The refresh of Air France’s La Premier cabin has the premium-loving avgeek community all hot under the collar. The airline’s first class is already considered to be one of the best in the skies, and any refresh is likely to be something very special indeed. But no detail was released on the specifications of the seat, with Air France only saying that it was in the ‘design phase’ and would be introduced in winter ’23/’24.
Until today, that is, because during the Passenger Experience Conference in Hamburg today, Simple Flying got a first look at the design of this seat, as well as more detail on the specifications. Let’s see what Air France has in store.
Going long for more space
For some airlines, first class is a dying breed. The comfort levels in business class have proven to be so good, there seems little benefit to maintaining this additional fare class. But for Air France, it is clear that first remains a key part of its strategy.
Speaking at today’s conference, Fabien Pelous, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Air France, shared some images of what we can expect from the new product and how Air France wants to differentiate its first class offering in the future.
Photo: Tom Boon, Simple Flying
The new La Premier suite will feature a separate soft and chair, with each suite stretching five windows along the cabin wall. This will make it the longest first class suite on the market today. The space is intended to be modular, with the seat converting into a 2m long bed, with 77 cm of width.
As expected, the suite will be connected with a generous IFE screen. But for the new La Premier, this will be delivered with not one but two screens, both large HD screens at either end of the suite – as well as a tablet for handheld connectivity. Pelous noted that Air France intends to install a full door on the suite, giving passengers more privacy and making the space feel more exclusive.
But the space doesn’t have to be exclusive if the passenger prefers to share it with another traveler. The set-up is such that the passenger can invite another suite ‘guest’ over to dine, watch a movie, or simply chat.
While it’s too early to say with any certainty whether La Premier’s refresh will be as groundbreaking as we’d hoped, the initial designs aren’t filling us with confidence.
The five window space is great, but the current La Premier already has four windows, so it’s not that much extra space. But, of course, in the sky every inch matters, and being able to say it’s the ‘longest first class product in the sky’ will be a badge Air France is keen to secure.
The idea of two screens is interesting. This means that the passenger can lounge on the ‘sofa’ watching the screen above the seat, or can sit in the seat itself watching the screen above the sofa. It means the ‘guest’ can also enjoy the same viewing, if they wish. That’s a nice touch.
The ottoman idea is already in play. Photo: Air France.
As for the layout itself, the proposal is not a million miles away from what Air France offers right now. The current La Premier has a seat with an ottoman at the foot. The ottoman forms part of the bed when reclined, but can be used to seat a friend when not in bed mode. Hopefully, the airline is planning to make its proposed ‘sofa’ a bit extra in order to really fulfill its brief as extra seating.
As with all cabin designs, so much will be in the final color, materials and finish of the product, so for now we’ll just have to wait and see what further details come out of the French flag carrier. The new La Premier is expected to debut on aircraft in late 2023.