Japan Airlines (JAL) announced last week that its newly-revamped Boeing 777-200ERs (772s) dubbed “JAL SKY SUITE 777” or “SS2” will debut on June 18 from Tokyo Haneda (HND) to Bangkok (BKK). Designated for regional flying, the SS2 will feature now-industry standard lie-flat seating in business class, a roomy premium economy section, and best-in-class nine-abreast seating in economy, going against the grain during a time when virtually every new refurbishment of 777s calls for ten-abreast seating.
An illustration of the new economy seating configuration on JAL’s “SS2” Boeing 777-200ER – Image: Japan Airlines
What’s even more eye catching is JAL’s choice to go with an asymmetric 3-4-2 arrangement, while every other carrier uses 3-3-3 (well, when they do have nine across on their older planes). Where new premium seating is all the rage nowadays, JAL manages to remember the little people, and the economy cabin steals the spotlight…
Airline: Thai Airways International
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Departed: Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Arrived: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK)
Class: First Class
Seats: 1E & 1F
Length: About 6 hours
My wife and I recently embarked on a major bucket list trip to Thailand. Since this was a rare sans-toddler trip, we decided to go all-out and burn pretty much all the miles and points we could get our hands on to fly some premium cabins. We were fortunate enough to be able to scrape together just enough points (mostly thanks to being new homeowners) to fly to Bangkok in first class. Our final leg of the inbound journey was on a Thai Airways A380 from Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK).
Thai Airways’ A380 Royal First Class cabin – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter
We arrived at Tokyo Narita on ANA’s new Houston to Tokyo service in first class which, in and of itself, was an amazing experience. Our layover at Narita was about three hours long, during which time we availed ourselves of ANA’s First Class suite lounge.
BONUS: Flight Review: ANA First Class Houston to Tokyo on a 777-300ER
Shortly after taking our seats in the lounge, a representative from Thai Airways found us, introduced herself, and asked if we needed anything. We asked if she could look into the status of our checked bags, as we’d had a little bit of difficulty getting them checked all the way through to Bangkok. She left with our passports, boarding passes, and bag claim tickets. When she returned she had new boarding passes printed on Thai stock and she informed us that they had located our bags and they were all set to be loaded on the aircraft. She also informed us that due to a late inbound aircraft, the flight would be about fifteen minutes late, and she would get us when it was time to board. No problem, I needed a shower anyway. Is there any greater feeling than showering in the lounge between long-haul flights?
Qatar First Class product on the A380. For our flight, there were no First Class passengers.
The more that I fly the Airbus A380, the more I like the aircraft — as a passenger, but I am not so sure as an AvGeek. It is so smooth during take-off and landing, one might not even realize that they happened. Turbulence is mostly absorbed by the jumbo jet, making the flight smooth. The windows and walls are so thick, the aircraft stays quiet and passengers are removed from the flying experience.
As an AvGeek, these are some of the reasons why I am not a huge fan of the A380. I want to feel the take-off, I enjoy a little turbulence, and I want to stay connected to the entire flight experience. But this doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy an A380 flight, especially when it is on a Qatar Airways aircraft with an impressive on-board product.
Recently, I was invited to participate in the inaugural Qatar A380 flight from Bangkok to Doha, and who am I to refuse? Overall, it was an amazing flight, but I wished it was a bit longer — it was only about six hours.
One of the biggest disappointments I had regarding the flight was not being able to get an exterior shot of the A380. And believe it or not, that was partially due to both Bangkok and Doha airports being designed where photos are hard to get, and also because of the King of Thailand.