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Air France != Comfort

My daughter Kelsey and I are in Paris, having flown over Saturday night. After years of flying American Airlines, my last trip to Europe with them was so bad -- horrible food, rude flight attendants -- that I decided anything must be better. For this trip, I booked us on Air France, thinking of the pleasant experiences I've had flying them on intra-Europe routes, as recently as earlier this year.

That was a mistake.

Yes, the flight attendants were more courteous. Yes, the food was better (though we had already eaten and so didn't touch our dinner, only breakfast). But in coach, which we were flying, to me, it's all about seat comfort. Now, admittedly, the words "coach" and "comfort" are relatively oxymoronic, but still, there are levels of discomfort. American's coach seats to Europe are, for someone who is 6'2", merely unpleasant. Air France's are tortuous. The seat pitch (distance between rows of seats) was such that my knees were jammed from the moment I sat down. When the person ahead of me reclined fully a few minutes into the flight, the top of his seat back was practically in my face. My only hope was to recline my own seat, which I did, upon which I heard a loud "Ow!" from the German girl behind me, whose knee I had jammed when I did so. After apologies, and some discussion, she asked if I could only recline halfway. And that was how I spent my flight. If Dante were alive today, the seat I was in would have formed its own circle of Hell, no modifications required.

I called Air France, explained the situation, and tried to get exit row seats for the flight back. No luck -- our only hope is to show up at the airport early and try to get exit row seats there. In Kelsey's words, "I don't care how early we have to get up -- we need those seats." So we're catching a 5:30 AM bus (the earliest) to be at the airport at 6:30 AM for a 10:15 AM flight. What fun.


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