Japan Airlines Takes Its 50th Boeing 787

Japanese flag carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) celebrated the arrival of its 50th aircraft from the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ family earlier this week. The plane in question belonged to the mid-size 787-9 variant, and flew directly into Tokyo from Everett, Washington.

Japan Airlines Boeing 787-9
The 787-9 is the largest Dreamliner variant operated by JAL. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

A milestone delivery

Earlier this week, on April 22nd, JAL received its 50th Boeing 787 series aircraft. Registered as JA881J, the plane in question, a mid-size 787-9, flew overnight from Boeing’s facility in Everett, Washington (PAE). According to RadarBox.com, it arrived at Tokyo Narita (NRT) at 13:34 local time. This gave it a total flight duration of nine hours and 14 minutes, having departed Everett at 12:20 the previous day and crossed the International Date Line.

According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft made its first test flight from Everett just over six months ago. This maiden voyage took place on October 14th, 2020. The 787-9 is the largest Dreamliner variant that JAL operates, with the smaller 787-8 also present in its fleet. Interestingly enough, the carrier took to Twitter to state that April 22nd, the day of the delivery, was also the ninth anniversary of its first Dreamliner flight.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

JAL 787 Delivery Flight
The flight path of JA881J’s transpacific delivery journey. Image: RadarBox.com

As of November 2020, JAL’s 787 fleet was the third-largest in the world. It was just behind United, and its fellow Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) took the top spot. ANA was also the Dreamliner’s launch customer in 2011. Japan is a country that is heavily linked to the 787 program. After all, Boeing constructed the 747 ‘Dreamlifter’ to transport 787 wings from a factory in Japan to its US facilities.

Onboard JAL’s 787-9s

It is presently unclear as to what seating configuration JA881J will sport. However, data from SeatGuru shows that JAL has three different cabin setups for the 787-9. The lowest-capacity configuration that JAL offers on its mid-size Dreamliners seats 195 passengers. This consists of 116 economy seats, 35 premium economy recliners, and 44 business class suites.

The configuration with the next-highest capacity comes in with eight extra seats, holding a total of 203 passengers. The economy and premium economy totals remain the same, with the extra seats being found in the business class cabin. This premium area of the plane features a total of 52 flatbed seats, known as ‘Sky Suite III.’

Japan Airlines printed Timetable
JAL’s 787s boast roomier-than-average cabins, even in economy. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Finally, JAL also offers a more economy-focused configuration on its 787-9s, with a total capacity of 239 passengers. The majority of these are situated in its 190-seat economy class section, in front of which is an exclusive 21-seat premium economy cabin. The nose of the aircraft features 28 Sky Suite III business class flatbeds.

Generously spacious in all classes

In addition to its luxurious business class cabins, JAL also appears to offer more than most carriers in economy and premium economy. Indeed, its economy seats boast 32-33 inches of pitch, and clock in at either 18 or 18.9 inches wide.

It has branded these as ‘Sky Wider,’ and they allow for a 2-4-2 configuration, rather than the standard 3-3-3 setup found on most 787s. In a similar vein, its ‘Sky Premium’ premium economy seats have a spacious 42-inch seat pitch, and are either 19.2 or 19.3 inches wide. These roomy recliners are laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Have you ever flown on one of Japan Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliners? If so, how was it? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!