Japan Airlines is going full-on with fully private suites in both first and business class on its forthcoming Airbus A350, which will take wing on the premium Tokyo-New York route in late November 2023.
The six first class havens (in two rows of 1-1-1) and 54 business class berths are all enclosed private suite with sliding doors, although first class flyers are cocooned behind walls up to 1.57m (62") while the business suites are framed by more modest 1.32m (52") partitions.
Something else they both have in common are in-suite wardrobes and stereo speakers built into the headrests, “allowing customers to enjoy the inflight entertainment system without using headphones;” other high-tech touches include wireless device charging and Bluetooth audio streaming.
JAL says its A350 cabin will “immerse customers in the elegance of Japanese aesthetics and envelop them in tranquility, providing a serene ambiance that encapsulates the beauty of Japan.”
The unique design of the A350 first class suites contains two seats side by side, with one almost twice as wide as the other, at a total of 1.23m (48").
This provides “a choice of three seating modes: Sofa, Seat & Single Bed, or Double Bed...”
... with the later achieved by “having all seats transformed into a bed configuration.”
In addition to the concealed wardrobe there’s also under-seat bag stowage, as the first class cabin has no overhead luggage bins in order to “create a more open individual atmosphere.”
The JAL A350 business class suites are more conventional, although these too have a private wardrobe and cabin bag storage, while the business class cabin has done away with the central overhead storage compartments to make the most of the A350’s spacious room-like interior.
There’ll even be pyjamas, but not to keep. JAL will introduce “a rental service for inflight relaxing wear” from Japanese sleep brand Uchino, made of 100% cotton “and characterized by its thin, lightweight, and soft texture, as well as excellent water absorption and insulation properties.”
Japan Airlines is also playing the personalisation card, with travellers able to “customize the timing of your inflight course meal service based on your lounge visit before departure and the flight's arrival time.”
In addition, the large 4K video screens (43" in first and 24" in business) “will indicate the times for meal services and lights-out so you can plan ahead,” while a new vegan and vegetarian menu is available for pre-ordering.
From early 2024, passengers in all cabin classes will also be able to set up a playlist of movies, TV shows and music ahead of the flight via the JAL app, and then have this shared to their screen after they board.
JAL is expected to take delivery of its first two A350-1000s by the end of this year, with seven more due before the end of 2025 and the final four rolling into the hangars by 2028, where they’ll join a crop of mid-sized A350-900s which ply an extensive domestic network.
This 13-strong fleet of A350-1000s will allow Japan Airlines to retire its 13 ageing Boeing 777-300ERs in a 1:1 replacement.
As recently reported, Cathay Pacific has its own all-new 777 business class landing in the second quarter of 2024 (to be followed by new Cathay 777 first class suites in late 2025), while speculation continues to swirl that Singapore Airlines plans to upgrade its long-range A350s with doored business class suites originally intended for the delayed SQ 777-9 fleet.