Air France A350 Business Class: Best In Europe?

Air France A350 Business Class: Best In Europe?

45

Hello from Paris, as I’ve kicked off my latest review trip. I just flew Air France’s new Airbus A350-900 business class on the very short six hour overnight flight from New York to Paris.

While I’ll have a full trip report soon, in this post I wanted to share my initial impressions. I was excited about this flight, since Air France recently introduced new A350 cabins, which will be installed on all future delivery A350s.

So, how was the flight? Incredible, honestly. I think this might just be the nicest jet operated by any European airline. When you combine the general attributes of the A350 (including a quiet and modern cabin, tail camera, etc.) with Air France’s exceptional new business class seats (offering doors, amazing tech, and more), this is pretty unbeatable.

Air France’s soft product is great as well, and was especially well tailored to this short overnight flight, where it can be tough to balance great service with allowing passengers to maximize sleep.

Air France’s A350 business class seats are incredible

Air France’s new A350-900s are in a premium configuration, with 48 business class seats. The cabin is simply gorgeous — I love the dark blue, the carpet with the pattern, and Air France’s iconic winged seahorse logo in so many places.

Air France Airbus A350 business class cabin
Air France Airbus A350 business class cabin

Air France selected the STELIA Opera seat for its A350s. What’s interesting is that this product is primarily intended for narrow body jets, but Air France partnered on a customized version of the seat for its wide body aircraft, which you won’t find on any other airlines.

Air France Airbus A350 business class seat

Now, the cabin might initially look familiar, as Air France recently started reconfiguring Boeing 777-300ERs with a new business class product, and the business class seats look very similar. However, believe it or not, that’s a totally different product, as 777s have the Safran Versa seats. It’s kind of amazing how similar seats from different manufacturers can be, eh?

Anyway, there’s a lot to love about these seats. They’re spacious reverse herringbone seats with doors, and the footwells are a good size.

Air France Airbus A350 business class seat
Air France Airbus A350 business class seat

This is in many ways an upgrade over the 777 product. For example, you’ll see that there’s a large monitor next to the seat, which you can use to control all seat functions, or to watch the map feature while otherwise enjoying the entertainment system.

Air France Airbus A350 business class tablet

The seat has exceptional tech, including USB-A, USB-C, and AC chargers, bluetooth audio, and a crisp entertainment system. The entertainment selection is extensive, though of course my favorite feature is the tail camera.

Air France Airbus A350 tail camera

This is one of the “new style” A350s, which means that it has a slightly wider cabin than previous versions of the A350, and it also has dimmable windows (which I’ll talk more about in a separate post).

Air France’s A350 bulkhead seats are the best in the sky

While Air France’s “standard” A350 business class seats are great, the eight bulkhead business class seats on the plane take personal space to a different level, just as you’ll find on the reconfigured 777-300ERs.

Air France Airbus A350 business class bulkhead seat

While the seat may look the same in one direction…

Air France Airbus A350 business class bulkhead seat

…it’s a totally different story in the other direction, as your footwell is replaced with a massive ottoman. The bulkhead seats even have a storage compartment underneath the ottoman.

Air France Airbus A350 business class bulkhead seat

This is the world’s best business class seat, period. Honestly, does this look like business class or first class?

Air France Airbus A350 business class bulkhead seat

For what it’s worth, these seats can be assigned by Flying Blue elite members at the time of booking. Within 4 hours of departure, they can be assigned just like any other business class seat, so I was able to snag one then.

Air France’s food is delicious, with great service flow

On a six hour overnight flight, it can be hard for airlines to strike the right balance between providing premium service while also minimizing disruption in the cabin and allowing people to rest. Along those lines, I was pleased with the efficient yet polite service on this flight.

Service after takeoff was lightning fast. For example, 20 minutes after takeoff, the crew proactively came through the cabin with glasses of champagne for passengers, along with snacks. It’s always nice to have your first drink quickly after takeoff, and it’s rare to get a drink so fast in business class.

Air France business class champagne & snack

The meal tray was served just 35 minutes after takeoff, with an appetizer, salad, dessert, and cheese.

Air France business class dinner

Then as soon as the appetizer was finished, my main course was brought out. I selected the sauteed shrimp with lobster sauce, which was quite tasty.

Air France business class dinner

What impressed me most was that the entire meal was cleared around an hour after takeoff, which must be some sort of record time.

Then about 80 minutes before landing, there was a full breakfast service, with fruit, yogurt, pastries, and more. There was even the option for an egg dish, though I declined that.

Air France business class breakfast

This is exactly how meal service should be performed on an overnight flight, in my opinion.

Air France’s amenities are pretty good

For the most part, Air France’s product really shines across the Atlantic. I’d say the only area where Air France doesn’t impress as much is with amenities. That’s not to say they’re not good, they just aren’t remarkable.

Each business class passenger was offered an amenity kit with a couple of products from Clarins. This is perhaps a slightly above average amenity kit across the Atlantic, though not as good as you’ll find on some Asian carriers. It’s not a huge deal, but with France being such an iconic country when it comes to luxury goods, the kit feels kind of forgettable.

Air France business class amenity kit

Air France’s bedding in business class is comfortable, with a substantial pillow and blanket. However, it’s not as good as what you’ll find on carriers like United. For that matter, I think it would be cool if the bedding had some sort of a different pattern to add a bit of color to the cabin, since it otherwise basically blends into the seats.

Air France business class bedding

Bottom line

Air France’s new A350 business class is the overall best business class experience offered by any European airline, in my opinion. When you combine Air France’s excellent seats with the general benefits of the A350, this product is tough to beat. If you manage to snag one of the bulkhead seats, you’ll even basically get a first class seat at a business class price.

I’m thrilled to see Air France continue to invest in its passenger experience. Meanwhile we’re still waiting on Lufthansa’s new Allegris business class, first announced in 2017…

What’s your take on Air France’s A350 business class?

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  1. Peter C Guest

    Flew HND-CDG this week in 1A on the AF A350 and totally agree - what an all around wonderful business class product. My favorite flight in years. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in UA Polaris right now and it feels dated comparatively.

  2. Viv Guest

    I am a regular biz class traveller and flew my first time with AF from CDG to SCL ( for my antártica expedition) on 15th Jan 2024.

    My boyfriend booked the flight for our group.

    Upon arrival at CDG from Lisbon, we boarded the plane and to our shock, the plane has changed so seat configurations were not adhered to.
    There was chaos on board as people boarded.

    They put us with...

    I am a regular biz class traveller and flew my first time with AF from CDG to SCL ( for my antártica expedition) on 15th Jan 2024.

    My boyfriend booked the flight for our group.

    Upon arrival at CDG from Lisbon, we boarded the plane and to our shock, the plane has changed so seat configurations were not adhered to.
    There was chaos on board as people boarded.

    They put us with another stranger (although we wanted to sit together) as I was on wheelchair assistance due to hurt back.

    The seat was old, the earphones were broken and the touchscreen was not working. Although the seat was flat, it was very narrow (I’m small Asian sized) and really uncomfortable.

    The crew on board did little to help except to say “they should have sent you an email about the plane change”. Well, we couldn’t HAVE read any email as we were flying to CDG!!!

    We are flying out tonight from EZE to CDG. I’m not hopeful and sincerely hope that AF can improve its services to the likes of SQ, Qatar and Emirates. Their biz class seats, food, exemplary service are top notch .

    Best
    Vi

  3. Sam Guest

    Ben, may I ask if your main course had brown rice? It looks shockingly like brown rice and if so, I'm happy to see airlines serving it.

  4. Dmytro Guest

    So, you were so excited that not deranged by.food served on a tray like in cheap canteen?

  5. Winston Guest

    A warning for anyone considering flying AF business - they do not guarantee lie flat beds.

    I flew ATL-CDG a few weeks ago and we had an ancient 777 that had reportedly pulled out of reserve. The tired old seats would only recline to an angle, so all night I found myself slipping down towards the floor while trying to sleep. Making things worse, only one of the business class lavatories was operational so...

    A warning for anyone considering flying AF business - they do not guarantee lie flat beds.

    I flew ATL-CDG a few weeks ago and we had an ancient 777 that had reportedly pulled out of reserve. The tired old seats would only recline to an angle, so all night I found myself slipping down towards the floor while trying to sleep. Making things worse, only one of the business class lavatories was operational so almost 60 people had to share it causing long lines all night right through landing.

    For the first time in my career, I wrote to the airline complaining about my experience. AF’s response is that they do not guarantee a lie-flat bed or current cabin - no remorse, no miles, no attempt to make things right other than a boiler plate apology that I was disappointed. So while it’s great that they are launching these new interiors, I can’t roll the dice with them again, and will have to book other carriers transatlantic.

    1. Ben Lipsey Guest

      I'm sorry to hear that happened, certainly not the service we strive for. Could you kindly send me an email with the details and I'll ask the team to take another look?

      Ben Lipsey
      SVP Customer Loyalty
      [email protected]

  6. Kaan Guest

    I agree! I flew BA, Swiss, Austrian and AF long haul business class in the last 8 months. AF was well ahead any of them. I can also compare AF with KLM but the AF food was so much better.

    Among them, I choose BA the worst with a big margin because of terrible customer relations and their terrible hell hub called LHR

  7. AMB Guest

    Flew this recently from BKK to CDG and on most fronts it blew the etihad flight I took over out of the water. Between the new business class and the new CDG Schengen lounge AF has really been stepping their game up in the post-COVID era (a refreshing break with the broader industry trend in the opposite direction...).

  8. Scott Guest

    When you say 8 bulkhead seats, which do you mean? I am 6’6”, and I’m looking for as much leg room as possible. I’m currently in 1L, but I’d rather be back a bit in 10 if it comes available. They just changed my plane (2/11) from the old pattern to the new one, and I’m sure looking forward to it!

  9. GIDEON Guest

    i have flown AF J class three times on the last 7 months, CDG/HKG and CDG/SIN. I agree with Ben that this is probably THE Best Business Class in Europe. when i first took AFs A350-900 i was super excited with the hard product, sleek and chic design and very comfortable indeed. the Door upgrade to make it a suite is also a nice addition, although quite a few airlines have also follow suit- Delta...

    i have flown AF J class three times on the last 7 months, CDG/HKG and CDG/SIN. I agree with Ben that this is probably THE Best Business Class in Europe. when i first took AFs A350-900 i was super excited with the hard product, sleek and chic design and very comfortable indeed. the Door upgrade to make it a suite is also a nice addition, although quite a few airlines have also follow suit- Delta One and Shanghai Airlines (these are two airlines l have flown on with that suite doors) what i might add that i personally like with the AF business class is the bathroom technology. you can tell from your overhead call button which bathrooms are occupied and which was free! every seat has that amenity above you! inside the bathroom it’s all motion detection, you don’t have to push a flush button, push to open the rubbish bin, press to turn the tap on, everything is contactless which is great! and of course the clarins products to rejuvenate your skin with toner and moisturizer products. A very well thought out cabin given the times we now live in. Lounge in CDG is fabulous, food option is Parisien standards and service, i feel has improved tremendously with warmth and “service with a smile”. I have told friends about AF’s vast improvement in J and this write-up solidifies my claims! i will be flying AF again HKG/CDG again on feb 27 and will aim for one of the 10 bulk head seats!

  10. Brady Guest

    Flying LAX to CDG in November on a the A359. Currently in middle section of row 1. Do you know if it’s bulkhead? Or should I move to row 10?

  11. Mark Guest

    Flew out to Hong Kong with AF in December. I also had seat 10A, amazing seat with so much space for your legs when laying flat. Certainly my favorite business class product of the European carriers. Hopefully will be able to snag it on the way back in March.

    Comparing it with a BA Bulkhead Club Suites flight not 4 weeks earlier, such a difference.

  12. Gary Luchtel Guest

    I got the 2 middle bulk head seats in the first row on a CDG to SFO on the new 350 for a June 26th flight. I used AF miles. I am not in any special level. I do fly AF business a couple times a year but always on non revenue AF miles. You may have to call into the phone center to get the seats but I got them on the AF web site.

  13. Thomas Hoffmann Guest

    Air France
    The worst safety record of all airlines …,
    Think again …

    1. James Guest

      Out of curiosity, I had a look at the list of fatalities and American Airlines is first followed by China Airlines, Korean Air, Japan, air India, Malaysia, Ethiopian,....but considering years in operations and size of fleet, it would probably be all airlines based in Nepal.

  14. Aleks Guest

    Do you recommend booking in the smaller mini cabin or the larger one up front? My concern is that the service flow is slower in the smaller cabin meaning dining options could be limited. Great review. Thank you.

  15. Clem Diamond

    I had mentioned it in your other post about booking this, but you lucked out with everything working properly! I love Air France, and love those new seats, but so many things are already breaking or not working (for instance those new remotes, none of them were working on my recent flight). The crew was pretty gutted, they were all clearly so excited and proud about this new product but were telling me that Safran...

    I had mentioned it in your other post about booking this, but you lucked out with everything working properly! I love Air France, and love those new seats, but so many things are already breaking or not working (for instance those new remotes, none of them were working on my recent flight). The crew was pretty gutted, they were all clearly so excited and proud about this new product but were telling me that Safran has really been messing up with the maintenance (there was even a Safran engineer before we took off going around the plane, which was a good indication that not everything would be smooth...). Glad you had a great flight though, it is indeed one of my favorite ways to cross the Atlantic!

    1. UncleRonnie Guest

      Seems to be typical across the industry - quality is going down everywhere. Safety and good product are pretty important when travelling at 500 mph around 35000 feet, but that seems to be an issue these days.

  16. Ralph4878 Guest

    @Ben - I noticed that for the bulkheads, you mention that Flying Blue elites are able to pre-book these. Just an FYI that as a Delta Platinum, these are pre-bookable as well: I've been able to snag them on 3 flights now.

  17. Dror Guest

    How can one assign the bulkhead at the 4 hour mark? Do I wait with online checkin until that time?

    1. VladG Gold

      You can change your seat in the AF app even after online check-in.

  18. Todd Guest

    I just stepped off the same plane from YUL a few hours ago. I was able to snag a cheap YUL CDG FRA trip and was very pleased with AF, the J product and their A350 config.

    What I appreciated about the food service was the efficiency they served and cleared allowing me maximum time to sleep.

    While I found the seat a little hard to sit on, I was quite comfortable sleeping.

    I would not hesitate to fly them again

  19. Jonas Guest

    Thank You for the great review, Ben! Quick question: how did you change your seat within the 4hr time frame to the bulkhead, after you already checked in online? At the counter?

    1. VladG Gold

      You can change your seat in the AF app even after online check-in.

  20. Asif Lalani Guest

    I haven't flown the new business class on Air France's A350, but I think BA's new business class suite looks a lot better.

  21. AnishReddi Gold

    Hi Ben, would you rate this as better than TK’s A350s, both the normal and the Aeroflot versions?

  22. Terence Weaver Guest

    I’ve recently flown from Paris to Santiago. The Lounge was good, food excellent. The cabin crew,the best. Seating was very comfortable, but could do with a mattress topper.
    As for the food’ breakfast great, but the main course terrible, the fish dish was so bland, they used a sauce to cover up the tasteless fish.
    The return journey the main meal was just as bad. The chicken was so dry it was impossible to eat, but the business lounges excellent.

  23. Trevor Guest

    Thanks for the great review! Is there any preference between the bulkhead in row 1 vs row 9 (which seems to be labeled as row 10 in your photo?)? FWIW, I am not a Flying Blue elite, but I was able to select the bulkhead now for my upcoming trip (NYC-CDG) in July.

    1. Nicolas Guest

      They are the same, but for some reason on my next trip I selected row 9 and my selection was removed by airfrance, when I call them they said that it happened because that row is for people with children, but that I was welcome to select row 1… didn’t make any sense to me. By the way I am flying blue gold that’s why I could do it at the time of booking

    2. Trevor Guest

      Interesting. As I said, I am not elite, and was able to select row 1. I do happen to be traveling with a child, so wonder if that had something to do with it.

  24. Seaflyer Guest

    Yes for privacy and in-flight food/service. But does it beat the Swiss throne seat, I wonder?

  25. Thomas Guest

    The best in Europe…until you get to CDG

    1. icarus Guest

      CDG is not bad if you use it frequently but can be daunting to first timers. It is also massive, although very few passengers transfer between 2 and 1 and 2ABCD and E/F

      No idea why Saudia, which is a SkyTeam carrier, is in T1

      The new AF Lounge in 2F (Schengen ) is great. I hope that the lounge is 2E K will be refurbished as it is poor in comparison with those in L and M.

    2. Takhliq Khan Guest

      I believe Ben is talking about the plane and not the airport. We all know the issues with CDG but A350 in general is a beautiful plane, inside and out. And the new AF business class cabin is gorgeous.

    3. 17ow01 Guest

      I might be the minority but I actually love CDG. Once you’ve done a transfer here once it’s actually really easy. I’ve also done T1 to 2F multiple times and even on separate tickets and everything’s gone well every time.

  26. Lee Guest

    Very helpful review. Thanks.

  27. Andy Guest

    I think I mentioned this in another post once but it would be great to see your ranking of “best ways to cross the atlantic” all in one post. A slightly less abstract version of your amazing total ranking posts perhaps.

    I’m curious how you think this compares to virgins A350 and Singapore Airlines route from JFK-FRA, for example.

    1. jallan Gold

      Best ways to cross the Pacific
      Best ways to cross the continental US
      Best ways to fly to Hawaii....
      This could be an interesting and useful series.

    2. WB Guest

      I agree. Ben needs to do this!

      I'd say Air France is probably top, then ITA Airways A330neo or British Airways new club suite.

  28. JK Guest

    Ben that bulkhead seat is really impressive for sleeping space, I think it's the best I've seen for a J cabin. Singapore has a great amount of space as well but obviously without any doors. Being able to select this in advance is a fantastic perk for those with Flying Blue status, well done AF!

  29. brteacher Guest

    Question: "Which jet has the best passenger experience?"

    Ben: "Well, it's important that the jet have a tail camera..."

    1. Andrew Guest

      And amenity kit! (9 times out of 10 I barely even open lol)

    2. Thomas Valentino Guest

      Also a tail.

    3. RetiredATLATC Guest

      And air vents?

  30. RJ Guest

    Not best in Europe... but best from an European airlines... ? Yes I would tend to agree after having flown them all. Of course only talking about this specific configuration with doors.
    Condor has a nice hard product, and I have to say I love Swiss 777, but AF is a nicer product at the end. LH will come with a great new product soon, Turkish is nice, BA hit or miss, ITA nice, the rest like Iberia, Air Europea, KLM, .. I felt all fall below.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Andy Guest

I think I mentioned this in another post once but it would be great to see your ranking of “best ways to cross the atlantic” all in one post. A slightly less abstract version of your amazing total ranking posts perhaps. I’m curious how you think this compares to virgins A350 and Singapore Airlines route from JFK-FRA, for example.

7
James Guest

Out of curiosity, I had a look at the list of fatalities and American Airlines is first followed by China Airlines, Korean Air, Japan, air India, Malaysia, Ethiopian,....but considering years in operations and size of fleet, it would probably be all airlines based in Nepal.

4
GIDEON Guest

i have flown AF J class three times on the last 7 months, CDG/HKG and CDG/SIN. I agree with Ben that this is probably THE Best Business Class in Europe. when i first took AFs A350-900 i was super excited with the hard product, sleek and chic design and very comfortable indeed. the Door upgrade to make it a suite is also a nice addition, although quite a few airlines have also follow suit- Delta One and Shanghai Airlines (these are two airlines l have flown on with that suite doors) what i might add that i personally like with the AF business class is the bathroom technology. you can tell from your overhead call button which bathrooms are occupied and which was free! every seat has that amenity above you! inside the bathroom it’s all motion detection, you don’t have to push a flush button, push to open the rubbish bin, press to turn the tap on, everything is contactless which is great! and of course the clarins products to rejuvenate your skin with toner and moisturizer products. A very well thought out cabin given the times we now live in. Lounge in CDG is fabulous, food option is Parisien standards and service, i feel has improved tremendously with warmth and “service with a smile”. I have told friends about AF’s vast improvement in J and this write-up solidifies my claims! i will be flying AF again HKG/CDG again on feb 27 and will aim for one of the 10 bulk head seats!

2
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