I have to be honest, a couple of weeks ago I’d never heard of Air Austral, or the home of their headquarters; Reunion Island. In fact no one I talked to about the competition knew them. I began to research both of the above, and discovered the fact that Reunion Island is this gorgeous island between Mauritius and Madagascar, and Air Austral runs flights from Reunion to Sydney, Thailand, France, South Africa and a bunch of other places.
I met the fellow competition winners at Sydney Airport after flying in early in the morning from Melbourne. After a brief publicity snap for Travelscene we headed through passport control. I must have been wearing my menacing looking sweater as I was stopped for an explosives test and brief frisk. Nothing like being felt up in the morning before 24 hours of flight. Then it was a nice long wait for our flight to start boarding.
Fellow competition winner Sarah and I shared a row to ourselves on the flights. The seats were a comfortable leather, with the same entertainment system as used on Qantas’ Airbus A380s. That means a nice big touch screen. Mine wasn’t working, but it didn’t really matter because I wasn’t going to be watching movies.
Fun fact- Air Austral crew members speak French. This worried us a little, especially when Sarah and I were asked whether we’d like the beef or fish for the first meal, except we had no idea what was said, as it rambled out into the air as a jumble of words all foreign to us. Our absolutely shocked/stunned reaction answered the question for him- ‘Ah, you speak English… beef or fish?’
The first meal was served, and I was truly surprised at how much food we got. Not only was there le boeuf and le poisson but a tray with a piece of smoked salmon (the first time I’d ever eaten it) a pasta salad, and a little green salad. Two bread rolls (!!), a piece of cheese, a piece of apple crumble, a packet of peanuts, a kit kat and a piece of dairy milk chocolate. Impressive right? And it tasted great!
Service during the flights was fantastic, the flight attendants catered to our needs very well, and were very patient with us when we botched around the French language, or gave up completely and just used English. All announcements on the plane were made first in French, then in English, so we never truly felt lost.
After the first meal was served I knocked myself out with some sleeping pills, and awoke about an hour out from Reunion Island, and just in time for breakfast. Another impressive platter with a salad sandwich, pastry, cheese and crackers, juice and fruit.
Again I had no idea the size of Air Austral, or Reunion Island and may have been expecting an Avalon Airport style tin shed upon our arrival on the island. Wrong again. A beautifully designed piece of modern architecture awaited us. There were a few small shops including a duty free and a place that sold pineapples plus a Pringles vending machine. I want one. There’s WiFi available too- you just need to send a text to get an access code, which doesn’t help when your phone has had it’s international roaming feature switched off. No wifi in Reunion for me.
Back on the plane I was feeling a little snoozy, so after receiving our little flight packs, I got myself ready for another round of sleep. I completely missed the main meal served on the flight, but woke up whilst we flew over Egypt, and then up the boot that is Italy. A smaller breakfast was served this morning, some pureed fruit, yoghurt, and two bread rolls. That was fine though. I knew there was a big buffet breakfast waiting for me at the hotel.
But that’s another blog post. I have to get away from the computer and start seeing what this city has to offer!
But! If you’re looking to fly to Paris, or perhaps you’re interested in seeing Reunion Island (like I am now. I think we all wish the stop there had been longer) make sure you look into Air Austral. The service is fantastic, their planes are new, plus the food is great and there’s plenty of it!