Air France up their game tooBack to Forum
Anonymous8 May 2014
I’m sure most of you will have seen this on the BT News page, but interesting that there’s been a lot of talk about European carriers doing away with 1st (only on routes where it doesn’t work) yet here we are with AF offering something new…..albeit I have to say not hugely innovative.
With KLM’s new business class, which on the face of it looks great but does still not offer direct aisle access and now AF with something resembling a desirable first class, Lufthansa having arguably the best F & J products of the Euro lot, it looks as though the Rest Of World carriers are playing catch-up with the Gulfies, who have moved the game on considerably with their offerings.
I’m not a huge AF fan following friends of mines who had a terrible experience with their customer service not replacing stolen tickets (they had to buy them all over again – same seats at thee times the cost – long story) but I do wonder if these new suites (but they aren’t really suites – big seat with curtain) will attract PAX from these shores?
AOTG.8 May 2014
What’s interesting about this is that it was actually AF’s CEO that not too long ago quoted First Class as being a ‘costly marketing gimmick’ and that ‘no one makes money out of it’. He does however say it can be a strong marketing tool.
It’s nowhere near what the mid east big guns are offering but I reckon it will pretty much set the benchmark (in terms of seat anyway) for the other european/US airlines still offering First.
Will be interesting to see if any AF aircraft will lose the First Class cabin during the overhaul and whether they will up the service on the ground as well – the AF lounges are pretty poor.8 May 2014
I would argue that Swiss has the best First of European carriers (in the air). However, the Frankfurt ground experience on Lufthansa is hard to beat. Since most of the journey is spent onboard, my vote goes to Swiss.
In terms of Business Class experience on long-haul kit and Europe-based my vote would go to Austrian Airlines.8 May 2014
I think of the European carriers, service in F on Swiss is the best however on the A340 the seat has now seen better days and the seat is a huge part of the F experience.
I like the look of the new AF seat and will no doubt get to try it at some stage. My experience of AF F service is also excellent though I think they more than any other European carrier are culling the routes where F is offered. The privacy exceeds anything offered other than in a suite. I don’t though see LH following their lead, IME Germans are less bothered by personal privacy than most other nationalities hence the amount of changing you see happening in the F cabin.
LH also offer an excellent product with ground services that are world leading. Yes, the QR terminal at DOH is also excellent but for me LH still have the edge.
Although others disagree, I still think the world leading F hard products are the suites of SQ, EY and EK. CX and LH are also up there along with TG on the A380. I haven’t tried ANA but I think it probably belongs with that group. AF might now be joining it.8 May 2014
Well let’s hope BA’s new F to be revealed on the 787-900 will not be a disappointment or another of the same plus marketing hype. They can now see what their competitors are offering and they still have a good lead in time to improve whatever they may already have on the drawing board as the first 787-900 will not be received until spring next year.
While I can be reasonably confident we won’t see any ‘residences’ or ‘apartments’ I am hopeful for at least something that rivals the new AF product.8 May 2014
rferguson – thank you as ever. I was invited to a consultation day for want of a better term by BA at Waterside at the end of last year. It was all about business class seating and a lot of feedback was sought about competitors and then several new seats were on display which we all tried and gave feedback on. None were that exciting.
I asked questions also about F but nothing was forthcoming and there appeared to be no parallel exercise happening about F seating.
Given that at the invitation stage of this process participants were asked to demonstrate their level of travel with competitors and answer some questions about why they didn’t choose BA – there were no BA frequent flyers present among the group as they weren’t interested in the people who currently travel with them but in the people that don’t. My profile demonstrated mostly F travel so I would perhaps have been in a group looking at that if one existed.
Do you know is there any consultation going on about F or is it all in house?8 May 2014
I read different reviews about the AF first class experience. I have the feeling the best time is when you have lunch or diner at the La Première lounge in CDG. The restaurant is catered by Alain Ducasse. It seems to be brilliant.
All the other AF lounges are pretty average indeed but this one is excellent. However you can only access it when you travel on Air France metal and in a La Première seat. You cannot get in if you have a higher status in Flying Blue or travel First with an AF partner (even first with JAL). Unless if AF invites you (10 persons max per day), if you are flying on an aircraft where only the business class is proposed… I believe AF must know you already if you are selected and you need to pay by cash or miles. Otherwise you need to go to the other lounges.
I read also these last days some figures that may or mat not alter the first experience.
I think one of the AF Director says 52 000 clients have travelled first in 2013 on AF compared to more than one million in business. I cannot figure out if it is still too much or not enough.
Apparantly the current average load on an annual basis is about 38%. This might explain why there will be only 4 seats now on the B777-300ER instead of 8 now, and on only 19 planes. At least for now, it means you may have the cabin almost for yourself on some flights if you can afford to pay for La Première or get a reward seat. Or your next neighbour is not near you.
More funny is the information spread on newspapers that Monsieur Philippe Villin has constantly reported his AF flights to Alexandre de Juniac (Mr Villin is a financial adviser and/or also a friend to Mr de Juniac if I understand well). And guess what… he asked for a curtain!
Here we are: the curtain has then been introduced in the La Première seat. AF listen to some people.
If I could afford it, I will be equally happy to fly on a La Première seat or spend the time of my flight in The Residence. Up to now I will be more keen to enjoy a diner in one of Monsieur Ducasse restaurants.8 May 2014
I also think Swiss’s service in F is second to none but LH is a very close second. Seat wise I think it depends on the plane. LX’s 340 is tired, though I sleep very well on it, and I prefer the 330 offering. However it can’t be long now before the 777’s they ordered are delivered and I hope Swiss will be innovative in their offering.
However, for me the best bed/sleep I’ve ever had was on LH’s 747. You have the seat and a bed, a proper bed, not a converted seat, so no bumps or folds to bug you. For me this beats everything, and too be honest, for 8 – 10 hours of time on board I don’t need a curtain or a suite, just excellent service and a comfortable sleep will do fine with excellent facilities and ground service each end.10 May 2014