Joon A340-300 busi­ness class CDG-Cape Town; SAA A330-300 busi­ness class LHR-Jo­han­nes­burg

Joon A340-300 busi­ness class

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS -

BACK­GROUND Joon is the new air­line brand from Air France. The aim is that it will sup­port Air France in grow­ing its net­work to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle air­port, and also act as an in­no­va­tion lab for Air France.

Joon has a raft of short­haul, medium-haul and now long-haul routes, which use re­con­fig­ured Air France air­craft. As of July 2018, Joon will have a fleet of seven Air­bus A320s, four A321s and four A340s. By sum­mer 2019 this will have in­creased to 18 Air­bus A320 and A321, with the long-haul fleet stay­ing at four A340 air­craft. There is also the prospect of an A350 join­ing in au­tumn 2019.

Joon isn’t a low-cost air­line, as in­di­cated by the ticket prices. The air­line is po­si­tion­ing it­self as some­thing new – which is dif­fi­cult to do con­vinc­ingly on long haul with an age­ing fleet, as was ob­vi­ous on this in­au­gu­ral flight.

This flight to Cape Town de­parts three-times weekly dur­ing the sum­mer, ris­ing to five-times weekly in the win­ter. Air France pre­vi­ously op­er­ated the route with an A330.

BOARD­ING I was trans­fer­ring from a morn­ing flight from London Heathrow. The flight boarded on time at Gate L22 and we were quickly away with­out any fuss.

THESE AT The busi­ness class cabin has a to­tal of 30 seats in a 2-2-2 con­fig­u­ra­tion, with four rows A-C, six cen­tre rows of D-H and five rows of J-L.

The seat is an old-style Air France busi­ness class seat with new up­hol­stery. It is lie-flat rather than fully flat, with a re­cline of 175 de­grees, a bed width of 61cm and a length of two me­tres. There is one USB socket for each seat and also an elec­tric socket, though you need an adap­tor if you have a UK plug (US and EU ones fit with­out a prob­lem).

There is a stor­age com­part­ment for mag­a­zines be­tween each seat and a slot for your shoes. The side ta­ble slides out and up­wards from the arm of the chair. The seats have a new in-flight en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem (IFE), which was go­ing through teething prob­lems. My screen needed to be re­set three times in to­tal. If you down­load the Joon app be­fore you fly, you can then use the on-board wifi to stream en­ter­tain­ment to your de­vice from the on-board server.

BEST SEAT I’d avoid seats 1 A and 1C be­cause they are close to the front gal­ley, and also the two cen­tre seats of row 6 for the same rea­son for the rear gal­ley. The 2-2-2 con­fig­u­ra­tion means you have the op­tion of climb­ing over the per­son on the aisle if you are in a win­dow seat or be­ing climbed over.

THE FLIGHT Once at my seat I was of­fered cham­pagne, juice or wa­ter. There was a sheet/du­vet at the seat, along with a shoe bag con­tain­ing blue slip­pers, blue flight socks and some cov­ers for the head­phones. Flight at­ten­dants also of­fered an amenity bag that con­tained a small Clar­ins

mois­turiser, a pil­low mis­ter, eye mask, earplugs, and tooth­brush and tooth­paste.

There is no wash­room at the front for pas­sen­gers’ use, and at the back there are only two.

I’ve come across the op­tion of pre-book­ing your meal on­line be­fore (Sin­ga­pore Air­lines’ Book the Cook, for in­stance), but the Joon model is slightly dif­fer­ent. There is a choice of four hot cour­ses with an­other six cour­ses avail­able for pre-book­ing at no ex­tra cost. By the time they got to the last row (row 5) where I was sit­ting, they had run out of most of the meal choices so I was only given the op­tion of pork or squid. If there is a bet­ter in­cen­tive to pre-book a meal I can’t think of it.

The meal started with a mise en bouche (pre-starter) of shrimp and grape­fruit jelly with a cocktail of Mar­tini Rosso, Cam­pari, cham­pagne and ice. The starter proper was a neat slab of poul­try ter­rine served with a fruit chut­ney, spelt salad and crusty roll. The main course op­tions (po­ten­tially) in­cluded chicken in a lemon sauce with dauphiné ravi­o­les (French cheese-filled ravi­oli); risotto with saf­fron and basil cream; orec­chi­ette pasta with squid; or pork loin with se­same in an or­ange and vine­gar sauce. The menu lists the op­tion “Or your pre­ferred dish”, which must re­fer to the meals pre-booked on­line. There are also French cheeses – Can­tal, sim­i­lar to Gruyère, and a goat’s cheese. To fin­ish there was canelé (a small pas­try) with fruit and some milk cho­co­late.

The wines were Tait­tinger Brut Réserve NV cham­pagne, a red Bordeaux (St Emilion Grand Cru Classé Château Jean Faure 2013), a Langue­doc red (Gérard Ber­trand Château de la Sou­je­ole 2015), a chardon­nay from Bur­gundy (Do­maine Laroche Ch­ablis 2017), and for sauvi­gnon blanc fans, a very nice Sancerre (Joseph Mel­lot La Chatel­le­nie 2016).

As with other long-haul Air France flights I have taken, we ex­pe­ri­enced moder­ate tur­bu­lence with­out the flight crew ever com­mu­ni­cat­ing to pas­sen­gers other than the seat­belt sign com­ing on.

Dur­ing the flight it was possible to go up to the rear gal­ley to get a drink or snack. It was a day flight, but the cabin lights were dimmed for a few hours and so I re­clined the seat to sleep. It’s com­fort­able, though when fully re­clined there isn’t quite enough room for your feet so you have to sleep side­ways.

About two hours from Cape Town there was a sec­ond meal ser­vice. The op­tions on the menu were chicken and mush­room flan in a creamy onion and carrot sauce; chicken fil­let in a green curry and tomato

On the flight I was only given the op­tion of pork or squid. If there is a bet­ter in­cen­tive to pre-book a meal I can’t think of it

sauce, bul­ghur wheat risotto; grated potato cake with thyme and smoked cream, as­para­gus and porcini mush­rooms; smoked salmon fil­let and mint pesto with fre­gola salad.

I had the chicken fil­let, which wasn’t in a green curry and was cold, so I left it. The at­ten­dant of­fered to warm it up, but I de­clined. The flight was smooth for the final few hours.

AR­RIVAL We ar­rived at Cape Town on time and were quickly off the air­craft. There was a queue at im­mi­gra­tion be­cause we had ar­rived at the same time as the KLM flight.

VER­DICT In busi­ness class there isn’t much to choose be­tween Air France and Joon, which is prob­a­bly how the par­ent air­line wants it. For pas­sen­gers the im­prove­ments are likely to be in econ­omy and pre­mium econ­omy with the new seating. Check out the video re­view of the flight on the Busi­ness Trav­eller Youtube chan­nel. Tom Ot­ley

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