Earlier this year I wrote that Air France would be renovating their entire long-haul fleet and introduce their Best and Beyond initiative . At that time very little about the new cabin was revealed, but AF had promised that the new economy and premium economy cabin would be announced in September and the new business class cabin would be announced come the New Year. With it being the end of September, Air France has finally released a publication with a complete overview of the new economy and premium economy cabin. The press kit reveals new seats, meals, amenities, and more. Air France’s 44 Boeing 777 will be the first to see these enhancements and will gradually be phase in starting in June 2014 and will take until July 2016 for all 44 planes to be completed.
The entire cabin refresh is Air France’s attempt to become travelers #1 choice to Europe and has been redesigned with “comfort, attention to detail, and pleasure” in mind. Three major changes are coming to the economy class and premium economy class cabins: new seats, entertainment, and an updated meal.
The new seats have been redesigned with the passenger in mind. Striving for a more comfortable ride, Air France’s new seats are completely reworked and will offer more legroom, a new seat cushion and enhancements such as a wider tray table and a more comfortable adjustable headrest. And as always, the claim that the seat is ergonomically-designed to guarantee optimum comfort (although I feel like every airline says this with each cabin refresh). In addition, each seat will feature electrical sockets, usb ports and headphone holders.
The premium economy cabin is still fairly new and was introduced in 2009 by Air France, the only updates this cabin will see is more comfortable seat cushions and a multi-position footrest.
Air France has already changed the way inflight entertainment works allowing customers to now use their inflight entertainment systems to watch movies from the minute they board until the minute they land. Air France claims this gives passengers on average an additional hour of time to enjoy movies. Although this feature is already updated across the Air France’s fleet, there are a number of new enhancements to be rolled out. Starting in June 2014, each seat will be equipped with a new HD touch-screen PTV with over 1,000 hours of music, movies, TV series. In economy class PTVs will be 9 inches (currently only 7-8 inches) and in premium economy PTVS will be 12 inches (currently 10 inches). In addition, the inflight entertainment will be available in 9 languages and have a user interface similar to a tablet. Furthermore, the usb port will not only charge devices, but will allow passengers to watch movies, browse photos, or read pdf documents saved on devices on the PTV.
Airplane food, YUCK–Well maybe not anymore! Air France is attempting to make food on board better for all customers, not just those in the front of the plane. Enhancements are already being rolled out and are now awaiting the new cabins. Enhancements include new tableware, new culinary delicacies that change monthly and include two separate options, and an apertif before the main meal which includes
“Champagne, wine, fruit juice and many other beverages (alcoholic or not) are available for passengers, accompanied by savoury biscuits all free of charge!” In addition, “This main dish is accompanied by a “cool box” in the Air France colours containing fruit, cheese and butter, an elegant addition to the meal tray. A starter, dessert and an offer of bread round off this complete meal. At the end of the meal, coffee, tea and liqueurs are served by the cabin crew.”
Other enhancements are made for flight lasting longer than 8 hours include a second hot meal and for flights lasting 10.5 hours or more include an ice cream snack service.
In Premium Economy, new tableware was designed by Catalan designer, Eugeni Quitllet. In addition to an upgraded meal, passengers receive a unique “cone” style cup containing candies and an oshibori. The cone is a gift that passengers can keep a souvenir of their flight.
In addition, children meals are being refreshed:
For children, Eugeni Quitllet has created modern and colourful tableware. The carefully organized meal tray includes fun plane-shaped cutlery and a «cool box» containing jam, a chocolate bar, butter and orange juice. On the menu, Air France offers up to three organic products (with French and European certification) designed to appeal to babies and young children.
The smallest passengers are always served before others in the cabin. In this way, their parents can then enjoy their meal in peace afterwards.
All-in-all, these improvements will be much welcomed and will make flying Air France more enjoyable for those in the back of the plane. If you would like to try Air France’s new product you can either use you Delta SkyMiles as they are a Skyteam partner or for more options and flexibility transfer miles to the Air France FlyingBlue frequent flyer program, a partner of American Express membership rewards. The American Express Premier Gold Rewards Card or American Express Platinum both offer attractive sign up bonuses to get you closer to your next free Air France flight.