Monday, March 31, 2014

Air France upgrades long-haul Business Class seating

Beginning this June, Air France passengers will be able to enjoy new business class seats in the airline’s long-haul Boeing 777s.

Last month, the airline unveiled the new Zodiac Aerospace Cirrus seats it will be using to create what it calls a “cocoon in the sky” as it continues its move up-market. The seats are a variant of those used by American Airlines, which I was delighted to experience and report upon in 2013.

Window seating in Business Class
The seats, which can lie fully flat, will be arranged in a 1-2-1 cabin configuration that will allow every passenger direct aisle access. Window seats will be solo, while seats in the center of the two-aisle Business Class section will be tandem affairs, with a screen that can be raised to provide some privacy from a passenger’s seatmate.

Each seat will include the latest technology, including a 16-inch high-definition touch screen with more than 1,000 hours of entertainment, new noise-reduction headphones, a USB port, a touch-screen handset, and an electrical outlet. Additional space and multiple storage areas will be close at hand, according to the airline’s news release announcing the new seats.

Side-by-side center configuration
Specially designed for Air France, the seats were developed by Zodiac Aerospace, designer Mark Collins of Design Investment, and design and branding agency Brandimage. Collins’ firm also developed the airline's new premium economy seat which, as I noted in a previous post, has more in common with Business and First Class seating than economy.

Air France will be installing more than 2,100 new seats across all 44 of its Boeing 777 long-range fleet over the next two years, with the first upgraded aircraft to begin flying in June 2014 between Paris and New York. According to French newspaper Le Figaro, the base price of each seat €55,000, but almost doubles to €100,000 by the time it's customized to the airline’s standards.

Business Class "Cocoon in the sky"
The move is part of the airline’s mission to develop the up-market of its entire range of products and services through an initiative called “Best & Beyond.” With a total investment of over €500 million, Air France's investment in its new business class alone is expected to top €200 million.

Although it’s an expensive project, “[I]t's an investment which Air France must make as it faces increased competition, especially from the ambitious Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar,” the publication Australian Business Traveller said in a Feb. 4 article on the topic.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Styles & Design - 3D view; published courtesy Air France
Click on photos to view larger images

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