JAL Introducing New Business Class On LAX To Osaka Route

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines is a phenomenal airline across all cabins. Most of their flights to the US are flown by the Boeing 777-300ER, featuring a beautiful first class cabin, and also Apex Suites in business class, which is one of my favorite business class products.

Japan Airlines 777-300ER first class

Japan Airlines 777-300ER business class

What I find disappointing is that some Japan Airlines 787s that are used on longhaul flights continue to feature angled seats in business class. No, not just seats that don’t have direct aisle access or that aren’t the the latest generation of seats, but quite literally angled seats, which very few airlines in the world offer nowadays on flights between the US and Asia, let alone one of the world’s top airlines.

As far as JAL’s US route network goes, as of now they operate 787s with angled seats on their routes between Los Angeles and Osaka and between San Diego and Tokyo Narita.

The good news is that one of those routes is soon getting an upgrade. Japan Airlines will offer fully flat seats in business class between Los Angeles and Osaka as of March 31, 2019. The airline will be upgrading the route from a 787-8 to a 787-9.

As a reminder, this route operates with the following schedule:

JL69 Los Angeles to Osaka departing 1:45PM arriving 6:15PM (+1 day)
JL60 Osaka to Los Angeles departing 5:25PM arriving 11:45AM

What’s interesting is the type of seat they’ll offer on the route. Some 787-9s feature the same Apex Suites as the 777-300ERs, but what I wasn’t aware of is that some 787s actually feature reverse herringbone seats, which they started installing on some 777-200ERs a couple of years ago.

I’m not sure why they’re choosing to install yet another business class seat type in their 787 fleet, though I’m sure there’s some reason.

This aircraft change will also represent the introduction of premium economy on the route, since the 787 that operated the route before didn’t have premium economy.

Even in economy Japan Airlines has just eight seats per row on their 787s, so it’s quite a spacious layout compared to the nine seats per row that most airlines have installed on the 787.

Bottom line

I’m happy to see Japan Airlines finally upgrading their Los Angeles to Osaka route to a better aircraft. It really was a shame that they offered such a subpar business class product on what you’d think is a pretty premium route.

Historically this route has been a great option for award seats, and now it will even offer a much better business class product. This will no longer be a route to avoid. I believe this leaves San Diego to Tokyo Narita as the only mainland US route to feature angled seats in business class.

  1. I’d pick apex suite over reverse herringbone any day of the week. Is there any difference in density between the two products?

  2. JAL moved to this because their low-density Apex Suites were unprofiyable (Korean Air seems to miss the memo on this, as they continue to install 2-2-2 Apex Suites on their 777s and 747s — not complaining).

  3. I flew that particular product on a JL 772 a few months ago. Yes, it is 1-2-1 herringbone, but is definitely one of the most compact versions of it. Definitely narrower than an off the shelf version.

  4. I can say from personal experience that those seats are a huge downgrade from the APEX suites or even the CX / BR / AA style reverse herringbone seats. Less spacious and very dense config. Having said that, they will be a substantial upgrade from angled flat seats.

  5. @ Mike — I talked with a spokesperson from JAL. Not without reason: in the same space between doors 1 and 2 on the 787-9, JAL fits 24 Apex Suites, whereas they fit 28 RHBs and two lavs on their new 787-9s.

    (Actually this information was also hinted at by Dan Goz on this site a couple years back, who has his fair share of airline reps to back him up.)

  6. Some of their 789s have had reverse herringbone seats for quite a while. They’ve sent this sub-(sub-)fleet to KUL CGK DLC among others.

  7. Yes – I’ve flown on it to KUL 18 months ago when it was first appearing. I had read it was a more dense product for their regional routes so surprised to see it appearing to the US but its absolutely fine and 100x better than angled seat for sure !!

  8. @Alvin – density is only part of the equation. Competition, route yields, and type of demand are much more important factors.

  9. There’s nothing remotely premium about any route between the US and Osaka. There’s a reason that most carriers have failed with their routes between the US and Osaka over the years. Desire Osaka being a huge city, it simply pedant have the business that generates paid j or premium y traffic. Never a problem filling up coach- plenty of people who want to travel- just very little high yield traffic. Nothing premium about any Osaka- US route. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this route isn’t eventually replaced with JAL’s announced long haul lcc product.

  10. @ Airways and Travels – Both are competitive seats, route yields call for denser cabins with more seats, and regarding “type of demand”, JAL isn’t going to operate a reverse herringbone seat plane from Osaka to LAX just because people living in Osaka prefer reverse herringbone seats. We’re talking about a hard product swap, not a route swap here.

  11. @Jason
    I wouldn’t be surprised if DL cancels their planned SEA-KIX after 2-3 years, especially with zero connection opportunities at the KIX side (unless they manage to start a small codeshare agreement with either JL or NH, which most likely won’t happen).

  12. Simply because RH can fit more seats than Apex. Having flown both type on JAL 787, I’d actually prefer the RH because of storage space and privacy. The Apex is good if there is no neighbor.

  13. I flew these seats from NRT-KUL last year. It’s not quite as roomy as the Super Diamond’s or the Cirrus (Cathay’s 773 or AA’s 77W). Comfortable enough though. Can’t believe SAN gets boned with the angled flats 🙁

  14. much better then the awful 2 3 2 apex seats on the 777 that remind me of British airways. ANA is SO MUCH BETTER.

  15. I flew this route and was dreading the seat on the way back. But I slept like a baby – way better than the LAX-NRT segment in lie-flat. The rest of the experience, while fine, wasn’t all that premium, including the already-mentioned KIX Sakura lounge.

  16. Flew the 787 angled seats Osaka to LAX last year. Good availability for a family of 4. Was my first experience on JAL, and the service and seat were both bad. (of course it was better than being 20 rows back though….) I can remember two FA’s arguing with each other at my seat because they disagreed on how to set my place and serve the food. It was very awkward.

  17. Shell flat neo aka angled seats still on NRT to Vancouver. Flew apex lie flat HKG to NRT short haul then transferred to the God awful angled seats for long haul this spring. You have to drink a lot of sake to sleep in those things. (Service however superb.)

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