Air France has unveiled a new design for its Economy and Premium Economy cabins which will be rolled out across the airline’s 15 Airbus A330 long-haul aircraft starting in January 2019. Along with a new colour scheme which features cool pastels and a bold red accent, the airline has also announced improvements to the Economy seat design and in-flight entertainment system (IFE), as well as an enhanced soft product.
Making use of slimline armrests, the new Economy Class seats will now feature a fairly standard 17-inch width, with 31-inches of seat pitch and a larger single-blade tray table. The airline, has, however, taken a passenger-pleasing approach to its IFE upgrades, with new touchscreen seatback screens coming in at 11.7 inches.
In comparison, Emirates’ market-leading seat back screens come in at just over 13-inches while newly upgraded screens on a select number of British Airways aircraft measure just 10-inches. It appears that Air France has taken the decision not to include remote controls with its upgraded IFE offering.
The IFE improvements continue in Air France’s Premium Economy cabin with the new seat back High Definition screens measuring 13.3 inches. Unfortunately, Air France has retained the unpopular hard shell seats, choosing instead to simply reupholster and install softer seat cushions to overcome some of the customer complaints.
Premium Economy seats will feature an AC socket at every seat, along with two USB charging points, while Economy seats will benefit from individual AC sockets and one USB charging point each. The airline intends to roll out WiFi across its fleet, although details were lacking in the accompanying press release.
Along with a new colour palette, Air France has also announced some welcome changes to its onboard service. All passengers will now receive a packaged wet towel on boarding the aircraft – what Air France likes to call an oshibori which is based on a Japenese hospitality tradition.
Air France will retain its great tradition of offering every passenger a glass of Champagne which will now be served in new glassware, while meal trays have also been redesigned with a new black background and tableware coming in the same pastel shades that adorn the rest of the cabin.
On a number of longer flights, Air France will finally make self-serve snacks available in the galley, while crew will bid farewell to passengers by offering a small candy in a cute French flag designed wrapper.
Finally, new cabin cushions, blankets and amenities like collectable eye masks will complete Air France’s soft product. The airline’s executive vice president of Customer, Anne Rigail said the changes were part of Air France’s strategy to “move upmarket.”
These are welcome but long overdue changes to Air France’s onboard product. It’s no secret that Air France has been struggling to reduce costs over the last few years but with full-service competitors upping the anty, Air France will no doubt have felt pressured to at least match the service provided by rivals.
One has to feel slightly for Air France’s cabin designers – we all think of France as the land of chic and passengers no doubt want to see a fashionable look onboard the nations flag carrier. On first look, the designers have done a good job on meeting that brief.
If you want to check out the seats in person before they’re officially launched next year, you can check them out at the BHV Marais department store in Paris between 26th September to 3rd October.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.