Inside Air France’s New Lounge And S4 Satellite At Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport

air france parisWe just returned from a week of international travel, and let’s just say that the international lounge is one of our favorite perks of traveling business class. Sadly, our connection in Charles de Gaulle was far too short (read: we ran from plane to plane) to catch their new S4 satellite in terminal 2E or Air France’s brand new lounge, which opened late last week.

If you’re flying with Air France or any of the SkyTeam partners through Paris, the $580 million euro new satellite offers 10,000 square meters of boarding area for international passengers and 3,000 square meters of lounge, the largest in the Air France Network.

Aéroports de Paris has paid particular attention to the needs of its passengers, offering traditional French shops and restaurants as well as 25,000 square meters dedicated to the boarding lounges – the equivalent of 128 tennis courts.

A museum will also shortly be opening at the satellite, presenting original works from famous museums in Paris.

Air France’s new $16 million euro, 620-seat business class lounge is a welcome respite for international travelers, offering numerous places to unwind and plug in as well as Wi-Fi access, digital tablets and computers. You can snag hot and cold foods (they have a risotto bar!) as well as beverages (great French wine!) and a variety of presentations focusing on French cuisine at your convenience.

Our favorite part about the facility? The on-site Clarins spa. What can we say? We’re beauty product junkies. Their business class and premium economy vanity kits already come with moisturizer but really, who wants to primp at 36,000 feet? Three dedicated treatment rooms offer body and face touch ups, and ten dedicated showers let travelers refresh as needed.

Of course, you could always just relax on one of the lounge chairs, but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

Has anyone test driven the lounge yet? Is it as nice as photos suggest, or do you have another favorite? Weigh in with your comments, below.

%Gallery-159625%

Alitalia joins Air France, Delta and KLM to form trans-Atlantic joint venture

Several of the largest airlines in the world have teamed up to combine routes, creating the world’s largest trans-Atlantic flight network. Alitalia signed an agreement to join Air France, Delta and KLM and share revenue and costs. The new combination will operate 26% of all trans-Atlantic flights, with almost 55,000 seats on 250 flights. The total revenue from this trans-Atlantic capacity is estimated to be more than $10 billion.

Unlike some airline collaborations, this new alliance actually appears to help air passengers by allowing airlines to create new routes they normally may not have considered. The network also allows for seamless ticketing and baggage handling between the U.S. and European gateway airport. Examples of new routes include Delta non-stop flights from Atlanta to London Heathrow and Portland to Amsterdam.

The hub cities for the network are Amsterdam, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York JFK and Paris CDG. Part of the joint venture will include codeshare flights (when allowed). The trans-Atlantic alliance is separate from the already existing Skyteam alliance.

[Image credit: AFP/Getty Images]

Continental Airlines to join Star Alliance

Continental just issued a press release saying that they’re entering a cooperative agreement with United Airlines, saying the two airlines will “cooperate extensively, linking their networks and services worldwide to the benefit of customers, and creating revenue opportunities and cost savings and other efficiencies.” This means that Continental will also join United in the Star Alliance.

For those of you who follow airline alliances, this means that CO will be dropping Skyteam, whose partners include Delta, KLM and Northwest, and picking up partners such as Lufthansa and US Airways.

Basically, Continental Onepass members won’t be able to accrue or spend miles on Skyteam anymore (similarly, partner airlines can’t spend miles on CO), but they can on Star.

It does not, however, mean that the airlines are merging — only that they’ll be collaborating on many routes, codeshares and other logistics.

In the current airline industry, this change was almost inevitable. Carriers are looking at ways to collaborate on operations and cut costs, just like Northwest and Delta announced earlier this year. With the two airlines’ combined routes and networks, a stronger entity will now exist that can better compete with the soon to be uber Delta Airlines.

No word yet on when exactly the alliance changes will take place and a schedule for the official divorce from Skyteam airlines. But if you were thinking about booking a ticket with your Skyteam miles on CO, now might be a good time to do it.

Around the world with miles – Cheaper than you think

If you’ve been hanging on to a cache of frequent flyer miles or are trying to burn them (due to an impending merger, for example), I’ve found a great way to use them up:

Around the world tickets for 140,000 miles.

Using a special fare created by airline alliances, you can take advantage of an entire network of carriers to work your way across the globe. So you can use a combination of services to bounce from one city to another to another around the world.

Market prices of these tickets could easily reach into multiple thousands of dollars.

The requirements, at least, per Skyteam’s rules, state that you can stop a maximum of six times, three times max. per continent, for a minimum of 10 days and maximum of 1 year. That’s a lot of combinations though.

I’ve been thinking about the ideal itinerary for myself bearing the requirements in mind and have tentatively decided on the following routing:

Detroit – Paris – Johannesburg – Dubai – Mumbai – Beijing – Sydney – Detroit

I’m starting to save miles now.