Test French bee’s cheap flights from New York to Paris

In November, I hopped on one of the airline’s Saturday night flights. Here’s how it was.

The new French Bee line, inaugurated in July 2021, offers three flights a week in both directions from New York to Paris. The airline uses Airbus’ A350-900 XWB, which features improved sound deadening for quieter flights, optimized cabin pressurization, temperature control and LED lighting designed to mimic sunrise and sunset. Sun. French Bee’s planes have a total capacity of 411 passengers, and 35 of those seats are reserved for their “Premium” cabin, which replaces first or business class seats.

French Bee tickets are à la carte, so you choose every element of your flight experience, and the price adjusts accordingly.

Passengers begin by selecting Basic, Smart or Premium tickets. Basic and Smart tickets can both be found in the main section of the plane, aka “Eco Blue”. Seats in this section are 16 inches wide and recline 12 degrees. The Basic ticket (from $154 one way) allows you to have a carry-on bag of 26 pounds and does not come with an in-flight meal. The Smart ticket (from $224 one way) lets you check in a 50-pound bag and provides an in-flight meal.

Everything after the ticket is extra, and French Bee is serious about its add-ons — the airline offers more than 20, including an extra meal (from $25); a pack of socks, earplugs, headphones, and an eye mask ($12); extra legroom (from $45); luggage delivery (from $20); and access to the Orly lounge (from $40).

Bee’s Premium seats, starting at $439, put you at the front of the plane and top off the flight with perks like a French meal designed (if not cooked) by star chef Jean-Michel Lorain, complimentary drinks ( including champagne service on boarding), as well as priority boarding and line-skipping privileges throughout check-in. Premium also offers slightly larger seats (18 inches) and more recline capability (16 degrees) to go along with more legroom and bigger screens in the back of the seat.

I opted for a Premium seat, which was comfortable and felt friendlier than the main cabin given the increased distance between the seats and the low number of other customers. I appreciated how the airline handled coronavirus precautions, from checking my vaccination card at check-in to requiring me to only wear medical masks during the flight. The airline presents this detail several times throughout the booking process, but if you miss it, don’t expect French Bee to hand you a medical mask. A passenger with a homemade face covering almost didn’t board my flight, but a friendly stranger saved him.

My Saturday flight was supposed to take off a few minutes before midnight, but it was delayed by about an hour, putting me in central Paris by early afternoon the next day. I accepted this as a problem that resolves itself within the first few months of the course, but it made me appreciate the 1am champagne all the more in my place.

Once on board, I noticed the silence of the plane and the softness of the lighting. Unlike other overnight flights, the temperature and humidity seemed well regulated, so I luckily made it through the 7.5-hour flight without feeling frozen and completely parched.

When I flew back from Paris, French Bee employees checked my vaccination card, a negative coronavirus test and a signed form stating that I in fact did not have the coronavirus at least three times from check-in to boarding. Since my trip, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added a level 4 travel advisory to France, and the United States began requiring a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure on inbound flights .

As a pescatarian, I was pleasantly surprised with my in-flight meal. More often than not, airlines interpret my food preferences as cold pasta or soggy tofu. The breakfast prawns were a bit unusual, but they were tasty and warm.

In-flight entertainment

The selection of movies and TV shows was sparse compared to what might be available elsewhere, but it was a relatively short night flight, after all. I settled down with a tablet loaded with a modest selection of newspapers and magazines.

My ride aboard French Bee marked the first time I had crossed the Atlantic since before the pandemic, and it was a welcome way to get back on long-haul flight. The crew was incredibly hospitable and accommodating. For a cost-smart airline, there were few signs of skimping on anything.

Although purchasing a Premium ticket brings the price closer to competing fares, there are few options that can compete with French Bee’s Basic and Smart ticket prices. Premium, although more expensive, adds comfort that you would give up in economy class while remaining within the price range of economy tickets from other airlines. No matter where you sit, there are few frills on French Bee, but it’s a direct, clean and economical way to get to Paris. The three flight rotations per week can, in theory, be limiting for planning purposes, but if you don’t expect to have to change your flight dates during your trip, the schedules aren’t too limiting.

For me, traveling with French Bee reminds me that travel – even international, European – can be affordable. And, unlike other budget airlines I was willing to compare it with, I actually planned my next flight on French Bee. Tahiti, anyone?

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