Air France has finally joined the ‘fully flat seat in business class’ club. The airline recently announced that it was about to start rolling out a new product.
A total of 2,102 seats will be installed between June 2014 and Summer 2016 on 44 Boeing 777 aircraft. Designed by Zodiac, it is a version of the new seat being used by Cathay Pacific and American Airlines.
At first glance, I have to say that it does look impressive, especially with a 1-2-1 layout. All seats have aisle access (unlike BA) and come with a 41cm TV.
The ‘cost’ of the new layout is a drop in seat numbers. The Boeing 777-300 aircraft will lose nine seats to 58 whilst the 777-200 will lose nine seats to become 40. The impact of this on reward seat availability seems fairly clear!
As you can see from the photographs, the seats are arranged in a herringbone pattern. This is emerging as the most effective way of matching seat density with privacy, assuming that an airline has rejected the BA ‘ying yang’ model.
What is not clear is what is happening with the rest of the Air France fleet. Once these 44 Boeing 777’s are converted, there will still be 20 unconverted aircraft. That’s before you add in the A380’s, A330’s and A340’s!
It would be especially odd if a third of the 777 fleet was left unconverted, as it would make it very difficult for customers to be sure of the new seat. And if they aren’t sure of the new seat, I’m fairly sure a lot will continue to defect to BA.