Review: Air France Business Class 777-300ER (CDG-JFK)

On my way back to the US after this year’s Aircraft Interior Expo, I decided to book a flight in Air France business class from Paris Charles de Gaulle to New York JFK in the hopes of trying out what some have called the best business class seat on earth

Alas, it was not meant to be.

Just days before my flight, I discovered that the refurbished 777-300ER I thought would fly me to New York had been switched for one with Air France’s older business class cabin. Always the optimist, I shrugged off disappointment and resolved to use the flight as an opportunity to review this old product one last time before flying the updated one.

My main takeaway is this: those new cabins can’t come soon enough. Seats in this old business cabin are very exposed to the aisle and, more importantly, are falling apart. Though my flight was ultimately salvaged by Air France’s excellent food and drinks, it has me eagerly awaiting the wider rollout of refurbished cabins.

How I booked my Air France business class ticket

I redeemed 55,000 Flying Blue miles and paid $377 in taxes and fees for this flight. I earned my points with the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard, though Flying Blue partners with a bunch of major transferable points currencies, so I could’ve also used Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou points to book this flight.

My flight details were as follows:

  • Air France 10
  • Paris (CDG) – New York (JFK)
  • Departure: 4:30 PM, June 8
  • Arrival: 6:40 PM, June 8
  • Flight Time: 8h 10m
  • Business Class, Seat 15L

Air France business class boarding & departure

45 minutes before departure, I left Air France’s dingy non-Schengen business class lounge in Terminal 2E. I walked through Charles de Gaulle’s Hall K, among the most beautiful concourses in Europe, to arrive at gate K43 just as boarding had begun.

people walking in a terminal

I walked down an absolutely stifling transparent jet bridge and was treated to views of our plane and the Dakar-bound 777 parked next to us.

a plane parked at an airport
a large airplane on the tarmac

Air France business class cabin & seats

Air France’s business class cabin on this 777-300ER is really, really big. Laid out in a 1-2-1 across 15 rows for a total of 58 seats, the first four rows comprise a forward, mini-cabin and the other 11 rows sit behind it in a larger cabin. My favorite seats are in the mini-cabin, which feels more intimate and quieter than the main cabin. Unfortunately, I was seated in 15L.

a screen shot of a chart

Theoretically window seats, 15L and 15A both lack windows and, due to my own poor planning, were the last available seats by the time I checked in.

a seat in a plane

Seats are in a reverse-herringbone configuration, meaning they’re angled away from the aisle. That grants some additional privacy, though the seats still feel pretty exposed since they sit right up against the aisle.

a group of people sitting in chairs on an airplane

My seat, like Air France’s new business class seat, was 21.5 inches wide and in bed mode measured a comfortable 79 inches (6’7”) long.

a seat in a plane

Above the right armrest on my seat were tactile metallic seat control and lighting buttons.

a close up of a seat

Above the right-hand countertop is a small cupboard with a mirror on the inside.

a small white and red box with black headphones inside
a white box with a red lid and a window

The tray table is nested below the countertop and swings out. It’s one of the larger tray tables out there and easily accommodated my 16-inch MacBook Pro.

a laptop on a table

Around shoulder level is a reading light and a touch screen IFE remote.

a close up of a hole in a metal object
a screen with buttons and buttons on it

Near foot level is a beaten-up panel with a USB port and universal power outlet.

a white wall outlet with a usb port

At the front of the seat is a 13-inch IFE screen that can be unlatched and swung outwards toward the seat.

a screen on a plane
a screen on an airplane

Below the IFE screen is a footwell that I found fairly spacious. I was easily able to move my legs around comfortably as I slept.

a seat cushion in a room

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that these seats do not have individual air vents. Luckily, the cabin was kept chilly during my flight so it wasn’t issue.

Air France business class amenities

Shortly after boarding, flight attendants walked through the cabin with amenity kits in a choice of either beige or blue. The kits are made from sustainably sourced and recyclable materials (which I’m all for) but felt flimsy and cheap.

a close up of a bag

Inside was a toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, a pen, earplugs, and Clarins creams.

a sleeping mask and toothbrushes on a table

In terms of bedding, there was a large pillow that was lumpy and much less comfortable than it looked, as well as a warm comforter.

a pillow on a couch

Finally, and I’m not sure whether to call this an amenity, there’s a small self-service bar area between the mini cabin and the main cabin with wine, soft drinks, juices, and water.

a shelf with drinks and bottles on it

Air France entertainment & Wi-Fi

The entertainment selection was good and featured a wide array of movies and TV shows, in addition to music and an interactive flight map. The touch screen was showing its age and wasn’t particularly responsive, so I mostly used the remote.

a screen with a blue screen
a screen with a picture of the earth
a screen with images on it

The supplied headphones were poor so I’d advise you to bring your own.

There were four options for inflight Wi-Fi:

  • A free “message” tier that allows passengers to message on apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WeChat
  • A one-hour “surf” tier for 8 euros that allows passengers to send emails and other low-bandwidth activities
  • A full flight “surf” tier for 18 euros
  • A full flight “stream” tier for 30 euros that is “ideal for streaming and downloading”
a screenshot of a flight schedule

Despite paying a hefty sum for the fastest “stream” tier, I was not only unable to stream anything but couldn’t connect to the internet at all for 95% of the flight.

Air France business class lunch service

Menus were handed out shortly before takeoff. Air France does a great job with these–they’re printed on thick paper and look very sleek. For reasons I can’t exactly express, I love the fact that Air France puts the route on the first page of the menu, and I think other airlines should follow suit.

a blue rectangular object with white text
a white paper with black text
a menu in a book
a page of a book
a menu of a wine company
a menu open on a table

I ordered the salmon and a glass of 2016 Chateau Fombrauge from a number of tasty-looking options. The meal service began an hour after takeoff with an artichoke and goat cheese amuse-bouche. It doesn’t look like much, but it tasted excellent.

a bowl of food with a spoon

The appetizer, a trio of green salad, quinoa salad, and crab salad, arrived a few minutes later on a tray. All of it was fresh and flavorsome. Unsurprisingly, Air France does bread really well, and the mini baguette was my favorite item on the tray.

a tray with food on it

Next came my salmon, which I’m ashamed to admit I dug into so quickly I forgot to get any pictures. After that was cleared, I was given a cheese plate with Crottin de Chavignol, Cantal, and Fourme d’Ambert. 

a plate of cheese on a table

Finally, dessert was served, which comprised a cherry tart, chocolate and hazelnut fudge, and a pistachio macaron. All three were excellent.

a plate of food on a table

Overall, I was impressed with the lunch. The menu was impressive, and the food and drinks were delicious, though service was a little slow, with long gaps between courses.

Air France business class pre-arrival snack

90 minutes before landing, cabin crew came around with a pre-arrival snack consisting of a brioche-croissant hybrid bun, a bowl of diced pears, dried berries, and almonds, and a madeleine. Everything was below average, and the bun, which came out stone cold and stale, was pretty gross.

a tray with food on it

Air France business class bathrooms

Air France’s 777-300ER business class has three dedicated bathrooms, all located between the forward mini cabin and the larger primary business class cabin. I found them clean and well-stocked throughout the flight.

a bathroom with a sink and toilet

In terms of amenities, there were two Clarins hydrating toners available.

a bottle of lotion in a white basket

Air France business class service

The service on my flight was generally good, with the cabin crew showing professionalism and courtesy. For a European carrier, it was slightly above average, though the experience certainly wasn’t exceptional in any way: two of my drink orders were dropped and I waited about 40 minutes after finishing my appetizer for the main to arrive.

Poor cabin cleanliness and maintenance

The low point of this flight was a poorly maintained and somewhat dirty cabin. On the cleanliness front, I found a large number of food crumbs and crumpled tissue in the cupholder next to the charging ports, which you can see in the photo below. Above the cupholder, there were coffee stains and dust, and the surface looked like it hadn’t been wiped down in a while.

a close up of a plug and outlet
a trash can in a seat

With respect to maintenance, surfaces throughout the cabin were pretty dinged up. The biggest issue was that my seat was literally falling apart–a piece of curved plastic near the armrests actually fell on my head while I was sleeping.

a close up of a car door

I understand that this plane is old, but I’d expect better upkeep here from Air France, and almost got the sense that they’ve given up on this aircraft while they wait for the retrofit.


My business class flight with Air France from Paris to New York offered a mix of highs and lows. The highlight was undeniably the meal service, with its range of tasteful offerings and excellent wines. This, coupled with a cabin crew that was professional and courteous, left me with a positive flavor. The aging cabin, however, marked by damaged and unclean surfaces, took away significantly from the overall experience. Wi-Fi connectivity was a letdown, further underscoring the need for cabin and aircraft upgrades.

While it wasn’t the “best business class seat on earth” experience I had anticipated, it served as a reminder of all the enhancements I can look forward to in Air France’s refurbished cabins. I’m eagerly anticipating the opportunity to experience the revamped business class product soon.

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