Japan Airlines moves Sydney-Tokyo to Boeing 787-9

By David Flynn, January 20 2017

Japan Airlines will switch out its Boeing 777-300ER for a sleek Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on daily flights between Sydney and Tokyo from March 26.

But while the advanced Dreamliner promises a smoother and quieter ride which also takes the edge off jetlag, the change sees an end to first class on the route as the four-class Boeing 777-300ER makes way for a Boeing 787-9 which tops out at business class.

Japan Airlines said the move to a Boeing 787-9 was one of several alterations to its 2017 flight and fleet plan "in order to improve profitability."

"Our fleet plan is adjusted in response to the change of expected demand on the route" a JAL spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller, while adding that as the airline would continue to monitor demand "we cannot say 787-9 is going to be full-time on this route... it might be returned to 777-300ER or another aircraft type."

JAL's Boeing 787-9 features 44 of its business class Sky Suites arranged in a 2-2-2 layout (albeit with direct aisle access for every passenger due to the offset seating) and a retractable privacy screen between the paired seats.

Each converts into a 1.88 metre fully-flat bed – handy for the overnight leg of JL771 from Tokyo's Narita airport to Sydney...

... with an oversized 23 inch video screen boasting over 300 channels of programming (useful to keep you entertained on the daytime JL772 service).

The business class cabin occupies almost half of JAL's Boeing 787-9, before you get to the 35 premium economy seats arranged 2-3-2, each with a generous 42 inches of pitch and 19.2 inch wide seat in a fixed shell design so the passenger in front of you can't recline into 'your' space.

Finally, 116 economy seats ranked 2-4-2 sport a pleasing 33 inches of pitch and are 19 inches wide.

The corridor between Australia and Japan has become increasingly crowded in recent years, with JAL's rival ANA restarted Sydney-Tokyo flights in December 2015 while Qantas has added both Brisbane-Tokyo and Melbourne-Tokyo to its network map alongside long-standing Sydney-Tokyo flights.

David
David

David Flynn

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.

aldrigsomandre

aldrigsomandre

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 126

Absolutely great news. Japanese airlines have the best 787's!

Boof

Boof

29 Aug 2013

Total posts 60

Hey David, FYI I think you may have got the seat count confused. JAL 787's are configured:

788: 38J/35W/88Y - 161 Total

789: 44J/35W/116Y - 195 Total


The Y seat count is for the wrong model in the article. 

Cheers,

Boof

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Quite right, Boof, we were juggling 787 config sheets and transposed the economy count for the -8... thanks for the pick-up!

Ryan K

Ryan K

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 291

2-4-2 seating in economy with 19" seat width and 33" pitch. THAT's what "groundbreaking" economy is - not the 3-3-3 seating with 17" seat width and 31" pitch that Qantas recently revealed as "groundbreaking economy." This would easily be the best economy on any international flight servicing Australia.

tmsmile

tmsmile

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 101

QF is 32" pitch. But yes considering the length of time the QF birds will spend in the air, 2-4-2 would have been preferable

crazybenjamin

crazybenjamin

15 Dec 2015

Total posts 21

"Groundbreaking economy" isn't going to matter at all when JAL starts losing money on the route. As much as we would like to think otherwise, the price-conscious will flock to ANA's 9 abreast 787.

Damien00

Damien00

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2016

Total posts 24

That is one sparsely decked our airplane! Sounds very comfortable, even down the back.

It's interesting how this change is aimed at increasing profitability... I would've thought in that configuration the 787 couldn't be that efficient to operate.

Still they obviously know better than me!

aldrigsomandre

aldrigsomandre

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 126

It's about market conditions as well. The Japanese airlines are highly concentrated on the premium passengers. They spend big for air travel.

daschok

daschok

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Feb 2015

Total posts 34

The best thing about JAL is that premium economy guests get access to QF Business Lounge in Syd before the flight. Which is good because the JAL food can be hit-and-miss, especially since they give the same to Economy. 

THR

THR

20 Sep 2012

Total posts 56

Bit of a shame for SYD to lose F (personally disappointed as my F booking in June will now be downgraded to J ...). But glad that we still get the SS9 and proper lie flat business class.

Michael Kao

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 336

Me too.... :( 

I'll miss QF F lounge, caviar and salon....

freshthoughts

freshthoughts

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

so the economy seats in the JAL 787 are wider than the emirates J seats on the A380 by 0.5 of an inch.

wish qantas went with 2-4-2 

Ryan K

Ryan K

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 291

I agree. A wasted opportunity for Qantas to market their economy class as the best in the world. Especially on those ultra long-haul flights like PER-LHR and MEL-LAX.

Ozmatt

Ozmatt

04 Mar 2016

Total posts 1

Rough! Had a F class ticket in August. I was looking forward to QF First lounge followed up with Salon :(

petermcgrath

petermcgrath

19 Nov 2016

Total posts 2

2-2-2 in Business? - I think I'll stick with ANA's 787-9 with 1-2-1 thanks!

Jedinak K

Jedinak K

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 211

They're 2-2-2 staggered with direct access for each seat. 

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 912

JL was going to bring the 787 to AU a few years ago, but a software problem popped up with the engines which caused problems when near thunderstorms.
That problem was quickly fixed, but JL didn't change out the 777 for the 789 at the time.

Now, they are changing one of their NRT-JFK flights to HND and upgrading the 789 JFK flight to a 77W (so 2 daily 77W TYO-JFK 1x NRT, 1xHND).

Looks like they needed to swap out a 77W for a 789 somewhere else on the network, and SYD got it.

mgrenby

mgrenby

04 Jan 2015

Total posts 7

talk about being ahead of the curve, david, as in "you read it here on ABT first."
when i phoned JAL reservations in japan just now to select my new seat on my may flight. they still had the old 777 configuration in their system. they didn't even know about the aircraft change but after checking with head office, called me back and said their system should be updated "some time next week."
goodonya, david!

THR

THR

20 Sep 2012

Total posts 56

It's been discussed on FlyerTalk for months, mgrenby, as F has been blocked out. This is just finally the expected announcement.

Nicbulley

Nicbulley

30 May 2015

Total posts 6

Hopefully JAL will eventually move this flight from Narita to Haneda. It is far more convenient and cheaper to get to and from Haneda than it is Narita. Both Qantas and ANA fly in and out of Haneda and it would help JAL become more dominant on this route.

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 912

They can't. HND long haul slots are controlled by the Japanese Government and are not part of any normal air service agreements (ie, Australia and US both have open skies with Japan allowing unlimited flights, except to/from HND)

The current HND slot allocation for Australia is 14 night slots/week. 7 for Australian carriers (used by QF) and 7 for Japanese carriers (used by NH). Until such time as Japan allocates more HND slots for Australia and assigns any to JL, JL can not fly between AU and HND. and the Japanese slots for HND have been disproportionately assigned to NH because JL got a government bail out.

Dee Thom

Dee Thom

22 Jun 2016

Total posts 16

As for NRT, or HND, it depends on destinations. My usual stay over City is Takasaki so NRT so I can catch the Skyliner to Ueno, then jump JA's Shinkansen onward. So to me it depends on the destination as to which Airport is best. The JAL economy plus is probably the best I have Experienced, far more roomier than other airlines, and the 789 will top off a superb product.

gazzaoak

gazzaoak

22 Aug 2015

Total posts 19

Isn't that somewhat of a bit of a downgrade, because they switch from a bigger plane to a smaller plane??

Or is it that their 777-300ER never really get that full from SYD-NRT

THR

THR

20 Sep 2012

Total posts 56

Yes, it is a downgrade. They adjusted the route due to "profitability", meaning they wanted to deploy a smaller, more efficient plane here. They also wanted to re-deploy the F to elsewhere (JFK). 

So, it's not good news (despite the slant of this article), but at least it's a 789. 

FLX1

FLX1

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

@gazzaoak:

"Isn't that somewhat of a bit of a downgrade, because they switch from a bigger plane to a smaller plane??"

Only if you equate "bigger plane" = higher grade cabin/plane.  Such assumption is often valid 2 decades ago.....not any more.  On the other hand, more & more frequent flyers are starting to realize smaller plane often translate to quicker boarding/disembarking.


If everything else(e.g. cabin product std) being more or less equal, the industry term for swapping a larger capacity type with a smaller capacity type is known as down-gauge.....not necessarily a "downgrade".

"..is it that their 777-300ER never really get that full from SYD-NRT"

I strongly believe that's the case in their F cabin but not the other cabin classes.  So cabin config is the biggest problem, not the aircraft type/size for this JL route.  The F section, along with its dedicated galley+lav spaces, consumes nearly 20% of the total cabin floor area on JL's 77W yet can only fit 8 seats.

Demand for revenue F tickets is almost non-existent in the TYO-SYD mkt.  There're 3 players in that mkt.  All 3 hv F products in their fleet but none deploys F in that particular mkt....except JL but soon won't be anymore.


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