Japan Airlines to start Melbourne-Tokyo flights

By David Flynn, May 26 2017

EXCLUSIVE | Japan Airlines will begin direct flights between Melbourne and Tokyo from September 2017.

JAL's Boeing 787 Dreamliner will ferry travellers on the 10½ hour journey to Toyko's popular but distant Narita International Airport.

The flights will run as follows:

  • JL773 leaves Tokyo/Narita at 10:30am to reach Melbourne at 9:55pm (starting September 1)
  • JL774 is wheels-up from Melbourne at 12:05am, arriving into Narita Airport at 9:05am the same day (from September 2)

"We're very pleased with the success of our Sydney-Tokyo route and are considering flights from Melbourne to Tokyo," a spokesperson for Japan Airlines told Australian Business Traveller, "but can't comment on unannounced routes."

Australian Business Traveller understands that Japan Airlines staff have been visiting Melbourne Airport across recent months to make arrangements for lounge access and sign contracts for 'below the wing' services such as check-in, baggage handling and catering.

Qantas launched daily flights between Melbourne and Tokyo/Narita in December 2016, taking over a route previously flown by low-cost sibling Jetstar.

The Qantas flight is a daily service to Tokyo with an overnight leg back to Melbourne, while JAL's flights will complement those of its Oneworld partner, running overnight from Melbourne to Tokyo and then during the day and early evening en route to Victoria.

The pointy end of JAL's Boeing 787-8 features 38 of its business class Sky Suites.

These are arranged in a 2-2-2 layout (albeit with direct aisle access for every passenger due to the offset seating) with a retractable privacy screen between the paired seats.

Each converts into a 1.88 metre fully-flat bed...

... with an oversized 23 inch video screen boasting over 300 channels of programming.

The business class cabin occupies almost half of JAL's Boeing 787, 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,  88 economy seats ranked 2-4-2 sport a pleasing 33 inches of pitch and are 19 inches wide.

David

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.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 40

Great news! Hopefully it's a daily service to start with.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

The Qantas flights between MEL-NRT have been very successful so I'm not surprised JAL want in. Will be interested to see if it'll be out of Haneda or Narita. 

Either way, I'd like to see Qantas and JAL codeshare. I could see JAL adding a 788 from Perth if this was the case.

17 Nov 2016

Total posts 13

Flights start 01Sep and operated on a 788

JL774 MEL 0020 / NRT 0815

JL773 NRT 1040 / MEL 2245

Not quite, jf80, but close. These flights are now on sale (and appear in airline booking systems) so we've included JAL's flight schedule in our article based on those booking system timings.

17 Nov 2016

Total posts 13

Chris, these are the time that were showing in the GDS at the time I commented.  They have now been retimed.

27 May 2017

Total posts 2

Whereabouts do you book these?  Not showing on JAL as yet.
Dgs79: Since the time we published our article, JAL has temporarily paused the sale of these flights - they still show in GDS systems with all fare types still loaded in, just with availability set at zero across the board (so that you can't book a new ticket). We'll post an update once we know more - it could simply be that JAL is waiting to 'announce' the route before fares go back on sale. :)

British Airways - Executive Club

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 48

Give me JL over QF any day

27 Apr 2017

Total posts 39

2-4-2 in Y on the 787. JAL know how to treat their customers with respect.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 268

They are also tipped to announce flights back to BNE, whcih they dropped when they had financial issues, so this could be the beginning of major expansion into Australia.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 340

Is that for real or just one of the rumor that's been going since 2013? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 115

Lord I hope so. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 137

Makes for an awkward comparison to QF's 787 offering in Y...

27 Apr 2017

Total posts 39

Absolutely trounces QF's Y offering.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

But don't forget, QFs 787s will be 'revolutionary'.....
Glad to see JAL is expanding (I had the privilege of flying First Class on SYD-NRT last year and they were utterly fantastic). Given their LOPAs, they clearly see substantial premium demand from SYD/MEL. I doubt they'd want to fly into BNE though... Brisbane probably couldn't sustain their number of Business Class seats in addition to Qantas' Narita service. But they really are a damn good airline and its good to see them expand and thrive. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 268

Considering JAL had 2 x daily 747 services, one to Tokyo the other to Osaka in the 90's, I am sure with a growing market and smaller aircraft they will be able to sustain 2 x daily flights today.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

JAL flights to Australia used to be operated by JALways, a lower cost arm of JAL before it was rolled back into mainline in 2010.
This is truly excellent news - particularly if you are at the back of the bus in roomy 2-4-2.

A great alternative way to get to North America

QF

29 Oct 2012

Total posts 19

This is brilliant, JAL are excellent to fly with. One thing JAL are not good at though are connections - half the year the SYD flight leaves before connecting flights can get to it, and this one lands in MEL too late to connect to anything. I realise slot timings aren't always easy, but sliding their flights slightly would open up them up to a lot more connecting pax, and would make day or night only flights possible in both directions.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 1

Any word on who will be the Ground Handling Agent ? 

I really hope it is Qantas staff like Air China 😀

However Business Plans and cases are a thing so I suspect Menzies,

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

I'm curious to know why the ground handling agent makes a difference?
Any idea which lounge they'll use? 

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

Likely CX or QF, unless they can get access to a non oneworld lounge for less then the oneworld access costs.
The CX lounge that time of night is already packed! This is another reason why the QF First lounge should remain open once QF9 ceases.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

About time this got confirmed. There's been rumors about JAL on MEL-TYO for years.

Until recently, they had been limited in where they could go due to the bankruptcy bailout. They were only allowed to open new routes to cities they had operated to at the time of the bankruptcy (eg, BNE).

Now we just need MLIT to give the Australian route more HND slots, so JL can get some.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

new QANTAS, thats how configure a long haul 787. looks like someone at JAL actually knows what "very good legroom" looks like

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

JAL 787-8
42J/144Y (old original order config, older seats - angle flat J. Still some aircraft with this)
38J/35W/88Y (new config)
JL 787-9
44J/35W/116Y
QF 787-9
42J/28W/166Y

Although they have different seats, JL and QF seem to be on par for J and W. Y on the other hand... (JL is 8 across)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Oct 2014

Total posts 15

Yes this is excellent news and I understand 4 x per week service?

E63AMG: It's scheduled to be a daily service.

gsx
gsx

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Aug 2015

Total posts 24

QF should take note on the "W" pitch compared to their Dreamliner version 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2017

Total posts 49

Wonder when ANA will join the party.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 23

I cannot wait for ANA to join in !
I am currently booked on an ANA J flight to HND in mid Nov, departing Syd. I wonder if i should check award seat availability for JAL ? Hmm...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 303

I've been considering a trip to Japan. I'd have always booked with Qantas, but with a 2-4-2 layout in JAL's economy class, sorry Qantas, you've lost me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 340

Qantas' A330 layout to Japan is also 2-4-2 :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 303

Yes it is, but nowhere near as spacious as JAL's 2-4-2 layout.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 213

JAL's B787 economy class has more seat width and legroom than any other current A330 and B787 operator. It's a no brainer really.

27 May 2017

Total posts 2

Does anybody know when bookings will be open?

Japan Airlines - JAL Mileage Bank

09 May 2017

Total posts 14

I think JAL should fly KIX-SYD because most Japanese people who live in Australia has to go on Jetstar which is not really good.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2017

Total posts 49

I am begging for someone to offer the SYD-KIX route. Having to fly 4 time to Osaka, a direct SYD-KIX will be a dream come true!

Maybe it will happen closer to 2020.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 109

They had some great Business specials to Europe last year ($5300 IIRC)  but being MEL the domestic leg never appealed, they could be going head to head with  Finnair for the Oneworld discount J to Europe for the Holiday market (I did that 2 years ago and at least 50% of the J from SIN-HEL were Australian Couples/Families)
And for those MEL to Japan... well I love a 747 but the skybead compared to this...

Japan Airlines - JAL Mileage Bank

09 May 2017

Total posts 14

QFA should stop flying to HND with 744 I think 330 is good and add a additional route to Kansai

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

With the healthy loads QF enjoys between SYD and HND, I doubt they will downgauge equipment any time soon.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

How is changing SYD-HND from 744 to 330 going to help? The route would still require 2 aircraft, unless Qantas is willing to retime the flights (which is hard given the flight times, HND slot times, SYD curfew and allowing for connections on either end), and the 747 flight is often fully booked.

While HND needs 2 aircraft, QF doesn't have enough aircraft to offer another flight to Japan without cutting something else. The QF fleet is fully committed to the existing network other then low travel days (Tuesday and Wednesday) when the long haul flights that aren't daily don't operate. The seasonal routes are only possible because the planned heavy maintenance (such as the A380 in MNL) isn't happening during those high peak periods.

14 Oct 2013

Total posts 6

Great...now if I could figure out JAL website again need MEL-NRT-HEL-AMS return. Must be getting old SYD-NRT-HEL return seemed easy enough a few years ago. 

30 May 2017

Total posts 1

Great - booked for holidays in September and was ALOT cheaper than QF alternate for same dates

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 May 2015

Total posts 5

Any news on the lounge they will be using ?

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

They have not yet announced anything about a MEL lounge.
The QF and CX lounges would be available via oneworld agreements. It isn't known if JL will use those or contract with another airline (eg, EK, SQ, NZ).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2016

Total posts 26

Finally, after so many years...

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Japan Airlines to start Melbourne-Tokyo flights