Air France moves upmarket with new seating

25 Jun 2013 by Tom Otley

Air France is to debut new seating in all four classes across its long-haul fleet from next year.

The carrier made the announcement on its Air France Twitter feed this morning (June 25), although there seems to be doubt as to whether this will apply to the A380.

The airline revealed that the changes are a direct result of an analysis of its passengers and has released the following infographic (click to enlarge):

AF tweet

The move upmarket was discussed both at the press conference (announced via Twitter and in media interviews with the French press).

Air France said it will unveil the new economy and premium economy seating at the International French Travel Market which takes place September 24-27.

The new seating will be introduced as follows:

  • New long-haul economy seat: June 2014
  • New premium economy seat: June 2014
  • New business seat: January 2014
  • New first (La Premiere) seat: April 2014
Air France announced premium economy seating in 2008 (see online news, April 2008), introduced it the following year (see online news, September 2009), and finished fitting it on the long-haul fleet in 2010.
Its business seating was refurbished in 2010 (see online news, September 2010) and more recently announced that it was planning to go fully flat in business class.
Air France has also announced new HD IFE entertainment (pictured above) "to reinforce the idea of upgrading for all". 
The airline replied to my tweet asking about the new seating with the following:

Although Air France won't be releasing details of its new fully-flat business class offering until September, its choice of seat may be the same as its partner KLM.
KLM unveiled its own fully-flat business class seating earlier this year (see online news, March 23). To see pictures from that event, click here.

KLM's new business class seat - the Diamond seat from BE Aerospace, similar to that of United BusinessFirst, Luufthansa and several other airlines.

The new seating is part of a new project which the airline is terming “Best & Beyond”. This aims for Air France “…to be at the very best level in terms of products (seats, in-flight entertainment, lounges etc.) and make a difference with optimum customer service.”

In early January 2013, the airline launched a "100 actions" programme to determine the main improvements to be made.

"3 keywords define the upgraded services in Economy and Premium Economy, namely comfort, attention and pleasure."

The new seating is part of "Comfort", with "Attention" being customer relations focusing on "five service attitudes"

  1. - Make others feel unique: ensure that each customer feels unique
  2. - Value: be attentive to the product the customer has purchased and ensure that what we provide reflects this.
  3. - Show you care: generosity, empathy, the ability to establish close links
  4. - Make details count
  5. - Take initiative: believe in the talent of staff, in the human aspect and in the history of the airline

Lastly, "Pleasure" is typified by a new meal tray in economy designed by Eugeni Quittlet (from September 2013).

The focus on the long haul market is as a result of Air France identifying that 2/3 of its revenues comes from long haul business.  The Air France long haul fleet comprises 105 aircraft:

  • - 15 Airbus A330
  • - 13 Airbus A340
  • - 8 Airbus A380
  • - 7 Boeing 747
  • - 25 Boeing 777-200
  • - 37 Boeing 777-300

Air France flies to 405 destinations worldwide through its strategic partnerships and serves 80 destinations in 52 countries. In 2012, close to 15 million customers were transported on long-haul routes.

Tom Otley

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