Japan Airlines Upgrades Boston To Tokyo Flight

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines launched flights between Boston and Tokyo in April 2012, which was a pretty nifty new route. It was the only route from Boston to Asia at the time (in the meantime Cathay Pacific and Hainan fly to Boston as well), and was the beginning of a huge international growth spurt for the airport.

That’s the beauty of the small and fuel efficient Boeing 787, as it makes “long and thin” routes much more feasible to operate. With a low per passenger operating cost, it has allowed airlines to enter all kinds of markets which weren’t previously practical.


Japan Airlines has been flying the Boeing 787-8 to Boston since the route launched. The 787 is a nice plane, though unfortunately the version of the plane Japan Airlines has been flying to Boston features the airline’s old, angled business class product.

In the meantime Japan Airlines is in the process of reconfiguring their 787s with a great new business class product, though it’s only available on select routes as of now (and Boston isn’t among them, sadly).


For those who have avoided the Boston to Tokyo flight due to the inferior aircraft, there’s good news. Japan Airlines has just released their flight frequency and fleet plan for 2016, and it includes quite a few adjustments.

The most significant adjustment for North America is that Japan Airlines’ Boston to Tokyo Narita flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 as of June 11, 2016. The good news is that all of Japan Airlines’ 787-9 aircraft feature the new business class product, which looks fantastic. The cabin is in a 2-2-2 configuration, though the seats are staggered in such a way that everyone more or less has direct aisle access.


Some have even said that they prefer this business class product to reverse herringbone seats, which is my favorite business class hard product.

Japan Airlines’ business class award availability is generally quite good, and many dates have four business class award seats. Keep in mind American charges just 50,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way business class award between the US and Japan, and there are no fuel surcharges (that price is increasing to 60,000 miles for bookings as of March 22, 2016).


Bottom line

Previously I always recommended people in Boston connect rather than taking an angled seat for the 12+ hour flight to Japan. It’s exciting that Japan Airlines is offering a fully flat business class product on the route for the first time. I’ve been wanting to review Japan Airlines’ 787 business class, so perhaps Boston to Tokyo is the route on which I should do so.

  1. I would imagine not having to change planes would be attractive to folks like you Ben as you travel so much. I think given whats going on throughout the industry this is one of the things that will make a pax choose JAL over someone else?

  2. If you haven’t flown this product yet I highly recommend it.

    Not only is the seat fantastic and private, but JAL also offer mattress pads in biz on long haul flights. The dine-on-demand menu via AVOD is a triumph, and the Japanese hospitality flawless as well.

    Not sure why people get so excited about Cathay business when JAL has better food, a better seat, and WiFi.

  3. Yes!! As a Bostonian, I am beyond excited. Since this, the best option from Boston to Asia was via HKG. Now we have a better product to Asia 1.

  4. I’m flying KE’s new “Prestige” seats in a couple of weeks. Is one better than the other? JL’s look a little more private.

  5. I had my doubts, but after flying this bed DFW-NRT, I now join the abundance of ppl calling this the best J in the sky. Yes, even to our beloved reverse herringbone. The privacy is unparalleled – this guy is more private than JAL F.

  6. I love the JAL product all in all in Business but my one pet peeve is on flights from NRT to LAX which I take often and land into LA in the morning YET they bizarrely continue to only offer a lunch type meal with sandwiches and beef and fish prior to landing. How they don’t offer a Western style breakfast is beyond me.

  7. Is it just me (I’m probably doing something wrong) but I am finding virtually JAL no business class space from ORD. JFK, DFW, BOS to NRT on ba.com. Suggestions?

  8. Ben wrote, “…For those who have avoided the Boston to Tokyo flight due to the inferior aircraft, there’s good news. …”

    Ben, just because you don’t care for JAL’s current J class seat product and the cabin’s configuration does not make the 787-8 an “inferior aircraft”…now does it?

  9. My ultimate goal as I take my son back to Japan (from Boston) every summer!
    Need to work hard on accumulating those AA miles…

  10. @BOS_Flyer, I know. Silver line works, and nice to have free inbounds for those visiting, but jumping off the Blue Line @ Airport and getting moving covered walkways right into Terminal E would surely be nicer than sitting on the Silver line bus while it circles terminals A, B, & C (particularly so in the winter) for a departure, or getting on a full Silver Line bus after your 14 hour Asia flight. Train > Bus almost every time for me, and a businessman or government official on an international flight, they’d likely prefer it too. Blue line is just as easy for City Hall and Financial District as South Station.

  11. Lucky,

    do you know if / when JL might update the biz class seats on the osaka to LAX flight? thanks in advance

  12. JAL food is very Japanese, they call the Western options Western but there really is not any Western food onboard. The service is also catered towards Japanese I received very little service compared to my neighbors. , so I found the service in F far below that of Cathay and even less enjoyable than some AA flights. Where JAL thrived was drinks. The bed is comfy but the hot cabin negates that. I will be flying NRT-DFW biz on 1-25 so will report back! Lands at 1045am in Dallas and does not serve any type of “breakfast” according to the menu. Will be interesting. Not sure why everyone thinks there food is so good. Lets see what this flight brings.

  13. Does anyone know whether JL flies this aircraft on shorter Intra-Asia routes? Or purely angled-flat seats on those?

  14. I flew Boston – Narita on the way to Shanghai recently. I would highly recommend JAL, the 787 in business is very good which is important because 13+hours over the arctic is probably not healthy. The food was excellent and the service on JAL is about the best I have ever experienced.

    The trip started out with the British Air lounge in Logan which was very comfy with great food. At my transfer point in Narita, you should go to the MAIN Sakura lounge as it has free massage and showers that you can sign up for and food is better in the Main lounge.

    On the way to Shanghai from Narita its just an old 737 so even in business the flight is “eh” but after a 13 hour leg, a 3 hour leg is nothing.

    One thing to note, and JAL did not make clear is that unlike a US international transfer, your checked luggage goes right through and if you are just transferring to another international flight at Narita there is no need to go through immigration or customs. This was not at all clear the first time.

    I accumulate my miles on Oneworld – American so JAL is now my choice of airline for business class to Asia. As everyone says, the equipment makes the trip. The food and service is the icing on the cake. I hope the US airlines can get with the program so to speak and lose their attitudes which make it so inferior to flying foreign airlines.

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