The New French Connection, Part Deux

January 02, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    Fairly hot on the fancy French heels of its earlier announcement of a new New York to London route, came another news flash from the busy Air France press room about a new Los Angeles to London route.

    Unlike the former, which is really just a code-shared Delta flight, this one is the real deal, Air France actually doing business as Air France, and ready to whisk you non-stop from the West Coast to the West End in its classic tricolore livery.

    There will be real French flight attendants no doubt dishing out their peculiar Parisian take on customer service, accents and attitude aplenty to wash down with complimentary champagne (again, the real thing, no fizzy California chardonney here, mon frère) in all classes all the way across the Atlantic. Hey, how's that for Égalité et Fraternité, bro?

    With this new and quite historic route, Air France enters a crowded, some might say saturated, air space where at least five other big carriers are already elbowing each other for air, space and diminishing returns. Still, more non-stop capacity should mean more competition which should eventually lead to lower prices.

    We have been posting introductory specials on and off for the past couple of months, and while the last great sale ended a bit prematurely just a few hours ago, you should keep an eye out for more great deals later in the season (the new sale is, alas, nothing to get excited about).

    This is also another example of Air France's innovative use of valuable Heathrow landing slots that were freed up when Paris to London traffic pretty much came to a halt late last year, grounded by the November opening of the final stretch of high-speed railway linking Paris and London that has reduced Chunnel travel time to little over 2 hours and made it almost impossible for airlines to compete with Eurostar train service.

    Not to be outdone by this Gallic incursion into its home turf, British Airways has quickly cobbled together a counter attack with plans to launch the first ever politically named airline, called Open Skies after the treaty that caused all this high-altitude turbulence and high-stakes hullabaloo. Slated to begin Paris to New York service this summer, the airline is so far little more than a sketchy idea outlined in a blog. More to come, indeed!

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