As JAL announced today that they were launching the JAL 777 ‘Sky Suite’ interior on their New York route as of May this year, we thought we would take a look at the new product that has already been rolled out on the London route as of January 2013. JAL has always been a solid contender when it comes to inflight product, and even through bankruptcy have spent money on developing their product to make sure the carrier can continue to compete with their Asian counterparts. The New York route is a long route from Narita, and perfectly suited for a little more space and comfort onboard. For those not travelling to New York or London, don’t worry, new advancements are still being rolled out across the network, such as Wi-fi now being available on certain routes. The most remarkable statement with the 777 from JAL is that the 232 seats is super spacious, compared with American Airlines’ new 777-300ER total of 310 seats. We’ll let the figures do most of the talking here.
“The JAL Suite”, First Class
Well, no surprises here that we are greeted by a flatbed, with a 1 x 2 x 1 configuration. A pretty standard layout, and lots of space available for a first class offering with a minimal 8 seats in the cabin. Whilst not a new suite, there have been improvements and tweaks across the product. Wider TV screens offering a more immersive entertainment option, the bed is wider now, and with a Tempur mattress you are guaranteed a decent night’s sleep. What we like the most here though, is the colour and finish of the product. Natural wood tones sit perfectly with the seating, the sense of space and light is really effective and refined, and inoffensive, making it easier to make the space your own. Let’s not forget the dining options that JAL offer, and now they have partnered up with four famous Japanese chefs including Seiji Yamamoto and Koji Shimomura, the food truly is exceptional.
“Jal Sky Suite”, Business Class
The biggest change to the entire inflight product range is noticed here. No longer angled-flat seating, the seats are fully flat, and each offer direct aisle access. A very generous 23 inch monitor also is at each seat which are laid out in a way that offers maximum privacy for each passenger. The seats also have ample storage under each ottoman that forms part of the seat, meaning no more reaching into the overhead bins to get out any personal items. What we also like about JAL’s business class product, is that the retractable privacy partition (similar to that you find in BA’s club world) really works as it’s opaque, not transparent, and whilst the seating is staggered meaning the passenger in the seat in front needs to crook their neck back a little to see the passenger behind them, due to the fact you aren’t facing each other means that during take off and landing, you aren’t avoiding the awkward gaze of a complete stranger. There are a lot of finishes in the business class cabin, with different wood veneers, and fabric options, and instead of feeling disjointed, JAL have used a rich and deep colour palette, and that helps to help ground the product, and tie the whole business class cabin together. With a slightly higher than usual complement of seats for a business class cabin, at 49, if the seats were any less private, you wouldn’t perhaps feel so special!
“JAL Sky Premium”, Premium Economy Class
Everything you expect from Premium Economy is packaged up nicely here. 10cms of extra legroom compared to economy (slightly less of a boast compared to other international carriers, but you’ll understand why when you find out they’ve given more space to economy too which now boasts 34″ legroom, one of the largest economy legrooms in the sky) What’s more they’ve increased the recline to a much deeper (by 7cms slide) forward within the fixed shell seat, making for more range of positions to get comfortable with. The touchscreen TV monitor has also increased in size, a generous 12.1 inches is now available. And with the lack of entertainment boxes under the seat, there is even more room to stretch out your legs, and with a 3 stage adjustable footrest, it seems they have listened to customers requirements and designed the seat to match. We love the little touches, such as water bottle holders, as in other airline’s premium economy’s we have always been stuffing them in seat pockets of wedging them by the arm rest, causing the ever increasing likelihood of an embarrassing water spillage or knocked kneecaps. We like the red and black colours in the cabin, very smart, but the seats have a lot of elements going on, and many components, meaning for a greater chance of wear and tear. It will be interesting to see how these seats age with time.
“JAL Sky Wider”, Economy Class
Ok, so perhaps the name got lost in translation, or is a super literal translation, but JAL’s Sky Wider seats in economy do exactly what they say. A remarkable 34 inch seat pitch seat in a 3 x 3 x 3 seating configuration (one seat less per row than American’s new 777-300ER) meaning an extra few inches in front, and a whopping 2cms extra in width (that means a lot on a 10 hour plus flight!) We have to say we are surprised, and delighted to see the configuration of the aircraft gives room for only 135 economy seats. That means a much more personal service and a lot more space for hand luggage. Everything about the economy cabin has been created for space and comfort. Pouches for your iPod or iPhone are in every seat, along with bottle holders. Then there are the 10 inch touchscreen monitors to keep you entertained, and ‘taste treats from the countryside’ which is the concept underlying JAL’s approach to serving Japan’s regional foods.