JAL A350 Cabins Revealed: World’s First Domestic A350

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines is the latest airline to start taking delivery of the Airbus A350, and there’s something that makes their A350s especially interesting. Japan Airlines has 18 Airbus A350-900s on order, and they plan to use these planes exclusively for domestic flights.

That’s right, they’re taking these planes that can fly 8,000+ miles nonstop and are using them for flights that are at most a couple of hours.

On the surface this may seem illogical. You’d think they’d refresh their long haul fleet first, given the fuel savings are more significant on a plane that frequently operates long haul flights. But the way Japan Airlines views it, they need a replacement for the 777-200s that they currently use for many domestic routes, and the A350-900 is a good choice for that.

Up until now we’ve known the configuration that Japan Airlines will have on their A350s, though they hadn’t revealed the details of their seats… until now.

Japan Airlines’ A350-900s will have 375 seats, in a three class configuration:

  • There will be 12 seats in First Class
  • There will be 94 seats in Class J (that’s what they call it)
  • There will be 263 seats in Economy Class

That might seem like a premium heavy configuration, though since this plane is configured for domestic operations, lower your expectations — first class isn’t nearly as nice as business class on long haul flights, then “Class J” is more like a typical premium economy product, and then economy is surprisingly decent for what’s supposed to be a high density plane.

Anyway, Japan Airlines has now fully revealed the seats they’ll offer on these planes in all three cabins.

First Class will consist of just 12 seats, spread across two rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats simply recline a little bit using a “shell” function (so you slide forward). There’s a small partition between seats that can be used for privacy, and each seat has a personal television.

Then Class J will consist of 94 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, and the seats almost look exactly like what you’d find in international premium economy. There’s still a personal television at every seat.


Lastly, economy is in a 3-3-3 configuration, also with a personal television at every seat.

Japan Airlines will begin operations with their A350 as of September 1, 2019, and the plane will debut on the ~550 mile Tokyo Haneda to Fukuoka route.

What do you make of Japan Airlines’ new A350 cabins?

  1. “There’s still a personal television at every seat.”

    “…also with a personal television at every seat.”

    Some nice sass towards AA there.

  2. WHAT!? Japan Airlines treating its economy customers as normal human beings that deserve devency? SACRILEGE!

  3. “There’s still a personal television at every seat.”
    “…also with a personal television at every seat.”

    … Some message for Etihad as they are removing personal television from some of their planes.

  4. Worth noting that Class J can regularly be purchased as an upgrade for less than $15 on some flights! The new seat looks fantastic.

  5. @ Lucky
    You should really try to fly one of the domestic 777 with 500 seats. The speed at which they board the plane is awesome

  6. Not surprised because they don’t treat economy-class or domestic passengers as second class citizens. Good on them!

  7. In Japan Class J is a premium economy product with same service as Y (soft drink only, thank you, ANA!) and usually features seats similar to economy but just bit wider (think 5 abreast on 737, 8 abreast on 787 for ANA). But at only 1000 yen ($9), it’s a great deal.
    While F is similar to first class in US, although JAL mostly killed it on narrow body while ANA still features them on 737. 2-2-2 on 767 and 787, 2-3-2 on 777, features proper meal and a full bar (at least for JAL… ANA uses cava) and comes with a very reasonable price. Starting at 5000 yen, to 8000 yen at some of the longest route at check in. Really should try it next time (Not mentioning much more reasonable comparing to Green Car on Shinkansen.

    Also, I heard JAL is going to buy A350-1000 for international? They do have some 777-200ER needs to be replaced in the future.

  8. Can’t wait for JAL’s A350-1000 international first class. Then add on the new 777X first class for Cathay and ANA (probably the 380 first class)… Exciting times

  9. @Ethan – JAL’s domestic F configuration on 767 is 2-1-2, and 777 is 2-2-2.

    Lucky, you must try JAL domestic F in your next visit to Japan. The 767 has quite exclusive cabin feeling since it only has 1 row, where as others have 2-3.

  10. Vietnam Airlines also uses A350’s domestically (flew one last year HAN->SGN), although I don’t think it was in a layout intended solely for domestic use. Overall it worked quite well! Really comfortable flight.

  11. Do they actually fill these for planes normally for domestic flights? I could see them using these for select domestic flights among a mix of regional international flights within east Asia. It’s really strange to me that these are fully domestic and the utilization is not low.

    Or, is this something temporary? Is this to accommodate all the domestic flights they will need during the olympics?

  12. I feel the seat finishes are a bit too dark. I liked the light color palette of the old JAL domestic 777 first class.

  13. Three strange aviation industry changes experienced in the week:
    1. JAA using the A350 purely on domestic routes.
    2. Jetblue using the A321 on long haul.
    3. A huge order for a suicidal grounded Boeing 737 Max.

  14. I find it pretty amazing that airlines in Japan can justify operating such large aircraft on such short routes. I can only guess that gate/slot/airport restrictions prevent the them from increasing frequencies with smaller aircraft as the trend has gone in the US.

  15. @Jeff
    JAL/ANA flew 500+ seat B-747SRs back in the day to the main cities, like Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo which got rather full the times I remember, so things really haven’t changed.. if anything the planes have gotten smaller (767, 777), although they likely have increased in frequency.

    I have to agree, class J is probably the best bang for the buck if you can get a same day airport upgrade. Flying on JAL’s Japan Explorer pass fare, it’s 10,800y for the ticket and an additional 1000y for the upgrade which I try and take every time now. Even first class is only +8000y at the airport.

  16. Just to add to the above comment, both JAL and ANA offer hourly flight between HND-KIX, for total of 15 round-trips **each** (combined 30 RTs/day). JAL operates mixed of 777 and 767, while ANA operates 787, 777, and A321 (for only one RT).

    This is in addition to over 150 RTs of regularly scheduled Shinkansen per day connecting those two cities, each train with capacity of over 1,300 people.

    Japan population density is crazy.

  17. I still prefer the bullet train over flying that route. About 5-6 hours total (depending on connection time in Osaka), and you get to go city center to city center…AND you can pick up an amazing bento in Tokyo station’s food plaza to eat on the journey. All without the airport craziness, etc.

    Although I’ve always wanted to fly to FUK just to see that airport code on my boarding pass lol. (Elementary school humor, I know. )

  18. To add to @innosu’s comment, both ANA and JAL operate 777s multiple times a day between CTS and HND as well.

  19. They also fly 787s (and maybe 777s, not entirely sure) to NGS, a rather small airport that’s typically overshadowed by FUK. The short widebody flight with a 9.8k flat charge is pretty nice compared to taking the train to Nagasaki or from Tokyo in one trip , since there is no bullet train between Fukuoka and Nagasaki. The Kamome limited express is pretty nice, but still an extra 2 hours in travel time. On my first trip to Japan I took the bus from Nagasaki station to NGS, then the short 2~ hour flight from NGS to HND on a 787. Coincidently, the flight number was NH666.

  20. Thanks everyone for clarifying.

    If they don’t need the range, why didn’t the go with the lower-priced A330neo?

  21. This is soooo great for short haul domestic flights. I wish carriers in the US and Europe would adopt a similar approach with newer widebodies (I know it doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint but still…. haha).

    Obviously you wouldn’t want that seating on a medium or long haul routes in F or J but it is just perfectly appropriate for shorter hops.

  22. Should make all the European carriers that operate that dreadful “euro business class” on flights that are often three or four hours have a rethink

  23. Just happy that JAL is getting on with fleet renewal. Their international fleet was looking and feeling very tired and well overdue for retirement. Surprised that the domestic side of things is getting relatively lavish treatment.

  24. If you look at the seat pitch on JL or NH in Y Class, you’ll notice they are very generous. Like all things in Japan, the customer does come first, something the US discarded at least 20 years ago.

  25. I don’t think the whole of this a350 fleet will be deployed for domestic operations. The last few will get international configuration.

  26. There is a huge shortage of landing slots at Haneda, so you need to use large aircraft. The seat comfort needs to compete with the Shinkansen, the key competitor for flights.

    I recall the biggest crash of all around 1984 or 1985 was a JAL domestic 747 in the Japan Alps, with dense seating on it. Over 500 people died but there were 4 survivors.

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