BY Kai-Chin Shih/ 7 MAY 2014/ TOKYOJAPAN/ talkairlines.wordpress.com
Air France has unveiled its newest La Première (first class) products. This is the latest phase of the carrier’s €500 million plan to enhance its cabin interiors and to increase its competitiveness in the market. Aircraft equipped with the new seats will enter service in September with the first flight being that to Singapore.
Measuring 3.2 meters in length, the new B/E Aerospace-designed La Première seat offers more space and comfort to flyers than ever before. Each seat comes with numerous storage areas and an elegant reading lamp. There are two different kinds of window shades and one can easily close them by pressing a button. A 24-inch touchscreen and Bose noise-cancelling headphones provide on-demand programming featuring games, videos, HD movies, music, and more. Don’t speak French nor English? No worries. The Air France entertainment system has up to 12 language options, making things easy for people from all around the world.
With a large table and an ottoman seat, two people can sit and dine together during meal time. The cabin crew will set up the table with a white table cloth, porcelain plates designed by Bernardaud, along with beveled glasses and flatware by Christofle. The La Première menu, designed by Michelin-starred chefs, will give passengers an unforgettable culinary experience.
Ready to rest? The cabin crew will provide turn-down service to turn your seat into a 2m*77cm fully flat bed. With a futon mattress, a large pillow, a fluffy duvet, and a soft duvet cover, one can sleep comfortably, just like staying at a grand hotel.
Colours and materials were carefully chosen to make an elegant and stylish seat product. The seat area is decorated with bright grey and wood accents while the storage areas are covered with red and grey suede. Each seat has a leather headrest that displays the winged seahorse, the Air France symbol, along with tweed patterned fabrics and metallic finishing touches.
The most unique feature of the new La Première are the curtains. They are the carrier’s alternate of the popular slidable doors. Air France, along with airlines such as Lufthansa, has always been against the idea of installing suites with slidable doors. The carrier stated that the idea is unpopular among its customers as they don’t favour it. As a result, the carrier had to come up with new options that can provide privacy while not making passengers feel overwhelmed. The designers of the cabin then thought about curtains. The concept of using curtains is original and elegant at the same time. Passengers can choose to close it completely, leave it ajar or completely open. According to the carrier, the choice is also a salute to history since the seats on the Super Constellation also had curtains.
The new La Première, along with the new Business Class, marks the carrier’s latest attempt to increase both its competitiveness and profitability. According to the officials of the airline, Air France has not been making profits from its current first class products due to low occupancy rate. Fierce competition from Middle Eastern carriers has caused Air France to lose many of its premium customers. Through the introduction of the new seats, the carrier hopes to attract more high-end flyers. Regarding the seats, >talkairlines recognises Air France’s originality. The airline’s first class products have always been unique when compared to its competitors. The current La Première is, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful and elegant first class seats in the world. The new La Première is also appealing both in terms of colour choices and seat functions. The usage of cold colours such as grey and blue with a touch of red makes the seat extremely appealing visually. >talkairlines also loves the idea of using curtains. Current closed-suites are in fact rather claustrophobic. Curtains, in comparison, feels lighter and have beautiful wavy textures. In conclusion, >talkairlines thinks that Air France has outdone itself by creating such a wonderful first class product. Though not likely in the next few years, >talkairlines do hope to fly the new La Première and see whether doors or curtains give passenger a more pleasant flying experience.