Air France Plans New First Class (La Premiere) Cabin

Air France Plans New First Class (La Premiere) Cabin

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Air France recently unveiled its new business class product with doors, which will be debuting on select Boeing 777-300ERs as of later this year. The airline has now revealed that it will introduce a new first class product, though the details are fairly limited for now.

What we know about Air France’s new first class

It has been announced that Air France will introduce an all new first class product (known as “La Premiere”) in the winter 2023 & 2024 season. The new first class product is currently in the design phase, and this confirms the carrier’s commitment to maintaining first class for years to come.

As it’s described, this will be “the longest cabin” on the market, and there will be a seat, a sofa, and a fully flat bed:

The future cabin will be the longest on the market and will offer up to three modular configurations that can be fully privatized for an even more exceptional journey: a seat, a sofa and a fully flat bed. The new cabin will equip a larger number of aircraft than at present.

Here’s how Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith describes Air France’s commitment to first class, including that demand for first class is currently higher than pre-pandemic:

“La Première represents the highest level of French excellence and is an intrinsic part of Air France’s DNA. Even at the height of the Covid crisis, we could see the attractiveness of such an offer for our customers, particularly on the North Atlantic route, where load factors in the La Première cabin are currently higher than they were back in 2019. We look forward to unveiling this new cabin, which is set to meet the highest global standards.”

This new cabin is part of Air France’s continued effort to move upmarket, which otherwise includes fleet renewal, lounge renovations, better catering, and new premium cabins.

Air France first class is currently available on select Boeing 777-300ERs. The current first class product, which was introduced back in 2014, features curtains that offer full privacy. It’s a phenomenal cabin, and personally I rank Air France as having the second best first class experience in the air, and the best first class experience on the ground.

Air France first class on the Boeing 777-300ER

My initial take on Air France’s new first class

We’re still well over a year from Air France’s new first class cabin even being revealed, so for now we’ll largely have to speculate.

It has been rumored for quite some time that Air France plans to expand its first class footprint. Going back as far as September 2020, there was talk of how Air France plans to introduce first class on some of its upcoming Airbus A350 deliveries (just like Lufthansa). This makes sense when you consider that Air France’s first class footprint was greatly reduced due to the retirement of the A380.

With this announcement, I think it’s safe to assume that this is likely what’s happening, though it also sounds like we should expect existing Boeing 777s to be reconfigured with the new first class as well. There are a couple of interesting clues of what we can expect:

  • It’s claimed the new Air France first class will be the “longest” in the market, which is an interesting claim; it sounds like this will have the most pitch of any first class seat to date
  • It’s claimed that there will be a seat, a sofa, and a fully flat bed, which is quite an impressive number of seating options to have in first class

I’m happy to see that Air France plans to continue to offer the option of full privacy in first class, meaning suites will somehow be fully enclosed, just as they are right now. That means there won’t just be a privacy door that maybe goes up five feet or so.

There’s already a major clue of what we can expect, as Air France has included a rendering of the new product in a presentation today. However, it’s anyone’s guess if this is what the airline has actually decided on, or if this is just a general idea of what Air France is going for.

The rendering shows something that looks somewhat similar to the current first class, in the sense that there appear to be curtains. However, there’s essentially a sofa on one side of the suite, and then a seat on the other side of the suite, with a television on each end. A single suite also spans five windows in length.

I imagine Air France will want to be quite efficient with this new configuration, since the A350 and 777 aren’t exactly huge planes, and the airline is looking to make a profit. I can’t help but wonder if this cabin would be in a 1-1-1 configuration, or if the airline can make this happen while maintaining a 1-2-1 configuration.

If Air France does choose a 1-1-1 configuration, I’m curious if there would be one or two rows. Air France currently has one row of first class with just four seats, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the cabin expanded a bit.

Bottom line

It’s fantastic to see that Air France is not only committed to maintaining first class, but to expanding the product. Air France intends to introduce a new first class in late 2023 or early 2024.

There’s even a rendering of the new product, which looks pretty incredible. I suspect this will be installed on select Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s, and I can’t wait to learn more!

What do you make of Air France’s plans to expand and improve first class?

Conversations (29)
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  1. Patrick O'Keeffe Guest

    I hope they provide more privacy between 1E and 1F in the new design. Currently only the window seats 1A and 1L have complete privacy. There is a very small separator between E and F - barely more than a foot high. You can see and hear everything going on in the other so-called suite. I've flown La Premiere about 10 times now and just flew in one of the middle seats for the first...

    I hope they provide more privacy between 1E and 1F in the new design. Currently only the window seats 1A and 1L have complete privacy. There is a very small separator between E and F - barely more than a foot high. You can see and hear everything going on in the other so-called suite. I've flown La Premiere about 10 times now and just flew in one of the middle seats for the first time yesterday. It is most definitely not the same experience as 1A or 1L. In the future if there is now window seat available i would rather fly Business Class as that has more privacy than 1E and 1F for a fraction of the price.

  2. Stuart Guest

    I flew last night in Premiere and happened to show the rendering to the Purser. She was laughing as that layout makes no sense to her and she was quite sure it will be nothing like it at all. Her reasoning is that she also works the A350 and it would be impossible to fit those layouts in without taking up a huge footprint. She had a few others come look and they all laughed.

    ...

    I flew last night in Premiere and happened to show the rendering to the Purser. She was laughing as that layout makes no sense to her and she was quite sure it will be nothing like it at all. Her reasoning is that she also works the A350 and it would be impossible to fit those layouts in without taking up a huge footprint. She had a few others come look and they all laughed.

    My feeling is they had someone just do some quick rendering of one of the ideas to show they will make improvements, but in the end it will be similar to what we see now, just a refresh. Honestly, it really needs just minor updates as even today it's a fantastic product as is.

  3. AirChance Guest

    No matter how elegant and enchanting they make their first class product, it is a moot point if a horrifically & consistently unsafe pilot culture manages to plunge a perfectly good plane into the ground from cruise altitude. Until AF overhauls its pilot training paradigm and crew resource management culture, I wouldn't let my worst enemy set foot on one of their planes (great hard/soft product notwithstanding). See AF11 and AF447 as the most recent...

    No matter how elegant and enchanting they make their first class product, it is a moot point if a horrifically & consistently unsafe pilot culture manages to plunge a perfectly good plane into the ground from cruise altitude. Until AF overhauls its pilot training paradigm and crew resource management culture, I wouldn't let my worst enemy set foot on one of their planes (great hard/soft product notwithstanding). See AF11 and AF447 as the most recent conspicuous examples of AF crew incompetence, but there are almost certainly more examples that don't reach the media.

    1. AirChance Guest

      Sure. So are you ready to fly AF with your family? Safe travels.

    2. Clem Diamond

      I am and I do - it's probably in the top 3 airlines I fly the most. Curious to know if you are exclusively flying airlines that have had zero incidents due to pilot error. That must be near impossible to find.

    3. AirChance Guest

      Nobody is perfect, for sure. However, as a pilot myself I can tell you that there is a huge difference between sporadic human error and egregious, consistent flaws in crew culture/training. AF11 and AF447 reflect clear deficiencies in basic flight training and stick & rudder skills

  4. TravelinWilly Diamond

    Interesting mock-up of a (rejected?) new CX FC product: https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/air-france-new-la-premiere-first-class

  5. tuotuo Member

    If the suite is not for 2 person then it's a big waste of space.Why a chair and a sofa?And the suite is too long you can't use the chair as an ottoman when you sit in sofa.

  6. Mary S Guest

    Business class looks truly UN-inspired. It will be fine/good. But nothing we have not seen before.

    PE - 4 wide? Again nothing to see there.

    First... not sure why I want a sofa. But, does look grand.

  7. John Guest

    Meanwhile back at Lufthansa's 'new' business class seat project office........................................

  8. Aman Guest

    Well they are keeping the curtains for sure which is smart. Less weight, less maintenance and a lot more premium- plus it allows them to offer full length privacy.
    I can’t see the seat in the sketch and frankly think the sofa and bed in themselves will be game changers.
    I have always believed that first class demand exists. Just look at the number of people willing to shell out 10,000 dollars for...

    Well they are keeping the curtains for sure which is smart. Less weight, less maintenance and a lot more premium- plus it allows them to offer full length privacy.
    I can’t see the seat in the sketch and frankly think the sofa and bed in themselves will be game changers.
    I have always believed that first class demand exists. Just look at the number of people willing to shell out 10,000 dollars for a Chanel handbag or a Rolex watch?
    The low occupancy of first class was driven by the premiumization of business class and first class simply not being aspirational enough anymore- there simply weren’t enough reasons to trade up.
    This is perhaps one of the reasons why Emirates has been able to sustain first class cabins across a majority of their cabins. Their business class hard product is mediocre on their 380s and subpar on the 777s. And apart from the bar on the 380s, the soft product too is uninspiring- no dine on demand. Contrast this with the spiffy new 777 suites and the onboard showers on the 380- that create tangible differentiation for business passengers to upgrade or at least aspire.
    Ultimately, a mini-hotel set up will become the gold standard for long haul first class just like direct aisle access lie flat seats are for long haul business class.
    Emirates will probably need to have a hard look at their first class and possibly SIA will as well. Their 777 first product looks quite weak.

  9. Mak Guest

    First Class on Air France continues to exist almost entirely so that Air France KLM Group can ingratiate itself with French Bureaucrats by giving them free First Class upgrades.

    1. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

      Difficult to turn a profit without the government bailouts, those “free” upgrades are a great return on capital for shareholders!

    2. Max Guest

      KLM would economically better of without the huge money drain that is Air France.
      Culturally they also don’t fit together.

    3. James Guest

      It's a bit like Swiss vs. Lufthansa, on paper swiss looks more profitable on its own but the accounting is more complex since its consolidated and there are many code share effects (costs are better registered in France and profit in the NL since they are less tax) . For KLM to thrive on its own, it would need to downsize to keep current profitably (it would lose a lot of feeds from Lyon and...

      It's a bit like Swiss vs. Lufthansa, on paper swiss looks more profitable on its own but the accounting is more complex since its consolidated and there are many code share effects (costs are better registered in France and profit in the NL since they are less tax) . For KLM to thrive on its own, it would need to downsize to keep current profitably (it would lose a lot of feeds from Lyon and other secondary cities). The Dutch Market is simply much smaller than the French one, just like the swiss market is much smaller than the German ones. They are complimentary. For the shareholders of AFKLM, the whole business makes more sense as one. I don't see any ways KLM would make sense as a standalone company.

    4. Icarus Guest

      The vast majority are of tickets are paid for. Only 4 seats and brings in a vast amount of revenue.

  10. Mike O. Guest

    Surprised they're sticking with HD when 4K systems are available.

    1. Max Guest

      8K it is nowadays!
      Or directly skip to Bar headsets.

    2. Mike O. Guest

      Sure for in home use, but at the moment for IFE, 4K is the best we got! I mean if you're going for something new, why get something outdated (unless it's really that cheap!)

  11. Brianair Guest

    My bad, I forgot about BA. Austrian and ANZ each have some, not a lot compared to the others, and both are dumping them in favor of 787s. But yeah, I do get the impression that any “classic” 777 variant other than the 77L, 77W, and 77F (both based on the L and W) are already sort of on their way out.

  12. Brianair Guest

    Hooray, Air France and KLM! Glad they are moving towards a consistent and excellent-looking product. KLM’s 777 retrofits are long overdue. I wonder if it’ll actually make it on their -200ERs like they say here, which probably means they’ll stay at least a few years past 2024, because I’m getting the impression that any variant that isn’t the -200LR or -300ER is already getting old. Outside AF-KLM, I believe only American and United have a...

    Hooray, Air France and KLM! Glad they are moving towards a consistent and excellent-looking product. KLM’s 777 retrofits are long overdue. I wonder if it’ll actually make it on their -200ERs like they say here, which probably means they’ll stay at least a few years past 2024, because I’m getting the impression that any variant that isn’t the -200LR or -300ER is already getting old. Outside AF-KLM, I believe only American and United have a substantial amount of the Es. Now, I wonder if they’ll also do some touch ups in economy to make the 10-abreast cabin more palatable.

  13. Clem Diamond

    Really looking forward to see what they're coming up with! I also initially thought of something like the new Qantas first seat, but the language suggests "modular configurations" which would hint that it will be either a seat, sofa or bed. That would also track with the renderings in their presentation deck.

    1. Clem Diamond

      Also longest seat seems to be indeed the pitch: there are 5 windows per seat on the rendering!!

    2. Jayceegee New Member

      Agreed. The couch looks a lot more like a traditional business class seat that would then extend into a bed. Curious to see how this is implemented, because the sketch makes it appear that a fully extended "bed" would encroach on the table/storage next to the chair...

  14. AM Guest

    Looks like there's a sketch of the new suite layout in an AF deck: https://twitter.com/rschuur_aero/status/1529147174977683457

    1. Icarus Guest

      Air France hasn’t released any images. It’s in planning and someone drew a sketch.

  15. Gary Leff Guest

    This new product has the potential to be as good as you think their current hard product is :-)

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AM Guest

Looks like there's a sketch of the new suite layout in an AF deck: https://twitter.com/rschuur_aero/status/1529147174977683457

3
John Guest

Meanwhile back at Lufthansa's 'new' business class seat project office........................................

2
Max Guest

KLM would economically better of without the huge money drain that is Air France. Culturally they also don’t fit together.

2
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