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Japan Airlines unveils new First and Business class cabins, bookable soon with Avios

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2022 and 2023 have seen a huge number of new aircraft cabins launched. It started with Finnair in early 2022 with its revolutionary ‘no-recline’ seat. Iberia followed, as did Air France, Qantas, Lufthansa, Etihad, American Airlines …. the list goes on. Cathay Pacific is due to follow in the coming weeks.

Japan Airlines, which has been teasing its new cabins for some time, is now ready to lift the veil. And unlike some of the airlines above (*cough* Lufthansa *cough*) these will be launching by the end of the year.

Japan Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, which means you’ll be able to redeem Avios for these cabins via the British Airways, Qatar Airways or Iberia programmes.

Japan Airlines new A350

Japan Airlines’ new flagship aircraft

The reason for the season, as they say, is the arrival of Japan Airlines’ first A350-1000 aircraft which will form the backbone of its flagship international fleet going forward.

JAL has 13 of these on order, which will replace the existing 15-year-old fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs.

The A350s should introduce significant fuel savings on long routes thanks to the lighter, carbon-fibre construction of the aircraft as well as the improved Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines. JAL will also benefit from commonality with its existing A350-900 fleet, which operate on high-capacity domestic routes.

There are also improvements in onboard comfort. The A350 features one of the quietest cabins in the sky, beaten only (I think) by the A380. It also has a lower cabin altitude, which reduces the effects of jet lag, and there are bigger windows.

The Japan Airlines A350-1000 layout

JAL will be operating its A350s in a very premium-heavy configuration. In total, there will be 239 seats comprising:

  • 6 first class suites
  • 54 business class suites
  • 24 premium economy seats
  • 155 economy seats

This is very similar to Qantas’ Project Sunrise A350-1000s, another exceptionally premium-heavy aircraft. For comparison, BA’s A350s have a capacity of 331 passengers, albeit with no first class.

The good news is that all cabins are getting brand new seats.

First Class on JAL’s A350-1000s

JAL will reduce its first class cabin from eight to six seats as it moves from a 1-2-1 layout to a 1-1-1 layout.

Each seat is a fully enclosed suite with 157cm/62″ wall height and a closing door:

Japan Airlines new A350 first class seat

As you can see, it looks incredibly spacious with a seat width of 123cm (48″) and a seat pitch of 211cm (83″). The maximimum bed length is slightly less than that, at 203cm/80″.

The seat is forward facing (no angle) and, intriguingly, features two movable parts that, at first glance, appear like a double seat pair. This allows the seat to operate in a number of functions, including sofa, single bed or double bed. I’m not quite sure how the double bed mode works given the large console table in front of the single seat bit.

Japan Airlines new A350 first class seat

According to Safran, the seat manufacturer, “The suite can accommodate up to three people in-flight with both the primary and side seat paired with the adjacent ottoman.”

Japan Airlines new A350 first class seat

Other features include a huge 43″ screen, wardrobe, ottoman and insulated drinks cooler, as well as wireless charging and, presumably, Bluetooth connectivity.

Japan Airlines new a350 first class seat

Both the first class and business class seats also feature a new technical innovation with the “Introduction of the world’s first headphone-free stereo with built-in headrest speakers, allowing customers to enjoy the inflight entertainment system without using headphones.”

Japan Airlines new first class a350 seat

This is based on Safran’s own Euphony technology, which allows it to “enables the system to adjust in real-time to the audio content and the ambient cabin noise to offer an optimum listening experience without affecting other passengers on board.”

Can it sufficiently cancel out ambient aircraft noise? How audible is it from outside the suite? Like Lufthansa’s new in-seat heating and cooling system, we’ll have to wait and see what this is like in person, but I’m intrigued. If it works well, it should allow more seamless communication with crew when watching content on the in-flight entertainment system.

Overall, it looks incredibly spacious and will go head-to-head with ANA’s own THE Room First Class, another super-wide first class product.

JAL’s new flagship business class seat

Behind first class, across 14 rows, you’ll find the business class cabin. These seats are like mini-versions of the first class seat. With 132cm (52″) high walls and doors, these seats aren’t quite as private as first but they’re not far off.

Japan Airlines new A350 business class seat

This is a staggered layout. All seats are fully forward facing in a 1-2-1 layout, but seats alternate between being aisle side or window side. This appears to be the Safran Unity seat unveiled last year; it seems JAL is the launch airline for this product, ahead of Qantas in 2025.

Japan Airlines new A350 business class seat

Seat pitch is 130cm (51″) whilst the maximum bed length is just under two metres, at 198cm / 78″. There is a movable privacy partition for centre pairs as well as a wardrobe and storage space within the suite.

The seat features a 24″ screen as well as the same Euphony private headphone-free sound system found in first class.

Premium economy

Premium economy is also getting a makeover, with fixed-shell seats in a 2-4-2 configuration avoiding the endless discussion about the ethics of reclining!

Japan Airlines new A350 business class seat

It is also, apparently, the first premium economy seat to launch with electrically operated recline function, although that sounds like overkill to me!

Seat pitch is an excellent 107cm (42″), significantly better than the industry standard of 96cm (38″). The maximum seat width is 48cm or 19″. You also get some very large retractable privacy screens between seats:

Japan Airlines new A350 business class seat

Screens are 16″.


The remaining seats – all 155 of them – are in economy in a typical 3-3-3 layout.

These sport a typical 84-86cm (33-34″) of pitch as well as a 46cm wide seat (18″) .

JAL has selected a 13″ 4K screen, which is, allegedly, industry leading.


Bar the economy cabin, JAL has opted for a full Safran makeover, with the first class seats even being manufactured in the UK.

Safran hasn’t always had the best reputation, particularly around build quality. You may remember some of the issues surrounding Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class seat on the A350s, which were a bit of a maintenance headache when they were first launched.

Hopefully Safran has learned from that experience and improved its latest generation seats. Certainly from a hard product perspective, these look impressive; spacious and fitted with the latest technology, with ground-breaking headphone free audio in first and business class as well as 4K screens and wireless technology throughout.

From a design perspective, this isn’t quite the slam dunk I was expecting. It’s hard to tell from the renders, some of which vary wildly, but something feels off to me. Business class, in particular, feels a bit dated and reminds me of a Thai sleeper train I tried a few years ago. The combination of cool-grey trim and plasticky-looking burgundy seats doesn’t look great. Let’s see what they look like in person.

If you’re keen to try the new cabins, they will launch by the end of the year. The first route to see the A350-1000 will be New York; JAL weren’t able to confirm to me when it might reach the UK, although I imagine it will be sometime next year.


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In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

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There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

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You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

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Comments (53)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • BJ says:

    Any info on a leg rest in premium economy?

    • Richie says:

      Yes a leg rest that rises to a horizontal level.

    • Rhys says:

      Motorised, goes up to 90 degrees.

    • BJ says:

      Thanks both, very interesting and good to know. I think I’d consider PE adequate on daytime flight up to 7 or 8 hours if they all had leg rests and ok recline.

  • Peter W-G says:

    The high shot of Business Class has disturbing echoes of office cubicles for me; waiting for Dilbert to pop up!

  • mkcol says:

    Have they chopped the size of their premium economy cabin?

  • Novice says:

    Looks good and I agree with the comments that the PE seat looks the best PE I have ever seen. It’s probably as good as some old J seats because let’s not forget some airlines still have the 2-2-2 for business.

  • Brian says:

    OT:there’s an offer on my Amex Gold – spend £50 anywhere, get £10 back up to three times.

  • Will says:

    Are airlines missing a potential market by not offering something akin to a private cabin on a train?

    So a cabin with seating for say 2-6 people and maybe a couple of bunk style beds and more of a lounge set up?

    • ChrisBCN says:

      You would have to sell that on every flight that plane made… I doubt you could achieve that. It also sounds like you need more space than seats alone, so you would have to price that in too.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      You mean like Philippines Airlines 1980s First Class?

      Pics here:

      You could stay lying down for take-off and landings too!

    • Ollie says:

      Yes I do find it intriguing that, even on the highest class of travel on an aircraft, you’re sharing a “cabin” with 5-7 other people. Whereas on a cruise ship or a sleeper train, for much less you will get your own cabin, i.e. private room. In other words, even First Class on airlines is laid out like some of the cheapest accommodations on ships and trains!

  • Suzanne says:

    ANA’s the ROOM is not branded as first. It’s business. Their corresponding F product it’s called “the SUITE”

  • SammyJ says:

    It would be great if these suites that can seat 2-3 people could be shared between 2-3 people instead of needing one each. I’d be quite comfortable in one of those with my other half for the full flight if it was going to cost half as much, or just over!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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