Back in February this year Japan Airlines confirmed that an upcoming delivery of Airbus A350-1000 jets would include the first major update to its flagship First Class cabin products for 19 years, in addition to a new Business Class seat.
Today the carrier has made an eagerly anticipated big reveal of the new products, as the delivery of its first A350-1000 approaches, with the Tokyo Haneda – New York JFK route first to benefit from the latest cabins starting in late 2023.
Initially flights will operate on alternating days, until additional aircraft have joined the fleet, before the products will be seen on this and other routes on the carrier’s long-haul network.
JAL A350-1000 First Class
Japan Airlines has revealed an exciting new six-seat (or should we say six-suite) First Class cabin for its Airbus A350-1000s.
The product itself is by the United Kingdom’s Safran Seats GB.
These seats will be configured in a two-row cabin, with a 1-1-1 configuration, in a similar setup to the upcoming Qantas A350-1000 ULR ‘Project Sunrise’ First Class.
Each suite has a closing privacy door standing 157 cm (62 in) tall, while seat width is an impressive 123 cm (48 in). That’s the equivalent of 2.6 Economy Class seats side-by-side!
In bed mode, the bed length extends to just over two metres. The airline is promising this new product is 30% larger than its existing Boeing 777-300ER First Class seat.
Each suite boasts three different seating modes.
The standard seat configuration, which potentially looks to have room for two to watch TV or dine together (though each seat is designed only for single traveller occupancy).
Seat & Single Bed
The best of both worlds, allowing you to move between a seated position (albeit on a much narrower seat) while also having the option to sleep whenever you like.
This also potentially allows another travelling companion in First Class to come and chat to you while you are in bed.
The largest bed configuration, allowing you ample room to stretch out, with a maximum 123 cm (48 in) x 203 cm (80 in) surface on offer, only narrowing to a (still generous) approximate 78cm (31 in) x 203 cm (80 in) at the foot end, where the console protrudes into the side space.
That’s huge when you consider the single bed in the Singapore Airlines A380 Suite measures 27 in x 76 in!
According to seat manufacturer Safran GB, “the suite can accommodate up to three people in flight with both the primary and side seat paired with the adjacent ottoman”.
In-flight entertainment is provided via a high resolution 4K screen spanning 43 in, one of the largest in the industry, matching that of rival ANA in the carrier’s newest First Class cabins.
The system allows you to connect your own wireless listening device via Bluetooth.
Innovations include one of the world’s first “headphone free stereo” systems, with built-in headrest speakers, which will allow you to watch TV shows and movies without using headphones.
It will be interesting to see how effective this system is in practice, up against the very best noise-cancelling headphones. We assume the latter will also be provided, for the luddites among us!
Another concern is surely disturbing other passengers while you are watching a movie, so another interesting aspect will be to find out how JAL has ensured this will not be an issue, even with seats widely-spaced in a cabin like this one.
The suites will be equipped with a digital monitor for communicating with the cabin crew, via a tablet.
Of course the latest charging option – a wireless charging pad, has not been forgotten, alongside multi-socket, USB-A and USB-C options.
A personal minibar is also located in the corner of the suite.
Hopefully this is stocked with something more exciting than bottled water!
There’s also a large wardrobe including a suit hanger, while there’s ample space under the foot rest for carry-on items, essential since JAL is eliminating overhead lockers in its First Class cabin on this aircraft.
The bad news for those hoping to score an award seat is that these six suites replace the eight fitted to the airline’s current Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which these A350-1000s are replacing.
That will surely make scoring an award seat using miles on this product an even greater challenge in future.
You can read more about the new First Class here.
JAL A350-1000 Business Class
The new Business Class for JAL’s A350-1000s also picks up the “suite treatment”, with closing privacy doors for each passenger to create their own private space.
While there’s a reduction in the First Class seat count, the good news for potentially improved award space on JAL is that in Business Class on the A350-1000 there will be 10% more seats – 54 compared to 49 on the Boeing 777-300ER.
Again the UK’s Safran Seats GB was chosen as the supplier for what looks to be the designer’s “Unity” product, also chosen by Qantas for its upcoming A350s.
The wall height around the suite is 132 cm (51 in), while inside the suite a 56 cm (22 in) wide seat extends to form a bed of 198 cm (78 in) long.
Seats alternate as aisle-aligned and non-aisle-aligned at each row and they all alternate away from one another, so there are no ‘couple’ middle options, like you see on some carriers.
Nonetheless, there is an electric privacy partition that retracts to allow you to open up the space between the middle suite pair, for what JAL promises to be “easy communication with travel companions”.
The IFE system in Business Class has a 24 in 4K high resolution screen, and like in First Class this will allow personal device connection via Bluetooth.
Once again the “headphone free stereo” Euphony system features in Business Class, with built-in headrest speakers, which will allow you to watch movies without using headphones.
Again we’re not fully sold on this concept, without knowing this won’t cause disturbance to other passengers. The proof will be in the first reviews.
A personal wardrobe also features for you to hang a jacket or coat, with under-seat storage for carry-on items.
Unlike in First Class however, overhead lockers are installed in Business Class, over the window seats only, so there should be ample additional space for those who prefer to store items that way.
Device charging is once again not forgotten, with a wireless charging pad and standard multi-socket and USB-A / USB-C options provided.
You can read more about the new Business Class here.
Premium Economy and Economy
The balance of seats on JAL’s Airbus A350-1000 will be comprised of 24 Premium Economy Class seats in a 2-4-2 configuration (a significant drop from the 40 fitted to the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER) and 155 Economy Class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.
In Premium Economy JAL has included large privacy partitions, while the seats will be the first in the world to offer an electrically operated recline function in this travel class.
- Seat Pitch: Approx. 107 cm (42 in)
- Seat Width: Max. of 48 cm (19 in)
- IFE Screen Size: 16 in
- Seat Manufacturer: Safran Seats France
There’s even a motorised leg rest that extends to a 90-degree angle for additional comfort, quite a nifty feature that could prove to be quite comfortable for watching TV or sleeping.
You can read more about the new Premium Economy Class here.
In Economy Class, industry-standard Recaro seats are offered with a generous 33-34 in of pitch and 18 in width. The IFE screen in this cabin is 13 in.
It’s great that JAL is sticking to the Boeing 777-300ER’s 34 inch seat pitch in Economy Class on the new A350-1000 aircraft, since this is around two inches more than Singapore Airlines offers in its wide-body jets.
You can read more about the new Economy Class here.
Japan Airlines has also provided a promotional video of its new A350-1000 cabins, which you can view below.
What are these products replacing?
JAL’s upcoming introduction of these Airbus A350-1000s from late 2023 represents the airline’s opportunity to completely refresh its long-haul cabins, the first major update to its flagship products for 19 years.
It was back in 2004 that the carrier introduced its current First Class Suite on the Boeing 777-300ER, and it has changed little since then.
The soft product, in terms of service, food and beverages, remains excellent, including fine Japanese or Western cuisine, Cristal Champagne, and Zero Halliburton amenity kits.
The hard product, however, is well past its prime.
Business Class seats on these aircraft did get an upgrade starting in mid-2013 from ‘Shell Flat Neo’ to the ‘Sky Suite’ product, though even that is now approaching a decade old.
We are big fans of this spacious Collins Aerospace ‘Apex Suite’ product, which boasts a clever staggered arrangement to allow all passengers direct aisle access even in a 2-3-2 configuration, but it wasn’t popular with airlines.
Apart from JAL – only Korean Air, Gulf Air and Oman Air have ever used it.
Indeed the seat can probably be regarded as past its prime, in an age of closed-door Business Class products in a 1-2-1 layout that have quickly become the expectation in this cabin over recent years.
JAL will take delivery of its first A350-1000s before the end of this year, allowing it to operate JL5/6 services between Tokyo Haneda and New York JFK with the aircraft on alternate days.
A second aircraft should allow that service to see the new products on a daily basis shortly after that.
Seven more A350-1000s will arrive in 2024 and 2025, with the final four rounding off the flagship fleet by the end of 2028, so we can expect to see progressively more destinations served by aircraft with these new cabin products in the coming years.
With a one-for-one replacement planned, ultimately we can expect the jets to ply all of JAL’s current Boeing 777-300ER routes to and from Tokyo, which comprise:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Francisco
Sadly Singapore is not on the list for these long-range jets, but it will be possible to connect onto these services with JAL via Tokyo Haneda for routings like Singapore – Tokyo – New York, and at least enjoy the new products on the longer leg of the journey.
What do you think of JAL’s new Airbus A350-1000 cabin products? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Image: Safran Seats)