OUR CSA-CZECH AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS IN-FLIGHT TEST PARIS-PRAGUE:
Though short haul flights bring more benefits to airlines than intercontinental routes, many companies tend to neglect the service on short distances; which is actually not the case of CZECH AIRLINES (CSA). Since about four years, we have been using their fleet, and always found a perfect harmony between a European or long-haul flight: both in term of service and F&B.
Our last in-flight inspection was made in November 2008, flying aboard a brand new Boeing 737-500 from Paris to Prague. Contrary to many other European airlines, the Business Class cabin gets larger seats than the Travel Class (CSA name for Economy). Which sounds logical, indeed. Business Class is still expensive inside Europe, and passengers are looking for pampering actually matching the fare.
First privilege, after checking at a separate counter at ROISSY CHARLES DE GAULLE CDG2, is the invitation at the Air France Club lounge (OK flights are code shared with AF, and CSA is a member of the Sky Team alliance). This is one of our favourite lounge: with plenty of magazines and newspapers, a splendid selection of alcohol including vintage Cognac and renowned brands of Champagne and, since a few months, direct access to the Internet. And that's all free of charge ! After surfing the web one hour, whipping our Gaston Delagrange XO, we received our last call for boarding. It took us ten minutes to be transferred to the aircraft.
Just before taking off, we enjoyed a cocktail. This is a short 1 hour and 40 minutes flight: as soon as we reached the cruise speed, lunch came on our tablet so that we could enjoy it quietly. Good idea: as we found it quite gourmet oriented. We had a Duck Breast Filled With Fresh Spinach. The kind and attentive stewardess (who took time to cut in small pieces our two kids' meat!) explained us that this was a Bohemian speciality; the chef prepared it a light way, just to make it perfectly digestible for passengers. This is a CSA policy to propose some national meals aboard; who should complain ? Shouldn't an aircraft be a flying embassy somehow ? Pine seed bread is also part of the regional gastronomy: it was freshly backed the same early morning in Prague. We were proposed French wine, but preferred a glass of "Bohemia Regia": our palate already enjoyed this original Bohemian brut, which keeps its proper and distinguished identity. It goes very well with the local cuisine and, like just like it, it kept peasant roots which makes the essential difference with the Austrian sekt, its closest neighbour, which tries since centuries to compete with the Champagne. The Coffee Macaroons where, actually, quite Parisian: which means fresh, smooth, tasty and simply delicious. There were also some Fruit Salad, just in case we could possibly still have been hungry... Czech are legendary eaters and drinkers: we could realize it within couple of hours with such a menu. As a matter of fact, we could see -and taste !- by ourselves the permanent upgrading of F&B aboard CSA. Same remark on long haul flights (see our CSA IN-FLIGHT TEST ON INTER-CONTINENTAL ROUTES).
As a digestive, please try one glass of Becherovka on ice: this aromatic herbs liquor offers the particularity to be the renowned speciality from KARLSBAD (KARLOVY VARY): a SPA whose water is not the unique attraction... and therefore much frequented by Russian tourists !
We reached Prague-Ruzyne exactly on time: the pilots should have a Swiss watch. The airport had been completely refurbished and extended on 1997. This is one of the most comfortable and practical in Europe. The CSA service on ground, which tend to be good, just became even more efficient.
The AF/OK code sharing makes the schedule perfectly adapted to the business travellers, with 6 flights per working day (five flights on Sunday). Czech Airlines is operating its own Boeing 737-500-s on the 07.40 (OK769), 12.50 (OK765), and 19.10 (OK767) schedule flights, from Paris to Prague; 10.20 (OK764), 16.40 (OK766) and 20.10 (OK768) from Prague to Paris. This is a global information. For permanent updates, please see the OFFICIAL CSA TIMETABLE.
We also found ground services excellent. At CSA Paris office, staff and executives always remained at our kind disposal for assistance anytime. At Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, one of the messiest airport in the world, we have been impressed by the CSA station manager natural efficiency to solve on the spot any problem with a smile. Note that, in Paris, Czech Airlines is located next door to the CEDOK: the most important travel agency dealing with the Czech Republic. It makes it very easy to buy a ticket, then to book hotel room, rent a car, or simply ask tourist information at the same time.
AIRLINES PARIS: 32, avenue de l'Opéra,
CSA CARGO: Our business readership might be interested to know that CSA CARGO, the flag air-cargo carrier of the Czech Republic, will carry most kinds of consignment from Prague, direct to more than fifty world cities. Or, in co-operation with partner airlines, to further destinations all over the world.
The CSA CARGO TRACKING SITA WWW interface is a useful way of tracking if the consignments arrived to or departed from Prague. A few seconds after entering the relevant data in pre-set fields of the form, you will learn the exact position of the consignment you have shipped with CSA Cargo.
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