There’s a new Air France 777 configuration set to fly next month and, well, it is definitely interesting. In some ways it is reminiscent of the CIO configs, with only 16 business class seats on board, though in the 1-2-1 layout of the carrier’s new flat bed/direct aisle access product. That’s less than half the business class seats of the other 777-200 layouts (the 777-200 with the new beds features 40 usually). But that’s not the only change this plane sees. Not even the most bizarre, really. The economy class cabins are, well, different.
Premium Economy remains at rows 19-21, over the wing. Between the first four rows of business and the start of premium economy are seven rows of regular (and not so regular) economy class cabin representing 60 seats. Given that Air France typically goes for 3-4-3 in economy that’s 10 missing seats. And they are most definitely missing on the seat map.
For reasons I cannot quite figure out the first three rows of economy are in a 2-4-2 layout rather than the typical 3-4-3. These are in the same zone as the four rows of business class between the two forward doors. On the more typical 777-200 with the new seats there would be three row of business class in the same space so presumably the pitch on these seats is very generous. Air France does charge extra for the seats, calling them either “Seat Plus” or “Seat at the Front of the Cabin” for upsale, but doesn’t mention the difference in layout otherwise.
Directly behind the second door is four more rows of economy seating where the other 772 layout has three rows of business. Two of these are also in the 2-4-2 layout while the other two are in a 3-4-3 arrangement. The outside seats are considered “Seat Plus” with extra legroom while the middle four column is not, suggesting that the rows may be misaligned.
This appears to be taking advantage of the “modular” nature of the cabin configuration, shifting seats around and increasing coach capacity on specific routes during targeted seasonal use. Lufthansa is also known for such moves, swapping 12 business seats for 36 economy on it 747-8i aircraft depending on the season. Suffice it to say, airlines are getting more and more surgical with their targeting of capacity and product on routes and they’re able to make those shifts more quickly than ever.
My best guess is that the 2-4-2 layout rows are set that way because of aisle placement transitioning to the adjacent premium cabins. And that none of the seats are actually wider, unlike the 3-3-3 MCE cabin on some AA 777s compared to the 3-4-3 other rows have. But seeing a 2-4-2 economy section on a plane which also has 2-4-2 in premium economy is rather unusual, especially intermixed like this.
As for where to find the configuration flying, I know that it is on the schedule for AF 456 CDG-GRU on 3 July (and, obviously, the return flight the same evening). It also appears that it will make appearances in at several other airports, including Dubai, Osaka, Montreal, Shanghai and more. And then, at the end of the summer, it vanishes from the timetable in favor of the “normal” configuration.
Thanks, Jason, for the tip.
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