Japan Airlines’ new A350-1000 flagship aircraft has an exciting overhaul, but the most important might be a unique feature in Premium Economy.
A350-1000: Japan Airlines New Flagship Aircraft
Japan Airlines is overhauling its fleet with the new flagship moving from the Boeing 777-300ER to the Airbus A350-1000. The headline announcement was that the JAL A350 offers private suites in First Class including a double bed and a reclining chair. The Business Class cabin has been renewed as well. Each business class suite will feature a sliding door for added privacy in what has become the international standard with a private wardrobe with storage space for luggage, a large entertainment system, and converts into a single bed, fully flat.
Premium Economy Leg Support
For some reason, unknown to me, it seems that Japan Airlines is downplaying what could easily be the most interesting and unique feature. It doesn’t include it in its pitch for the product segment on the website.
As you’ll notice in the linked page from Japan Airlines and the image above, the leg support appears to go 90° flat but does not offer support for the full leg. The buttons controlling the seat don’t demonstrate that the support extends beyond the knee.
In fact, I only saw it by re-watching the product rollout video on JAL’s Facebook page that it appears travelers will have a fully flat leg extension, though merely a deep recline on the back of the seat.
A Premium Economy Worth Getting Excited About
Japan Airlines Premium Economy passengers will be able to utilize 42 inches of pitch (distance from the front edge of the seat to the back of the seat in front of the passenger.) As king of the economy classes, it will also include a spacious tray table, a shell to ensure passengers are not affected by other passengers reclining their seats, and a hallmark of business class like upgraded catering and noise cancelling headphones.
I personally value rest on a long-haul flight that crosses several time zones. While many premium economy seats make sleeping akin a recliner, I find it difficult to sleep sitting up, even if reclined somewhat. But with my feet at a full 90° angle and a deep recline with 42″ pitch, I could probably make this work. That presents a great value, not necessarily with cash tickets as the savings for premium economy I haven’t found to be a marked difference from business class, but when using miles and points. I was able to find Premium Economy one-way awards from 45,000 American Airlines Advantage miles vs. 60,000 in Business Class.
More than simply the cost savings, assuming both options are available at saver-level prices, it’s the additional availability that may make Premium Economy a more viable option.
Additionally, purchasing day-of-departure upgrades at the gate (or check-in) could make a slight premium worthwhile.
It appears that Japan Airlines is burying the lede with its launch of the new A350-1000 flagship Premium Economy product. Is a bigger tray table and a 16″ 4k display important? It is, but getting 90° leg support and deep recline is a very attractive option. I will be more likely to look for the product on award flights at saver level but might be inclined to upgrade for a reasonable rate.
What do you think? Is this a Premium Economy product you’d consider?