A new business class for KLM’s 777s

KLM has finally unveiled its new B777 business class. One notable feature: sliding doors.

We’ve been waiting a long, long time – too long – for KLM’s business class product to evolve. Almost ten years ago, it was faster than Air France to offer and deploy a full-flat seat, first on its 747s, then on the rest of its long-haul fleet. Full flat but not full access, as the configuration was 2-2 on the Jumbo’s upper deck and 2-2-2 elsewhere.

A product that took a long time to arrive

We then had to wait for the introduction of the 787 to see the arrival of 1-2-1 configurations on this aircraft, while the rest of the fleet was still waiting to be upgraded. Finally, more than a year ago, KLM announced the future arrival of a business class with doors, but no further details were given on the timetable.

Just a few weeks later, Air France announced such a product for some of its 777s, for which deployment has already begun, and, more recently, for its A350s. This shows how far the Dutch airline has fallen behind not only its “sister” airline, but the market as a whole.

KLM’s new 777 business class

To say the least, KLM has been sparing with photos.

The cabin is in the airline’s typical blue and white tones, 1-2-1, and gives a certain impression of brightness and space.

It’s clear here that the seat is an improvement on the one used on 787s, and for good reason: it’s supplied by the same manufacturer, Jamco.

The door integrated into the seat is clearly visible in the open position.

Here in partially closed position.

Seat controls will logically be equipped with a button activating a “do not disturb” sign.

Note the massage function. It was present on air France’s old NEV seats, and its removal was not missed by many.

Finally, a video that the airline published on its press relations site but did not think useful to publish on its own Youtube channel.

On the good news front, the entire fleet will be retrofitted in the coming year.

Our opinion on KLM’s new business class

Compared to the existing product, it’s a big step forward, and if this seat brings few improvements over what we know from the 787 (apart from the sliding door) it’s a significant improvement on the rest of the airline’s fleet.

As this is the same base as the seat on the 787, we hope it has been enlarged to take account of the aircraft’s cabin width. We all remember that the Cirrus used on 777s was slimmed down to fit the 787, with the result, among other things, of a perceived loss of quality and robustness. On the other hand, the opposite operation could be beneficial in the case of KLM. In any case, there’s one thing to be avoided at all costs: installing a seat designed for a narrower aircraft as is, and having the impression of an unsuitable seat with lots of unused free space around a seat that’s not wide enough (as on Thai’s A350s for example).

Otherwise, and perhaps that’s why KLM has kept its communication to a minimum, it’s an announcement that won’t change anything in the market. Seats with doors have been appearing since the mid-2010s, with the Delta OneSuite among others, and today we can no longer speak of a novelty, just a catch-up. But Lufthansa, which started from a worse position with a worse product, at least tried to be innovative in catching up.

More generally, we once again deplore the lack of coherence and synergies between Air France and KLM on this subject. Air France introduces the Cirrus from Safran Seats (formerly Zodiac Aerospace), KLM launches a Jamco which is an almost identical copy, then Air France, again with Safran, introduces the sliding door on the B777 (Versa seat?) but installs an almost identical copy of this seat on its A350s, this time made by Stelia Aerospace! And now there’s an upgraded Jamco at KLM, all for cabins that really do look the same, with an extra premium touch at Air France. And don’t even mention the Stelia ELYSIUM that equips Air France’s A330s.

Wouldn’t it be possible, as Lufthansa and Swiss do, to start with a single seat that each airline could adapt to its own taste!

Bottom line

KLM is finally catching up, announcing a new business cabin for its 777s that won’t revolutionize the market, but is a significant improvement compared to what it offered before. A discreet announcement by the airline, which must be well aware of this.

One wonders, however, why no announcement has been made for the A330, which suffers from the same cabin as the A330.

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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