A couple of weeks ago, Air France unveiled its new business class product, which should be in service within a few months. I wanted to provide an update on this, as we’ve also learned that select Airbus A350s will be getting these new seats as well. So let’s take a look at everything we know about Air France’s new business class.
Air France introduces business class seats with doors
Air France will be introducing a new business class product, which the airline hopes will help it move even more upmarket. Air France is working with Cirrus for its new business class, which will be reverse herringbone seats that feature direct aisle access and doors.
Air France won’t just be adding doors to its existing reverse herringbone seats, but rather the airline is rolling out seats that have been redesigned altogether. As it’s described, Air France has designed this seat based on 3 “F”s:
- Full flat, meaning that the seat transforms into a real bed almost two meters long
- Full access, providing all business class passengers direct aisle access
- Full privacy, ensuring optimal privacy thanks to the addition of doors
Beyond the added privacy, seats will also feature 17.3″ 4K high definition anti-glare screens with a noise reducing headset, a new bluetooth connection allowing passengers to use their own headphones, and several electric sockets. All planes with the new business class product will also feature Wi-Fi, as installing this has been a priority for Air France in recent years.
Below you can find the first renderings of the new cabin on the Boeing 777, which sure looks swanky to me (I love the lit up winged seahorse on the front of each storage console).
Air France will reconfigure 12 777-300ERs with new cabins
Air France’s plan is to initially retrofit 12 Boeing 777-300ERs with new business class seats. The planes will be totally reconfigured nose-to-tail, and will feature 369 seats, including:
- 48 business class seats
- 48 premium economy seats
- 273 economy class seats
These planes will also get Air France’s latest premium economy and economy, already found on other jets, including the Airbus A350.
Which Boeing 777-300ERs will be reconfigured? Air France currently has 43 Boeing 777-300ERs in its fleet, and it’s my understanding that:
- 19 Boeing 777-300ERs are in a four class configuration, featuring first class; these won’t be reconfigured
- 10 Boeing 777-300ERs are in high-density configuration for leisure routes, with 472 seats; these planes were recently reconfigured, and won’t be reconfigured
- The remaining Boeing 777-300ERs feature old cabins with angled business class seats, and these are the planes that I believe will be reconfigured
So suffice it to say that this will represent a huge upgrade for these tired 777s. Air France is also being pretty efficient about this, as these 777s currently feature 381 seats. When reconfigured, the planes will feature a total of 12 fewer seats, but they’ll have six additional business class seats and 24 additional premium economy seats. Wow.
Future Air France A350s will get new business class
It’s not just 12 Boeing 777-300ERs that are getting the new business class seats. On top of that, Air France revealed in a presentation yesterday that Airbus A350-900s delivered starting in 2023 will also feature the new business class.
Air France already has 17 Airbus A350-900s in its fleet, with a further 21 jets on order. It sounds like we should expect most of the remaining A350s to feature the new cabins, which is exciting. It’s also rumored that some of those A350s will feature first class, though we’ll have to wait for the full details.
New York will be first destination to get new cabins
The first Boeing 777 with the new seats is expected to enter service as of September 2022, on the Paris (CDG) to New York (JFK) route. As of now the plane hasn’t yet been scheduled on the route, though I imagine that will change as the schedule firms up.
While it makes sense to offer a premium product to a market like New York, this is interesting because Air France typically also offers La Premiere (first class) to New York, but these reconfigured jets won’t feature first class.
Admittedly Air France historically hasn’t offered first class on all frequencies to New York, so my guess is that this reconfigured 777-300ER frequency will replace a 777-200ER frequency (as those jets don’t have first class).
Air France is still committed to first class
Understandably many people wondered whether the new business class signaled that Air France is no longer committed to maintaining first class. After all, some might consider it a bit strange that the new best business class is being debuted on a plane without first class, since you’d think you’d want to offer this to the most premium destinations.
Fortunately that’s not the case. Air France has just revealed that it’s introducing a new first class (“La Premiere”) product, and we’ll also see the footprint of the product expand. The catch is that the new first class will only be introduced in late 2023 or early 2024.
My read on the situation is that Air France wanted to immediately update its Boeing 777s most in need of a refresh. It’s not like Air France is removing first class from 777s to install new business class seats. Rather the airline is starting with the planes most in need of new cabins.
When Air France does come around to introducing its new first class product, I suspect these planes will also likely get the new business class, but only time will tell.
Air France is introducing a new business class seat on select Boeing 777s and Airbus A350s. Specifically, 12 Boeing 777s will be reconfigured with the cabins starting this summer, while A350s delivered starting in 2023 will also feature these new cabins.
How exciting to see Air France-KLM really investing in the premium experience, between this, the new first class, and KLM also soon introducing a new 777 business class.
It’s always nice to see an airline only announce a new product shortly before it enters service, rather than years in advance (not that I’m thinking of a particular other European airLHine when making that statement).
What do you make of Air France’s new business class suite?