Japan Airlines (JAL) announced last weekÂ that its newly-revampedÂ Boeing 777-200ERs (772s) dubbed “JAL SKY SUITE 777” or “SS2” will debut on June 18 fromÂ 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 catchingÂ 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 premiumÂ seating is all the rage nowadays, JAL manages to remember the little people, and the economy cabin steals the spotlight…
At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with LAWA Director Deborah Flint, His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, and Qatar’s VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein (L-R) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Qatar Airways held a press conferenceÂ on TuesdayÂ to highlight the carrier’sÂ entry into the Los Angeles market, with His Excellency, Qatar Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, providing his insights into the new service, as well has having some choice words regarding what he views as an unwarranted attack on his airline by the three big US-based carriers. AirlineReporter was on hand to live-tweet the event, and Al Baker did not disappoint.
A brand new 787-9, my ride to Santiago, Chile – Photo: Ben Granucci | AirlineReporter
I recently made a trip to Santiago to cover the opening of LAN’s new VIP Lounge. I was pretty excited since this gave me a few firsts. This was the first time that I was invited to doÂ an international trip as media and myÂ first time in South America. This was also going to be my first trip on a 787 of any variant. While the Santiago to JFK route was normally flown by a 787-8 at that time, the night before my flight I discovered that a brand new 787-9 had been swapped in. I was beyond excited!
The bulkhead row of seats on LAN’s 787-9 – Photo: Ben Granucci | AirlineReporter
Although I would say that I had a better than average international economy experience, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t encounter some challenges. Some were things that happen just because the complexities of running an airline, but others I think could be updated to improve the overall economy passenger experience.
Not every airline, nor every customer, is wanting to try to go bigger and better, like Singapore’s new Business Class.
I recently ranted about how peopleÂ get what they pay forÂ when it comes to air travel, but I feel that I have a few more things to say. I have come realize that there is downgrading trend going on in the industry that needs to change. Let me explain.
What if you get to a situation where increasing volumetric efficiency becomes done for reasons other than combating cost? After all, a business is in business in order toÂ make a profit. It’d be irresponsible to not seek greater margins,Â right? Especially when passengersÂ are alreadyÂ preparedÂ to accept pain in economy class.
What’s sparked my continued rant is that I am starting to worry that European-style business class may be gettingÂ a foothold in North America.