In September of 2012 I wrote about Japan Airlines’ new first and business class, which they planned on rolling out on their entire longhaul 777-300ER fleet.
Given that it has been over a year since they announced the project, I figured I’d provide a quick update as to the status of the retrofits, given what a great use of miles travel in Japan Airlines first and business class can be. As of now, Japan Airlines is flying their 777-300ERs with the new first and business class product from Tokyo Narita to the following destinations:
- Los Angeles
- New York
As of April 2014 they’ll also operate the new product to Frankfurt.
Ultimately their new first class looks only marginally better than their old first class, given that their old first class was already a semi-private suite. If you’re interested in reading more about Japan Airlines service, I flew their old first class from Tokyo to New York a couple of years back.
The biggest improvement is in business class, where they went from an angled flat seat to a fully flat (and much more private) seat.
Up until now I’ve done everything I can to redeem my AAdvantage miles on Cathay Pacific for travel to Asia, though Cathay Pacific is getting stingier with releasing premium cabin award space by the day. So I’d like to give Japan Airlines’ new first and business class products a spin sometime soon.
For what it’s worth Japan Airlines is fairly good about releasing first and business class award space both when the schedule opens and again close to departure. Generally the Chicago route has more availability than the Los Angeles or New York routes, though it can vary. It’s not unusual to see two first class seats far in advance, or to see up to four first class seats closer to departure.
For one-way travel from the US to Japan, American charges just 50,000 miles in business class or 62,500 miles in first class, and they don’t impose fuel surcharges for redemptions on Japan Airlines. That’s a value that’s pretty tough to beat, especially with the new premium cabin products that are now fairly prevalent on Japan Airlines.