French Bee is a French airline that bills itself as "low-cost."
The airline flies between the Orly airport in Paris and several global destinations.
I flew on French Bee for the first time. Here is my experience below.
I booked a flight from New York to Paris earlier in the fall to visit friends studying abroad. I used Google Flights and picked the cheapest option I could find among the search results. Without glancing over the fine details, I plugged in my credit card number, and didn't think about the flight again.
The night before I left, I was chatting with my dad on the phone as I packed. In between advising me about my tax returns and my 401(k) he asked, "what airlines are you flying on tomorrow?"
I realized then that I had no idea and began searching through my email for the confirmation code. "Apparently, it's an airline called French Bee," I said.
"French what?" my dad asked, his voice cracking into a laugh. "Bee," I repeated, "like a bumble bee."
We both scanned the reviews online. "I flew this French low-cost airline from LA to Paris and wouldn't do it again," he read with concern over the phone. "That's someone's review."
Trustpilot gave it 1.5 stars. "One star is too much" someone wrote. The Tripadvisor results looked more promising, 3.5 stars.
French Bee bills itself as a "low-cost airline" and has been operating since 2016, according to its website. It's based at Paris' Orly airport, which is often used for traveling within Europe as opposed to the city's more internationally known Charles de Gaulle Airport.
French Bee only flies between a handful of destinations, based on its website. Those include major US cities in like New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, several cities in France, and smaller countries like French Polynesia, Dominican Republic, and Tahiti.
Tickets are priced in three tiers — basic, smart, and premium — with an increasing number of amenities accompanying each tier. 'Basic' flights between major cities in the US and Paris can be as low as $250 each way in off season months between October and March.
I ended up paying $600 round trip for my basic ticket, which only allowed me one piece of baggage. Had I selected the premium tier, closer to $1,400 round trip, I would have received two checked bags, one meal, one snack, champagne, and the flexibility to change my ticket before departure with no hidden fees.
Here is my experience flying on French Bee to Paris.
I headed to Newark Liberty International on the day of departure preparing for the unexpected.
It took me a while to find the French Bee counter.
I was asked to weigh my carry-on.
The passenger assistant declared that my carry-on was overweight.
I was required to check my bag for $95. I was also amused to see that I had gone from Miss to Mrs. on the receipt…
After going through security, I arrived at the gate.
The plane was scheduled to depart at 10:55 pm and boarding was supposed to begin at 9:55 pm.
Boarding began at 10:24 pm.
An hour later, I finally entered the flight.
Here are the views on the way to my seat.
More scenic turns.
Finally, I found my seat.
I momentarily wondered if my suitcase would have fit in the luggage cabin.
After settling down, I examined the entertainment system. There were a few contemporary movies, cult favorites, and cartoons. I ended up watching My Salinger Year.
About an hour into the flight, I realized I was more uncomfortable than I usually was on international flights. The space between the seats and the aisles seemed narrower than other aircrafts I had flown on.
Around this time, the meal cart passed through. Since I had opted for a 'Basic' ticket there were was no meal included with my fare.
I purchased a cup of hot chocolate for $3.
I spent the next four hours restless and unable to sleep. Once the sun had risen the plane began its descent.
I landed in Orly, collected my bag, and turned my phone on to see a text from my dad. "You should be getting a refund of $2500 on your taxes," he wrote. "That's at least five French Bee tickets."
Overall, flying on French Bee wasn't the most pleasant experience. The seats were uncomfortable and there were hidden costs at every turn with a "basic" ticket. Issues that didn't deter me at the time of booking became costly nuisances during the trip. Still, I'd probably fly on the airline again.
Read the original article on Business Insider