Air Canada v Air France

In light of the fact that I just became a new citizen of the beautiful country that I now call home (Canada), this post is VERY unpatriotic. Sorry, but I am saying it as I see it. I have now requested that I do the whole trip from Toronto to Gabon and back on Air France. Here’s why..

 I just got back to Rabi after a wonderful four weeks at home. In the past, on the way to Gabon from Canada I fly Air France for both the Toronto to Paris and the Paris to Libreville legs of my journey. On Air France, even in ‘cattle class’ you have the benefit of an individual movie screen which is either in the back of the seat in front of you, or pulls up from the arm rest of the seat. There is a choice of at least three English movies and three French.

The food is EXCELLENT. A sample menu would be a couscous salad with roasted vegetables to start, followed by a choice of chicken or fish done in a light but flavourful sauce and some (relatively fresh tasting) vegetables followed by a piece of camembert, a mini sized, ‘real bread’, baguette and then something along the lines of an apricot tart or a mini fruit crumble.

The Air France version of breakfast is a yogurt and a small, but delicious, pastry with orange juice.  The air stewards are for the most part energetic, well dressed and their uniforms (in a smart navy with red and pale blue details) are designed such that they flatter all shapes and sizes. Flying with Air France is not an unpleasant experience.

 Compare this to the experience I have on Air Canada, who I fly from Paris to Toronto on my trip back from Gabon and with whom I have done a number of other long haul International flights.

To start with the stewards for the most part look like they got dressed on their way to work in the signature moss green outfits, reserved only, I notice for the female crew. They seem harassed and over worked and EVERYTHING is too much trouble.

The movie screens drop down at certain points from the ceiling of the ‘plane, which inevitably means that at a crucial point in a movie plot someone will get up in front of you to go to the bathroom. 

The food absolutely sucks. My last flight gave me no choice at all, since they ran out of one of the two options immediately, the dishes usually involve pasta (not the nice fresh kind either), and their idea of a starter is to give you three romain lettuce leaves and a bottle of olive oil mixed with balsamic. That was it folks…that was ‘dinner’.

Later in the afternoon when we were all suitably starving again, we were served, wait for it…a pot of ice cream and a packet containing two huge chocolate chip cookies, followed hot on the heels by a SLICE OF PIZZA!!!!! None of which I ate, since the last time I did, I felt like I had been sitting on some junk food addicts couch all afternoon and rolled off the ‘plane dazed and confused in a sugar-induced stupor. Hardly the way you want to feel when you are being met by your husband who hasn’t seen you for four weeks.

I know that Air Canada is struggling and that it is very hard to differentiate the services these days between various carriers, but I think they are missing some very simple basics. Good service and polite and seemingly caring air stewards are surly not only bred in France and have North Americans really got so stuck in our junk food ways now that we have to start being force fed this crap when we travel as well?

So there you have it, perhaps I am not speaking for the majority, but I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way…buck up Air Canada

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