So this last week I had a trip to Paris, flying on Air France. In a previous post, you may have seen I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the experience traveling on economy on the 777.
Outbound I was on an A330, which has a decent 18″ width and 32″ pitch. I’d also secured an exit row seat, giving me near infinite leg room, but unfortunately a non-working TV screen. Thankfully my Kindle and iPad were well stocked anyway.
On the way back, I was scheduled to be in economy, in a standard seat. However, I managed to secure an upgrade to Premium Economy for €320. As it was a flight leaving at 11:20pm, I thought it may be worth the expense, and also the change to try a very interest product from AF. I was even interested in business, but the flight was full. AF offers Sky Priority for Premium Economy customers, albeit in a different line to business customers, but still ahead of economy.
The AF Premium Economy seat has a hard back that doesn’t recline. That way, your perfectly nice seat doesn’t transform in to a cramped space as soon as the person puts the seat back. Instead, it is more like a mini-business class seat, where the cushion slides down the seat a bit. On paper, the seat is 19″ width, with a 38″ pitch, and supposedly aa 33 degree recline. Certainly it was nice and wide, far more comfortable than economy. There is also a deployable leg rest and fold out foot rest.
It also had a decent size TV screen, and AF’s newer IFE system, with a decent movie selection. There are built in noise cancelling headphones, with some covers to put over the ear pieces, as well as a headphone jack to use your own. The noise cancelling was actually very good, but I ended up using my own headphones as they were wired the wrong way round! My sound was coming out of my seat neighbour’s headphones and vice versa. There is also a universal 220V socket and USB port for at seat power.
The tray table folds from the seat in front in two stages. The first half size table is extremely sturdy for a fold down table, and when folded out makes a business class sized table great for working on, and still having room for a drink on the side.
Food wise, I had pre-ordered the Italian Menu, which was still delivered to me in PE. However, there is a different menu normally, which had a chicken and vegetarian option available. Proper glass wear and cutlery are given as well, which is always a plus for me. The wine and drinks options are the same as economy, of course including champagne!
My decision to upgrade really paid off when we had to divert to São Paulo and spend 4 hours on the tarmac, as Rio GIG was closed due to fog! So this turned it in to a 16 hour flight.
My overall thoughts on the flight? I think this is one of the best seats I have travelled in for being able to work. However, for sleeping I did struggle a bit, more so than on my previous flight on BA. For me, when reclined it just wasn’t as comfortable. The amount of recline isn’t much more than in economy, and the way it reclines by sloping down the seat just didn’t make for a comfortable sleeping experience as I’ve had on other Premium Economy flights. Of course it is better than economy, and for a day flight I think would be a really great option instead of business if sleeping wasn’t in your plan!