|JAL Business Class passengers will be able to view and order dishes from their touch-screen controller. Image by Japan Airlines|
Japan Airlines (JAL) has recently started rolling out its state-of-art long-haul products dubbed SKY SUITE 777 (SS7) to its entire Boeing 777-300ER fleet. The goal is to create a JAL "New Sky" experience with fresh products and services. One of the most drastic changes is using the B/E Aerospace's Super First Class seats in its Business Class cabin to provide a comfortable personal space for the valued customers. Today, JAL steps up its game once again by announcing yet another inflight enhancement for its SS7 Business Class passengers. With the latest inflight entertainment system (IFE) update, Business Class passengers will be able to browse through the "Anytime You Wish" a la carte menu as well as the inflight duty free shopping menu using the touch-screen LCD controller. They will also be able to place an order using the same controller as well.
JAL will first roll out this enhanced inflight service on the Tokyo Narita (NRT) - London Heathrow (LHR) route, which is currently the only SS7 route, on April 15 2013. JAL plans to progressively roll out this service to other European and North American routes when SS7 is finally rolled out to those routes. This means New York JFK should be getting this enhanced service on alternate days from May 7 2013 and daily from May 29 2013. If the leaked info is correct, this will be followed by Paris CDG in July, Los Angeles (LAX) in November and Chicago (ORD) in January.
For Premium Economy and Economy Class passengers, they will be able to browse the inflight duty-free shopping catalog in their IFE screen as well. However, they won't be able to place the order through the IFE system. They would have to use the call button to notify the cabin attendant just like they do today.
Strangely First Class passengers are completely left out in this announcement. I guess they will continue to use the call button for the meal and duty-free orders. Or since the cabin attendants are well trained to know when you would want to order something and come offer you, I guess they won't be needing this enhanced service LOL. But still strange for me if they can't at least view the menu and catalog in their IFE screen.
Allowing passengers to browse through menu and catalog, and place orders via the IFE isn't a ground-breaking new service. However, when All Nippon Airways (ANA) tried to roll out the IFE meal ordering service to its Inspiration of Japan 777-300ER fleet, they experienced some difficulties and therefore had to "temporarily" suspend the service. I haven't flown on ANA (surprise surprise :P) so not sure if it has resumed this service or not, but the link to the temporary suspension notice is still on its website. So hopefully JAL will have a much smoother rollout than its main domestic rival and show them how this should be done :P
For more details regarding this enhanced inflight service, you can refer to JAL Press Release (Japanese, English)