Japan Airlines (JAL) will take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft on December 14, 2023. To mark this momentous occasion, AeroTime was present in Toulouse, France, where we had the opportunity to visit the Airbus facilities and get a firsthand look at the A350-1000 and its new cabin product.
JAL will deploy the aircraft on the Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) route starting January 24, 2024. The introduction of the A350 was initially slated for late November 2023, but unforeseen supply chain issues forced a delay.
The flight is currently operated by a Boeing 777-300 aircraft. The shift to the A350-1000 is part of JAL’s strategic plan to modernize its long-haul fleet and enhance overall operational efficiency. Japan Airlines has placed a firm order for a total of 13 A350-1000s.
The carrier plans to transition to daily operations once the second A350-1000 is delivered, a milestone anticipated before the end of March 2024.
This is also the first A350-1000 fitted with Airbus’ ‘New Cabin Standard’, which is four inches wider and 35 inches longer due to the optimization of the width of its fuselage walls.
In addition to the comfort benefits of the wider cabin, the extra space has also enabled the installation of a larger PRM (Person with Reduced Mobility)-compliant lavatory and a redesigned and more spacious forward and rear galleys and crew rest area.
Until now, the new cabin standard had been available only on A350-900 aircraft, the first one having been delivered to Iberia in December 2022. From December 2023 onwards, though, all A350-900 will come complete with the new standard, and from 2025 this will also be the case for all A350-1000s.
Japan Airlines has been working on its new cabin concept for the last five years in conjunction with UK-based design studio Tangerine. The design aims to reflect a Japanese aesthetic throughout, as well as to align with the cabin interior of JAL’s A350-900 fleet, which is deployed on domestic routes.
The A350-1000s ordered by JAL will feature a spacious cabin layout, accommodating a total of 239 passengers across four cabin classes. The seating configuration includes six seats in First Class, 54 seats in Business Class, 24 seats in Premium Economy, and 155 seats in Economy Class, ensuring a comfortable and versatile travel experience for passengers across the different cabin classes.
JAL expects the new First and Business Class suites in particular to set a new standard in the industry.
The First Class suites provide a high degree of privacy, with side walls 157m high and a very large personal space. The seat can be set in three positions: seated, single bed and double bed. It will also be possible for First Class passengers to receive up to two guests in the suite for meetings.
When it comes to Business Class, JAL has increased the number of seats by five, to a total of 54. The airline has opted for a design that maximizes privacy, with an enclosed personal space and high separation walls.
Both First and Business classes are fitted with some interesting innovations, such as an audio system that is embedded in the seat’s headrest, doing away with the need to use headphones (although these will remain available in case passengers prefer to use them). In addition, they boast a special cushion that disperses body weight for a more comfortable rest.
In Premium Economy, JAL has reduced the number of seats and added large separation panels between them in order to upgrade the passenger experience. In a first for a premium economy product, seats have also been fitted with an electronically controlled recline system.
“In our premium economy, passengers will be able to enjoy a degree of comfort similar to that provided by earlier generations of business class products,” explained a representative of Japan Airlines during a media conference held at Airbus HQ prior to the A350-1000 delivery.
To showcase the interior of the A350-1000, AeroTime has curated an exclusive picture gallery of the premium cabins, seating arrangements, and the overall ambiance passengers can expect when flying with Japan Airlines on this route.