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Friday, November 2, 2012

[Updated 3] JAL set launch date of the new SS7 cabin and uploads official seat map

JAL SS7 W83 configuration with the new long-haul products
JAL SS7 W83 configuration with the new long-haul products which has more economy seats than advertised. Image from Japan Airlines

[Update 3: JAL has published an updated version of the seat map which you can find in this post]
[Update2: Added explanation from JAL regarding why there are more seats than advertised on the W83 seat map]
[Update: JAL has removed the W83 configuration from their website but the picture is still available. And the booking engine still shows a seat map that matches the one announced earlier today. Did they take it down because of a mistake in the Economy cabin?]

Finally, Japan Airlines (JAL) has set the launch date for the new long-haul Boeing 777-300ER cabins, SKY SUITE 777 (SS7). JAL will first roll out the new SS7 on Tokyo Narita (NRT) - London Heathrow (LHR) route from January 9 2013. But initially it will only be available on odd numbered days in January and even number days in February as JAL will only have one retrofitted SS7 in January. By late February, JAL will have retrofitted 2 SS7s and it will be available on the LHR route on a daily basis.

Passengers can now go to JAL website and select their preferred seats on the new SS7 flights. JAL has unveiled the SS7 seat map today. Below are the highlights of the noticeable changes.


JAL W82 configuration with the current generation long-haul products (NEO seats).
JAL W82 configuration with the current generation long-haul products (NEO seats). Image from Japan Airlines

JAL W73 configuration with the previous generation long-haul products (Solo seats)
JAL W73 configuration with the previous generation long-haul products (Solo seats). Image from Japan Airlines

First Class
Compared to the current generation W82 configuration with JAL Suite 1.0, JAL will continue install 2 lavatories in First Class, that's 1 more than the previous generation of First Class configuration W73 with Solo seats. However the location of the lavatories have changed slightly. Instead of installing the second lavatory next to the galley on the right hand side of the cabin, JAL has moved that to the middle of the plane closer to the cockpit. Now the two lavatories will be closer to each other. Hopefully the size will be bigger too because the current lavatory on the right hand side is too small if you want to change into your PJ but can't really tell from the seat maps. Other than that, not much noticeable changes in First Class as JAL Suite 2.0 is only an upgraded version of the current JAL Suite 1.0 with a more luxurious finishing touch.

Business Class
Gone is the second mini cabin near the back right in front of the Premium Economy cabin. So now there are only 1 mini cabin behind First Class and a main cabin with 6 rows of seats between L2 and L3. Glad that JAL has kept the mini cabin behind the First Class even though now it only has 1 instead of 2 rows of seat. They could have gone for something similar to W73 configuration and put the galley there instead but they chose not to! Now row 5 is definitely the best business class seat with only 7 passengers occupying that area (yea even less than the number of seats in First Class LOL). 

So what does JAL do with the extra space behind row 5? Looks like JAL has moved the Sky Gallery and the self-served bar forward. Also due to the reduction of capacity, JAL has reduced the galley space in thew new Business Class cabin. Now only one galley left behind L2. Also reduced is the number of lavatories. Now 49 Business Class passengers have to share 2 lavatories instead of 77 for 4 in W82 and 63 for 2 in W73. So a downgrade from the current generation but an upgrade from the old Shell Flat configuration.

Premium Economy Class
The new Premium Economy Class will have 5 rows of seats in it, a slight reduction from the previous generations. But now there are 4 exit row seats in Premium Economy because the old Business Class mini cabin is gone!!! The 2 lavatories have moved to the middle and baby basinet seats have reduced to 4 because of the new exit row seats. 

The new exit row seats are definitely good news. Now it has solved my dilemma of whether I should pick the exit row in Economy or a Premium Economy seat. I can simply enjoy both by selecting the exit row in Premium Economy Class (assuming I can select it in advance).

Economy Class
Economy Class capacity has increased. Basically JAL chooses to install more Economy Class seats and get rid of the old Business Class mini cabin. 2 extra lavatories have been installed behind row 27 to accommodate the extra passengers. Also in the main Economy cabin, there is 1 less row installed because of the increased legroom. Other than that not much has changed. 

However, bobbybrown from FlyerTalk pointed out that there are a total of 143 Economy seats on the seat map instead of the advertised 135 seats. In the Japanese version of the SS7 site, JAL puts a remark next to 135 explaining that's the number of seats sold on an international flight. So not sure if that means some of the seats aren't sold or there's a mistake on the seat map itself. I have contacted JAL and hopefully will get a reply from them soon. According to JAL, there are 8 seats at the back of the cabin that temporarily have 31" of pitch instead of the advertised 33"-34". Therefore JAL has decided not to sell those seats on an international flight because the key features of this new long haul seat are wider seat width and seat pitch. I have no idea why JAL said temporarily in the response, maybe it has plan to fix it in the future? But I assume when the plane is used on domestic flight, those seats will be sold and we all know which seats to avoid in this case. JAL didn't specify which these 8 seats are but there are no obvious grouping of 8 seats...so my guess is 26ACHK and 56ACHK?

For more details on different configurations, you can refer to JAL website (Japanese, English)

Also JAL has finally created a real English version of their Sky Suite and SS7 special site which you can check out here. For details of the roll out, you can refer to the JAL Press Release (Japanese, English). And for behind the scene look at how JAL designed the new seats, you can refer to this post.

4 comments:

  1. Is it THAT hard for JL to adopt business class seat product like CX or LX? Individual aisle access is quite important for traveling solo.

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  2. No but the new Sky Suite already gives direct aisle access to all travelers so no need to adopt CX layout to provide an inferior non-rectangular product

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  3. @JALPak
    I see. Hopefully JL can deploy this product on the 787.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, they will retrofit the 787 with Sky Suite in the near future

    ReplyDelete