Air France has unveiled a new long-haul business class product with sliding doors for privacy, 4K entertainment screens, Bluetooth connectivity and free wifi. Jenny Southan reports
Air France says its new business class product has been “completely redesigned”, featuring “more enveloping curves and extra comfort”.
From Globetrender’s perspective, we are interested in its futuristic aesthetic that brings together premium materials such as wool, brushed aluminium and full-grain French leather, as well as other more high-tech features such as three bands of wifi, one of which is free of charge for sending WhatsApp messages, for example. As you’d expect from business class these days, the seat reclines to a fully flat bed and all passengers have direct aisle access (the cabin is configured 1-2-1). All Air France business seats will be fully flat by autumn 2023, compared with 90 per cent today.Another detail we like is the carpet on the floor, which is a nod to the herringbone flooring found in traditional Parisian Haussmann apartments.
Although no longer innovative, it’s reassuring to see Air France has recognised the importance of privacy (something only first class passengers used to get) with the addition of sliding doors to form a suite.Air France says: “To create a greater sense of privacy for passengers travelling together, the seats located in the centre of the cabin are now equipped with a central panel that can be lowered by pressing it down, thus creating a convivial space in which to make the most of the flight together.” The seats also come with 17.3-inch 4K high-definition anti-glare entertainment screens and a state-of-the-art graphic interface in 12 languages. A library of more than 350 films will be available, including a large selection of French movies, TV series, documentaries, music and podcasts.
A dedicated section on wellbeing provides meditation and seated yoga demos, while kids will have their own navigation interface so they are not accidentally exposed to adult content.
Business class seats also come with noise-reducing headsets, a new Bluetooth connection allowing passengers to wirelessly connect their own headphones, plus A and C USB ports for charging, and an induction charger for contactless mobile power. During the flight, passengers will be provided with a soft microfiber pillow and a soft blanket instead of cotton sheets, pillows and duvets (as you find on some other airlines). Within the suite, personal lights
can be dimmed at the touch of a button and a new “do not disturb” sign informs crew when a customer wishes to rest.
Air France says it will be progressively rolling out the new business class product on 12 B777-300s from September 2022 (each cabin will have 48 seats).
The company is also installing its latest premium economy (48 seats) and economy (273 seats) seats on board these aircraft.
Named Fontainebleau, the first aircraft to be equipped with these new seats – and wifi – will fly from Paris to New York-JFK this autumn.
Air France says it is committed to offering all its long-haul customers on flights departing from Paris a “responsible dining offer with nutritrious French produce”.
In the business cabin, France’s leading Michelin-starred chefs will take turns to propose a selection of vegetarian dishes, as well as refined meat, poultry and fish dishes.
By the end of 2022, all Air France flights departing from Paris will serve meat, dairy products and eggs of French origin, fish from sustainable fisheries, the systematic choice of a vegetarian dish and meals that are fully prepared in France in all cabins. The company will also offer meals made from fully-organic ingredients for babies and children.
To minimise food waste, Air France will also be introducing the option for customers to pre-select their hot dish in business class prior to departure. This service combines the guarantee of customer choice and a “more rational consumption”.
The airline is also aiming to recycle or eliminate 90 per cent of single-use plastic items on board its aircraft by the beginning of 2023.
To achieve this objective, Air France is continuing to develop eco-designed in-flight items that are manufactured from bio-based materials such as bagasse and celullose. Items that can no longer be used on board will be donated to charities.