Air France already boasts one of the most beautiful and comfortable first class suites in the industry. Now it plans to introduce an even more spacious product as it commits to expanding its La Première product to more planes. Is that even necessary?
New Air France La Première Suite
The image above comes from a slide deck Air France shared this week about its new investment in premium products, including new seating in premium economy, business class, and first class. The first class seat is just a sketch at this point, but we see a trio of innovations:
- larger suite with five windows (currently the La Première suite has four)
- A separate seat and “sofa” which transforms into a bed
- Monitors on both sides of the cabin with a wireless tablet to control them
— Richard_on_aviation (@rschuur_aero) May 24, 2022
We will see the new seats debut in the winter 2023 & 2024 season. As Air France explains:
The future cabin will be the longest on the market and will offer up to three modular configurations that can be fully privatized for an even more exceptional journey: a seat, a sofa and a fully flat bed. The new cabin will equip a larger number of aircraft than at present.
That is thought to include a retrofit of existing 777-300ER jets featuring first class as well as subset of new A350 deliveries. It isn’t clear yet whether the new configuration will be 1-1-1 or maintain the 1-2-1 configuration. I cannot imagine Air France offering two rows of first class, so my guess is there will be either three seats or four.
Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith shares of the carrier’s commitment to first class, which is a welcome sign:
“La Première represents the highest level of French excellence and is an intrinsic part of Air France’s DNA. Even at the height of the Covid crisis, we could see the attractiveness of such an offer for our customers, particularly on the North Atlantic route, where load factors in the La Première cabin are currently higher than they were back in 2019. We look forward to unveiling this new cabin, which is set to meet the highest global standards.”
Is New Air France First Class Suite Necessary?
My first thought when seeing the rendering of the new seat was to wonder why Air France would rip out such a magnifique product. As far as I am concerned, the seat is already one of the most comfortable in the skies, already transforms into a very comfortable lounging chair with ottoman, and most importantly is incredibly comfortable in lie-flat mode with a superb mattress pad and comforter. With floor-to-ceiling curtains which close, there is also tremendous privacy.
Air France does most things right in first class. There are just small touches that could improve it, like placing yogurt in a bowl instead of leaving it in a plastic container and installing espresso machines with a milk frother. Easy enough, isn’t it? Powdered cappuccino doesn’t cut it in first class. A whole new suite, at least on the 777-300ERs, seem so unnecessary for a product that is already industry-leading. The Air France La Première experience is more about style more than real estate.
As a consumer who has flown the best first class products around the world, I question the necessity of the new Air France first class product. Making great even greater is not a bad thing, but I have not spoken to a single person who has complained the current Air France La Première suite is too small or uncomfortable. Quite the contrary, everyone loves it. If it aint broke, don’t fix it! Just add it to more jets…and how about some real cappuccino? But I still look forward to it…