It’s not often the Air France Expo is in town, so we couldn’t pass up the chance to geek out on a little Air France history and their newest cabin offerings.
In fact, it only seems like the Expo is making a stop at a few select cities worldwide consisting only of Shanghai, New York and Paris. New York is the second stop after Shanghai; Paris will be the last stop on the tour in September in case you miss it here. I’d suggest anyone to stop by whether you’ve got an interest in their new cabins or not — it’s a lovely walk down a piece of airline history featuring old uniforms to the celebrities that have flown the airline. It’s also a chance to delight in some champagne and Ladurée macarons if that’s your thing.
However, the biggest reason for the exhibit is that Air France is revamping their premium cabins and it’s about time if they want to keep pace with the competition. It seems for the most part that the airline is doing a complete revamp in all of the cabins through some aspect, though the biggest differences will probably be seen in their business and first-class suite offerings.
According to Skift, Air France spent over one billion euros just revamping their new cabins. The timeline will vary somewhat for the different products, but the gist of it is that all the new and improved cabins will be fully implemented throughout Air France’s fleet by 2017. The first planned major rollout is planned to be finished by September 2015 but most of the employees at the event told us the changes have already been made on the AF 9 flight that leaves from JFK to CDG at 11:20 pm.
The Air France Expo will be open from 11 am to 5pm from June 26-28 at Center 548 on 548 West 22nd Street at the cross section of 11th Avenue. The closest subway lines are the A, C and E at 23rd Street and 8th Avenue. Cost of admission is free and is open to the general public.
So what exactly what improvements can we look forward to?
Economy & Premium Economy
There’s not much to write home about here, but it hardly ever is when you’re back in the bus. Economy seats seem to get be getting a superficial overhaul and the seat pitch—the space from the end of the seat in front to the seat behind it—remains at a staunch 31 inches. Likewise the premium economy offering seems pretty standard though the seat pitch has been improved 20% from its previous incarnation. It still does seem to be a much better offering than United’s “Economy Plus” offering.
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Some of the included features we saw was the addition of an attachable privacy divider, a safety compartment—don’t forget your belongings in there!—standard USB and power ports. Perhaps one of the things that we liked best was the ability to lower your armrest to create more seat space. Though the seat width of Air France’s new business product measures at 68 inches, once this armrest is lowered, it extends to 72 inches.
Air France’s 44 Boeing 777s in will be retrofitted in a 1-2-1 seat configuration, ensuring that each passenger has aisle access, but the sad news is that it won’t be until September 2015 that the airline expects their new business class product will be available on all the Boeing 777 routes. They’re also being installed on the airline’s nine Airbus A380s but it was unclear when those planes would be completely retrofitted.
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I always like to giggle a little bit when I see a suite offering. Mostly because it takes me back to when Singapore launched their suites in the past and now it just seems like a race to see who can offer the most privacy. The seat itself is 77 inches wide with a tray that comes up in between another seat at the end of the cabin. There’s ample storage space whether its behind the main seat, underneath the plane window and below the “second” seat in the suite. In fact, each suite can seat about two people during the dining portion of the meal — just in case you’ve left your girlfriend behind in economy.
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