Champagne in Economy: Air France bringing frills to cabins in upcoming makeover

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  • New Economy:
  •  More space between the armrests (44cm);
  • Reinforced ergonomic foam in the seat and a 118 degree recline
  • 79 cm legroom
  • A larger tray table and a wider, latest generation 11.7-inch 16:9 touch screen.
  • New Premium Economy:
  • A 130° seat recline in a fixed shell
  • Seats are 48.3cm wide, with 102cm pitch
  • Lumbar support adapted to different body shapes
  • A latest-generation 13.3 inch (33.9 cm) HD screen.

Travel Extra was the sole Irish media representative as Air France relaunched its long-haul Economy and Premium Economy cabins in Paris.

The airline said it’s a push upmarket, with Anne Rigail, EVP Customer, telling Travel Extra that “the meal is inspired from business class in this premium economy”. The biggest changes are noticeable in the Premium Economy cabin, with business class-style seats, Sky Priority boarding, noise-cancelling headphones and 40pc more space than in Economy.

Frederic Beaudequin, Air France ground staff, shows Mark Evans the new seat at the Air France launch of its new-look long-haul Premium Economy and Economy cabins, BHV Marais, Paris, September 26, 2018

“We say goodbye to the customer with a sweet, we have new cutlery and trays and also from November will offer a second meal at the end of the flight – much more qualitative – in a trendy bag. The customer will choose to eat or take it with them if they’re not hungry. We want the experience that it feels like at home.”

Launched at the upmarket BHV Marais store in central Paris, she said the airline is appealing to its vast majority of passengers. “90pc of our long-haul passengers travel in Economy and Premium Economy, representing more than 14m passengers.. we have invested over €150m in the new cabins”.

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For now, the retrofit will be on its A330s, with 15 in the fleet. “We have 7pc more seats, we are taking four seats in business and adding 20 in economy,” she said, adding that there will be more space in the cabins despite this. Food-wise, she said there will be a “French-style meal, accompanied by a selection of rigorously selected wines and champagnes”, even in Economy.

The full service rolls out from January, and will be used on routes to North America, Africa and China. “From next summer it will be India, and we will be opening Dallas next summer in the modernised A330s.”

 

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