AIR FRANCE UPS ITS GAME
Originaly published in Premier Traveler Magazine, by Monique Tapie
New York, NY (July 14th, 2014) Being Franco-American and a frequent flyer on Air France, I have always enjoyed the fact that every time I stepped aboard any flight from JFK to Paris, the crew and atmosphere made me feel more than halfway home. Yet, as with any long-haul travel—whether in economy, business or first class—I undergo some stress beforehand, wondering whether I’ll be able to sleep; if I will be comfortable; and if the entertainment choices will be sufficiently engaging to help the time pass quickly.
Air France’s latest refitting of its Boeing 777s from JFK to Paris is the airline’s attempt to address those concerns. The carrier recently launched its updated 777 aircraft, with improvements for passengers traveling in all classes, spending over €500 million in upgrades, including new seats: nearly 10,000 in Economy; 1,100 in Premium Economy; and 2,102 in Business.
The Economy seats are reportedly both slimmer and lighter, providing an additional inch of legroom, personal nine-inch flat-screens, a greater variety of entertainment options and electrical sockets for charging personal devices. Along with this, the airline’s Premium Economy’s seats, created in hard shells, provide 40 percent more space than Economy, along with 12-inch screens and plenty of entertainment to fill the six-and-a-half-hour flight from JFK to Paris.
The new Business-Class seats offer full-flat beds with added privacy, Bose noise-cancelling headphones and a laptop-sized 16-inch screen. The luxurious La Première Suites in First Class feature 94-inch flat-bed seats; 24-inch HD screens; premier entertainment; and gourmet cuisine, including Champagne and caviar.
Paris remains a top desired travel destination, not only for American travelers heading to Europe, but also for those who choose to fly through Europe to reach destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the latest Simmons report, Asian-American travelers choose Paris as their preferred vacation destination over any other European country except London. With an eye to the East, Air France announced its intention to carry out additional cabin and entertainment upgrades on aircraft flying to Singapore, Jakarta, Tokyo-Haneda and Shanghai by year’s end.
As competition between airlines escalates to attract luxury and business travelers, Air France’s latest expenditures on upgrades will apply pressure to competitors; yet, routes and destinations will remain key drivers of success.