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Friday, June 12, 2009

Economy class ticket Business class seat?

Wouldn't it be nice if you can pay for an economy class ticket and get a business class seat? How about getting that on a transpacific long-haul flight? Nope, this is not an op-up nor an upgrade. Japan Airlines is using part of the business cabin as Economy one on some flights.

Perhaps this is not something new. I know JAL has been doing this one some flights, e.g. the HND-HKG charter flight. Most of them has a low demand on J seats. But this time JAL is doing it on LAX-NRT flights! Has business class demand fallen this low? I noticed this when I was helping out a fellow FTer to check out the seat availability on JL061. To my surprise, I saw row 26-31 on the Y seat map! I immediately recognize them as Shell Flat seats. A few of those seats are taken already (probably by elites).

Y class seat map of JL061 on June 24 2009 (row 60-67 are not shown):



This is actually a smart way to sell more or overbook Y seats. If JAL oversells the Y cabin, they would have to upgrade someone from Y to J class, and provide business amenity and meals to those op-up passengers. However, by assigning part of the J cabin to Y, they will provide the same Y class in-flight service and therefore less costly to JAL. Of course, they wouldn't be able to do this when the J class are in high demand.

I am not sure if you will be able to get the business class seats if you are not elite members. But I wouldn't be surprised if JAL will sell every seat they can, which means someone has to fill those seats :) The two flights with J seats in Y cabins are JL061 on June 23 and 24, and July 3. Too bad my flight in July still has the normal configuration...and I could have flown on July 3 flight :(


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