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As I mentioned in a post earlier today, I’ve got the opportunity to try out a few non-oneworld airlines in the coming months and, thanks to a generous Amex promotion, it looks as if Air France and/or KLM are going to be on my radar….so I’m paying a bit more attention to the news they’re releasing. This week we’ve had both good news and bad news from Air France-KLM but I’ll start with the good news first.
Air France-KLM Will Add WiFi To Its Long-Haul Fleet
Business Traveller is reporting that Air France-KLM will be adding GoGo WiFi to its long-haul fleet from the end of 2017 but Air France’s A380 aircraft will not be getting the upgrade at that time.
KLM already has WiFi installed on its 787-9 Dreamliners (which it flys to destinations like Rio and Chengdu) and Air France will have WiFi fitted to its 787-9 when deliveries start in early 2017 but, as things stand, no other Air France-KLM aircraft have WiFi.
Towards the end of 2017 (no set date has been given) Air France-KLM will begin installing GoGo’s 2Ku WiFi systems on 124 aircraft:
- 68 Air France Boeing 777s
- 15 Air France Airbus A330s
- 29 KLM Boeing 777s
- 12 KLM Airbus A330s
2Ku is GoGo’s latest WiFi offering which operates using two separate antennas – one for uploads and the other for downloads – and the company claims that it will be able to provide speeds of up to 70 mb/s…which I have trouble believing.
Still, leaving aside my doubts over the speeds that 2Ku will offer and leaving aside the fact that this upgrade won’t be starting for at least another year, this is good news….especially for travelers flying Air France-KLM’s routes to/from the US on which, for the most part, WiFi is not available.
As someone who use the internet to work I find it harder and harder to spend hours in the air without connectivity (my recent 10+ hour Cathay Pacific flight was a challenge!) so, as far as I’m concerned, the more WiFi equipped aircraft there are the better….I just wish airlines would hurry up and get on with it!
That was the good news…now for the bad…..
Air France Will Not Be Upgrading Its A380 Just Yet
Air France has been installing shiny new premium cabins on its 777 and A330 aircraft and it was widely expected that the airline would retro fit the same new seats in its A380s next year…but that’s not going to happen.
While Air France’s new Business Class cabins feature the hugely popular reverse herringbone lie-flat seats (as found on airlines like (Cathay Pacific, Finnair and American Airlines) the older cabin found on the A380s only offers recliner seats in an unfashionable 2-2-2 layout (no all-aisle access either):
This could be one of the worst Business Class seats flying in a full-service European airline across the Atlantic.
The issues with the A380 seating aren’t just limited to the Business Class cabin – First Class is ancient, and the Premium Economy and Economy Class seats are considerably worse that what passengers find in the revamped 777s and A330s.
An Air France press release now has the A380 refurbishment pushed back to 2019 and this has me wondering whether the airline is actually thinking of getting rid of its A380s altogether.
It’s no secret that Air France-KLM has had a lot of trouble of trouble of late – both of the financial kind and of the workforce kind – so funds are tight at the airline right now and that’s probably played a big part in this decision.
But, with the deferral of the refurbishment of the A380 until 2019, the airline will find itself with an aircraft completely out of sync with the rest of its fleet….and who is going to want to fly in it?
By the time 2019 rolls along all the A330’s and 777 will all have had new cabins for at least a year and will all also have WiFi on board….so the A380 is going to stick out like a sore thumb.
I’m an example of someone who actively booked away from the Air France A380 in the past couple of weeks by choosing a longer layover in Paris just to make sure I fly in the new 777 Business Class cabin….and I’m sure I’m not the only traveler doing this – that can’t bode well for the future of the A380.
The interior of the Air France A380 is incredibly out of date right now so, come 2019, it will be a dinosaur and there is absolutely no way that the airline doesn’t realise this. I think this is the beginning of the end for the A380 in the Air France fleet but it will be interesting to see how this plays out.