Last summer (July 2023), I enjoyed a phenomenal safari & beach holiday in South Africa and Mozambique, probably my best holiday ever. You can read my trip reports here
- Review: Air France Boeing 777 new Business Class from Paris to Johannesburg (today)
- Review: &Beyond Tengile River Lodge (Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa)
- Review: Lion Sands Ivory Lodge (Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa)
- Review: Kruger Shalati – The Train on the Bridge, Kruger National Park, South Africa
- Review: Kisawa Sanctuary (Mozambique)
- Review: Air France Boeing 777 new Business Class from Johannesburg to Paris
Today: Review of Air France’s new Boeing 777 Business Class (Paris to Johannesburg)
Last summer, I flew in Business Class with Air France from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport to O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. The flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER which was equipped with Air France’s newest Business Class product: reverse herringbone suites in a 1-2-1 layout, featuring cool gadgets such as sliding doors, wireless charging, and bluetooth audio. The incredibly private Business Class seat, attentive service, gourmet cuisine designed by Michelin starred chefs, a carefully selected wine and Champagne list, and a wide selection of in-flight entertainment made for an excellent flight experience, which is hard to beat and which confirms Air France’s position as Europe’s most glamorous airline. The new Business Class product is progressively rolled out on 12 Boeing 777-300s, which serve destinations like New York JFK, Rio de Janeiro, Dakar and Johannesburg.
Have you ever flown with Air France? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
- Trip: Paris (PAR) to Johannesburg (JNB)
- Airline: Air France
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft registration number: F-GZNS (built in 2016)
- Departure time: 8:30 pm
- Arrival time: 8:30 am (+ 1 day)
- Miles: 4420 miles (8720 km)
- Flight time: 10 hours
- Seat: 4L
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube video):
- Air France Business Class Lounge at CDG Airport
- Air France longhaul fleet
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict (score)
1. AIR FRANCE BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT CDG AIRPORT
Air France operates several airport lounges at Paris Charles De Gaulle airport. Its flagship Business Class Lounge (which I am reviewing in this article) is located in Hall L of Terminal 2E.
Reopened in 2018 after a complete redesign, the light-filled lounge is spread out over one (very) large area, featuring dozens of seating areas. The latter are comprised of arm chairs arranged around coffee tables, lounge sofas, as well as several co-working tables with individual sockets to work quietly. Having a capacity of more than 500 seats, the lounge is an ambassador of chic French style with a contemporary decor that strikes a subtle balance between elegance, comfort and creativity. From a design’s perspective, this is one of the most beautiful airport lounges I’ve encountered during all my travels.
At the heart of the lounge is a magnificent bar area, called “Le Balcon”. Created by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, the bar is set within a curved wooden structure sheltered under an immense golden mirrored ceiling. The space includes a central bar and a succession of outlying theatrical box seats upholstered in blue velvet. Every evening, Le Balcon serves a selection of cocktails, specially designed by the head bartender of the Hotel Lancaster in Paris.
One end of the lounge features a Parisian bistro styled dining corner called ‘The Gourmet Table’. There’s an excellent buffet on display with a selection of hot and cold dishes, including salads, soups, cheeses, pastas, and pastries. A selection of fine wines and champagnes – designed by Paolo Basso, one world’s best sommeliers – is available. The Gourmet Table’s eye catcher is an open kitchen, where a chef prepares hot dishes in front of the guests. There’s also a second food station at the center of the lounge, next to the “Le Balcon” bar, offering a similar (albeit smaller) buffet.
Next to the main lounge is an extensive wellness area, which features a relaxation room with mini suites, a Clarins spa with two treatment rooms, large luxury showers, two private saunas, and a detox bar offering organic teas from the Palais des Thés as well as Evian flavoured waters. The spa has a three-dimensional digital sculpture at its heart, a surprising piece of artwork that changes shape, intensity and colour throughout the day. Also integrated within this wellness area is ‘Le Petit Salon’ (a quiet area where smartphones are silent) and ‘Le Club’(a VIP room for top-tier elites of Air France’s loyalty program Flying Blue or special VIP guests).
Other facilities at the lounge include a kids corner, two press kiosk (offering French and international newspapers and magazines), shopping display cabinets, and a concierge desk where Air France staff can help to book a spa treatment or assist with flights (e.g. delays, seats, etc …).
2. AIR FRANCE LONGHAUL FLEET
Air France has 63 Boeing 777s in its fleet, which have an average age of 17 years. It’s the world’s 4th biggest Boeing 777 operator (after Emirates, United Airlines and Qatar Airways). Air France’s longhaul fleet also comprises other aircraft types: 10 Boeing 787s, 21 Airbus A350s, and 15 Airbus A330s.
3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Air France’s retrofitted Boeing 777-300ERs which are equipped with the new Business Class product feature 48 spacious suites spread over two cabins. The bulk of the suites is located in the front Business Class cabin, which has a total of 28 seats and consists of seven rows, while the rear Business Class cabin feels more intimate with only 5 rows of 20 suites. The Business Class seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout, providing all passengers direct access to the aisle.
All Business Class seats are equipped with a sliding door, allowing each passenger to create a totally private space, out of sight from the other passengers in the cabin. The seats located in the center of the cabin are equipped with a central panel that can be lowered by pressing it down, thus creating a convivial space in which to make the most of the flight together. Also, the seats at the front of both Business cabins (in rows 1 and 9) have an enormous amount of extra space in front of them for additional comfort, making them the best seats in the plane.
Air France’s new Business Class cabin has an elegant design and displays Air France’s signature colors: navy blue, the presence of white adding light and contrast, and touches of red embodying its excellence and savoir-faire. The carpet on the floor revisits the traditional ornamental herringbone pattern, symbolising the emblematic world of traditional Parisian Haussmann apartments. The front of the cabin as well as the side panel of each suite feature a winged seahorse, embodying the founding myth of the company and its rich history. The cabin also feels very luxurious and plush as the carrier has chosen noble, soft and natural materials such as wool, brushed aluminium and full-grain French leather for the manufacture of its seat.
4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
Air France has installed Safran Versa Business Class seat onboard its retrofitted Boeing 777s. With a pitch of 106 cm (42 inches) and a width of 53 cm (21 inch), the seat feels very comfortable, has excellent padding, and features luxurious accents, such as a dark navy blue seat fabric and a leather headrest. Located in its own shell, the design of the Business Class seat is based on the 3 “F”s: Full Flat, meaning that the seat transforms into a real bed almost 2 m (6.5 ft) long; Full Access, providing all passengers direct access to the aisle; and Full Privacy, ensuring optimal privacy by means of a sliding door.
One side of the seat – located towards the cabin wall for the window seats or the center line for middle seats – features a large enclosed console, featuring a backlit picture of Air France’s iconic winged seahorse logo. On the inside, the console has a hook with the noise-cancelling headphones upon boarding, but once you remove them it has enough room to store your smaller personal belonging (e.g. cellphone, wallet, glasses). There’s also a vanity mirror inside this console and well as a handset for the inflight entertainment. On the console’s outer wall is a reading light (at eye level) as well as a USB-A outlet.
Next to the console is a huge counter, which features a wireless charging station and a metal trim holding the seat controls. Underneath the counter are a small storage pocket (which can be used to store a bottle of water) and several power outlets (including a USB-C charger and AC power outlet). The seat’s bi-fold tray table is also located on this side of the seat and slides out from underneath the counter.
Each seat has a large 17.3-inch 4K high-definition anti-glare screen. The suite’s apex also features a footwell with an additional storage area underneath (which is perfect for stowing away a handbag or shoes). The ottoman is wide, which enhances the sleeping comfort when the seat is fully reclined. When sleeping, the aisle armrest can be left up for more privacy, or lowered for providing some welcome extra bed width.
What are the best Business Class seats?
- The seats in the front of both Business Class cabins – more specifically the bulkhead seats in rows 1 and 9 – offer an enormous amount of extra space, which equals that and even tops the space you usually find in First Class cabins. So far, Air France does not charge extra for these seats but they are only available to Flying Blue elite members at booking (although they also become available to other Business Class passengers 72 hours prior to departure).
- Solo travelers should choose one of the window seats, while travel companions should go for the middle seats.
What are the worst Business Class seats?
- I suggest to avoid the last row in the front Business Class cabin (row 8) due to its proximity to the galley and lavatories.
- I also suggest to avoid the last row in the rear Business Class (row 14) which is in front of the Premium Economy Class bassinet seats.
Click here for a seat map of Air France’s Boeing 777-300ER.
5. AMENITIES & BEDDING
Air France offers the following amenities to its Business Class passengers on longhaul flights:
- A comfort kit made of 96% recycled material. Its plastic packaging has been removed in favor of an integrity seal. Sober and refined, it is available in two colours, navy blue and beige. Each kit contains a toothbrush and a pen made from maize straw, as well as earplugs wrapped in kraft paper to avoid plastic. A large sleep mask, socks, toothpaste and Clarins cosmetics complete the kit.
- A hanger
- A soft microfiber pillow and a soft blanket
- Air France branded noise-cancelling headphones, which are hard wired into the storage cubby and of decent quality
Unfortunately, Air France does not provide a quilted mattress. It’s probably the only thing I missed during my journey with the carrier, as a quilted mattress can really make a difference when it comes to the onboard sleeping comfort.
Air France has a long history of collaborating witch Michelin-starred chefs. In fact, it’s the only airline in the world to partner with so many Michelin-starred chefs, reaffirming more than ever its role as an ambassador for fine French dining and expertise throughout the world. On long-haul flights departing from Paris, Air France has entrusted the menu in its Business cabin to Michelin-starred French chefs. The greatest names in French haute cuisine, including Régis Marcon, Anne-Sophie Pic and Michel Roth, take it in turns to offer vegetarian dishes as well as refined dishes with red or white meat or fish. These meals are enhanced by tableware signed by French designer Jean-Marie Massaud. The wine and champagne list is selected by world famous sommelier Paolo Basso.
During this overnight flight to Johannesburg, two meals were served: a dinner after takeoff and a breakfast before landing. The onboard cuisine was created by Thierry Marx, a renowned Parisian-born chef with two Michelin stars whose dishes focus above all on plant-based ingredients in a flexitarian approach. Menus were nicely executed (with all options mentioned in English and French), the dishes were beautifully plated, and the meals tasted excellent.
I choose the following selection from the dinner menu:
- Appetizer: pea and mint purée, mixed green vegetables
- Starter: shrimp with seaweed, tomato and basil sauce, fresh ewe’s cheese with basil, toasted hazelnuts
- Main course: cod, shrimp, saffron rice, piquillo coulis
- Dessert: apricot flan, raspberry and gianduja, cream puff, opera cake
Breakfast was served 90 minutes prior to landing in Johannesburg and included fresh orange juice, coffee, tea, pastries, yoghurt, and fruits. Mushroom and spinach flan was served as a hot dish.
As already mentioned, each seat has a large 17.3-inch 4K high-definition anti-glare screen, equipped with noise-reducing headphones and a Bluetooth connection so that customers can use their personal headphones. A state-of-the-art graphic interface available in 12 languages makes it easy to choose from a wide variety of programmes. More than 350 films are available, including a large selection of French movies, as well as TV series, documentaries, music and podcasts. A specific section on well-being also allows young and old alike to learn about meditation and seated yoga during the flight. Finally, kids have their own navigation interface to easily find all the entertainment specifically dedicated to our younger passengers. Air France’s Boeing 777-300ERs are also equipped with a nose and belly camera, streaming live footage to the inflight entertainment system.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
In all cabins, passengers can use Air France Connect, the airline’s in-flight Wi-Fi offer. The portal offers three passes, one of which is completely free of charge and allows passengers to send and receive messages via WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and similar services, although you cannot send or receive photos, videos, or audio files.
Two other internet packages are available for purchase on Air France’s longhaul flights:
- The Surf Pass is available as 1-hour voucher for EUR 8, or a full-flight voucher for EUR 18. With this pass, you can surf the internet, and send & receive e-mails.
- The Stream Pass costs EUR 30 for the entire flight and lets you surf the internet, send and receive e-mails including (large) attachments, send & receive messages including photos, videos, & audio files, and stream music, audio, & video.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: The flight attendants on this flight were very friendly and offered impeccable and courteous service.
# LAVATORY: Air France’s Boeing 777-300ER features 4 lavatories for Business Class passengers: two are located behind the cockpit and the two other in the galley between both Business Class cabins. The lavatories were stuffed with Clarins toiletries.
10. MY VERDICT
- Seat comfort (upright): 9/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 9/10
- Food (quality): 9/10
- Food (quantity): 9/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 9/10 (not available)
- Service: 10/10
- Cabin design: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional – 9/10