I recently flew XL Airways France from New York JFK to Paris CDG in Economy. And since XL Airways is somewhat of an unknown airline in the U.S., I decided to review it, especially after all the negative reviews that I read on Yelp!
By way of background, I have been curious about XL Airways France for years, seriously. XL Airways France is a French airline that flies between JFK and CDG, along with many other routes, and often offers cheaper prices than any other carrier (by hundreds of dollars). I pulled the trigger and bought these tickets solely because of the price.
The XL Airways France flight between JFK and CDG departs JFK almost nightly at 11:55 p.m. from Terminal 4. That’s a late flight! As I had read horror stories about a lengthy check-in process, had not pre-booked my seats and the TSA was having its mid-summer meltdown around the time we flew, we arrived at the airport around 7:15 p.m. (almost 5 hours early!). The check-in desk did not even open until about 7:40. However, there was already a small line forming. We joined the line and were all checked in about 15 minutes after waiting in line. Very quick and very pleasant. The attendant gave us seats together (a window and an aisle) after checking our passports and we proceeded rather quickly through security (an odd JFK surprise!). We checked into our standard Terminal 4 Lounge, Wingtips. To our disappointment, by the time we had checked in and set up, Wingtips had taken town their hot dinner food. Luckily, Wingtips allows you to bring in food, so we picked up pizza from Pizza Vino (at Gate B29) and ate it in the lounge.
Our flight boarded right on time, and the boarding process was quick and easy. Our flight was not full, so there was lots of overhead space for our carry-ons. The JFK to CDG flight’s economy section is set up 2-5-2, and we were lucky to get the window/aisle seats each way! I slept almost the entire flight until the flight attendants brought around breakfast.
In terms of the plane, we flew on an Airbus 330. While I am not sure what year it was, the interior was reminiscent of an older airliner. Notably, there was no personal entertainment. There were a few TVs scatter through the cabin that played a movie, but it was rather boring. XL Airways France does rent pre-loaded Ipads for € 10,00, but they are not available on the JFK/CDG route… Here are some pictures of the interior:
In terms of food, all XL Airways France flights offer one free hot meal, one free serving of tea or coffee and water. Any other snacks, soda or alcoholic beverages cost money and are sold during the meal service or in the service areas at the front and back of the cabin. Prices and a sample menu can be found online. On our flight over, I think since it was so late, the flight attendants did not come around offering drinks. They just dimmed the lights. When breakfast was served about 2 hours before landing, I was pleasantly surprised. The breakfast consisted of french toast with a peach glaze (a creative meal for plane food), a baguette, fruit cup and yogurt.
Our flight landed on time and our luggage arrived without issue.
Returning home was a smilier event, except the check-in desk at CDG was super strict and weighed both our checked luggage and our carry-on (and made us shift around weight!). The terminal from which we departed, Terminal 2G, was also lacking many dining options and we got stuck having our last French meal at a vegan restaurant… I was NOT thrilled. At least there was French wine.
In any case, we took off on time at 7:35 p.m. Shortly after take off, the flight came around for drink service and food. Water was complimentary; everything else was extra. We ordered champagne for 10,00 € a personal bottle and French red wine for 4,25 € a personal bottle.
After drink service, we were served our hot food. This time around we were served a cheese tortellini, which was just as good as the vegan meal that I had at the airport, carrot salad, chocolate pudding and a baguette.
Would I fly XL Airways France again? Yes, for the right price I would certainly fly them again. The plan was safe and the flight was fine. However, in terms of other international budget carriers, I much preferred Norwegian Air, which was much more modern and had personal entertainment.
STEAL THIS AIRLINE
XL Airways France: Often has great deals on flights from JFK to CDG. 1 checked bag and 1 hot meal are included in the ticket price. Drinks, other food, pre-choosing seats and tablet rental (for personal entertainment purposes) are extra. No personal entertainment screens. There is also a premier class, Galaxie, that is at least somewhat nicer than economy.