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Japan Airlines has revealed its latest-generation domestic first class seat, as well as the new ‘Class J’ seat created for its Airbus A350-900 fleet.
Let's hit the pause button and break this down for a moment.
These are domestic seats because all 18 of JAL's Airbus A350-900 jets will serve as workhorses on its domestic network (as are four Boeing 787-8s due later this year), beginning with Tokyo/Haneda to Fukuoka on September 1.
Japan Airlines Chairman Yoshiharu Ueki tells Executive Traveller that the nation's domestic market is not only "the third biggest in the world, but our domestic and international markets are about 50% each."
As such, and in common with the US market, domestic first class is what most countries would actually categorise as 'business class'.
Meanwhile, what JAL terms 'Class J' is pitched towards the business traveller but stands closer to international premium economy.
Maybe the pictures will help tell this story.
There are twelve first class seats on JAL's Airbus A350, arranged in two rows across a 2-2-2 layout and tucked away in their own cabin.
Developed by JAL with Jamco Japan, the A350's 51cm-wide first class recliner seats offer what the airline describes as "sofa-like comfort".
A wrap-around shell offers a subtle degree of privacy, with a sliding partition between the paired seats.
Each passenger gets a 15.6-inch video screen and access to their own AC and USB power sockets.
Behind first class is what JAL terms as 'Class J', with 94 Recaro-supplied seats following a 2-4-2 layout.
Each is 48cm wide with 38 inches of pitch, a decent legrest, a tablet-sized storage nook to one side of the seat and another small compartment under the 11.6-inch video screen, plus AC/USB sockets within easy reach.
(Another unique trait of Class J is that passengers traveling on international JAL flights in first or business class are assigned Class J seating on connecting domestic flights on the same itinerary, such as Sydney-Tokyo-Osaka.)
The rest of JAL's Airbus A350 is filled by 263 Recaro economy seats arranged 3-3-3 – each with a tighter 31-inch pitch, a 10-inch touchscreen display, wing-style wrapping heardrest and AC/USB power sockets.
Also noteworthy is that every passenger from the first row to the last enjoys free inflight WiFi on a 'gate to gate' basis – you can jump online the moment you settle into your seat, all the way through until it's time to grab your bag and go at the end of your journey.
JAL's inflight video system adds live TV to the usual 'movies, music and TV' menu.
Finally, if you do end up flying on JAL's Airbus A350, take a moment to appreciate the interior design work of London-based Tangerine, which incorporates JAL's Tsurumaru logo at the A350's entry while picking up traditional Japanese blacks and reds throughout the cabins.
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