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Air France Nightmare

Johannesburg, South...
Level Contributor
227 posts
147 reviews
Air France Nightmare

With Premium Economy reservations tickets and our tickets in hand I thought the check in at Orly for our overnite flite to Johannesburg would be a piece of cake – but no, there was a queue and it took ages to get through.

Sometime after 11.30pm, it was announced that passengers on the lower deck could board and we remained seated, waiting our turn. It seemed there was something amiss, and eventually we were told there was a problem with the seats in the upper carriage, but we would board shortly – well over an hour later.

Eventually our turn came and the seats, in the second row behind the business class division were certainly a lot more comfortable than the miserable economy seats a dozen rows further back where we had sat on our way to Paris. We prepared for take-off, and there was a problem in the middle of the row in front of us, where 15 or 16 month old twin baby girls were crying away miserably and the parents seemed incapable of soothing them. They’ll shut up when we get up in the sky, I thought. The emergency exits I noted were conveniently directly in front of us. I settled back as best one can in an upright seat, closed my eyes and braced myself for takeoff.

Suddenly, there was an unearthly ear shattering noise which seemed to be coming from the emergency door to our left. At that moment there seemed to be a definite shudder, and I thought to myself, this is what happens when a plane goes down. I thought this was IT and in my mind it occurred to me that when this happens people die from the sheer fright of it all, never mind the ensuing crash. From all directions flight attendants came running and laughingly they pointed at that door! And we were still flying, not even having reached our cruising level. There was no possibility of a communication to the passengers as this sound continued for 7 or 8 minutes and lo and behold there were two men in pilot uniforms emerging from the Business Class section, and they too were smiling, and they walked up the aisle talking to each passenger and assuring them that everything was fine and the noise would go away. He added, unfortunately it might recur during our descent to Johannesburg, but the plane was perfectly safe to fly!

My immediate thought after he had spoken to us, was they had lied to us about the delay of over an hour, and it was not the seats in the upper deck causing the problem but that door! I was half expecting to see it fly open and with it all the flight personnel standing around!

It was way past midnite and we sat absolutely still, except for the two babies whose wails could be heard right through the plane, and still the parents did nothing! They were too big for the hanging cribs that were suspended on the dividing wall in front of the row, and I really felt for the guy who had the third of the middle seats alongside the parents. Without so much as a drink to steady nerves, dinner was served – and boy was that lousy! The worst airplane food I have ever had, having opted for the whole grain rice risotto with sun dried tomatoes! It was the most awful slop, and the accompanying wine, far too late in the nite to be enjoyed.

In response to my letter of complaint to Air France, when I wrote to ask if that plane was even declared safe to fly, they wrote, the only thing reported wrong with the plane and the cause of delayed departure at Orly, was a problem with seating on the upper deck – NO apology whatsoever. And that, as they say is the joy of flying. You’re lucky to get where you want to go on time and of the four Air France flight we took, three involved delays,Jhbg - Paris, Paris to Ldn, Barcelona to Paris and Paris Jhbg, two of over an hour. But what do they care! The new planes are so vast and the possibility of flying being a treat, simply are not part of the experience for the majority of passengers. And babies should be banned in Premium Economy!

Liverpool, UK
Level Contributor
17,616 posts
24 reviews
1. Re: Air France Nightmare

"And babies should be banned in Premium Economy!" - Why stop there, lets ban everybody who upsets us.

2. Re: Air France Nightmare

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Removed on: 3:15 pm, September 12, 2013
Level Contributor
6,684 posts
8 reviews
3. Re: Air France Nightmare

I can't understand some people's mentality on here, really!

These people paid exactly the same to travel in business class as you did and I'm sorry the babies cried but that is what babies do funnily enough! May I suggest you pay for a private jet next time, that way you won't be bothered with any of us lesser mortals.

Worthing, United...
Level Contributor
7,724 posts
13 reviews
4. Re: Air France Nightmare


Don't you have noise cancelling headphones in Premium Economy?

I am sure if there was any real problem with that door the crew would not stand round it, everyone would be strapped in, braced and ready to land.

Babies are a bugger aren't they. But we were all little once and most of us have travelled with them, and sometimes no matter how hard you try it is impossible to pacify them. Personally I used the Mars bar method. Mouth full of Mars bar can't scream. Now at 28 and 31 they are not a lot of trouble.

Chill out and in future take something to drown ut noise if nothing is supplied, and have a little understanding for the parents, I'm certain they would have loved their babies to sleep the who flight.


Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
32,737 posts
29 reviews
5. Re: Air France Nightmare

As disconcerting as the noise was to you Air France ( or any other carrier) is NOT going to fly a plane that is not worthy of flight. I'm curious--did you ASK a flight attendant what the noise was? I would guess not, or that would have been included in your post. There was probably a simple explanation.

In terms of the babies--always annoying but that is the current reality. What about the business passengers in front--they paid MORE than you--what should have been done do ensure they do not hear the cries. If you are unable to block out noise, than I suggest prior to your next flight ,you invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headsets.

In terms of the food--its' an airplane, not a restaurant and in terms of the "flying experience" air travel long ago became a bus with wings. If your expectations are realistic you won't be disappointed.

Johannesburg, South...
Level Contributor
227 posts
147 reviews
6. Re: Air France Nightmare

The babies actually were the least of our worries - have you ever taken off with 8 - 10 minutes of ear shattering noise coming from the emergency exit! And being told - it's nothing!!!! And maybe the babies were not so much to blame as the indolent parents who did absolutely nothing to pacify them whenever they cried! The least the staff should do is have some form of baby medicine to help them sleep!

Johannesburg, South...
Level Contributor
227 posts
147 reviews
7. Re: Air France Nightmare

As I said, the pilot came and yelled at us that the plane was safe to fly - but they had lied to us about why the plane took off 80 minutes delayed saying there was a problem with the seating on the upper deck - we saw that when the staff came running and laughingly pointed at the door - but also in their response to a letter to Air France, they wrote that the only problem recorded and the delay for the flite was the problem with the seats on the upper deck.. No earphones in the world could have blocked out that noise! It was terrifying to say the least.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
8,848 posts
48 reviews
8. Re: Air France Nightmare

If it was unsafe the aircraft would have turned back. You really think they'd set off on a 5800 miles journey with an unsafe aircraft?

9. Re: Air France Nightmare

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Removed on: 4:05 pm, September 12, 2013
Edited: 4:05 pm, September 12, 2013
Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
4,468 posts
24 reviews
10. Re: Air France Nightmare

Yes, babies do cry but parents should make an effort to calm them. As others said, babies do cry, but I have a right to my sleep too. May be parents should be more considerate towards their kids by not putting them through the stress of flying.

Hopefully, more airlines will introduce childfree areas.