Air France New La Premiere First Class Suite

Late last year I flew Air France’s A380 first class product, La Premiere, from Los Angeles to Paris.

This is one of the most unattainable first class product on miles, given that they only make award space available to elite members in their FlyingBlue frequent flyer program at the “flex” award level.

So you pay roughly double the normal mileage to book an award in Air France first class, and have to be an elite member. For example, a one-way first class “flex” award between the US and Europe will cost you 162,500 FlyingBlue miles.

Truth be told I didn’t have high expectations of their first class, but was really impressed by my Air France A380 first class flight between Los Angeles and Paris. While the seat itself wasn’t cutting edge, the service and food were much better than I was expecting.

Air-France-A380-First-Class-03
Air France A380 first class cabin

Perhaps the most delightful part of the experience was the Air France first class lounge in Paris.

I’ve experienced most of the world’s best first class lounges, like the Emirates A380 First Class Lounge in Dubai, Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok, and I think the Air France lounge was at least on par, and perhaps the best of all.

The food and service were spectacular, hands down better than in any other lounge I’ve been to.

Air-France-First-Lounge-Paris-37
Air France Paris first class lounge

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I really am a fan of Air France, even though I never thought I would be.

Air France has just unveiled their new La Premiere Suite (first class), which they’ll be installing on their 19 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, beginning in September 2014. Apparently the new first class will first debut on Air France’s routes to New York JFK and Singapore, though exact flights haven’t yet been announced.

For what it’s worth, Air France hasn’t yet announced whether the A380s will be reconfigured with the new first class product or not, though my expectation is that over time they likely will be.

Here’s a video of the new first class suite:

Or check out their absolutely brilliant concept video of the La Premiere product, as part of their “Above & Beyond” marketing campaign. It’s easily one of the most brilliant airline marketing videos I’ve ever seen.

On first glance the new La Premiere Suite doesn’t look that cutting edge, in the sense that they’re not fully enclosed suites or anything. In a way, the “bones” of the cabin actually look very similar to TAM first class, I thought.

TAM-777-First-Class-02
TAM 777-300ER first class cabin

But there’s one feature that makes these seats very unique. Each first class seat has a curtain that goes all the way around the seat, which is the first time that has ever been done on a commercial plane.

There are airlines that have suites with doors, whereby others can still “glance” over the partition. However, aside from seats designated as crew rests, this is the first time you can actually draw a curtain around your seat for total privacy.

La-Premiere-First-Class-1
Air France La Premiere First Class Suite

La-Premiere-First-Class-3
Air France La Premiere First Class Suite

La-Premiere-First-Class-2
Air France La Premiere First Class Suite

In many ways I really love this. It’s elegant, simple, and private, which is a balance many airlines struggle with. My issue with many suites is that they feel kind of claustrophobic when you’re awake, so here you’re sort of getting the best of both worlds. You get an “open” cabin when you want it, and can draw the curtain for total privacy when you’d like. On the other hand, I suppose the curtain could also give off a bit of an emergency room vibe – what do you think?

Here’s part of Air France’s press release on the new La Premiere Suite (bolding mine):

Like spending a night in a palace, sleeping in one of our La Première suites is a completely exclusive experience. In an instant, the seat turns into a fully-flat bed over two metres long. The armrests are fully retractable and offer a vast space 77 cm wide.

When the passenger is ready to go to sleep, the crew members install a mattress on the seat, for impeccable comfort. They are then given a fluffy pillow and a Sofitel My Bed® duvet. The pillow is placed in a soft cotton pillowcase for ultimate softness, guaranteeing a perfect night’s sleep.

[…]

Air France dresses each suite with thick curtains, held back with leather tiebacks. A unique and daring concept, they enable the passenger to decide whether to be totally isolated or just partially. Once the curtains are closed, the passenger has the feeling of being alone at home, totally enclosed in their private cabin. The La Première suite then becomes a vast, totally private space, with 3 square metres available for each guest.

The suite can also be enjoyed with a fellow passenger. Opposite the seat, a comfortable seat, an ottoman, enables the passenger to invite a guest for dinner or simply for a conversation. The suite in turn then becomes a drawing room, a restaurant, or a work area. Anything goes in this space which changes according to the passenger’s desires.

The bolded part above cracks me up. The suite can be “enjoyed with a fellow passenger,” and “anything goes in this space which changes according to the passenger’s desires.” Is this the first mile high club endorsement from an airline? ;)

Here are the basic features of the new La Premiere First Class Suite:

  • 76 seats equipping 19 Boeing 777-300
  • An exclusive cabin with 4 suites
  • A unique concept, with each suite featuring adjustable curtains
  • A suite designed with top-of-the-range materials – leather, woven fabrics, suede, etc.
  • A spacious, ergonomically-designed seat, with integrated lumbar support
  • Direct access to the central aisle
  • A large fully-flat bed
  • A sleek console with integrated storage compartments
  • A large table and an ottoman for inviting a guest during the trip
  • A mobile partition and adjustable curtains, allowing each guest to choose their preferred level of privacy
  • A plaid and “boudoir” cushion available as soon as the guest boards
  • A mattress, cushion and warm duvet for optimum sleeping comfort
  • A private wardrobe
  • A 24-inch High Definition screen and touch remote
  • The window blinds close at the flick of a switch
  • Accessories to make the guest feel at home; bedside lamp, pillow, plaid, etc.

What do you think of Air France’s new La Premiere Suite?

Comments

  1. Neil S. says

    Looks great. Love the idea.

    So, I settle into my seat, drink some champagne, and decide it’s time for bed. They make the bed, I pull the curtain closed, and think I have total privacy…

    Until we hit turbulence, the captain turns the seat belt sign back on, and someone’s head pops thru the curtain to ensure my belt is buckled up?

    It’s really not much different than peering over the top of the “private” suite wall.

  2. Bgriff says

    Virgin Australia already offers the same thing in Row 5 of their business class cabin, though not for single seats, just for pairs of seats on the sides or a set of three seats in the middle.

    It’s extremely private, though awkwardly the FAs seem to “force” you to take advantage of it — I was once in the center set of three seats with a stranger (and fortunately an empty seat between us) and the FAs closed us into our own little room.

  3. Lantean says

    I absolutely love it!
    I wish there was away to redeem for it for most of us.

  4. Blandon says

    All I can think of is Marlene Dietrich, partly obscured by the curtain, smoking a cigarette. “Dahling, I vant to be alone.”

  5. Joey says

    It does look elegant but the curtains remind me of the typical hospital bed here in the USA.

  6. Arcanum says

    The seat itself isn’t terribly exciting. It’s quite similar to those on TAM, as well as Air China, JAL, Asiana, etc. They have tweaked the styling to make it a bit classier, which is something one would expect from the French.

    Interestingly, I just came back from a trip to Asia flying OZ F there and CA F back. I found I really did prefer the enclosed feel of the OZ “suite” to the open seat of CA, particularly for sleeping, even though the underlying hardware was basically the same. The idea of a curtain you could pull around the seat occurred to me too, and I’m surprised another airline hasn’t done this before. As you say, they’ve implemented this kind of advanced curtain technology before around crew rest seats.

  7. Al says

    That was quick Ben! For what it’s worth, the curtains don’t say “first class elegance” to me. Besides a hospital room it also reminds me of peep show booths and other naughty things. Which I suppose goes with the “anything goes in this space which changes according to the passenger’s desires” part.

    Is this also the first F seat to have 4 windows? 3 comes to mind for most F seats I’ve seen.

  8. Al says

    Also, F passengers will receive a Givenchy-branded amenity kit. Picture on AusBT.

  9. Stephan says

    Although it looks ok, I suspect the light colors will wear badly and look dirty over time. It looks retro 70s chic (a la SPACE 1999)and I’m not really impressed with the curtains – seems cheap.

  10. Arcanum says

    @Stephan: That’s a good point. I flew Thai’s A380 and 747 in F a couple of weeks ago, and the cream leather was quite worn and dirty, despite the seats only being a couple of years old.

  11. Bill says

    The concept reminds me of an old sleeper train car w/ bunks and curtains. I’m afraid I’m w/ Gary on this one — I much prefer suites w/ doors that close, even if the partitions don’t go all the way to the ceiling. OTOH, AF’s proposal is MUCH better than what they have now — as your photo illustrates.

  12. Ivan Y says

    Looks nice (way better than current product) and I even don’t mind curtains, in theory, but isn’t the big news that they are downsizing F from 8 to 4 seats?

    Although, not sure it matters to most of us who aren’t FB elites with an obscene amount of miles, lol

  13. Euro says

    And I second Ivan Y’s remark about going down to 4 seats in F cabin only.

    TAM was your first thought on it’s appearance? I saw that and thought “old Korean Air first class.” Strange how AF touts that their 777s will be reconfigured with new business and new first class but don’t mention their flagship A380… Wheras Etihad…

  14. FFlyerCDG says

    For your information, the new First Class will be inaugurated next Sept. 14th on CDG-SIN, then JFK (Dec 1st).
    Have a nice flight :-)))

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *