Reader Choice – Flight to Japan – New JAL or ANA Business?

I have to be in Tokyo late next week and I’m debating between JAL’s new SKY SUITE and ANA’s Business “My Style, My Space” staggered product. Now, both business products actually have excellent inventory from the US over the new two weeks – checking both JFK and ORD:

JAL using BA’s website to check availability (KVS and the Qantas site can also be used): 4 seats in business and 3 in first from JFK and 4 in business and 4 in first from ORD on my date.

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ANA using United’s website – business availability from both JFK and ORD. For ORD, one flight a day is on the 777-200 instead of the 777-300ER, that flight won’t have the new business class so it’s a no-go.

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Things to consider:

  • With either option Chicago will probably be easiest for me as I’m currently in Topeka, KS.
  • JAL begins operation of their new Sky Suite product from Chicago on January 16th with EVERY OTHER DAY service (I could potentially fly on the 16th for the first updated equipment flight from ORD).
  • ANA has a 1-2-1 configuration while JAL has a 2-3-2 configuration…but that doesn’t mean as much as you think. Based on measurements alone, the JAL Sky Suite is actually more spacious and private. All seats still have aisle access and a larger than ANA TV at 23 inches.
  • In Chicago ANA makes use of the United Clubs and JAL uses AA’s Admiral Clubs.
  • JAL SKY SUITE was named “Best Business Class Airline Seat” at the SKYTRAX’s 2013 World Airline Awards.

JAL – Courtesy of Airlinetrends.com

Dubbed JAL SKY SUITE, the new seats will be the first time that JAL is installing full-flat beds in Business Class (even JAL’s new B787s still feature angled lie-flat seats). Says JAL’s VP Marketing Jun Kato, “We felt we were lagging behind other carriers where full-flat seats are standard.” According to JAL, it wants passengers to “experience comfort and privacy similar to First Class” with its new Business product and the airline is installing an adapted version of B/E Aerospace’s ‘Super First Class’ seat for its Sky Suite. A luxury version of this B/E Aerospace seat is used as First Class seat by several other airlines. Despite a 2-3-2 layout, a staggered configuration allows each passenger to have direct and unobstructed aisle access.

Cubicle culture
The 49 new SKY SUITES are extremely private, and are descibed by Australian Business Traveller as “ensconced in their own cubicles, going further down the privacy path than even Cathay Pacific’s business class design.” Whereas airlines such as Lufthansa have indicated that their passengers prefer an open, more social setting JAL’s new Business Class suites seem to have been strongly influenced by Japan’s culture of privacy.

JAL’s SKY SUITES also resemble British Airways’ Club World Business Class product, which are also in a 2-3-2 configuration and wich allows passengers “to enclose in their own personal space with a touch button privacy screen” (although BA’s seats have drawn criticism for feeling a bit cramped.)

Amenities
JAL’s new ‘Business cubicles’ sport a class-beating 23 inch monitor (the same as installed in First) with a touchscreen remote control, while the airline has collaborated with Weava Japan to create mattress pads (available upon request) that are made from very finely weaved fiber resin and provide support for the lower back. And, similar to ANA, JAL will fit TOTO washlets – electric toilet seats with a water spray feature – in the First and Business bathrooms.

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Check out the full details and a virtual tour of the JAL Sky Suite here.

ANA

In Business Class our seats recline to become fully flat, ensuring you get a good night’s sleep and bed pads are Nishikawa Sangyo’s Air Cyclone customized for the ANA BUSINESS STAGGERED seats. Turning over during sleep is easy due to the unique three-layer structure and moderate resistance. These bed pads also offer excellent breathability and comfort. And because the reverse side is skid resistant, they can also be used as seat cushions. The comforters are Bodyline Quilts that fit your body. We’ve also introduced structural pillows from Nishikawa Sangyo for a perfect fit from your neck to the back of your head. In Business Class, ANA will also offer an amenity kit containing amenities from L’OCCITANE.

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Check out the full details and a virtual tour of the staggered ANA My Style, My Space business seat here.

So what say you readers? Which would you choose? Unfortunately stopovers etc. won’t play a part in this decision as I need a direct flight. Better yet, if anyone has experienced both, which did you enjoy the best? I don’t think I can wrong with either product or the on-board service of the two carriers. I last flew JAL and ANA business in 2010. From purely a reader standpoint, there have been few if any new JAL reviews.

Comments

  1. Flew JAL’s sky suite several weeks ago. Felt that the space was somewhat restricted due to the width. Cannot comment on ANA as I have not flown on their business product.

  2. I’d much prefer if you fly the JAL one since it is a newer product and much less reviewed than ANA. But then again I say that for selfish reasons and not based on your comfort. ANA might be safer as the JAL one might get swapped out for the older version if something goes wrong.

  3. Having flown both the ANA 777-300 and JAL 787 last year, I suggest ANA. The ANA food ex-ORD was better than the JAL food ex-Tokyo. ANA’s Narita business lounges are much better than JAL’s. Importantly, I slept well and worked effectively in the ANA seat. While the JAL 787 is angled flat, I can’t picture how their sky suite would improve upon the 787 so much that it outweighs the advantages of ANA.

    • @JG – Thanks for the input. The 777-300ER seat is actually very different than the JAL 787 angled flat, it’s a completely new design and product so I would expect a significant improvement on the experience…I guess we’ll see as I’m leaning that way!

  4. You should go for JAL as they are less reviewed and their product seems to be a little bit superior than NH. I believe food should be better as well. Recently flew several times of NH between US and Japan and have to say the seat is comfortable but the food isn’t anywhere closed to be great. Their amenity is also very embarrassing in business class but I believe JAL won’t even give amenity kit。 JL just put everything in a basket. So both airlines sucks at this. On the contrary, United and Delta provide the best amenity kits between North America and Japan. So our carriers aren’t always the worst to be fair.

  5. How tall are you? I’m 6’2″ and found ANA’s fully reclined suite length to be somewhat insufficient. I’ve only flown on JAL old biz, so I can’t comment on the new product. Overall, I like JAL’s premium food selections more.

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