Looks like we are now seeing the ready-made replacement of the ageing Air France (AF) A340 fleet with the release of the Boeing 787-9 layout.
SkyTeam elites should rejoice at the news that the new AF 787-9 fleet that is to be introduced into the airline will mirror quite closely the current A340-300 seat map that it is meant to replace – and the suspected reduction of Business Class seats has not taken place.
The same number of Business Class seats remain, but with the full flat bed ‘reverse herringbone’ layout as opposed to the lie flat old product currently on the A343 fleet that the 789 will replace, and Premium Economy remains at 21 seats but with the new highly rated product.
The new layout looks like this:
30 pax Business Class 1-2-1 at 42″ pitch
21 pax Premium Economy 2-3-2 at 40″ pitch
225 pax Economy Class 3-3-3 at 31″ pitch
Which is an almost replica of the current A340 fleet – the sole difference is one economy seat has gone missing. Which is no big deal, obviously.
For American based customers, cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Denver, Seattle, Minneapolis and Portland will be the first cities that will see the new product in the coming months, with other destinations such as Newark, Boston and Atlanta to follow as more air frames come in.
Kinshasa, Yaounde, Niamey, Bamako, Conakry, Freetown, Abidjan, Malabo, Monrovia and Ouagadougou are next in line – so basically much of Air France’s West African routes that are coincidentally operated by their A340 fleet will soon be operated by the 787-9.
What this means for US based SkyTeam members is only positive – it means that AF will offer the same number of seats for elite redemption and for Business Class customers and an almost same seat count for everyone else, but with a much better product in all classes – the full flat bed in Biz (rather than the semi-flat bed currently on the A340 routes), and a better Premium Economy and Economy class product especially on the in flight entertainment department.
Overall, a massive upgrade for AF and SkyTeam customers out of the United States, especially if you’re connecting into Air France’s Francophone Africa network.