Air France Business Class within Europe

Old Aug 20, 05, 2:02 am
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Derrico
Originally Posted by graraps
It's exactly like shorthaul business class on BA (left side being two standard Y seats separated by a tiny non-seat), and far worse than business on the MD.
Thanks for the info.. not good to hear..
Except for 767s, right side on BA intra-European business class is three standard coach seats with no separation at all.

On 767s, the two sides with two seats have no separation at all, either. The two middle seats have the tiny separation.
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Old Aug 20, 05, 6:10 am
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European Business Class (esp for US and other visitors)

Originally Posted by Wayne
I am wondering whether business class on Air France within Europe has gone the way of KLM and Luftansa. By that I mean is it essentially 3-3 coach seating on a typical narrow body aircraft, with maybe a couple more inches of legroom? Or, is it more like the US Airlines domestic first class which would typically be 2-2 seating? Any information would be appreciated!
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Since this thread is getting more and more confusing, it might help to summarize a little, especially as a help to visitors to Europe. The orginal request was about Air France European business class and I have already tried (in two posts) to describe that. The poster after the OP said that European Business Class was basically the same on every company which, I think, is not strictly true.

I need to add a caveat to what follows. Some airlines have given up Business Class service even on key European routes (eg BD on LHR/CDG and LHR/AMS), and it is often not provided on services operated by regional jet aircraft. It is becoming the exception on domestic routes. This is both as a result of the challenge from LCCs and because fewer people (or their employers) are prepared to pay Business Class fares. I suspect the trend may be set. In this respect, visitors from the USA need to remember that, apart from miles redemptions and the odd operational upgrade, it is (almost) unheard of for a passenger to be upgraded to European Business Class. Almost everyone sitting in it will be a customer who has paid a business class fare, not someone on an Economy fare, even if it is a full Y class one. I may be wrong, but I have the impression that, apart from coast to coast and Hawaiiian/Alaska flights, virtually no-one has paid a First Class fare for travel in domestic US First class (other than those connecting to or from international paid First/Business Class where it is part of the fare). Most people sitting in F seem to have been upgraded because of their status in their FF programme or free upgrade vouchers or (occasionally) miles redemptions. Free upgrades are a major feature of US FF programmes, whereas they are a rarety in European programmes. Most do not offer them at all.

So let's try some generalizations. As far as food is concerned, there will almost always be something to eat in Business Class on international European flights (though often not on domestic flights), though the quality and presentation is not what it was even a couple of years ago. On many (especially flights of more than 90 minutes) it may be a full meal (entrée, main course, cheese and dessert). It will be served on a tray (rather like international Y) and not course by course from a trolley. The provision of a hot main course varies from company to company. I have had a hot main course on two-hour AZ flights, whereas on AF nowadays it has to be more than 2h55m for a hot meal to be served. It will almost always (I daren't say always!) be a superior offering (in varying degrees, depending on the airline) to that offered in Economy Class, which in some cases will be nothing at all. Apart from early morning flights there will be alcoholic drinks. Wine will mostly be fairly ordinary and in individual quarter bottles, but there are exceptions. AF, for example, serves long-haul quality wine from the bottle (and, incidentally, provides a small travel kit) on flights of over 2h55min.

That's the easy bit. Now the seat. And for the purposes of this comparison I am talking mostly about the smaller Boeing 737s or the Airbus 319 type aircraft with a single aisle, and which, in the Economy section, has a 3-3 configuration of seating.

On some companies there will be no difference at all from the seating configuration in the Economy cabin. This is the case with KLM (for the one or two exceptions see post #50 below), but a full Y fare will qualify you for the front 'cabin' and you will get the sort of business class meal - including hot main courses on longer flights - described above. Also, the seat pitch is an extra two inches in the front rows of the plane and, if the cabin divider is far enough forward, this feature will also apply to the front rows of the Economy cabin as well (see posts #51 and #53 below).

On some companies (eg LH?), the middle seat will simply be left empty.

On some companies (eg BD, LX, BA?, LH? AZ - except on the MD80 which, in international European travel, has a small cabin with US style 2-2 seating), seats on ABC side of the aircraft will be reduced to two by blocking the middle seat and moving the armrests to make the remaining two seats slightly wider, so that you could say there was a 2-3 configuration. But the middle seat cushion will still be visible, and you might feel a little as though it was just an empty seat. The seats on the other side of the aisle will be no different from those in the Economy cabin, and, on busy flights, all three seats may be occupied. The blocked seats on the ABC side are blocked (ie they will not be released if the plane is full, as is the case in some US E+ cabins, since they have been physically altered and no-one would be able to fit into them).

On some companies (certainly AF and OK), this 'blocking' is taken further. Firstly, it applies to all seats in the Business Class cabin, on both sides of the aisle, so that only A and C, D and F seats are available. Secondly, the armrests of the middle seat are adjusted to make the window and aisle seats slightly wider, and part of the back of the middle seat is lowered and transformed into a table on which drinks and small personal belongings, such as books, can be placed. You could say it was (I should even call it) a 2-2 configuration, and there is very little sense in which the space between you and your neighbour feels like an empty seat.

Nowadays, I think these are the only four possibilites (five if you count the AZ international M80s - a survivor from what was much more widespread). Other posters might want to add airlines to the above categories, correct me where I am wrong (as I bet I am, in some things) and say if there are other configurations of seating. I shall then amend the post.

In answer to a recently raised point, it is worth stating that most airlines allow pre-selection of seats in European Business Class, but that AZ doesn't. Again, others could add to this list and I shall amend the post accordingly.

I realize all this is slightly OT, as the OP was asking about Air France Business Class. Although I tried to answer that specific question in another post, the thread then received posts on other European business classes and the situation became very confused as to what AF actually provides.

Please point out any errors, and I shall amend the post. Many thanks for the replies so far.

Last edited by rangerss75; Aug 22, 05 at 2:50 pm Reason: to incorporate amendments/corrections proposed by other posters
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Old Aug 20, 05, 6:56 am
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by Derrico
As a fairly seasoned AZ flyer, what is the typical configuration on the Alitalia A321? Is it a good business class? I have a Milan flight approaching, and I wondered what the setup would be. I tried calling Alitalia to setup my seats, however they were fairly dismissive. The girl suggested that everyone is assigned seats at the airport? Is that true?
AZ 'Prima' on A321 will be 2-3 configured (middle seat on left becomes a gap between the arm rests; right hand group of three widens slightly). You definitely want an A or C seat (depending on whether you're a window or aisle person). Pitch is probably about 32-33" and practically indistinguishable from economy.

As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing to prefer on the A321 against the MD-80. The A321 is noisier and the seats are worse.

On short-haul, AZ doesn't pre-allocate seats; it's done on the day of travel at the airport as far as I can tell.
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Old Aug 20, 05, 7:24 am
  #49  
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Originally Posted by rangerss75
Wine will mostly (always? I haven't flown some European companies) be in individual quarter bottles and nothing like the quality of that served on long-haul flights.
Minor correction. On AF flights over 2h55, wine is served from full size bottles and it is a subset of wines served on long haul flights.
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Old Aug 20, 05, 11:26 am
  #50  
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KLM European Business Class summary

Concerning KLM`s Business Class, KLM being one of the true pioneers of the aviation industry played an important role both inventing a kind of Interconti Business Class ( originally called FFF ) for Full Fare Y payers.

They also came up with the idea of the 2-3 configuration in Intraeuropean C class in 1990 making all seats slightly wider.

AFAIK and fellow Flyertalker and KLM expert Johan Rebel might confirm this , KLM abolished its Royal First Class service before 1990, so never offered a three class product on Intraeuropean routes...

Today you still find the 2-3 configuration on the 739, but those planes normally do the runs to the Near East with the odd LIS or LHR flight thrown in.So with the exception of the 739 operated European flights and one daily AMS-LHR service that is operated by a 763 with a WBC configuration, KLM does not offer a superior seat and pitch , if you pay Full Fare Coach or as they name it Europe Select, the meals however are comparable to what the competition offers, i.e a tray with 2-3 courses on most flights.

My last KLM flight upfront on a longer route ( actually to LIS, about 150 minutes ) featured a warm meal ( choice of 3 main courses )
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Old Aug 20, 05, 3:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Threy
So with the exception of the 739 operated European flights and one daily AMS-LHR service that is operated by a 763 with a WBC configuration, KLM does not offer a superior seat and pitch , if you pay Full Fare Coach or as they name it Europe Select, the meals however are comparable to what the competition offers, i.e a tray with 2-3 courses on most flights.
Threy, your post is pretty much "on the money", but I have an important clarification re the seat pitch.

KLM does offer a superior pitch in Europe Select, at least on 737s and F100s, can't remember on F70s. The first 8-10 rows (someone else confirm?) of these aircraft have at least 2-3 more inches of pitch. I would estimate 34-35 inches?

Of course, one need not purchase Europe Select to get this. If you are elite or check in early enough (OLCI ("OnLine Check-In") usually helps) then you have a pretty good chance of getting seats with extra legroom because Europe Select rarely extends beyond Row 6, at least on flights to/from the UK.

During OLCI, if the first economy row is 4, then I usually pick Row 6 (because Row 5 would have the partition right in your face). As I am six feet tall the extra legroom is well appreciated.

I used to reserve exit rows but I've been burned too many times by equipment changes and re-numbered rows on aircraft, thrice in the past year winding up in rows immediately in front or behind exit rows even when EXIT was clearly indicated on the OLCI and KLM.com seatmaps. I've found the legroom in the front of the aircraft is nearly as big as in the exits and you don't have to worry about equipment changes or strangely-numbered rows... Row 8 or better guarantees you better pitch.

Regarding other differences between standard economy and Europe Select, on KLM mainline the meal service has improved, Mrs. TrayflowinUK and I have had four op-ups between us in the past three months. On KLM mainline (737) ES, we've had pretty decent meals on KLM china. On KLM Cityhopper (F100s) the ES meal service was just a slightly better sandwich.
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Old Aug 22, 05, 8:35 am
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Originally Posted by rangerss75
In this respect, visitors from the USA need to remember that, apart from miles redemptions and the odd operational upgrade, it is (almost) unheard of for a passenger to be upgraded to European Business Class. Almost everyone sitting in it will be a customer who has paid a business class fare, not someone on an Economy fare, even if it is a full Y class one.
Thanks for the excellent summary of intra-European business class!

My KLM experience related to upgrades is slightly different. In 2004 (and end of 2003) when I was FD Plat, I was upgraded on just about every flight between LHR and AMS (probably did about 8 return trips). Most of those tickets were in the lowest booking class. As far as I could see all FD Plats were being upgraded (to 'Europe Select', maybe the word upgrade is not entirely correct...) as long as the flight was full in economy. I wouldn't be surprised that, as Europe Select was introduced not long before, KLM simply didn't have enough passengers willing to pay the high fares for same-day return flights. The initial fare structure made it impossible to book a one-day return in economy, and I guess lots of business travellers from AMS to LHR would do that. It would have been less expensive to fly BMI or BA economy.

BTW: most of the KLM 737s still had the 2-3 configuration for the first 10 rows at the time.
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Old Aug 22, 05, 1:17 pm
  #53  
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Originally Posted by TrayflowInUK
KLM does offer a superior pitch in Europe Select, at least on 737s and F100s, can't remember on F70s. The first 8-10 rows (someone else confirm?) of these aircraft have at least 2-3 more inches of pitch. I would estimate 34-35 inches?
Only 33", as opposed to 31" in back. I still go for the emergency exit row window seats on those aircraft types where there is no seat in the row in front.

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Old Aug 22, 05, 3:01 pm
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Originally Posted by frankvb
Thanks for the excellent summary of intra-European business class!

My KLM experience related to upgrades is slightly different. In 2004 (and end of 2003) when I was FD Plat, I was upgraded on just about every flight between LHR and AMS (probably did about 8 return trips). Most of those tickets were in the lowest booking class. As far as I could see all FD Plats were being upgraded (to 'Europe Select', maybe the word upgrade is not entirely correct...) as long as the flight was full in economy. I wouldn't be surprised that, as Europe Select was introduced not long before, KLM simply didn't have enough passengers willing to pay the high fares for same-day return flights. The initial fare structure made it impossible to book a one-day return in economy, and I guess lots of business travellers from AMS to LHR would do that. It would have been less expensive to fly BMI or BA economy.

BTW: most of the KLM 737s still had the 2-3 configuration for the first 10 rows at the time.
Thanks for that, though it does sound a bit like an operational upgrade if Economy Class was full, and full-fare Y passengers are automatically seated in Europe Select anyway. Platinum members would be the obvious people to upgrade first if they needed the space in Economy. Does anyone know if they upgrade Platinum or other members travelling on the lowest fares if Economy still has empty seats. That is, should I amend my post?

Does KLM not use C as a booking class on European flights in fact? I must say, as an ex F+ member, I'm enjoying discovering the different world of KLM.
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Old Aug 22, 05, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by rangerss75
Does KLM not use C as a booking class on European flights in fact? I must say, as an ex F+ member, I'm enjoying discovering the different world of KLM.
Z is used for bookings intra Europe in ES. J and C are used for connecting pax that use these particular classes on their intercontinental segments.
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Old Aug 23, 05, 6:14 am
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Originally Posted by rangerss75
Thanks for that, though it does sound a bit like an operational upgrade if Economy Class was full, and full-fare Y passengers are automatically seated in Europe Select anyway. Platinum members would be the obvious people to upgrade first if they needed the space in Economy. Does anyone know if they upgrade Platinum or other members travelling on the lowest fares if Economy still has empty seats. That is, should I amend my post?

Does KLM not use C as a booking class on European flights in fact? I must say, as an ex F+ member, I'm enjoying discovering the different world of KLM.
Sure these were op-ups - reading through your original posts I assumed that you were talking about the fact that all kinds of upgrades were extremely rare - probably misunderstood that you were excluding op-ups here.

Agreed on not getting upgrades when Y is not full. I think I did get one or two upgrades when Y wasn't completely full (like 24 December in the middle of the day), but those would have been the exception. My internet check-in experience was that as soon as the 'seat change' option was blocked, it meant I was being upgraded (even once checked-in you can still re-do the check-in and change the seat). This usually happened about 6 hours before the flight, which may have indicated that they expected being full in economy and already started upgrading passengers (no idea if this is being done automatically by the system or if there is a human doing that).

BTW: I don't think that full-fare Y passengers are seated in Europe Select - they may get priority seating (lower rows). Like I noticed before, at least for a while it wasn't possible to book a real fully-flexible (at least a same day return) flight in economy, you had to choose a Europe Select fare.
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Old Aug 23, 05, 7:01 am
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Originally Posted by frankvb

BTW: I don't think that full-fare Y passengers are seated in Europe Select - they may get priority seating (lower rows). .
and Threy
KLM ....... if you pay Full Fare Coach or as they name it Europe Select

Hope someone can help me here. I'm wholly dependent on KLM flyers for what I've included about the KLM 'business' cabin. Thanks, however, to these two posters and everyone else.

Maybe I should have stuck to Air France? But that's where the problems started, as various posters described 'business class' as being any number of things.
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Old Sep 17, 05, 1:45 am
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What an interesting, and helpful thread, for us non-Europeans who are connecting from flights originating in the States, or elsewhere, for that matter. It seems to me that a big part of the equation is whether reality meets expectation. This summer I flew DL BE to Paris and connected on AZ business class to Milan. I had never flown either and had read many complaints about both. I thought the two flights were wonderful. There is no FC flight in the US that would even think of offering a lunch service on a flight of 1hr 15 min. AZ exceeded expectation. I also recently flew AF F into CDG with a connection to CPH. After the outstanding trans-Atlantic flight I was expecting more of the same, particularly because I was under the impression that AF intra-Europe was much better than domestic FC in US. I couldn't have been more disappointed with the connection. A CO flight of the same length is vastly superior, 2-2 seating with full, hot dinner service, beautifully presented. Since I was expecting at least something similar from AF I was unpleasantly surprised.
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Old Dec 6, 05, 2:11 pm
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Originally Posted by JOUY31
The cut off point for AF intra-European flights in C used to be 1h40mn. Above that, you had a hot meal. Now, for the last eighteen months or so, the cut off point has been raised to 2h55. For flights above 2h55 (ATH, IST, Russia ?), you get a hot meal, an amenity kit, and a selection of wines served on long-haul flights, served from real size bottles, not the dreadful generic vins de pays or vins de cépage, Merlot, Chardonnay, whatever . Nevertheless, my experience is that on flights to ATH, meals are not as good as they used to be.

And digestifs have yet to reappear

Having flown to several European destinations in C on both BA and AF (it's been almost a year since I have flown LH), I prefer BA catering (provided GG is operational ...) for flights shorter than 3hrs. For flights to and from ATH, I definitely prefer AF catering.

Regarding the issue of hot bread, it may be (I may be mistaken) that French passengers are more interested in having good bread than having any type of bread warmed, either on board or in a restaurant. And the type of butter is also important ...
Yes, they do provide amenity kits on the flights to Russia.

My question is such: what is the best (I know, they are all the same, but in your opinion?) seat on AF 319 in Business?
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Old Dec 6, 05, 3:14 pm
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Originally Posted by asnovici
Yes, they do provide amenity kits on the flights to Russia.

My question is such: what is the best (I know, they are all the same, but in your opinion?) seat on AF 319 in Business?
I personally prefer aisle seats. The best legroom would be in seat 2D, followed by 1C, which is not as good. Both also allow me to disembark quickly and have a nice chat with the pleasant AF personnel navigant commercial .
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