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An Air France Airbus A330-200 aircraft took off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle on its route to Accra yesterday and, ordinarily, this wouldn’t really classify as “news”…but this aircraft was a little different. This particular Air France A330 is the first of 15 such aircraft to feature the airline’s new A330 Business Class cabin as well as refurbished Premium Economy and Economy Cabins.
Air France A330 Business Class
Air France may have updated its A330 Business Class seat but don’t expect to find an all-aisle-access Business Class cabin as the airline offers on a number of its other long-haul aircraft (like its 777-300ER).
The Air France A330-200 sticks with its existing 2-2-2 cabin layout but has reduced the number of seats in the cabin from 40 to 36.
Rather than offering an outdated angle-flat seats as this cabin once did, the seats in the new A330 Business Class cabin have been “completely redesigned” and are now 22.5″ (~57cm) wide (and inch wider that before) and convert into a 6′ 6″ (2.0m) long lie-flat bed.
The Business Class seats are arranged in a herringbone layout which means that the seats point inwards towards each other but, while airline like Lufthansa make this arrangement a little awkward (on Lufthansa the two passengers can end up in a position where their feet are just inches apart), Air France offers each passenger their own footwell built into the seat (or bulkhead) in front of them.
Also, what the images don’t show is that there’s a large divider that can be raised between the seats so, if you’re a solo traveler (or just someone who prefers to ignore their traveling companion), this will offer a considerable amount of privacy.
The cabin comes with ambient lighting (similar to what we already find in a number of modern aircraft like the Dreamliners and A350s) and it also features a redesigned self-service bar.
Last but not least, the new Air France A330 Business Class seat comes with a new “extra-wide” HD touch-screen which gives passengers access to “over 1,400 hours of entertainment“.
Air France A330 Premium Economy
The Air France A330 Premium Economy Cabin offers 21 seats set out in three rows of 7:
The new Air France A330 Premium Economy seats offer 130° of recline in a fixed shell (so passengers don’t recline into each other’s space) and are 19″ (48.5cm) wide.
Air France’s press release calls this “one of the widest seats on the market” which is a little disingenuous as most Premium Economy seats are around 19″ wide nowadays and Airlines like Virgin Atlantic (22″) and Air New Zealand (20″) offer noticeably more on some of their aircraft – even the US legacy carriers offer seats which are 19″ wide in their Premium Economy cabins.
Amusingly Air France makes no boast about the seat pitch that it offers while, at ~40″ (102cm) its one of the most generous around (a lot of carriers offer no more than 38″ of seat pitch in their Premium Economy cabins).
Other redesigned features of the Air France A330 Premium Economy cabin/seat include softer seat cushions, wider leather armrests, a wider footrest and additional storage space.
There’s even a 13.3″ HD entertainment screen.
Air France’s Premium Economy flyers can also expect amenity kits (refreshed every 6 months), a pillow and blanket, power outlets at every seat and two USB ports too.
Air France A330 Economy Class
The refurbished Air France A330 Economy Class cabin offers 167 seats set out in a 2-4-2 layout and the seats feature 118° degrees of recline and 31″ (79cm) of legroom.
If SeatGuru is correct this is an increase of 20 seats and that goes a long way to explaining why passengers now have an inch less legroom than they had in the older Air France A330 Economy Class cabin.
Air France says that its redesigned A330 Economy Class seats offer “more space between the armrests” but doesn’t go on to say exactly how much that space is….and the wording seems to suggest that the armrests are now narrower.
The new seats now offer a “wider, latest generation 11.6-inch 16:9 HD touch screen“….
…and come equipped with a larger tray table, a personal power outlet, and a USB socket.
On the amenity front Air France Economy Class passengers can expect “bright red” blankets, an eye mask and an audio headset all of which should already be on the seats when passengers board.
The winners here are Business Class passengers who get a true lie-flat bed, a wider seat and better access to power/USB sockets while the losers are Economy Class passengers who now have to put up with a denser cabin offering an inch less legroom than the aircraft offered in the past.
Premium Economy passengers are winners too with an impressive amount of legroom, more storage space and better access to power while flyers looking to upgrade to Business Class or to book Business Class awards are losers here courtesy of the smaller Business Class cabin.
The new aircraft interior looks nice but you can escape the fat that what Air France has given with one hand it has taken away with the other.
Featured image courtesy of Air France