Japan Airlines Announces New 777-200ER Business Class Seat

Japan Airlines has just announced a new business class product for their fleet of 11 Boeing 777-200ERs, which they use primarily for mid-range flights (including within Asia and to Hawaii). This new product will be different than what JAL offers on their Boeing 777-300ERs, 787s, and 767s, which they otherwise use for their longhaul flights (more on that in a bit).

Japan Airlines will be installing reverse herringbone seats in business class on their Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, which is the first time JAL will be offering such a product. This is similar to the product offered on select aircraft from American, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, etc.

Japan-AIrlines-Business-Class-777
JAL’s new 777-200ER business class product

These reconfigured 777s will feature 42 business class seats, spread across 11 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. Presently JAL has two configurations of 777-200ERs, with one having 56 business class seats, while the other has just 28 business class seats.

Japan-Airlines-Fleet

In both instances, the new configuration will represent a reduction in net capacity, given that Japan Airlines is also installing a new premium economy product on these planes. Kudos to JAL for investing in improving their product.

The reconfigured 777-200ERs will feature 42 business class seats, 40 premium economy seats, and 154 economy seats. Here’s the seatmap for the reconfigured plane:

JAL-777-Seatmap

It’s also interesting to note that Japan Airlines is going from a 3-3-3 configuration in economy, to a 2-4-3 configuration, which they say maximizes seating combinations.

The other good news is that wifi will progressively be introduced on Japan Airlines’ Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. JAL has among my favorite wifi offering (provided by T-Mobile), as they have fixed pricing with no data caps, so let’s hope they use the same system for the 777-200ER. I suspect they will.

Japan-Airlines-First-Class-17

Japan Airlines plans on operating their first reconfigured 777-200ER between Tokyo Haneda and Bangkok starting in July 2016. Their routes between Tokyo Haneda and Singapore, and then routes between Japan and Honolulu, will follow.

As of now it looks like the first flight to have the new product is JL31 from Haneda to Bangkok on July 16, though I assume that’s subject to change, given that it’s still several months out.

Reverse herringbone seats are fantastic, so I commend Japan Airlines for going with that configuration.

What I find fascinating, though, is that they’re introducing yet another kind of business class product. JAL now has three types of new business class products.

Their 777-300ERs and reconfigured 787s feature the Apex Suite, which I recently flew on Oman Air. The window seats in this configuration are my favorite business class seat out there, as they’re incredibly spacious and private.

Oman-Air-787-Business-Class - 3
Oman Air’s 787 business class

Meanwhile Japan Airlines’ 767s have a staggered configuration, much like American and Delta offer on their 767s.

American-767-Business-Class-1
American’s 767 business class

None of this is a deal breaker, but it does represent an interesting trend, where airlines are increasingly installing a variety of new business class products across their fleet. Soon American will have six types of new business class products — they have different products for their 777-300, A330, 767, 757, 777-200/787, and then yet another new product on their 777-200/787 aircraft.

And those are just the new types of seats, and don’t reflect the old types of seats, like what they have on former US Airways 757s, select 777-200s, and select 767-300s.

Bottom line

It’s great that JAL will finally be installing a new business class product on their 777-200ERs, which are the last longhaul planes in the fleet for which JAL hadn’t yet announced a refurbishment project. The old angled seats were rather uncomfortable and desperately in need of an upgrade.

It’s tough to beat a reverse herringbone seat, so kudos to JAL for selecting that. I just don’t quite get why they don’t have a bit more product consistency. That seems to be true of the industry in general, though.

What do you think of JAL’s new 777-200ER business class product?

 

(Tip of the hat to Mike)

Comments

  1. I find it frustrating for an airline to have multiple types of J class seats though…
    Isn’t it more comforting knowing what you’ll get is a must? Like if you’re booked on any Cathay long-haul flight, you know it is going to be the standard seat that is fantastic.
    But with this you have to choose a particular route on a particular flight to get the product you want, the aircraft might even change last minute!

  2. Hey Ben,
    Just wondering what’s your fav business class seats on AA transcon flight? I’ll be trying it out for the first time really soon. Thanks in advance! And keep up the great work! 🙂

  3. The Apex product is amazing. It really scratches my head why they would go back to the last-gen Cirrus product when the Apex is clearly superior. The only explanation would be a density concern where the Apex wastes too much floor space.

    The argument of newer gen products only works if the new installation is actually a new product. Going backwards from Apex to Cirrus doesn’t sound like progress to me.

  4. I am hoping the SIN route will be online by Jan 17 when I fly it. I would think it would be by then.

  5. @Ben do you know by when they will have full rollout on this? They also fly 700-200Ers on their HND-HKG route too. I am booked for 11th Nov so m hoping to try the new product by than.

  6. Great news. I was trying to decide between CX and JAL to get to Bangkok and the JAL flight times were so much better but then I saw 7 hours Tokyo to BKK in angled flat making the decision for CX an easy one. Definitely will have to reconsider and since this is for summer 2017 travel it will likely be installed on the route by then.

  7. Not sure why they’d not go with the config they have on 773s and new 787s but hard to complain about getting a newer seat.

  8. I like the apex suite idea, but when I flew it recently on the Korean 747-8i I found it a bit short in bed mode. I’m 6′ and couldn’t fully stretch out without my head bumping. Maybe I just had a slightly short seat (exit in front of me)? Anyone else noticed this? Otherwise it was an excellent seat. Love the privacy.

  9. Ben,
    A long time fan who had the chance to meet you a couple of times in DFW seminars. I apologize for posting this comment on a article …please remove it if you see fit.

    Today morning on the Bob and sheri show they were talking about the Emirate 1st class. When she talked about max occupancy = 2, I knew they are reading your review. They have posted a link to your review as well:
    http://bobandsheri.com/2016/03/23/first-class-all-the-way/

    -Excited and happy for you.

  10. I wonder how much of this seat diversity is to ensure they’re not screwed over in the event of another seat manufacturer meltdown ala Zodiac.

  11. I really wish all airlines would work on getting 1 great seat across their whole fleet. Hard to keep up on things! Here’s hoping they update my old configuration 787/angled seat before January.

  12. Your readers must have a very small brain capacity if they can’t comprehend 3 different J layouts. Talk about a first world problem.

  13. I’m shocked that they’re removing seats on Hawaii/ Bangkok flights. Those are low yield routes that need high volume to survive and be profitable.

  14. Do you know what seat they fly YVR-NRT. I believe it used to be a recliner or angle flat, but not sure whether they’ve switched to an aircraft with newer configuration. Any plans for an upgrade if still angled?

  15. Becky, I’m with you on the 787 issue. We’re flying it in October. Given up hope that new seats will be installed by then.

  16. I find it funny that despite using the gimmicky English names of the cabins (sky suite iii, sky premium, sky wider), the Japanese merely says “business class”, “premium economy class” and “economy class”.

  17. I assume the Apex suite wasn’t used on the 777-200ER because it would be overkill for medium haul flights.

    As far as the 787 goes, I’m not sure if all 787-8’s will get the new Apex suites or just some 787-8’s.

  18. BRAVO to JAL for maintaining 9 across in Economy, compared to all the others who have joined the 10 across bandwagon in this industry. It shows they have some form of respect for humans even in economy, something other airlines can’t seem to muster up. If I’m not mistaken, ANA is also still 9 across in economy. And on their 787’s, both JAL and ANA are 8 across in Economy compared to others who are 9 across on their 787’s. Well Done JAL ! Just as a side note, thought i’d mention it… when the 747 entered service in 1969 or 70, it was 9 across in 2-4-3 configuration for the first few years, until Sir Freddy Laker came on the scene with his Sky Train DC 10 and all airlines had to scramble to compete n pack ’em in, so they switched to 10 across on their 747’s in a 3-4-3 config, offering 99 dollars stand by fares to the USA.

  19. @Nathan: One of ANA’s 777-300ER’s are 10-abreast. Also, some ANA 787’s are 9-abreast even in a longhaul configuration.

    All of JAL’s 787’s are 8-abreast.

  20. Airlines use different types of J seats on different aircraft primarily because they only have so much real estate to work within, and the reverse h. seats do not fit within the 763 as one example. There are also contractual issues that sometimes play into which sub fleet gets what. Fuel burn probably plays a part with these 772’s getting this type of seat for flights under a certain block period, vs the 773 that has the heavier apex seats for longer block time.

  21. @Nathan/Mike:

    6 out of 22 ANA 773ER planes are in 3-4-3 on Y while the rest are in 2-4-3.
    As for the 787, sad to say but all of NH’s fleet have already been converted to 3-3-3.
    Only consolation is that the 789s comes with 34″ pitch while the 788s are 31″.

    So will avoid flying any 787 in Y unless it is JL from now on.

  22. I get the need for airlines to have different types of business class based on the different aircraft and passengers that fly different routes, but at the least they should brand each one differently so that you know which one you’re getting when you buy the ticket without needing to investigate.

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