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Review of Air France business class on a Boeing 777-300ER (Part 1)

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This is my review of Air France business class, flying a Boeing 777-300ER from Paris to Dubai.

As regular Head for Points readers will know, Air France and KLM will become Virgin Flying Club partners during 2019.  I thought it was worth giving Air France a try to see what it offers if you choose to redeem your Virgin Atlantic miles with them.

My earlier articles in this series cover (click to read):

the SkyTeam lounge in Heathrow Terminal 4 

Air France short-haul business class from London Heathrow to Paris 

the new Air France lounge in Terminal 2E at Paris Charles de Gualle 

I paid for this one-way flight, which started in London, using 42,500 American Express Membership Rewards points, transferred to Delta SkyMiles.

Air France is, seat-wise, a mess

Air France KLM has recently hired a new CEO, Ben Smith, who was previously at Air Canada.  I think he is first non-French national to hold the role.

Smith is not wasting time.  He was scrapped Joon, the silly spin-off airline which was meant to appeal to millennials.  The short-haul Hop subsidiary has also been given the chop.

Next up is his plan to sort out Air France’s premium seating.  To use figures Smith gave in a recent interview, only 51 of the 101 Air France long haul aircraft have the latest lie-flat seating with direct aisle access.  This means the 44 Boeing 777’s and the seven Boeing 787 planes.  The rest of the fleet, even the new A380 aircraft, have angled lie-flat seats and usually 2 x 2 x 2 seating.

(BA has zero long-haul planes where every business class seat has direct aisle access, of course, but at least every seat is fully flat!)

If you are going to redeem on Air France, make sure that you are getting the latest product which is what I cover here.

Air France Boeing 777-300ER seating

Here are some PR pictures of the current seat:

Air France business class review Boeing 777-300ER


Air France business class review Boeing 777-300ER

This is the Safran Seats (ex Zodiac Aerospace) ‘Cirrus’ seat.  A version of this seat is used on the American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER which I reviewed last Autumn.  Cathay Pacific also uses it on its Boeing 777-300ER and A350 fleets.

In the flesh, 14A looks like this:

Air France business class review Boeing 777-300ER


Air France business class review Boeing 777-300ER


Air France business class review Boeing 777-300ER


Air France business class review Boeing 777-300ER

Here were my first observations, many of which are common to my American Airlines review:

every seat is a good seat – the 1-2-1 layout means that solo travellers have privacy and even those in the middle seat will find their head (if not their feet) a long way from their neighbour

all seats are forward facing – perhaps a statement of the obvious, but not necessarily if you a long-term BA flyer

there is a lot of storage space – you have the cupboard with the striking red interior (see the top photo above) plus a large console table and your own baggage bin above the seat

your feet have quite a bit of space – whilst they are under the back of the seat in front, it is not a tight cubby hole (see picture below)

Air France business class review Boeing 777-300ER

there is decent ‘side privacy’ – if you look at the image below, which is me looking to my right, the person to the side of me is partially hidden

Air France business class review Boeing 777-300

connectivity is good – there is a plug socket (which will take UK and European plugs) and a USB charger

The only people who will not like the seating are couples who want to chat, as even in the middle pair of seats you cannot see the face of the person next to you.

The seat appears not to have an arm rest on the aisle side but this is not the case.  There is one but it is sunk into the seat.  If you give it a push it pops out and can be raised up.

What you DON’T get is wi-fi.  If connectivity is important you will need to look elsewhere.

This is everything I like about a business class seat – storage, privacy and space.  The only thing that was a little odd was the similarity to the American Airlines seat which was the previous HFP review I wrote, although I have flown (but not reviewed) SWISS business and Etihad business with my family since then.

This was a day flight, so I can’t comment on how good the bed is for sleeping.  I put it flat for a period to try it out and it felt fine for my 6’2′ frame but that’s not the same as trying to get eight hours sleep.

(One criticism I had of the crew is that they did try to enforce sleep.  We left Paris at 1.30pm and landed in Dubai at 11.25pm, which is 8.25pm Paris time.  This is, by any standards, a day flight and yet the crew decided to turn off the cabin lights for two hours.  This was just stupid in my view.)

Air France business class amenity kit

Whilst BA is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Air France is celebrating its 85th with these smart amenity kits:

Air France business class review Boeing 777-300

The contents did not quite live to the packaging.  There was a toothbrush and toothpaste, a pen, a comb and some earplugs.  The best bits were a miniature Clarins moisturiser and hand cream which went home to my wife.

In Part 2 of this Air France Boeing 777-300ER business class review – click here – I will look at the food, drink and IFE options on Air France business class.  If you are reading this by email then Part 2 is in the 2nd email you have received.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (24)

  • the_real_a says:

    How much tax and fees out of interest Rob?

  • Graeme says:

    If BA launches a business class suite as rumoured they will really blow the Euro competition out of the sky!

    • Matt says:

      Fingers crossed, although I hope they come up with a good solution for travelling pairs. I really like facing my partner on BA CW.

      • RussellH says:

        Facing my partner is OK, but it is nice to be just next to them in a comfortable seat. We have been in both LH and SK business class, which were pleasant, being properly side to side.
        This angling away seems an excellent reason to avoid AF!

  • Rob mc says:

    Delta turned the lights off for 6 hours on an AMS- MCO day flight last Summer. Very strange and first time I experienced it

    • Bagoly says:

      I think the key to understanding various airline policies is that they regard passengers as a problem to be managed, particularly to be pacified.
      IFE is in Economy cabins so that the passengers don’t move around and conflict about space, ask for more food etc.
      Similarly, turning out the lights is to try to persuade people to sleep and so not make service demands.
      This is a nuisance for those of us who want to read from paper – I feel I am being forced to Kindle and tablet.

      What I found interesting on a TATL overnight last week was that when I prepared to go to sleep after dinner, all 19 screens except mine were on, but almost everybody seemed asleep.

      • Russ says:

        Agree it’s irritating and not sure what the reason is on a day flight. QR are pulling this one on UK morning returns from DOH when there is no overnight element either end. Such a sharp contrast from inbound DOH flights where staff are almost deferential to the point of making you feel uncomfortable.

        • Alex W says:

          Surely it’s far more irritating if you want to sleep but can’t sleep because all the lights are on. If you want to read you could use the aptly named reading light.

          • Rob says:

            There is no reason, unless you are connecting from another long-haul flight, why anyone who boards a flight in Paris at 1.30 would want a nap at 5.30. You aren’t even tired when you land three hours later, even though it is almost midnight local time.

        • Shoestring says:

          siestas – great way to make a flight go quickly

    • Lady London says:

      Maybe it’s the crews way of letting you know there’s no service from them for the hours they darken the plane?

  • Gypsy says:

    Honestly – we didn’t find the lack of lie flat a problem in J on the 330-200. Seats are also far more comfy and more roomy than BA. Food and drink better as well.

  • Mark says:

    BA isn’t the only airline to have rear facing business class seats of course. Think some pretty well rated options – Etihad Business Studio, even the Qatar QSuite.

    I don’t have a problem with it at all. In fact in they’re likely to be safer in the event of a crash.

    • Nick_C says:

      AA have rear facing seats on some of their 772s and their 788s. I don’t care which way I’m facing (although the AA seats seem poor because you feel the person in the next seat, which yours is attached to, moving around). I remember the BEA Tridents where half the (economy) seats faced backwards.

  • RussellH says:

    Is there a date yet for the linking of Virgin into KLM / Delta?

    We have just discovered that we are booked on KLM in early summer and we do not have a Sky Team FF a/c. Flying Blue does not sound at all attractive, with it revenue based miles awards and short validity period.

    • Rob says:

      Only waiting on US Govt approval. Target date has always been 31 March.

      • Alan says:

        I’d best get prepared for a sharp devaluation in the value of my VS miles then. Can’t see them missing this chance to screw you over.

      • RussellH says:

        Thanks Rob.

        Enough time to see if that happens, then.

    • Mikeact says:

      Don’t believe every thing you read or hear….sure, like. others it has changed over the last year or so, but overall it’s pretty good particularly the monthly offers

  • Yan says:

    same as the Cirrus seat you reviewed on Finnair A350…
    Reverse herringbone is the benchmark these days, just not with IAG, VS and LH groups

  • Tom says:

    ‘Whilst BA is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year…’ Isn’t BA only celebrating it’s 100th birthday as far as a marketing person would see it? Due to various merges from yester-year BA did not appear until 1974.

    On the other hand KLM and Avianca are celebrating their 100th birthday this year. Likewise, Qantas next year.