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we tested the new French bee flight between Paris and Los Angeles

It is an atypical travel offer since French bee is a low-cost long-haul company whose seats are marketed via different formulas, including a basic one where everything is optional.

1. US entry documents

Flying to the United States first involves preparing your trip well by being in good standing and completing certain formalities. You must be equipped with a passport valid for six months beyond the date of travel to the United States. A visa issued by the American authorities is required if you traveled after February 2012 to one of the following countries, or if you have dual nationality with one of them: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen. Of course, you have to haveon Esta whose price has just gone from 14 to 21 dollars. Valid for two years, this authorization to enter American soil must be requested at least 72 hours before departure on the site https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ which has a version in French and allows payment secured. Validation is quite fast. I also had to present at check-in at the French bee counter my vaccination course on the Tous Anti Covid application (on paper it also works) as well as a negative test for Covid-19 (RT-PCR or antigenic). This must be done at the earliest one day before departure. Last but not least a signed sworn statement attesting to the validity of this vaccination and the PCR/antigen test carried out must be given to the agent in charge of registration.

2. Everyone has their own formula

Bi-class, the device is filled through 4 tariff offers: Basic, Basic+, Smart and Premium. Basic, the most bare at 302 euros one way, allows you to travel with cabin baggage weighing less than 12 kg. If cover is provided on a night flight, the passenger will have to pay more if they want to put baggage in the hold (from 35 to 75 euros depending on when this option is chosen), enjoy a meal on board ( 20 euros), benefit from the travel kit and a cushion (10 euros), etc. The Basic+ ticket includes the meal, and Smart the meal as well as checked baggage. Marketed from 704 euros, the Premium ticket is the “must” with a trip in front class and some privileges at Orly such as a dedicated counter for check-in, choice of seat, a boarding pass allowing you to take the “Fast Track » Access N°1 to quickly pass security checks and customs, and priority boarding on board the aircraft. However, access to the lounge at Orly terminal 4 remains at an additional cost (30 euros). Brand new, this no-frills lounge which offers drinks and snacks has a beautiful terrace on the runways of Orly, just like when the people of Ile-de-France came to watch the planes take off at the weekend. On the return, the Premium ticket does not, however, provide any pass or access to any lounge at Los Angeles airport.

3. A wide economy class

A recent aircraft, the Airbus A350-900 has 376 seats in Eco class with 10 seats abreast (3-4-3). The seat is correct, around 42 cm, a spacing of 81.5 cm and an inclination of 12 degrees which I was able to take advantage of outside the take-off and landing period. The headrest is adjustable to find the best position for sleeping or enjoying this long flight, 11:25 a.m. to go and 10:30 a.m. to return. To this I had added an arrival 3 hours before take-off at Orly as requested by the company, then a 2-hour take-off delay in the aircraft due to bad weather conditions over Great Britain which restricted the air corridors on transatlantic connections… As the Airbus was far from being full on the outward journey, it was possible to get comfortable on several seats to better enjoy the trip.

© Stephane Jaladis

4. A Premium class for a more comfortable journey

Located at the front of the aircraft, 35 seats (in a 2-3-2 configuration) make up the Premium class where two Cabin Crew Members take care of the passengers. The comfort of the seat is reinforced there compared to the Eco with a spacing of 92 cm between each row and a wide seat of 48 cm. Its inclination is 16 degrees with the possibility of deploying the footrest and legrest to get into the “maxi leg” position. How to sleep comfortably. The seat evokes the standards of the old generation of business class but with today’s technological innovations: electrical outlet, USB port and large touch screen. Note that passengers in this class are also given a small travel pouch containing a mask and earplugs for sleeping, socks and small headphones to take advantage of the entertainment system.

5. A crew and an aircraft at the top

Twelve people made up the crew during my flight. With, given its duration, no less than three pilots/co-pilots in the cockpit, of Italian and Dutch nationality. The chance to meet them during this long wait before takeoff allowed me to discuss the characteristics of this aircraft and the A350-1000 which French bee is also equipped to serve Reunion. Thus, thanks to the performance of its new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, its aerodynamics and the shape of its wings equipped with “winglets”, the A350-900 enables a 25% reduction in fuel consumption compared to previous generation but also operating costs and carbon emissions of the same magnitude.

© Stephane Jaladis

6. For entertainment or work during the flight

The Paris-Los Angeles flight is rather long! To pass the time, I obviously took advantage of the entertainment system. The good-sized touch screen (25 cm in Eco and 30 in Premium) notably gives access to the map showing the flight live, to the exterior cameras (located under the belly and on the Airbus fin), to 30 films , series, music, games and flight information (menus, on-board sales, etc.). A classic audio jack allows you to use your own headphones for better sound. It is better not to forget it in Eco, otherwise it will be charged 10 euros with the travel kit… If you want to stay connected with the mainland, French bee offers Iziwifi, a wifi accessible via 4 paid packages: 4 dollars for 25MB, $9 for 50MB, $17 for 100MB and $29 for 200MB. This network works quite well despite some connection cuts during the trip.

7. Differentiated catering

A meal is served at the beginning of the flight then a snack before landing in each direction. This catering is included in Economy Class with Basic Plus and Smart fares. However, wines and hot drinks remain optional. The platter is without excess composed of a salad, a hot dish, a dessert and a cookie. It is slightly more substantial in Premium with two main dishes to choose from (one of which was the same as in Eco: beef stew and macaroni and cheese), a cheese and drinks included. Pampered, Premium passengers are also entitled before each service to the distribution of a hot towel and an aperitif before the meal. A welcome drink (with champagne from a small producer) was also offered to them just after boarding.

© Stephane Jaladis

8. Arrival in Los Angeles and Paris

Premium passengers are the first to disembark upon arrival. What hope to quickly cross the customs controls, if however no other plane arrives at the same time and if the number of civil servants of the PAF is sufficient in Orly on the return. But especially if the officers in Los Angeles are not too zealous on the way there. Sometimes picky, they may ask you the purpose of your visit (“tourism” of course!) but also to show your Esta, a document bearing the address of your accommodation (which happened to me), if you have proof of your return ticket to Paris or even $500 in cash (which earned a colleague a passage through the Immigration office). This last element is in fact in no way mandatory as long as you have a bank card which will allow you to pay your expenses in the United States and to draw Uncle Sam’s precious “greenbacks” via ATMs. . A photo of your face will finally be taken as well as a fingerprint if this was not done during your previous trip to the United States.

© Stephane Jaladis

Welcome to the USA!

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