Air France Will Continue To Fly The Most Outdated A380s

Air France is in the process of refreshing their longhaul fleet, including introducing some great new first & business class seats.

Air France’s new first class seat must be one of the coolest new products out there. The product looks so clean and stylish. Rather than going for some fully enclosed suite, Air France instead has curtains around the seats, which is pretty awesome.

Air-France-First-Business-Class-43

They also have some great new reverse herringbone seats in business class, which is a hard product that’s tough to beat.

Air-France-First-Business-Class-36

The airline has been making good progress upgrading their 777s, which are the backbone of their longhaul fleet. Earlier this year Air France also announced that their A330s should get the new business class product starting late next year, and the project should be completed in 2018.

This leaves us wondering about their A380 fleet, as they have 10 of these aircraft.

Air-France-A380

Air France’s first class product on the A380 is pretty outdated at this point, though still reasonably stylish.

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The real problem is their business class, as it features angled seats. Air France is the only airline not offering flat beds in business class on their A380s.

When Air France first announced their new first & business class product, they said their plan was to install their new first & business class product on the A380 starting in 2017. At the time that seemed like a long time to wait…

Well, per French publication La Tribune, Air France’s CEO is now indicating that the A380 refurbishment will start in 2019 and be completed by 2020. Apparently it’s because he wants to prioritize the A330 reconfiguration instead, and they haven’t yet decided how many seats they want to put in each class of service on the A380, and they want to “get it right.”

While I understand reconfiguring planes is expensive, it seems a bit ridiculous that the planes they use in their most premium markets won’t feature a flat bed business class product until 2020. Also, if they haven’t figured out the ideal configuration for the A380 based on historical data at this point, then I don’t think they ever will.

Air France’s new business class product is great, though it sure is tough to manage expectations when you’re advertising a new product, while your flagship plane has business class seats that don’t even go flat.

Oh well…

(Tip of the hat to KarelXWB)

Comments

  1. Maybe they’re trying to stall out the a380neo discussions and all that since by then the a380 would have broken even and it would give them a better idea of what the future has in store for their flagship plane.

  2. VERY DUMB, Air France. Makes me just consider Lufthansa as a means to get to Europe instead, even when I’m going to Paris.

  3. Agreed with Tony…they may be stalling. Perhaps they’re trying to figure out what to do with the 380 fleet overall. IIRC, they didn’t take up the last two they ordered, and there are rumors on a.net that AF is struggling with the 380.

  4. I’m just glad I live in a city that has multiple AF daily flights. From LA the 777-operated flights are at better times (in the evening so it’s easier to sleep). If I had to fly the A380 flight I’d just fly premium economy.

  5. I suspect this is due to an evaluation of the A380 fleet future at AF overall. Basically, if they are not 100% certain they will be keeping them long into the future, why spend the money?

  6. Could the delay have anything to do with the timing of heavy maintenance of the A380s? It might not make a lot of finacial sense to withdraw the aircraft from service for weeks in 2017 just for a cabin refurb if they are due for C-checks in 2019, where the cabin would be stripped anyway.

  7. Matt
    AFAICS, my booking on Dec 15 SFO>CDG still showing on the old seats.
    A colleague flew it last week & reported old seats also.
    I booked in Jan + hoped by December they would be new on SFO route by then. Still hoping.
    Would have done return with KLM had I known… At least it was cheap!

  8. Avoid AF now, especially with the new KLM business class layout – although Delta on the 330’s is my go to for US trips now.

  9. I flew Air France to Dubai in business-class. It’s an amazing product. The pillow and blanket were a little cheap, but the seat is amazing. The food was good. The wine was superb. And the service was just what you’d expect; it was like a Paris cafe waiter. A little French attitude but served correctly and with pride. What irks me, however, is fleet inconsistency. And it’s not like the old business-class product is discounted.

    What I don’t understand is why Air France didn’t put the same new business-class on KLM aircraft. KLM’s business-class at 2×2 is weak and uncompetitive.

  10. The A380 isn’t the plane “they use in their most premium markets” (unless you consider Abidjan, Mexico City, and Shanghai to be premium destinations). It’s used for busy routes with heavy economy traffic that need the A380’s higher capacity. Real premium routes like New York and Singapore get the refurbished 777s instead.

    Like Charles and mcx, I suspect AF is reevaluating the role of the A380 in their fleet. They’ve shifted it around a lot over the last few years (e.g. inconsistent service to Johannesburg, seasonal use to Montreal) which suggests to me they’re having a harder time finding a good fit for it than, say, BA or LH have. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them change part or all of the fleet to a 3-cabin Y-heavy configuration without any F seats at all. If they’re considering something like this, it makes sense to hold off on refurbishing them as long as possible.

    While bloggers and points/miles hobbyists tend to focus on the plush premium cabins and amenities offered by some carriers on their A380s, it’s important to remember that the original rationale/business case for the plane was to provide greater Y capacity into hubs with limited landing slots. It was very much intended to be an “air bus” if you will, not a luxury liner.

  11. I’m living in a 2 bedroom apt, with the extra bedroom set up as a den/media room with just a fold out couch, 2 rockers, and a wall unit with TV. I’d love to replace the couch with 2of the pictured lie flat airline seats … how do i do it?

  12. When I was in Singapore in May, the Air France flight was a 777 with the old business-class product.

  13. What I can’t get my head around in this 1st class product is how people would pay that much money for such a small pop out PTV. Design and beauty are one thing but practicality is another. French people always tend to favor the former even if it seems completely irrational (just to clarify, I am French but also a very pragmatic person).

    Ben, are you planning to review the Vietnam Airlines 787/350?

    Cheers!

  14. I’m flying an A380 from CDG to SFO in July. How can I determine if I’ll get the new seats in business class?

  15. I’m flying an A380 from SFO to CDG in October. Will there be new seats in business class by then?

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