Airlines Reviews

Mixed feelings – My Air France Business Class A350-900 review

an airplane with a television and a person sitting in the middle

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Air France Business Class A350-900 review

I’ve had my eyes on Air France’s A350 business class for quite some time. A350s offer an incredibly smooth and quiet ride and Air France has a cabin with just 34 seats. The A350 also offers the latest iteration of business class in the Air France portfolio, and I wanted to see how it stood up to the Cirrus business class offered on the 777s which I reviewed a couple years ago.

Long story, short. The ride was smooth, service superb, food was mostly great, but the seat just doesn’t really do it for me. THE SEAT. The most important part of business class is getting a good night’s sleep so you can head straight to the office. Did I sleep? No. Not one wink.

The introduction of this seat seems to be a solution for a problem that didn’t exist. The reverse herringbone seat on the 777s is super comfy, offers more storage, and much more comfortable than these.

Air France Business Class A350-900 details

  • When: January 2022
  • Route: Atlanta to Paris
  • Flight: AF 681
  • Seat: 2E
  • Flight Time: 9 hours
  • Booked with: 55k FlyingBlue Miles and $226

Booking Air France Business Class with points

Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles are some of the easiest points to earn since they partner with so many bank partners. I actually earned the miles for this trip in 2020/2021 when Brex had a couple of very lucrative 100k offers, but you could transfer any of the following programs:

  • Amex
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  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Marriott ( 60k = 25k )

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I booked this from Atlanta to Paris to London for 55k + $234.

a screenshot of a computer

Choosing a seat

This proved to be quite cumbersome – I couldn’t choose a seat when booking, at check-in, and only when we got to the Delta lounge could someone seat my wife and I.

Best seats on Air France A350:

  • Couples – Middle Even Rows
  • Single –
    • Best – Even Rows on the A or L line
    • 2nd – Odd on the C or J line

We had 2 E/F in the center:

You can see how close they are to one another, which is a great for couples, but not for those who don’t know each other.

a seats with monitors and a table

I would highly recommend the odd rows for singles which place you right next to the window and have a small aisle to the seat on the A line vs seats on the C line which sit closer to the aisle.

a seat in a plane

The first row does have a larger footwell, so that’s worth considering

 

Check-in

Quick and relatively easy; however, again the seating situation was an issue. How Is it possible that you can’t choose the seat you want at check-in, but when you get to the lounge they can? Fishy…yes. Am I dubious that it was a software issue? Yes.

people in a terminal

Delta Lounge Atlanta International Terminal

While some lounges are worth arriving to the airport early to experience this one is not. It’s a place to sit down, do some quick work, and perhaps if you have extra Delta Skymiles to burn – buy a bottle Dom Perignon with them. Otherwise…it’s a pretty typical lounge with unexciting food and beverage options.

Boarding

After 7 years of blogging I finally think I’m getting the hang of when the right time to snap a quick, relatively clean cabin shot, and that’s immediately after take-off just when the seat belt sign turns off.

You’d think lining up first in line under the zone 1 sign would afford you the opportunity to do it when stepping foot on the plane. No…not only did we somehow get cut in front of, but the amount of people who need pre-boarding with kids that could be old enough to pitch me a new social media app are astounding. I don’t have kids so maybe I will need the same assistance, but it seems to be a rule that is often exploited.

The cabin is attractive and intimate with just 34 seats.

a plane with rows of tvs and seats

The Seat

I’m not a big fan of this layout nor this seat. It’s very similar to what’s found on Etihad, some Delta planes, an iteration of Virgin Atlantic on refit Air Berlin aircraft, and makes me scratch my head over why it was chosen to the great Cirrus seat found on AF’s 777s. That Cirrus seat is one of the best and maybe it was a size issue, but as I said before, this seems to be a solution for a problem that didn’t exist.

Here is the Cirrus seat from the 77W – it’s comfy, well padded, enough storage, etc.

a seat with a monitor and a window

Here is the seat on the A359. The color scheme is great, but it’s just not comfortable.

The padding is thin, the footwell angles in, and there is a major gap when the seat is in bed mode. Notice how the center divider is down in this picture.

a person sitting in an airplane bed

The IFE, seating controls, power, and storage are all quite sleek looking and sufficient. I realized that I forgot to photograph it, but there is a small storage area next to the seat as well that can hold a wallet and amenity kit. That’s a nice feature often overlooked and while it isn’t the biggest area, it’s something large enough to store your valuables.

Dining

I have been impressed with the food on Air France on each occasion I’ve flown with them…that’s a few flights when counting inter-continental flights around Europe.

Although it was all served on a tray with plastic coverings, rather than in courses as I experience pre-covid, this was no exception with a big caveat – they offered me a shrimp dish and they were out of stock and served fish instead. Not a big deal to me, the potatoes were delicious but the fish itself was quite tough, and when I requested a pasta dish instead it was promptly served and was very tasty.

Overall:

This was one of the few times in recent memory that I took a redeye and just simply couldn’t sleep. Not even for 5 minutes. I tried and tried and tried, but the cabin was a bit hot, the seat wasn’t comfortable, and departing at 5pm didn’t help.

Air France will continue to add A350s to its fleet, and while I’d assume they will continue to equip them with this current seating option, I’d love to see some other configuration adopted that was more comfortable, and a seat that had one continuous surface when in bed mode.

While I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Air France again I would definitely prioritize flying the 777s to enjoy their seats vs these.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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