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I approached 22nd St & 11th Ave in Manhattan thinking I would soon fall off the edge of the island. The glimpse of protestors ringed around burly bouncers in dark suits signaled the location of the Air France Expo, running through June 28 in New York City, see event details here.
The protestors were focused on shipping of primates for scientific testing. I doubt the organizers were happy at their presence, despite adding a layer of authenticity to the French experience.
The Expo closes at 5 pm to make way for invite-only evening events. I was running late for the advertised 4-5 pm Champagne & Ladurée macaron bar, which had been trimmed to 4-4:45 pm. Fashionable people had made the trek out and the 4th floor lounge had a nice vibe.
I then went through the 2nd and 3rd floor exhibition. There is a central area with a coloring game for children, then it proceeds through exhibition rooms of the new economy, premium economy, business and first class seats, interspersed with glimpses of glamor of the past and focuses on food and uniforms. There are some really creative rooms such as a room of shimmering lights.
The new seats in all classes of service look great. Premium economy is more than just extra leg room. Business is the superb seat found on the Delta 747. First class looks like first class. Air France has really lagged behind in all classes so these belated upgrades can’t happen fast enough. I last flew them on the barebones Réunion-Paris Orly 11-hour flight in economy and the only non-generic touch was a bottle of a local liqueur.
What seemed missing, other than a room where you blow a sensor and the screen randomly selects a city as your destination, is any sense of where Air France flies. Destinations throughout the Francophone world like Réunion should be part of the allure of Air France.
The companion app is required to enter free ticket giveaways. To be eligible for the grand prize of 2 business class tickets you need to complete the 8 badges from among the 7 exhibits and 3 activities. The exhibits are easy: Bluetooth activates when you enter the exhibit, then in each room you enter the 4 digit code on the wall. The activities are a bit confusing. The photo activity is completed with the photo button on the bottom of the app. The sharing activity is not completed by the share button in the bottom right, rather you need to go to the page for a specific exhibit and share one of the tiles. The coloring book task requires you to go to the kids area on the phone, then pull up a tile that let’s you scan a completed picture. I had thought it was accessed by the button in the bottom left of the app, and maybe it does, though for me all it did was crash the app. Already staff in the main exhibit hall were used to helping confused visitors with the app. Easiest to visit the 7 rooms and share a picture for the necessary 8.
The event is a slick experience. Nice to see airlines trying new things and doing something fun for customers.