Flight-Report.com has the great pleasure of bringing you this exclusive report of Air France’s new Business Class cabin.
The introduction of this new cabin is an essential part of Air France’s “Best and Beyond” renewal program. The first aircraft to be outfitted with the new product is a Boeing 777-200ER operating the premium Paris-New York route.
The purpose of this report is to cover the passenger experience in detail on flight AF009 on June 24th from New York JFK to Paris CDG.
Outside the departure area of JFK’s Terminal 1 in front of the Air France check-in.
Business Class passengers are directed to the Sky Priority check-in counters.
Although the new cabins have been flying to NYC for five days, Air France’s hanging posters still feature the old Business and Premium Economy products.
Although JFK’s T1 is starting to show it’s age, it’s been quite well maintained.
Thanks to the First, Business, and VIP line, going through security is rather fast.
Because the Air France lounge is undergoing renovations, eligible passengers are invited to the Japan Airlines lounge. The entrance to the lounge is not particularly welcoming.
Once inside, the lounge seems outdated. One gets the impression that no major investments have been made in updating this lounge in quite some time.
The food on offer is typical of lounges in the US.
There aren’t many options of things to eat. There is a limited selection of muffins, oreos, chips, fruit and other snacks.
The drink selection, on the other hand, is pretty decent with Absolut, Black Label, and Chivas.
Here’s my choice for this evening.
Wraps and sandwiches are brought out a little later on, unfortunately it’s after boarding is called.
The Japan Airlines lounge is an overall disappointing experience although it is commendable that Air France has made an effort to bring in a bit of French touch to its temporary home with French magazines and newspapers, French Champagne and wines.
As mentioned earlier, the Air France lounge is currently undergoing renovations and is due to reopen in August. Here are some concept images of the new design:
We find Air France’s new signature look .for its lounges inspired by the new flagship lounge at CDG 2E Hall M.
The boarding gate is convenient to the lounge; it is just at the end of the concourse.
Boarding priorities are respected with Business Class and Sky Priority boarding first. There is a delay of an hour and a half tonight.
Two jet bridges are attached to our aircraft. I take the left bridge with goes to the first Business cabin.
A very warm welcome on board with a flight crew that is obviously thrilled and proud to be presenting Air France’s new product.
And here she is, the new Business Class.
This new cabin is a giant leap forward for Air France. The 7 abreast angled NEV (Nouveaux Espaces Voyages) seats will soon be a thing of the past. This new cabin, with seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, allows every passenger direct aisle access without having to climb over a seatmate. This is the “full access” that Air France has been marketing. Perhaps the most awaited feature of the new product is the fact that the seats recline to 180 degrees. Air France’s previous seats were inclined at about 170 degrees—the new “full flat” seats are a welcome change.
A growing number of airlines have choses this seat to equip their aircraft. The seat, known as the Cirrus, is manufactured by French company Zodiac. Air France has chosen sidewalls and padding in tasteful white leather. The white sidewalls surround the seats for “full privacy.”
The new seat gives an overall very good impression. Of course, the fact that the seats are new helps, but also the elegant colors that Air France has chosen give the cabin a pleasant sense of harmony.
Zodiac Cirrus seats, in a “reverse herringbone” configuration are well liked because the window seats face the window as opposed to seats in a traditional herringbone configuration which make looking out the window difficult.
Another improvement over the older generation of seats is a larger personal screen.
Storage in the first row is mainly useful for magazines and newspapers.
General overview of the cabin. One disappointing aspect is that, although the seats are new, the cabin itself has not undergone any renovations. The same gray walls are still present; the same lighting as before—moodlighting would have been nice; and there is no new decorative element to be seen.
A cover and pillow are already on the seat.
I take my seat in this aisle-seat in the middle section.
The two middle seats are separated by a screen.
The screen can be removed by the cabin crew for passengers who are travelling together.
The seat-pitch is generous and the ottoman is large.
The new noise-cancelling headset can be found in a small compartment.
Orange juice is offered during boarding. Champagne is not offered, unfortunately.
The IFE screen swings out of its storage space horizontally. The safety video is still the same AF has used for years.
The moving map looks very nice and modern.
The amenity kits are new and seem quite different from previous models. The outside is adorned with the new Air France “virgule” logo. Inside is an assortment of images from the company’s history.
The contents have been updated with a new and larger eye-mask. Also inside are mouthwash and Colgate toothpaste, as well as a comb and a shoe horn. These new contents are a pleasant surprise for those who fly frequently with the French flag-carrier.
Shortly after takeoff, oshiboris are distributed by the cabin crew.
Then the evening’s menus are handed out.
Inside we find the usual menu offering for East Coast Transatlantic flights. New this month is Chicken in a Xérès sauce by French Michelin starred chef Joël Robuchon.
Another pleasant surprise is the presence of rosé wine on the wine list, a Côte de Provence 2013.
Champagne is served before the meal; it is an excellent Ayala.
The meal service begins shortly after. The cheese course and desert are already present as is the service protocol for short Transatlantic night flights.
Maine lobster with wasabi mayonnaise, mango salad
The presentation of the dish is quite attractive.
There is a choice of three main entrees. I chose the Beef:
Pan-seared tournedos of beef with truffle butter, mashed potatoes with horsedish, buttered aspargus
It was good; however the presentation was lacking, especially with this aluminium cup containing the sauce.
Nevertheless, the meat is tender and well cooked.
I chose to test a second main dish and went for the Ravioli.
Ravioli with spinach
This dish was also quite good, although I can’t say that the presentation is very “Business Class.”
The desert is new on the menu:
Mango-coconut and raspberry cake
I tested the IFE after the meal. The IFE is touchscreen and very responsive. The remote control is also touchscreen and it is possible to have the moving map on the remote while watching a movie.
The IFE menu is very modern on this Panasonic EX3 model.
Nice selection of movies…
…as well as games.
And a page of information on Air France.
Air France is also in the process of renewing the seats in the Premium Economy cabin. Visually, there is not a big difference from the first generation of seats. One major improvement in this cabin is the addition of noise cancelling headphones which are the same as those found in Business. The formerly beige leather headrests are now black to match the Business Class design.
In Economy class, the seats are Air France’s new generation of seats which were introduced in a similar version during the cabin renovation of the Boeing 747 fleet. The Panasonic EX3 IFE is much larger than on the previous generation.
Overall, the new Economy cabin looks very nice although the large gaps between seats aren’t conducive to privacy.
The self-service bar has been set-up for the night. This is nothing new; however, it is a nice touch to have cold Champagne out and available.
Here is the seat in the full flat position. This product revolution for AF is truly a pleasure for the passenger. There are, however, some rough spots to the touch around the seat. Nevertheless, the seat is overall quite visually appealing and provides a good amount of space.
There is an airbag on the seatbelt, as is the norm on many of these types of seats.
The legroom is very good. The screen between seats and the IFE screen can create a nice feeling of privacy.
Once the pillow and cover are in place you have a real flat bed offering the promise of a restful night!
The moving map is kept on and a good night’s sleep begins over Nova Scotia…
…and ends over the United Kingdom.
Breakfast is served shortly after.
Breakfast consists of:
Orange juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, Fresh fruit, yogurt, baked goods and breads. Fresh baakery selection, breakfast pastries, butter and preserves
The cabin prepares for landing in Paris. It’s already almost time to leave this comfortable seat.
A very direct route this evening.
The Boeing is particularly well depicted on the moving map—let’s hope they do as good of a job with Airbus aircraft.
We land on Runway 08R with a view of the retro Terminal 1 flying saucer just before touchdown.
Air France’s first 777-200ER with the new cabins is registration F-GSPT.
PRATICAL INFORMATION You can find these seats on Air France flights AF008/009 today, and before the end of 2014 on routes from Paris CDG to Singapore (SIN) continuing to Jakarta (CGK), Tokyo-Haneda (HND), Houston (IAH), and Shanghai (PVG). In early 2015, the cabins will also be available on CDG to Dubai (DXB), Douala (DLA), and Sao Paulo (GRU).
Flight time New York – Paris: 7.5 hours
Prices from New York starting at $3200 R/T during the summer season.
With this new seat Air France has shown its true commitment to providing a high quality and comfortable product. The French flag-carrier has made a significant investment to regain its place as one of the world’s top carriers.
Thanks to this new cabin, Air France will most likely offer the best Business class product of any European airline. Although many European carriers have been installing new cabins over the last several years, most new cabins are not offering full aisle-access.
That being said, there are still areas that could be improved, such as the roughness on the sidewalls and the service protocol on these short night flights. The introduction of new china is positive, but it is a shame that dishes are pre-packaged and reheated rather than being plated in the galley.
Today, Air France has chosen one of the best Business Class seats in the sky. For consistency, the French flag-carrier would do well to review its service guidelines in order to offer a truly top-notch experience.
- A full flat seat. - Full aisle-access for every passenger on a spacious 1-2-1 configuration. - Privacy thanks to a separation screen between seats, which can be removed for passengers traveling together. - Bed length of 1.96m / 6.44ft - New and improved pillow, cover, and amenity kit
- Some rough finishes - The actual cabin (walls, lighting, lavatories, bars, etc) has not been updated. - Service guidelines lacking - A rarely updated menu
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