Air France’s symbolic winged seahorse is an adaptation of the corporate emblem of its forerunner, Air Orient. Wings were added to the original design to express the wings of airplanes. In 1933, five French airlines- Air Union, Air Orient, Societe Generale de Transport Aerien (SGTA), CIDNA and Aeropostale came together to form Air France. The seahorse was chosen at this historical moment to represent the newly founded airline company. The head of the mythological creature, also known as the hippocampus, symbolizes strength, the wings, speed and the tail, resembling that of a fish, embodies the history of seaplanes and links the company’s image with the ocean.
Along with the development of Air France throughout the years, the seahorse symbol has also transformed. The symbol has served many purposes, once a corporate logo, and still continues to adorn the engines of the Air France aircraft. Employees of Air France have nicknamed the symbol “shrimp”, an image taken from the tail of the seahorse, which resembles the coil of a shrimp. Now, the timeless design has emerged as the symbol of the revamped first class services. Currently, Air France has four types of long-haul services- first, business, premium economy and economy. The winged seahorse symbol is mostly used for the first class.
“The color red has continued to represent our first class. Along with the elegant design of the winged seahorse, which decorates many of the first class items, the two symbolize Air France’s history and our premier first class services,” explained Veronique Jeanclerc, the product manager of La Premiere first class services at Air France.
The graceful winged seahorse is seen on the headrest of seats (Air France refers to the seats as “suites”, emphasizing how comfortable they are), lamps, bedding and tableware. Although the symbol does not make an overstatement, it leaves a solid impression on the travelers.
“The first class seats are referred to suites because we have allocated a comfortable space of three square meters, covering four windows, accompanied by luxury hotel-level high quality services. Storage space is roomy, and bedding (pillow and duvet) is Sofitel MyBed and down comforters. A large HD touch screen monitor is also available, ensuring a pleasant flight.”
Each suite is enclosed with a curtain and not a wall, to allow passengers to open the curtains as they wish. If the curtains are fully drawn, the passengers can enjoy the privacy of their own space.
“Having the liberty to do as one pleases may be the greatest luxury of all,” continued Ms. Jeanclerc.
“We allow our first class customers to order their meals at the time they please. We can prepare fish, meat, sauces and other details individually and on the spot, to meet the needs of each customer.”
Great chefs of the world including Joel Robuchon, Regis Marcon, Guy Martin, Anne-Sophie Pic and Michel Roth, will take turns every two months to serve exquisite French cuisine. The meals are served with a selection of high quality wines and champagne selected by world renowned sommeliers.
The simple and elegant tableware introducing Air France’s signature winged seahorse logo was designed in collaboration with Jean-Marie Massaud.
Air France’s La Premiere first class services are catered to create an enjoyable experience, something that extends beyond the purpose of transportation. Rather, becomes one of the highlights of the trip itself. And the free-spirited winged seahorse is a token of this.