La Compagnie’s New A321neos: Wifi, Flat Beds, And More

La Compagnie is the all business class transatlantic airline that started flying in mid-2014. Their first route was between Paris and Newark, and I was able to review that flight within days of when they launched operations. For a while the airline also flew between Newark and London, though they ended up canceling that route.

La Compagnie offers excellent value business class flights, though the catch is that at the moment they offer angled seats. While the seats are fine given the low fares that La Compagnie charges, personally I really struggle to sleep in angled seats (at least those with a steep angle, like what La Compagnie has).


La Compagnie’s 757 business class

The good news is that about a year ago we learned that La Compagnie will be replacing their current 757s with two new A321neos, which they’ll take delivery of in 2019.


La Compagnie 757 business class

Not only will this translate to lower operating costs for the airline, but La Compagnie has also indicated that they’ll install fully flat beds on the planes, which will be a great improvement.

La Compagnie will have wifi & flat beds on their A321neos

There’s now a further interesting update on this front. La Compagnie has confirmed that their A321neos will enter service in April 2019.

They’ve also announced that they’re partnering with Viasat to offer high-speed wifi on these planes. According to the press release:

“We are excited to offer unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi to all the passengers onboard our new aircraft,” said Jean Charles Périno, executive vice president of Sales and Marketing for La Compagnie. “Viasat’s in-flight connectivity has unmatched speed, quality and affordability so everyone onboard can experience the internet just like they do in their home or office. Business-class democratization is in our DNA. This is a perfect match with Viasat’s solution: we will be offering this unlimited Wi-Fi access at a fraction of the cost of competitive solutions, following our low-fare approach. We are proud, as a small airline, to have the best in the market to offer to our passengers.”

“La Compagnie is reinventing the business-class experience, giving passengers uncompromised service quality and high-end perks, which include having Viasat’s best-in-class Wi-Fi service on board,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat. “Given La Compagnie’s primary flight routes over the Atlantic, they will use our latest satellite system, ViaSat-2, giving passengers an optimal connectivity experience—with industry-best speeds, performance and reliability—gate-to-gate.”

When La Compagnie launched operations in 2014 they promised they’d have wifi, but that never ended up happening on their 757s. However, with these new planes I suspect it will actually happen.

Clues as to La Compagnie’s A321neo business class seats

La Compagnie hasn’t formally revealed what kind of flat beds they’ll offer in business class. However, based on some clues it shouldn’t be too tough to figure out. La Compagnie indicates that they’ll have 76 fully flat business class seats on their A321neos. That sounds like a lot of seats.

I realize I’m oversimplifying the math here, but La Compagnie’s 757s have a total of 74 business class seats, so they’ll be increasing capacity by two seats. Meanwhile the A321neo is 146 feet long, while the 757 is 155 feet long. So they’ll be increasing capacity by two seats while having a smaller area to work with and also offering flat beds.

There’s not another airline offering an all business class A321, so it’s tough to map over any potential configuration.

Maybe the best comparison is to look at a WizzAir A321, which has 39 rows of economy seats with 30″ of pitch each. So that means theres’s a total of 1170 usable inches in a configuration like that, since WizzAir doesn’t have any unnecessary lavatories, galleys, etc. It’s a very efficient configuration.

In order to have 76 seats, La Compagnie would need 19 rows on the A321, assuming they go with a 2-2 configuration (which I imagine they will). 1170 inches divided by 19 rows is 62″ per row. Interestingly 62″ is exactly the seat pitch they have in their current configuration of angled seats.

62″ isn’t enough for a standard forward facing fully flat seat, since you’d need the bed to be at least 72″ long, which is equal to a sleeping surface of six feet. So La Compagnie couldn’t go with something like what Ukraine International Airlines is offering, for example.


Ukraine International Airlines 777 business class

This suggests to me that La Compagnie will be going with B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, which you’ll find on many airlines in business class.


American’s A321 business class

These seats have the benefit of having the footwell be underneath the seats in front, and the seats are at a slight angle. These seats typically have pitch of around 62″, so that seems like the most likely option.

I can’t wait to see La Compagnie officially unveil their new seats, and to give them another try when their A321neos are in service.

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

Comments

  1. Could there be extra space to gain through vertical separation and angling towards the window (like AA’s transcon A321s)?

  2. @ Calum @ Alvin — Except unless I’m missing something, herringbone (or reverse herringbone) seats don’t have a smaller footprint than a standard 2-2 configuration. They’d need to fit 38 rows of herringbone seats onto the plane, which seems very optimistic.

  3. If they use seats like the Diamond (as United, Delta, and AA’s transcons have), those offer a longer bed length than seat pitch because the seats are slightly angled relative to the aisle (though still fully flat relative to the floor).

  4. Agree with what Alvin says…can you crunch the numbers on that Lucky or Alvin if you would like to. Sorry I am too lazy lol.

  5. Seconding @Calum and @02nz. 72″ of sleeping surface != 72″ pitch. Nesting footwells into sidetables or other voids in the seat ahead affords a “recovered” 12-14 inches of space that is not accounted for in seat pitch but is usable while the seat is in lie-flat mode. The seats seen on AA and UA and countless leisure-oriented airlines (see also: Air Tahiti Nui’s new J product) seem to be setting the standard for airlines that want/need only a moderately-competitive product based on their market focus.

  6. As others pointed out, probably something like the BE Aerospace Diamond seat used for J on the US3’s 757s and AA 321T. 62″ of pitch generally allows for a 6′ bed. Also allows for an off-the-shelf product to be used as the cost to put something custom in would be prohibitive for a handful of planes.

  7. This post feels like #fakenews. Seat pitch is not the same as bed length. This is why footwells are always so narrow and seats are at slight angles. Your head is overlapping with the person behind you’s feet, in order to make use of the space more efficiently. For example, when Ethiopian started installing flat beds on the 787, they fit 24 flat beds in the exact same space between doors 1 and 2 where they used to have 24 angled lie flats. Going flat bed does not necessarily mean reduced density, depending on which flat bed seat you choose to install.

  8. Easy, Vantage seats, as Jetblue Mint : 6 seat in 90′ Pitch (2×45). Equivalent footprint of 2-2 config @60′ pitch.

  9. What is the footprint /pitch of AA’s 321 Business Class seats coast to coast? I realize that they have only 10 rows but the part under the seat ahead seems long enough. THe front part of the “bed” may not be very wide, though. The AA configuration is not particularly appealing.

  10. @Ivan X: “Bunk beds?” – That’s what I was thinking, too. They said they’d have lie-flat beds. Did they say anything about *seats*?

  11. @Lucky after doing the math I am convinced its a narrow herringbone. If your seat width with the shell is 24 inches, let’s say 20 inches for the seat itself, that means you would require 76 feet of space if their was no break in between seats. Really 80-82 because the first and last seats would take extra room. Throw in the lavatories exit row and galley it really could work I think. Granted my math is probably off some how.

  12. Lucky, The seat pitch in J on AA’s A321 transcon has a seat pitch of 58″ and lie flats 75-78″ long. Divide 58 into 1170 and you get 20 rows. 19 rows would work. I believe the fuselage is 6″ wider than on the 757 so it would allow more of a reverse herringbone fit.

  13. That 1170 doesn’t include the thickness of the seats. Also according to seat guru pitch varies from 30 to 32 inches likely at the exit rows.

    The current 757 has midcabin lavs which if eliminated would possibly allow more seats than they presently have. It’s possible that by using the new tiny rear Airbus Lavs they can do without the midcabin lav on the 321.

    All in all you make a valid point but the math is considerably more complicated than it appears at first.

  14. I apologize for the brain fart on my part, guys. I think the B/E Aerospace Diamond seat is the obvious answer, so updated the post to hopefully make it more accurate. My apologies.

  15. @ lucky @ Charles – Cathay Pacific had 11 rows of herringbone seat on the upper deck of their 747 and featured a crew storage area behind the 11 rows (22 seats). Korean Air has 6 rows of angled flat beds (24 seats) on their three remaining 747-400s minus the storage area. Both feature two lavatories (in different locations).

    I’m not saying I’m certain that Korean Air’s 747-400s have no wasted space and their angled flat seat takes up less square footage than Cathay’s herringbone seat. But when you crunch the numbers, at least it’s 100% possible.

  16. Interesting story nonetheless. La Compagnie’s prices are more premium economy than biz, which is great. Love to see them fly out of BOS to give AF a little competition though B6 may give the everyone a run for their money if they decide to deploy Mint to Europe.

  17. The Rockwell Diamond seat will work at 58″ pitch, so 62″ would actually allow for a slightly longer bed length, or some closet space, galley or other cabin monuments.

  18. Hold up for a second. Seat pitch is the measurement from anywhere on a seat to the same point on the seat in front. Let’s say that you’re measuring from seatback to seatback. If you multiply 30 inches by 39 rows means that you’re counting all the space from the very last point on the seatback in the last row to the back of the seatback in the very first row. This meaurement doesn’t take into account the first row’s seat cushion depth and legroom. So you’re cabin length of 1170inches should really be more like 1220 (maybe more including a bulkhead). It’s minor, I know, but this would add at least an inch to every seat.

  19. Also, something hugely significant that you overlooked. Because La Compagnie is going to be having such a relatively low number of seats they will likely have two less doors than Wizzair who have taken advantage of Airbus’ CabinFlex configuration to cram the maximum amount of passengers in. I believe that Airbus ‘deactivates’ the two surplus doors for customers who don’t require them. So, really, La Compagnie will have the whole length of an exit door to work with too.

  20. dunno why they would go for an ancient solution like B/E Diamond. The Polaris design (same one on El Al) pretty much allows what looks like 2-2 on the LOPA map but since it’s staggered it feels like 1-1 all aisle access to the customer.

  21. A321neo has the option to plug 2 sets of doors and convert them into window exits, which shouldn’t be an issue with 76 pax for evacuation tests. that’ll create more usable space onboard

  22. @M Hsu. I put that link in a comment, but my message has not shown up (I guess it is waiting for moderation because of the link).

  23. “These seats have the benefit of having the footwell be underneath the seats in front, and the seats are at a slight angle.” That’s totally incorrect. The footwell is not underneath the seats in front (like the angled-flat seats we love to hate from circa 2004), but rather in between the two seats in front of you (if you’re in an aisle seat) or between the aisle seat in front of you and the window (if you’re in a window seat). The seat is angled relative to the aisle, but relative to the floor it is absolutely, truly flat. I’ve sat in this seat design countless times.

    I gotta say, I enjoy reading the blog but reading this (which started with “something doesn’t add up”) kinda makes me laugh at Ben’s supposed travel expertise. Surely any traveler who’s taken even more than a cursory glance at the Diamond seat (and those of a similar design, e.g. Lufthansa) could’ve figured out how an airline was going to fit a 70+ inch flatbed into around 62 inches of seat pitch. Yet here was Ben, all incredulous. This very same design is used by all three U.S. legacy carriers (AA, UA, DL), plus Air China, Aeroflot, Royal Jordanian, and many more airlines, and yet Ben couldn’t figure out La Compagnie could POSSIBLY squeeze that many flat beds into an A321.

    Next time, have you cuppa before posting!

  24. Flew La Compagnie back in May, taking advantage of their special offer $499 USD each way EWR-ORY-EWR. The most surprising and pleasant part of the trip was how having so few seats in the plane makes boarding rapid, gives a feeling of abundant spaciousness, speeds up and helps personalize meal service. I loved it. But the 757’s were worn out in terms of upholstery and the frayed fabric everywhere really dampened my enthusiasm. I look forward to trying again with the lie-flats, though the flight is pretty short and I had no difficulty with NOT having a lie-flat on the original planes. Bon voyage.

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