In mid-2022, Air France formally announced that it planned to unveil a new first class product. Details were fairly limited at the time, and we haven’t heard many updates in the 18+ months since that announcement was made. Interestingly, this was touched on during the recent Air France-KLM 2023 investor day presentation, so I wanted to go over all the details.
In this post:
What we know about Air France’s new first class
Air France is working on introducing an all-new first class product (known as “La Premiere”). As of mid-2022, the product was still in the design phase, and the airline was confirming its commitment to maintaining first class for years to come.
Air France’s new first class product is expected to be unveiled in 2024, and should enter service as of early 2025 (that represents quite a delay, because previously the product was planned for late 2023 or early 2024).
So, what else do we know about this new first class cabin?
- The new first class will be “the longest cabin” on the market
- The new first class seat will be fully private; we’ll see if that comes in the form of curtains (as Air France currently has) or a floor-to-ceiling wall
- The new first class seat will have a modular design, with a seat, a sofa, and a fully flat bed
- The new first class cabin will consist of just three seats, so presumably it will be one row of seats in a 1-1-1 configuration
- According to Air France CEO Anne Rigail, “we aim to position it as the best in the world”
- While I can’t personally vouch for this, The Travelers Club claims that first class will not only be available on Boeing 777-300ERs, but also on select Airbus A350s in the future; that could be many years down the road, and maybe on some of the A350-1000s that Air France-KLM recently ordered
Below are a couple of slides from the recent presentation.
Furthermore, back in mid-2022, the airline had the below slide during an investor day presentation. As you can see, there’s an artistic rendering of a La Premiere seat. My guess is that this was just a possible concept, and not necessarily the product that Air France will go with.
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.
My initial take on Air France’s new first class
Unfortunately we still don’t know exactly what to expect from the new Air France first class, though we do have some more updates, at least.
First of all, we’ll have to be patient — it’ll likely be several months before the new product is revealed, and it’ll be over a year before it enters service.
Second of all, I find the decision to just install three first class seats to be interesting on a couple of levels. In terms of passenger experience, having just three seats per row is awesome, and seems to be the new standard for top products.
This is really a trend that was kicked off with Emirates’ new Boeing 777 first class, and it’s now something we’re seeing with Japan Airlines’ new A350 first class. Yes, Cathay Pacific’s 777s also have three seats per row, but that’s because they’re angled, so it’s partially a space saving technique.
While Lufthansa’s new A350 first class also has three seats per row, that’s because the airline has (a really poorly thought out) double suite in the center of the cabin, so it really has the capacity for up to four guests.
Three seats sure is a mighty small first class cabin. I understand first class takes up a lot of real estate, but that’s a very small footprint:
- From a staffing perspective, how exactly do you do that efficiently, because you’re still going to need two flight attendants working in first class, to be able to offer a good service level (you need one in the galley and one in the cabin)?
- A cabin with just three seats makes the product pretty unreliable in terms of actually being able to snag a seat; how far in advance will this cabin sell out during busy periods on routes like Paris to Los Angeles?
I’d say the most exciting update is that first class is planned not only as a reconfiguration for existing Boeing 777s, but also for some upcoming Airbus A350s. It remains to be seen how many A350s will get first class — will it just be A350-1000s delivered way down the line, or could some of the newer A350-900s also get first class? I suspect it’s the former, but only time will tell…
Air France’s new La Premiere first class is now expected to be unveiled in 2024, with entry into service planned for early 2025. The airline has revealed that first class will feature just three seats, so it’ll be a very exclusive cabin.
Furthermore, while it hasn’t been officially announced by the airline, rumor has is that the new first class isn’t just coming to 777s, but also to some A350s. For now we’ll have to stay tuned…
What do you make of Air France’s first class plans?