Japan Airlines Boeing 787s get SkySuites, premium economy

By David Flynn, September 5 2014
Japan Airlines Boeing 787s get SkySuites, premium economy

Japan Airlines is tweaking its Boeing 787 fleet with new business class SkySuites as well as premium economy, in the process slashing the size of the current economy cabin by over one-third.

The new design Dreamliners will be decidedly premium-heavy, with 38 business class suites and 35 premium economy seats, leaving only eleven rows of 88 economy seats (arrayed 2-4-2 instead of the current 3-3-3).

Japan Airline's first Boeing 787s joined the JAL fleet less than three years ago.

The airline says that newly-delivered Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 jets will get the three-class configuration and will be flown "mainly on international medium and long haul routes."

The first of these will be Narita-Frankfurt from December 2014, followed by Narita-New York from January 2015.

"We plan to introduce about 10 Boeing 787-8s as JAL SKY SUITE 787" a spokesman for Japan Airlines told Australian Business Traveller

JAL's new Sky Suite 787 is based on the airline's Boeing 777 business class.

Each of the 38 fully-flat SkySuite 787 beds see passengers tucked away in a semi-suite cubicle.

The seat that folds into a fully-flat 188cm bed, with the width tapering from 65cm at the shoulders to 53cm at the foot.

The2-2-2 layout gives direct aisle access to every passenger, and while the window-side pairs are offset the centre seats are directly aligned for travellers who want to sit together.

Even so, travellers in the A/C and H/K seats can drop the privacy screen to share a toast.

Each SkySuite 787 will be fitted with a 23 inch video screen, up from the current 15.4 inch panel, along with a touchscreen controller plus AC and USB sockets.

The SkySuites will also offer space under the footrest for stowing your carry-on kit.

The Dreamliner do-over also introduces JAL's Sky Premium premium economy seats, of which there'll be 35 (arranged 2-3-2) close to the middle of the plane.

The Sky Premium seats are closer to regional business class in their design.

Each seat is fitted into a fixed shell, "providing a relaxing space even when a passenger seated in front reclines," says JAL.

Speaking of reclining, there's a good amount of angular action.

In addition to the fold-up leg rest , there's also a swing-down footrest from the seat in front...

... plus these clever little nooks for water bottles.

Sky Premium seats are 49cm (19 inches) wide with a 42 inch pitch, and each is fitted with a 12.1 inch monitor – except for the front row, which has to make do with a bulkhead-installed 10.6 inch screen.

Each passenger also gets their own ACB and USB ports.

With JAL's made-over Boeing 787s containing just 88 economy seats – or Sky Wider II seats, as the airline prefers to call them – in a single cabin, travellers have actually gained legroom and personal space.

Sure, the new 2-4-2 arrangement will see two passengers stuck in clamber-over-your-neighbour middle seats, compared to the original 3-3-3 layout.

But the seats will be 5cm wider, at 48cm (18.9 inches), than JAL's current Boeing 787s.

There's also more legroom, with pitch stretched by some 5cm (almost two inches) – up from a tight 79cm (31 inches) to a more knee-friendly 84cm (33 inches).

Here's a slightly more unusual way to look at legroom...

In-flight entertainment is piped through a 10.6 inch seat-back screen – and as with the more expensive seats, there are AC and USB ports at every seat.

Also read: Photo tour – up close with Japan Airlines' new Boeing 777 SkySuite business class seat

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

19 Apr 2014

Total posts 45

Not to mention they will also bring the 777-300ER with the sky suite business class to syd from december to end of march :)

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2540

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Dec 2013

Total posts 16

2-4-2 for economy passengers!!!! This economy will surely attract more people than 3-3-3. Good move by JAL!


21 Dec 2012

Total posts 62

Is could not come soon enough. The current JAL 787 J product is simply not competitive, and the most uncomfortable angled lie flat I hev experience.

They also need to address their service. Set meals rather than choice of each course is just plain silly. Flew NRT to YVR last week and it took them almost 5 hours to serve dinner, clear up and turn the lights off. Lights were turned on less than 2 hours later for breakfast service. Not exactly conducive to a good sleep.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 698

Yes, JAL cabin service is a bit different. While consistently polite, it can be very unresponsive too. They don't like deviating from their set schedules of service, and are pretty expecting that you'll fit to them, rather than the other way around. Just getting a juice or water outside of their planned meal service times can be a frustrating experience (they either don't deliver, or do so after considerably delay). Even "snacks on demand" listed in the menu, turn out to be only given out once during a set meal delivery time (strange!).

if you don't like a toasty cabin, it can be a mismatch too, as its in the mid to high 20s.

JAL is a specific taste, and won't appeal to everyone.

British Airways - Executive Club

06 Sep 2014

Total posts 4

3-3-3 seating on the Dreamliner is a joke. Not surprised JAL have changed their layout.  Flew on BA's one LHR-Newark EWR, absolutely awful; cramped, not enough toilets. It's so slated on seatguru. Rumour has it that BA is also redesigning it's Dreamliner cabin

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 191

Yup BA are 'tweaking' the Y seating on their forthcoming 787-900 aircraft.  Unfortunately it is just a one inch increase of seat pitch though, so all seats will have 32" min.  No change to the horrid 3x3x3 config tho.

British Airways - Executive Club

06 Sep 2014

Total posts 4

@cooper81. Such a shame, I really wanted to enjoy the 787 but cramped in 9 a breast, I'll avoid it, 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 38

David, just wanted to note, JAL's never had their 787s configured 3-3-3; they and ANA were the only ones that took initial delivery of 787s with the Boeing recommended 2-4-2 configuration in Y. Granted, ANA has since reverted to the industry standard of 3-3-3, which actually surprises me JAL is steadfast to their 2-4-2 being the only carrier in the world now.  This said, 2-4-2 is so much more comfortable, I'm very glad their keeping it that way! Good job JAL, let's hope it doesn't cost them in the end.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jun 2013

Total posts 5

The 9 abreast seating on Royal Brunei is fine.  I think the extra legroom makes the difference.  More seats, more revenue, more low fares for the regular punters down the back of the boeing.


i think the JAL configuration is definetly optimised for business routes.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 542

Japan always had 2-4-2 - even ANA is switching. That's why I like JAL over ANA (though I haven't taken the latter).


26 Apr 2012

Total posts 2

travelled from JFK to NRT a couple of weeks on a JAL 787 with the new sky suite fit out. a vast improvement over the old product. very comfortable when fully flat. big tv monitor is also great.


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