Japan Airlines brings first class back to Sydney-Tokyo flights

JAL's Sydney route will adopt Boeing 777s with first class: offering more seats in business class and premium economy, too.

By Chris C., January 22 2020
Japan Airlines brings first class back to Sydney-Tokyo flights

Japan Airlines is returning its first class JAL Suites to Sydney’s skies from September, with the Qantas partner switching its current Boeing 787-9 – which tops out at business class – to the larger Boeing 777-300ER on the Sydney-Tokyo route, equipped with first class.

Appearing from September 1 on the daily JL51 service from Tokyo to Sydney and from September 2 on the return JL52 flight back to Haneda Airport, Japan Airlines will resume its title as the only carrier offering first class on any non-stop flight between Australia and Japan.

In first class, JAL offers eight private suites across a cosy two-row cabin, arranged in a 1-2-1 layout.

These transform into fully-flat beds of approximately 199cm (6’ 6”) in length and 84cm (2’ 9”) in width with the seat’s armrests lowered:

While the suites don’t offer sliding privacy doors on the aisle-side, the centre pairs have a retractable privacy panel in between, allowing conversation between pairs travelling together or a more secluded feel when flying solo.

First class guests can also dine with a companion in a single suite:

A spokesman for Japan Airlines confirmed to Executive Traveller that reservations and ticket sales in first class for Sydney-Tokyo flights will open on Friday January 31, from 1pm Sydney time.

It’s expected that bookings made using frequent flyer points for travel in first class on the route will also become available from the same date: as always, subject to availability.

Read: How to book Japan Airlines flights using Qantas Points

Business class gets bigger on JAL’s Sydney-Tokyo flights

The switcheroo from the current Boeing 787-9 to the larger Boeing 777-300ER also unlocks five extra seats in business class on every flight, climbing from 44 to 49 Sky Suites.

While in a 2-2-2 configuration on the Boeing 787, that moves to a 2-3-2 seating layout aboard the Boeing 777: but thanks to the design of JAL’s Sky Suites, every passenger – including those in the very centre, and over by the windows – has direct and uninterrupted access to the aisle.

Those positioned away from the aisle have a small walkway in front of their seat, which avoids stepping over or past a seatmate: similar to the design of Korean Air’s business class Prestige Suites, as fly to Sydney, as well as Brisbane.

ET review: JAL Boeing 777 business class, Sydney-Tokyo

Premium economy is also bumped up from 35 to 40 passengers – changing from a 2-3-2 to a 2-4-2 configuration due to the broader cabin width of the Boeing 777 – with economy boosted too, from 116 seats in a 2-4-2 layout to 147 seats in a 3-3-3 cabin.

The news follows Japan Airlines’ recently-announced plan to move its Sydney-Tokyo flights from Narita Airport to Haneda, being much closer to the city centre, from March 29 2020.

Also read: ANA boosts Sydney-Tokyo to double daily in March 2020

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

is JAL flying to HND and not NRT, states that the return service will be HND?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

That's covered in the story: the switch to Haneda was announced back in November, and comes into play in late March.


03 May 2013

Total posts 668

Shame its only a 777.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Feb 2019

Total posts 3

Awesome news! This is a great F product and the Japanese's attentive service compliments it very well.

Fingers crossed I get some work trips to Japan now in the later part of the year haha!

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

08 Jan 2018

Total posts 5

I wonder which route will be losing a Boeing 777-300ER? SFO will be my bet, as JL will be flying to SFO from both HND

07 Dec 2017

Total posts 5

Hey Chris, long time fan of your reviews and reports, congratulations and keep them coming. I am retired after 41+/- years in the aviation industry and am trying to keep in touch with what's going on. Small question, when did Latte, Glass of wine and a Theatre Ticket become part of your profile. A journey of a thousand miles can only begin with a single step my friend! What's that other expression? KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid! Seriously, keep up the good work!

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