A new long-haul business class cabin for Air France’s B777s…well, not all

Air France unveiled this week the new business cabin that will equip some of its Boeing 777swith notable improvements despite an air of déjà vu.

The new Air France business class seat

For this new cabin, Air France has once again entrusted Safran, whose Cirrus already equipped the previous “Best” cabin. The company did not communicate on the model used but at first sight it could be a Versa, the replacement of the Cirrus.

At first glance, this new cabin differs only slightly from the current model. It is of course a 1-2-1 configuration.

However, you can noticethe disappearance of the protuberancethat existed between two adjacent seats that forced their occupants to bend over to talk when they were traveling together. Also noteworthy is thebacklit seahorse that adds a little personal touch to the cabin.

The big change is on the “privacy” side.

It will of course be possible to establish a separation between the two middle seats with a sliding panel that will allowto totally or partially privatize the seat.

But the real improvement is that the seats are now equipped with sliding doors.

Now we can talk about real “suites” which are less and less the privilege of the first classes.

Note that the seats in the first row will have even more legroom. In order to sell them at a higher price?

A less cold cabin

At first glance, this new cabin has the same reproach as the old one: a certain coldness with the excessive use of an almost hospital white.

But it is not the case. The airline must have listened to its customers because,seen from the back, we notice the use of a much warmer blue.

A cabin that can be appreciated especially from behind, it’s original.

Also note the new carpet.

The wifi is of course generalized and the screen is a 17,3″ 4K.

More of an evolution than a revolution

Air France claims to be setting a “new standard”, but we won’t go that far.

Indeed, the cabin seems warm and the appearance of the sliding doors is a big step forward.

According to people who have been able to approach the product, the quality also seems to be there, in any case it is less “cheap” than the current cabin of the B787 even if we were reported that the shelf is really a little too narrow.

This is actually the cabin we would have liked to see when Air France announced its “Best” cabin in 2014, announcing at the time an upgrade that would see it compete with Singapore Airlines. This cabin was a real leap forward compared to the dreadful NEV4s, but only bridged the gap that had opened up with the competition.

This is still the case. The concept of sliding doors is nothing new in business class, as Delta offers it on its One Suite and British Airways on its Club Suite. Even Aeroflot is on it (even if we don’t risk to travel with them anytime soon).

For the rest remove the seahorse and the comma on the seat and you could be on any premium airline. For an airline that wants to embody a certain art of living and that has the ambition to set new standards, there is something missing that would make this cabin unique, directly identifiable at first glance and, above all, “attributable” to Air France.

So of courseit is a clear progress compared to the old NEV4cabins that it will replace, a nice evolution compared to the Best cabins but it is not a product that will mark the marketlike the QSuite of Qatar Airways.

Which leads to our main regret.

A cabin deployed on….12 aircraft

This cabin will be deployed this fall on 12 aircraft. These are the 12 B777 still equipped with the antediluvian NEV4, its seat not really bed and its configuration in 2-3-2. Air France is pleased to announce that 100% of its long-haul business seats will be “full flat”, compared with 90% today…but we don’t know if having taken so long should give rise to such pride.

At this stage we don’t know if we should be happy about the disappearance of the NEV4 or worry about the fact that it will still be used in 2022! We know thatin terms of shameful product Lufthansa seems to be unbeatable, but I don’t think that Air France’s ambition is to compare itself to the weakest players.

Once this first “urgent” batch is processedwe hope to see this booth deployed more widely. Unless a new seat is in preparation for future aircraft, since Air France has not accustomed us to a great consistency in its cabins.

You will find

– B777 and 787 with Best cabin

– B777s with this new cabin

– B777 in “COI”(Caraibs and Indian Ocean) configuration with another cabin.

– A350s that use the same Optima seats as the B777 “COI”…

It will be the Russian roulette but at least with the disappearance of the NEV4 we have less chance to receive a bullet!

We also wonder if we will have the chance to see this cabin or one of its variations on KLM. The Dutch airline recently announced that they was thinking about a new business class with sliding doors,a product that would be announced within two years. One might think that for reasons of synergies and costs, KLM would start with this model, as they did with the 787, but we know that the notion of coherence within the Air France-KLM group is quite relative.

Bottom line

A new business cabin will be fitted on some of Air France’s B777s, the 12 aircraft that still have a NEV4 seat.

This is a very nice product that is a great leap forward for the devices involved but will not set a new standard in the market, as similar products have long existed from competitors.

And forget to expect any coherence between the cabins within the Air France fleet.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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