A Look Inside the First Air Caraïbes Airbus A350, With 3-4-3 in Coach

Mar 2, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

This week, Air Caraïbes took delivery of its first Airbus A350-900. The French leisure airline also has two more of these planes on order, in addition to three Airbus A350-1000’s, which will make it easier for the carrier to expand both the number of routes and frequency between Paris and the Caribbean. Here’s a closer look at what makes the A350 so special.

In This Post

The Aircraft

This is the first A350-900 to accommodate 389 passengers, the largest number of seats on this type of plane so far, largely due to the 3-4-3 seating configuration in its economy cabin. It’s also the first French airline to fly the A350, which will operate it alongside the carrier’s current Airbus A330s on routes between Paris Orly Airport (ORY) and the French Caribbean, including destinations like Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP) in Guadeloupe and Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF), starting March 2. The aircraft has three classes, with 18 seats in business class, 45 in premium economy and 326 in economy.

Business Class

The business-class cabin is arranged in a 2-2-2 layout, with each seat reclining to a fully-flat position, making this the first airline to offer lie-flat seating between Paris and the Caribbean. There’s one major disadvantage, though — as with Lufthansa’s A350 business-class seats, these don’t offer passengers direct-aisle access. Seat features include personal headsets, USB and universal sockets, a light and an IFE screen with more than 150 hours of movies and TV shows to keep you busy during the flight.

Image courtesy of Air Caraïbes.

Premium Economy

Air Caraïbes’ new premium economy seats are arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration, just like you’d see in an A350-900’s economy section, but with a more respectable pitch of 36 inches — the seat width, however, is just 17.3 inches, making it one of the skinniest seats in a premium economy cabin. In-seat power is provided by both USB and universal power sockets, while moveable headrests can be adjusted for your comfort.

Image courtesy of Air Caraïbes.


Economy gets even more snug, with a seating configuration of 3-4-3, a layout that’s typically found in the economy section on other aircraft like the Airbus A380. Most other airlines opt for the ‘standard comfortable’ seat width of 18 inches — which helps increase the feeling of ‘shoulder space’ while you’re sitting next to another passenger — and include an average seat pitch of around 31-34 inches. But by installing the extra seat in the middle row of economy on Air Caraïbes’ A350, it’s now the first A350 operator to not have the usual ‘Airbus standard’ 18-inch seat width, instead offering a seat that’s just 16.8 inches wide with 31″ of pitch. Airbus was able to fit the ‘extra’ seat in the middle row, making it 10-abreast, by reducing the width of the armrests and slightly reducing the width of the aisle.

Image courtesy of Air Caraïbes.

It’s important to note that Air Caraïbes is a leisure carrier and by having a higher seat capacity on the aircraft, it’s able to offer lower fares to the Caribbean than its competitors, most of which are around 350 euros, or $370 round-trip. This also allows the airline to price out its premium economy fares so they’re closer to the cost of a regular economy flight you’d find on other airlines operating similar routes.

Image courtesy of Air Caraïbes.

Of course, the main benefits of the A350 are still present, including its extra wide-body cabin, LED mood lighting and a more frequent introduction of ‘fresh air’ into the cabin that occurs every 2-3 minutes, meaning that a journey in economy on an Air Caraïbes A350 will be much more comfortable than on its existing aircraft — there’s still a feeling of ‘space’ that’s evident due to the structure of the cabin’s walls and ceiling.

Image courtesy of Air Caraïbes.

Overall Impression

Although this is the tightest A350 in the skies (in terms of passenger comfort), it’s almost a ‘business as usual’ offering for Air Caraïbes, which already has A330s flying with similar cabins, its focus being able to fly as many passengers as possible while offering the cheapest tickets possible on its Paris-Caribbean routes. The advantages to flying on an A350 (wider cabin, extra space, mood lighting and fresher air) are an obvious upgrade from the airlines’ existing fleet and it’s good to see the carrier is now offering the first fully-flat bed between Paris and the French Caribbean, despite the fact it’s joined Lufthansa by not offering direct-aisle-access in business class.

Featured image courtesy of Airbus. All other images courtesy of Air Caraïbes.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.