Air France presents a new cabin for its Airbus A350

Last week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2023 in Hamburg, Air France presented the new cabins that will equip the new Airbus A350s joining its fleet in July.

An innovation? Not really, since these cabins are already present on some Boeing 777-300ERs in the fleet, as we reported last year.

Business: a similar seat but a different equipment supplier

Despite the choice of Safran to equip the Boeing 777-200s known as Loisirs or 42J, still equipped with the infamous 2-3-2 NEV4 cabin, Air France has this time chosen Airbus subsidiary Stelia Aerospace.

The differences between the two seats seem to be minimal.

Even if the tones are still very pale, even looking like a hospital, a small touch-sensitive tablet breaks up the super white and enables the seat and IFE to be controlled.

As a signature Air France feature, the small compartment is very practical for storing personal belongings.

On the other hand, the tablet is very small, even in the Boeing 787-style computer-generated images.

Each seat is equipped with a door for privacy during at cruising altitude. Some think it’s a gadget, but we love it.

The seats in the first row of this cabin are considerably more spacious. We can imagine an opportunity for the French airline to sell these seats at a premium price.

Ccreens are retractable (except in the first row) and of high quality/definition.

Finally, the overall tones are quite good “from the back”, with that deep blue.

Few innovations, then, but a solid, if not very solid, product.

Premium Economy or the comeback of the recliner

Remember 2008? Air France launched its revolutionary Premium Economy class, with shell seats to avoid the recline of the passenger in front.

It was a great idea, and one that had made Air France‘s Business class a success with its New Travel Spaces (NEV), the seat-beds that replaced “L’Espace 127”, the Business class of yesteryear.

The problem is that what works in Business with a high pitch doesn’t work in Premium Economy: when the seat “slides” into its shell, legroom is mechanically reduced and becomes painful for anyone over 1m70 tall. Impossible to sleep in, you’re better off in Economy.

So goodbye to the shell seat, and back to the Recliner, admittedly intrusive when your front neighbor is asleep, but so much more comfortable.

A well-made Economy Class

Economy seats all look the same. Air France has nonetheless updated the connectivity and the screens, which are now 4K. A constraint that weighs heavily on in-flight IT, which must now offer adapted content.

What’s new? A USB-C port and the ability to connect personal Bluetooth headphones. Elegant cabin tones.

Bottom line

New cabins, not so new, but an upgrade in customer experience. Worth testing.

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.

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