination Expert
for St Barthelemy
posts: 927
reviews: 335
4. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

Personally I like Air France and think it is much better than it used to be......

Helsinki, Finland
posts: 2
reviews: 8
5. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

Thank you GOPBI for your thorough reply. I do know that it is not the airlines who manage the airports but, in the end, it is the airline who should serve and inform the client and in this aspect Air France gets pretty much zero points from me. Mistakes happen and after that a company can make things either better or worse. A few years back I flew with British Airways from Heathrow to Hong Kong. At boarding time, the staff was aware that some bags could not be loaded due to a computer system breakdown. I received an upgrade to business class as compensation. That was nice. But there again, that plane obviously wasn't overbooked.

Chrella, sorry to hear about your luggage trouble in Rome. I have been luckier there.

Edited: 3:39 pm, July 24, 2013
Miami Beach, Florida
posts: 828
reviews: 24
6. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

My experience with is that they pack you in like sardines but then try to make it up with great food and free drinks.

Palmetto, Florida
posts: 2,634
reviews: 10
7. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

Nothing's what it used to be. But then nearly 10 years ago AF did lose luggage of one of our travelers from US to Florence (yes, italy again). It never showed up.

Here is a post concerning AF's customer "service" during 2013 winter storm

tripadvisor.com/…48108547

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 18,981
reviews: 5
8. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

If you were involuntarily denied boarding due to overbooking then you are entitled to compensation under EU261/2004. It could be as much as €600 but depending on the timing of the rescheduled flight (TAM) it may be halved. Articles 4 and 7 are the relevant articles.

eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do…

Online check in, rather that lining up at the airport, would have reduced/minimized your chances of being IDB'd.

Edited: 12:00 am, July 26, 2013
9. Re: Is Air France what it used to be?

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