Business travellers connecting through Air France's Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) hub can look forward to the new Satellite S4 wing, providing the airline's largest lounge, an improved terminal and shorter connections, when the lounge opens on 28 June.
But be aware that Air France's and SkyTeam's main hub in Europe is shifting around to take advantage of it.
Rejigged Air France/SkyTeam hub: faster connections
The new "Hub 2012" initiative is Air France's newest gambit to attract passengers on the long haul to and from Europe. In addition to the chic new satellite terminal's improved ambience, the airline is promising a shorter and easier connection, particularly between long-haul international and European flights.
Connections have always been a problem at de Gaulle, with its irritating bus system even more worse than trying to connect through competitors London Heathrow and Frankfurt, so it's good to see the airline trying to fix things.
Air France and partner Qantas have already upped their game for Australian passengers using the two airlines to connect via Singapore with the introduction of an Airbus A380 on the Singapore-Paris leg three times a week.
But now the whole Air France hub in Paris -- which is also used by its SkyTeam partners -- is shifting slightly, as the diagram below explains. You'll probably need to click on it to see it in full.
In essence, Air France is concentrating most of its European flights in terminal 2F (blue, top left), with some overspill into far-off satellite 2G (blue, bottom right).
Its longer international flights will be spread among gates K, L and M (red, left to right). The M gates are the newly opened satellite S4 on the far right.
If you're coming in from one of the 26 Schengen countries, you'll only have to pass through a single security checkpoint to connect to your international flight (assuming your flight is one of the ninety percent of European flights that arrives at terminal 2F).
Air France reckons that's 10,000 people per day saving 10 minutes per connection -- and travellers who've connected through de Gaulle will say that's likely something of an underestimation. French security: not the speediest in the world.
There's also a new underground train between K, L and M, with new connecting channels and a single security checkpoint to avoid the Charles de Gaulle bus mayhem that's always epitomised SkyTeam's main European hub.
Air France's brand new lounge -- the airline's largest
For business class passengers and eligible frequent flyers, the new satellite terminal has Air France's largest lounge. It's over three square kilometres in size, and is "a new nature-inspired architectural concept". From the pictures, this seems to be designer for "it's got some trees and is quite curvy".
There's a good range of seating available, with chairs for sitting down and either chatting or getting some work done...
...and some dedicated to a more relaxed stay in the lounge.
Hot food will be available -- an Air France first -- with dishes promised to showcase the best of French gastronomy.
Free wifi blankets the lounge, with computers available if you haven't brought your own. Printers are a useful addition (you're unlikely to have brought your own), with fax machines also available if you need to feel like you're in the mid-1990s.
You'll also have wifi-equipped touchscreen tablets preloaded with French and international newspapers and magazines.
If you're a fan of lounge spas, the Clarins facility inside the new lounge has three cabins offering face and body treatments.
Ten showers with Clarins products are available to freshen up before your flight.
What do you reckon -- are these improvements enough to tempt you to Air France and Charles de Gaulle over British Airways and Heathrow, Lufthansa and Frankfurt, or one of the other options available? Sound off in the comments below!
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.