Air France A330 Aircraft To Get New Business Class Product

Filed Under: Air France

Back in mid-2014, Air France begin installing their new business class product on their 777 aircraft. This was long overdue, as previously Air France exclusively offered angled seats in their longhaul business class, which no longer cuts it.

Air France’s new business class product consists of reverse herringbone seats, which is my all around favorite business class hard product, as each seat features direct aisle access and is quite private.

Air-France-Business-Class-777 - 1Air France’s new business class

Several weeks ago I flew Air France business class from Paris to Toronto on a newly reconfigured 777, and really enjoyed the flight.

Air-France-Business-Class-777 - 16Air France’s new business class

While only 777 aircraft have the new business class product as of now, Air France also indicated at the time that they planned on installing the new business class product on their A380 aircraft by the summer of 2017. To the best of my knowledge they haven’t yet started that process, though I imagine it’ll happen pretty quickly once they get started, given how few A380s they have.

Up until now we haven’t heard about the future of Air France’s A330 business class. That has finally changed. Air France has just announced that they’ll also be installing reverse herringbone seats on their A330-200 aircraft. The refurbishment should start at the end of 2017 and finish by the end of 2018.

Per the press release:

Air France is continuing to upgrade its long-haul cabins and will start to equip its Airbus A330 with its new travel cabins as from the end of 2017.

These cabins have been developed in partnership with Zodiac Aerospace and currently equip 31 Boeing 777 in the Air France fleet. They are highly acclaimed by Air France customers: in 2015, Air France was voted the world’s most improved airline by Skytrax.

The entire fleet of A330-200 will be equipped by end 2018, for a total investment of 140 million euros. On its Airbus A330, Air France will offer 30 Business class seats, 21 Premium Economy seats and 175 Economy seats.

Those seat counts are pretty incredible, as Air France’s current A330-200 aircraft feature 40 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 147 economy class seats.

Air France A330

I would imagine the space needed for 30 reverse herringbone seats is roughly the same as what’s needed for 40 angled seats. I suspect the real estate allocated to business class and premium economy stays the same. That makes me wonder how they plan on squeezing another 28 seats into economy. Something tells me that Air France is going to nine abreast seating in economy on their A330s (as opposed to the current eight), which is a trend we’ve seen among select low cost carriers lately, like Air Transat.

To the best of my knowledge Air France would be the first “full service” airline to get nine seats per row on the A330, though it still wouldn’t surprise me, given the squeeze we’re seeing to cram more seats into economy nowadays.

Bottom line

It’s great to see that Air France will be installing reverse herringbone seats on their A330s, as previously they didn’t share a vision for the future of the plane. Nowadays we’ve seen so many airlines offer different “new” products throughout their fleet, so it’s nice to see that Air France is going with a reverse herringbone product throughout their longhaul fleet.

At the same time, the increase in seat count in economy on the A330 is cause for concern, given that they’re going to cram in another 28 seats.

What do you make of Air France’s upcoming A330 refurbishments?

  1. Great news, this makes Air France have a great all round business class product. I really enjoyed flying this seat the other month.

  2. Running a rough calculation, 147 seats * 9-abreast / 8-abreast only gets you to 165 seats. Going from 32-inch pitch to 30 gets to the rest of the way there. 30 seems too low, though.

    I wonder if the business class cabin is indeed shrinking.

    When they refurbished the 777s, was the ratio of old seats to new in the same space about 4:3?

  3. I don’t think that would be necessarily true. If you compare the old and new seating for Air France’s 777, they fit 35 angle flat seats in the same space as 28 reverse herringbone seats, PLUS a small galley on either side. Now 35 angled seats is 2-3-2, but on the A330 it would be 2-2-2, and they will probably still put in 1-2-1 for the new seats, which reduces it to 30 angled seats in the same space as ~28 reverse herringbone seats (again PLUS galley space). So they could be reducing the space currently allocated to business to make a few extra rows in economy. 9 across in an A330 would be incredibly tight.

  4. Just to let you know that Philippine Airlines (PR) is a full service carrier that uses 3-3-3 abreast seating on their A330’s and no IFE (Well WiFi streaming but that’s about it)!

  5. I think this new – crazy- configuration regarding economy will allow AF to replace A343 on routes like CDG-YUL… to compete with Air Transat!

    AF is considering deferring deliveries of its A350-900 and B787-9 fleets and quickly retiring A343.

    Also Business class is not full on this kind of routes so they can reduce it from 40 to 30 seats.

  6. Air France must also then refurbish the first class cabin on the a380. It probably will be the same as the 777.

    Air France might also consider lowering the seat count of La premiere from 9 to 8

  7. Maybe not the fanciest airline, but not truly low-cost, Philippine Airlines already operates 9 abreast A330.

  8. Hi love reading your articles. Any information on the schedule on upgrading air france A380-800? As we are scheduled to fly air france from lax to paris at the end of April 2017? What planes have the new business class and what do not. thank You for your information.

  9. Hello, we are flying from msp to paris on an a330 in May 2018. Any suggestions on how to check progress of retrofit of business class? Thank you for your article!

  10. We are in Mid-2018 and 777s (lots of ‘em) still flying with the old biz cabins. It’s relatively comfortable but 2x3x2 is tough!

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