Air France saw the launch of its first 787-9 commercial flight between Paris CDG and London Heathrow today. TheDesignAir was invited to greet the aircraft in London this morning. We were also allowed to take a look around the new aircraft type for the carrier, that will eventually start to form its long haul product.
The 787-9 showcases all the usual characteristics, with electronically dimming windows, better humidity and air pressure and mood lighting throughout the aircraft. But the real differences can be seen in the hard product across the three cabins in the aircraft.
In business, the aircraft has adopted the new business class seat, offering 30 seats in a 1 x 2 x 1 configuration. The seats, similar to those being rolled out on the 777 offer all-aisle-access and increased privacy from the historic 2 x 3 x 2 business class seat found on the older 777 seats.
The cabin certainly has a clean, contemporary and timeless quality, matching navy blues, whites, greys and the smallest flashes of red found in the embroidered logo and the interiors of the personal storage compartments.
The quality of the finish is nothing short of perfect. Stitching, panels and upholstery are without fault, and the attention to detail in the product is really noticeable.
The bed turns into a large almost totally seamless sleeping surface, and the ability to raise the seat armrest, matched with the curved seat shell offers ample privacy should it be required.
The screen is large, and features the latest airline AVOD system which is a lot easier to use than the previous incarnation.
The table is smaller than other business class seats, but it’s still ample enough to cater for a food service, and the addition of the large side table area adds ample extra space for storage throughout the flight.
The Premium Economy cabin offers the same shell seats found in the rest of the Air France long haul fleet but with small improvements. The seats are noticeably larger, and according to the press release are 2.5cms wider, and offer a deeper recline of 130 degrees.
The intimate cabin is made up of three rows in a 2 x 3 x 2 configuration. The best seats naturally are in the pairs by the windows, however, the increased leg room in the cabin means all the seats have their benefits.
The premium economy seats are perfect for shorter trips, however, we have found them a little restrictive previously to get comfortable on long haul flights, however, the extra few centimetres of width and extra recline might help towards finding yourself more comfortable on the longer sectors.
In economy, the carrier has adopted the same 3 x 3 x 3 configuration found in almost every 787, but the seats are modern, comfortable, with large padded headrests and beautifully designed seat backs.
Large TV screens, cup holders, improved blankets and a seat pitch of 31″ is all becoming industry standard, and the technological advancements in the offering in economy will go far to keep passengers happy on long haul flights.
While we didn’t get the opportunity to fly on the aircraft this time, the new airframe certainly impresses, and sets the stage for a technological, consumer-focussed cabin product that will keep Air France at the cutting edge of the airline industry for the years ahead.