The big picture: Inside Air France's new A330 business class cabins

6 Feb 2019 by Jenni Reid
Air France A330 business class

Air France has released pictures of the business class cabins that will be available on all of its 15 A330 aircraft by 2020.

The retrofit will introduce fully-flat seats, extra seat width, sliding panels for privacy, bigger IFE screens and a self-service bar, though seats will remain in a 2-2-2 configuration.

The seats are 2m long and 57.1 cm wide, while the new screen is 18.5 inches.

It is an Equinox 2D seat manufactured by Stelia Aerospace, unlike Air France’s B777 business class product which is the popular Cirrus seat in a 1-2-1 ‘reverse herringbone’ configuration. We reviewed that seat on its inaugural flight in 2014, and more recently here.

Asked why the airline did not switch to the configuration it has on its 777s and 787s, an Air France spokesperson told Business Traveller: “Thanks to this 2-2-2 configuration exclusively dedicated to the Airbus A330, customers can easily travel together for more conviviality or preserve their privacy thanks to a sliding partition located between each seat.

“This configuration makes no compromise on comfort, offering the latest generation of fully flat seats and particularly soft seat cushions. The screen – over 18 inches – is one of the largest on the market.

“This 2-2-2 configuration also makes it possible to preserve the Business offer (36 seats) on the smallest aircraft in the Air France long-haul fleet, and therefore meet the strong demand of our premium customers at the same fare levels as today. Opting for a 1-2-1 configuration would have caused us to lose 30 per cent of our Business seat offer and would have increased our fares.

“Finally, 70 per cent of the cabin’s seats offer direct access to the central aisle.”

Until the end of the winter season the cabins will be available on flights to Accra in Ghana, Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and Houston in the US.

From the summer season it will be expanded to Cotonou in Benin, Lagos in Nigeria, Niamey in Niger, Bengaluru and Delhi in India, as well as Seattle, Chicago and Dallas in the US.

Air France A330 business class bar

The A330s will also get new seats in premium economy and economy (pictured top and bottom, below).

Premium economy has 130 degree seat recline in a fixed shell and is 48.5cm wide with 102cm pitch. It has additional storage space, a wider footrest and a 13.3 inch screen.

Economy has a a 118 degree recline with 79cm of legroom and an 11.6-inch screen. They also feature personal power plugs and USB sockets.


Air France A330 premium economy

The A330 retrofit should please the airline’s new CEO Ben Smith, who has set out his aim to target a “high contribution” customer base, and stated in an interview with La Tribune last month, “We are currently the only major company that does not yet offer a consistent product like fully-flat beds in business class.”

Air France also has 2-2-2 business class seats on its A380s and has previously announced plans to retrofit them in 2020, while also retiring five out of ten of the aircraft this year due to cost.

Smith’s plan to streamline the Air France brand and take it more upmarket has so far meant rebranding its regional subsidiary Hop! as Air France Hop and the probable end of Millennial-targeted brand Joon.

The airline is marking its 85th anniversary this year.

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