ZIPAIR’s Surprising 787 Interiors Revealed

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

Back in March I wrote about ZIPAIR Tokyo, which is Japan Airlines’ new low cost carrier. The airline will be launching in summer 2020 using Boeing 787-8s, and will initially operate flights from Tokyo Narita to Bangkok and Seoul Incheon, as of May 14, 2020 (tickets are expected to go on sale in the spring).

The airline plans on adding two planes per year, so they’ll be growing relatively slowly. This past April the livery and uniforms for the airline were revealed, though up until now they haven’t revealed what we should expect from the cabins.

ZIPAIR’s 787-8 Cabins Revealed

ZIPAIR has today revealed the details of the interior of their first 787-8, and it’s quite surprising, in my opinion. Maybe some will disagree, but there are a couple of decisions they’ve made that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

ZIPAIR 787s Will Have 290 Seats

ZIPAIR’s 787-8s will have 290 seats, including 18 business class seats and 272 economy seats. I’m surprised to see a leisure airline not offer premium economy, and furthermore to see a rather sparse configuration for what’s intended to be a low cost carrier.

For example, Scoot and Jetstar 787-8s have up to 335 seats (including premium economy). So 290 seats actually doesn’t seem that dense for a 787.

In fairness, the cabin is significantly denser than JAL’s own 787-8s, some of which have just 161 seats. Then again, JAL is known for having really premium heavy configurations.

One of the airlines that’s most efficient with three cabin configurations is Air Canada, and their 787-8s have 255 seats, including 20 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 214 economy seats.

ZIPAIR’s 787 Business Class

The 18 business class seats on ZIPAIR will in fact be JAMCO reverse herringbone seats, which seems awfully nice for a leisure low cost carrier. These are very similar to the seats that Japan Airlines is now installing on some of their planes.

ZIPAIR’s 787 Economy Class

In economy, ZIPAIR will be moving to nine abreast seating, with 31″ of pitch and 17″ of width per seat. This will be the same spacing that Japan Airlines currently has on their domestic flights.

Every seat will have power outlets and a personal entertainment holder.

It also sounds like seats will in fact slide forward when you recline, so they’ll limit how much space you take up from the person seated behind you.

ZIPAIR 787s Won’t Have Personal Televisions

ZIPAIR will offer what I believe are the first reverse herringbone seats in the world without personal televisions.

ZIPAIR won’t have any personal televisions, but rather is focused on streaming entertainment, and that apparently won’t even be free. The press release notes that the airline will offer “a fee-based option to browse the internet and stream movies on the passenger’s smartphone or tablet.”

Apparently not installing televisions will save about 1,000 pounds from the plane’s weight. That’s actually less weight savings than I was expecting.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot I find interesting about ZIPAIR’s 787s. The 290 seat capacity is way denser than Japan Airlines’ standard 787s, but there are much denser configurations out there.

To me it’s surprising to see a low cost carrier install a proper business class but not a premium economy product, and in particular to see those business class seats be reverse herringbone.

While many airlines are moving towards streaming entertainment, it sounds like you’ll even have to pay to stream entertainment. While not that surprising for a low cost carrier, ultimately it has always seemed to me like Japanese airlines operate at higher standards than other airlines, so that is a bit surprising.

What do you make of ZIPAIR’s 787 cabins?

  1. Japanese media outlets state that the business class seats are “Venture” seats manufactured by JAMCO, and that the seats have been previously adopted by KLM (for 787-10) and Air Europa (787-9).

    @ben Are you going to review them at some time?

  2. “In fairness, the cabin is significantly less dense than JAL’s own 787-8s, some of which have just 161 seats. ”

    Wouldnt 290 be MORE dense than JAL’s 161?

  3. AC is in a league of its own for crunching knees and canning sardines, so that is an unfair comparison
    an awesome config but I abhor the type of recline that slides forward. Anyone who enjoys that must have their spine removed. And without IFE, are you for real? Thanks but no thanks.

  4. With their longest route being 5 hours, those fully flat seats seem like overkill, both in cost and in the space they occupy. Particularly for a low cost carrier. Maybe they’re planning ahead for longer routes?

  5. Agree that 1000 pounds does not sound like much. Is there any data on how heavy the average airline passenger is? I imagine the operating costs for US based airlines may be higher due to heavier passengers relative to the same costs for an airline in Japan.

  6. No IFE is a good trend imho. Those who travel frequently will have the newest cellphone/tablet/laptop with a much better screen than what you will find on typical airplanes anyway. And most streaming services give you the option to download something to watch it offline while in the air, so you will have a much wider selection that even beats Emirates ICE easily.
    Most airlines don’t properly clean these disgusting touchscreens (ok, JAL would be an exception to this, but think BA, AA, DL, UA… who are cutting cleaning budgets left and right).
    And passengers in the backseat always hammer on these touchscreens so that the person in front can not sleep.

  7. As per local media, the 3 forward lavatories will also be equipped with Toto washlets which is a first for an LCC. Also, the 2 middle lavatories can be joined for PWD use.

    From 2021 zipair is rumored to be looking at US west coast – PDX and HNL. It is looking at MCO as well.

  8. @Francisco C
    Spot on, Airlines in the US are having the heaviest passengers on average, only being rivaled by some smaller Pacific Island Airlines who have to transport indigenous people who are fat on purpose (they have some weird traditions).
    Every airline is using it’s own average passenger weight (differentiated by gender, how sexist!!! ;)) for the weight&balance calculations before takeoff.

  9. No screens might only save 1,000 pounds, but it also saves a ton of maintenance hours over the life of the aircraft. That savings might even outweigh the fuel savings.

  10. @Max – agree to disagree. Most planes now have highly responsive (which takes away the hammering on it) HD screens that are significantly bigger than your phone (which is what most people will be using). To me it’s a hassle to take my phone out and worry about keeping it charged when I have to watch something that way. I’d much rathe simply plug my headphones in, sit back and watch something new. As for sanitation, I bring Clorox wet wipes and give it a quick wipe down before.

  11. As Doug noted, the big savings here is the maintenance. The complexity to seatback IFE is the equivalent of a 720p 13″ LCD affixed to a Raspberry Pi. Or an iPhone4 with a larger screen attached and the battery removed.

    But not having to worry about cabling to each seatback, maintenance of broken USB and audio ports, eventual LCD failure, etc saves way more than the fuel savings of those 1000lbs.

  12. @Peter
    And these screens will be outdated quickly (they stay on the aircraft for typically more than 10+ years).
    Additionally sometimes you get unlucky with a non-working screen, have annoying crew announcements that interrupt your movie, airlines who don’t pay the licence fees on shorter flights, big entertainment boxes in your foot area, empty seats around where the entertainment can’t get disabled and interrupts your sleep and so on.
    Plugging headphones in? It’s nearly 2020, nowadays people use wireless headphones.
    How low has the US sunken that the customers already accept to be bring their own cleaning equipment on board to get a remotely acceptable state of cleanliness?
    Try airlines such as Qatar, Etihad, JAL, ANA, Singapore, Cathay, Korean Air instead to see what is easily possible in terms of cleanliness.

  13. Does anyone else think that livery looks a bit whack? Kind of has a TRUMP aesthetic to it.

    Interiors are all black (with white backing) … no obvious touches of green to at least match the hideous green racing stripe on the side of the bird.

  14. @Max – have flown every one of those except JAL, and I still wipe down any touch screen before I use it. Maybe I’m lucky, but I haven’t had a non-working screen in years (cue my next one will be out…). The rest of your gripes don’t bother me either, as there are easy solutions to each that you, who claims to fly often, should know. The only exception is the crew announcements which pause what you’re watching, but those are quick.
    I use wireless headphones, but you still have to plug a receiver into the IFE or a cord. Not a big deal…
    Bottom line is I don’t travel with a computer, ever, and would rather watch on a bigger screen than my phone. It’s as simple as that.

  15. @HueyHuey,

    I wouldn’t say it’s Trump-esque, but it’s definitely overly plain and lacking in any real creativity. Those thick, solid cheatlines are reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s. Reminds me of Alitalia (or BOAC or TWA), which I don’t think is particularly imaginative or creative for today’s market.

  16. Once Zip starts flying NRT-BKK, will JAL withdraw from the market, or will Zip be additional capacity in the market?

  17. @wpcoe Unlikely to withdraw. Japan is Thailand’s biggest investor and there is a lot of demand for premium cabins, not to mention strong bilateral tourism. NokScoot (another LCC) has recently increased capacity.

  18. Hi Lucky –

    I think a great article would be just how much little extra’s cost an airline per passenger. For example, how much would a TV with shows/movies cost? An airline meal? an additional flight attendant? A lounge? I wonder just how much these low cost airlines save.

  19. Without seat-back IFE, I wonder how a PAX is able to turn on a reading light or call a flight attendant? That is a very long reach up there to the PSU Panel.


Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *