Money losing Air France is trying to reinvent itself with a “100 actions” initiative. The airline’s 500 million euros Best & Beyond program will overhaul the airline product and will be completed by 2015. The airline recognizes that new trends in the aviation industry have changed what customers want and Air France is responding.
Air France wants to be the world’s premier airline and they recognize that in order to be the Best & Beyond, their hard product must be overhauled. The center of the program is their new hard product: seats, in-flight entertainment, lounges and of course, excellent customer service –something the airline is greatly lacking in my opinion.
As the program rolls out, Air France will examine and improve the flying experience from three essential angels: Comfort, Attention, Pleasure. In order to enhance cabin comfort, Air France will be introducing a new economy seat. The streamline seats will be thinner than current economy seats and will increase legroom in the economy cabin. The final design, along with the new Inflight entertainment system, will be revealed in September at the International French Travel Market fair. January 2014, and the long distance first class cabin, La Première cabin, will be revealed in April 2014. The last product to see a refresh will be the premium economy cabin. This cabin will see seat and footrest enhancements, however these enhancements will not be revealed until Summer 2014.
The new Economy Class IFE
Economy class cabins are not being overlooked, which is great when it comes to a product refresh. Along with new seats and IFE, a new meal tray is also being designed by French designer Eugeni Quittlet. Details have not been released, but I would expect this design to be released along with seat specifications at the travel fair this fall.
Finally, the most important part of this project will be improving customer service. Although my experience with Air France has been far from pleasant, just MAYBE the retraining of Air France’s 19,000 employees will improve customers interactions with the pompous crew. The retraining includes “five service attitudes to illustrate its brand”.
– Make others feel unique: ensure that each customer feels unique
– Value: be attentive to the product the customer has purchased and ensure that what we provide reflects this.
– Show you care: generosity, empathy, the ability to establish close links
– Make details count
– Take initiative: believe in the talent of staff, in the human aspect and in the history of the airline
Any improvement to Air France is highly welcome. I have only flown Air France twice and I will admit, the hard & soft product was better than any U.S. airline, but then again this was almost 8 years ago now. Times have changed and my experience with AF is out dated. Despite this, I will NEVER forget the poor attitudes of the gate agents and flight attendants that turned me off from Air France and has burned a hole in my stomach. Let’s hope these enhancements and the Best & Beyond and the 100 action incentives improve everyone’s flying experience. But for now, keep your eyes peeled for more information to come this September!