Air France Reveal New Business Class Cabin

AirFrance Business_14

In a roll out across the 777 fleet, and part of the ‘Best & Beyond’ service and product renovation project, Air France have finally caught up with their international competitors by offering fully flat seating in their business class cabins.

AirFrance Business_04

The seating may look familiar, being adopted the world round for it’s successful mix of passenger comfort, practicality and privacy with airlines such as Cathay Pacific (Highlighted in detail in our trip report), American, US Airways, Delta and Dragonair to name a few. The JPA Associates-designed Zodiac Cirrus seat has been adapted for Air France by Mark Collins of Design Investment and BrandImage to offer a more customised product. Because it is the same seat found on other carriers, it is easy to compare it.

Air France naturally have promoted the seats as a Full flat suite with full access – direct access to the aisle, regardless of the seat’s location in the cabin; and Full privacy – a protected area through the seat’s enveloping curves, providing a true bubble of privacy in the sky. Whilst a welcome step forward, there is nothing groundbreaking here.

The summary

• A seat that converts into a completely flat bed for maximum comfort;
• Direct aisle access for every passenger;
• An enveloping structure of curves, providing a feeling of privacy;
• A seat that features all of the latest technology: a wide high definition touch screen, a touch
screen handset, electrical outlet, USB port and new noise-reduction headphones;
• A padded headboard, an Air France signature feature;
• An adjustable soft leather headrest;
• Space and multiple storage areas close at hand;
• A delicate-to-the-touch duvet, a XXL feather down pillow;
• High quality, down to the finishing: leather, choice fabrics, stitching

AirFrance Business_06

What they have done is play with the customisable options to the seat, offering a padded headboard for when the seat is in a bed mode, (which whilst new to this type of seat, isn’t a first, as Singapore Airlines offer a similar comfort product), and looking at materials used, a mix of leather and fabrics that impart an air of elegance.

AirFrance Business_81

There is one element we really do like, the simple seat controls, (which over the years have become more complicated to use than a VCR) which sit seamlessly in the brushed aluminium trim to the seat.

AirFrance Business_16

Whilst the seat boasts well over 6’6″ of bed space and the usual touch-screen gadgets that will make this seat a vast improvement on their current product, looking at the details we can’t help but feel they may have cut a few corners – and in a few practical ways is inferior to its older Cathay Pacific brother.

AirFrance Business_82

 

For example, the seat doesn’t have the fold out extender like Cathay and American offer, making the bed wider to sleep on, the seats also have a more plastic and unfinished feel, such as the pop down armrest. Here you can see the (lack of) attention to detail. Hard finishes sit alongside the leather armrest, making for a sleek design, but perhaps uncomfortable and awkward product. The tray table is actually lower than that on Cathay, which seemed the perfect height, and the storage area on the Cathay seat at the leg/knee level actually created a little more space for sleeping, so this AF bed will feel a little tighter.

Also the placement of elements, such as the power socket, is now down by your knee, making it difficult to access when the table is out. With Cathay it was near your seat controls, storage unit and at shoulder height, perfect for working.

So in all, from the initial information that has come out, we can expect a stylish, beautiful looking cabin, with simple clean lines and bold French colours, but seasoned travellers, who currently fly due to the hard product, may find when they fly with Air France, perhaps the seat is missing a little bit of joie de vivre. We hope to experience the product soon after it is rolled out in June 2014.

7 comments

  1. KC Shih

    the face that they used red so elegantly is really impressive
    however, as you said, the lack of comfort may turn away long term customers
    thank you for the excellent analysis

  2. This is one of the loveliest configurations of this seat type I’ve seen. I was impressed that Air France took the brave step of selecting a light colour base for the seat frame. While this might pose some maintenance challenges, it really opens up the cabin interior. The detail of the bright red storage box for earphones and small items (including a mirror) is a nice touch. And those touch controls! It’s one of the greatest moves forward I’ve seen, in keeping with today’s technology. They look great–can’t wait to try one out in person.

  3. Your bias towards CX is really apparent when you write, and makes me less inclined to trust anything you say.

    • Hi Brett, thanks for your comment, we do rate Cathay highly, it is a benchmark in the business class concept. Which airline business classes do you rate? We always listen to our readers opinions, as they are important to us. Prior to the new cirrus seats, we used to rate Virgin Atlantic’s upper class product highly, and next year… Well who knows! Thanks for taking the time to message!

    • Oh and p.s. We should add the caveat, Unlike some sites we don’t have any sponsored advertorials, our opinions are our own and we don’t have any bias to any airlines. Our opinion is based purely on our own experience. :-)

  4. Pingback: marketing.com.gr » The 11 Coolest Airline Brands of 2014

  5. Pingback: Air France Launches ‘A More Refined La Premiere’ First Class | DesignAir

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