On domestic flights around Japan, JAL offers three classes of service – economy class, Class J, and first class.
Unlike first class, Class J offers no differentiated service compared to economy class. That said, it does offer a considerably larger seat which can be valuable if you want to get some work done on your flight or simply have more space to relax. Not only that but it is also very reasonably priced.
Continue reading to learn all you need to know about JAL’s Class J including how much it costs, which aircraft and routes it is available on, and what you can expect in terms of service and comfort.
How Much Does JAL Class J Cost?
If you want to fly in Class J on JAL, you have two options: booking your flight in Class J from the get-go or upgrading on the day of your departure, subject to availability. The latter option is available from 3 hours until 20 minutes before your flight’s departure.
Same-day upgrade pricing for changing a ticket from economy class to Class J is fixed. The extra amount you will have to pay on top of economy class fare when booking Class J in advance varies. That said, it starts at the same amount as the same-day upgrade fees.
Until the end of March 2022, same-day upgrades from economy class to Class J cost just 1,000 yen regardless of the route. This presented great value even on JAL’s shortest routes and an amazing value on longer flights like Tokyo to Sapporo or Naha.
Currently, same-day upgrades to Class J cost either 1,100 yen (approx. 8 dollars), 2,200 yen (approx. 16 dollars), or 3,300 yen (approx. 24 dollars) depending on the route. Even at these prices, Class J still offers great value.
For 1,100 yen you can upgrade to Class J on the following routes:
- Amami: Tokunoshima
- Fukuoka: Amami, Izumo, Kagoshima, Kochi, Matsuyama, Miyazaki, and Tokushima
- Izumo: Oki
- Kagoshima: Amami, Tanegashima, Tokunoshima
- Naha: Ishigaki, Kumejima, Miyako
- Osaka: Fukuoka, Izumo, Kagoshima, and Kumamoto, Matsumoto, Matsuyama, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Niigata, Oita, Oki
- Sapporo: Akita, Aomori, Hanamaki, Memambetsu, and Sendai
- Tokyo: Yamagata, Nagoya, and Komatsu
For 3,300 yen, you can upgrade to Class J on some of JAL’s longest domestic flights (mainly including travel to/from Okinawa):
- Fukuoka: Sapporo
- Nagoya: Ishigaki, Miyako, Naha
- Naha: Komatsu
- Tokyo: Naha, Kumejima, Miyako, Ishigaki
On all other routes, you can upgrade to Class J for 2,200 yen.
Which JAL Aircraft Have Class J Seats?
JAL’s entire domestic mainline fleet is equipped with Class J seats. Japan TransOcean Air’s Boeing 737-800s (the airline’s sole aircraft type) and J-Air’s Embraer E190s offer Class J too.
On all of the aircraft types where Class J is available except for Boeing 787-8, it offers one less seat per row than economy class. On the 787-8, Class J has two fewer seats per row than economy class. Arguably, Class J on J-Air’s E190 is the most comfortable as it is in a 1-2 configuration meaning the “A” seats have access to both a window and the aisle.
While on widebody aircraft, Class J is a separate cabin separated from economy class (and first class) by walls, on single-aisle aircraft it consists of larger seats in a cabin shared with economy class.
Below is a list of all the aircraft types in JAL Group’s fleet that feature Class J:
- Airbus A350-900 (391-seat configuration): 56 seats in a 2-4-2 layout (as opposed to 3-3-3 in economy class)
- Airbus A350-900 (369-seat configuration): 94 seats in a 2-4-2 layout (as opposed to 3-3-3 in economy class)
- Boeing 737-800 (including JTA aircraft): 20 seats in a 2-3 layout (as opposed to 3-3 in economy class)
- Boeing 767-300ER: 42 seats in a 2-2-2 layout (as opposed to 2-3-2 in economy class)
- Boeing 787-8: 58 seats in a 2-3-2 layout (as opposed to 3-3-3 in economy class)
- Embraer E190 (operated by J-Air): 15 seats in a 1-2 layout (as opposed to 2-2 in economy class)
On flights where JAL uses aircraft in an international configuration on domestic flights, international business class seats (and occasionally even first class seats if the 777-300ER is used) are offered as Class J seats.
Aircraft in JAL Group’s fleet that do not offer Class J are Japan Air Commuter’s and Hokkaido Air Commuter’s ATR 42s and 72s, Ryukyu Air Commuter’s Bombardier Dash 8 Q400CCs, and J-Air’s Embraer E170s.
What Is JAL Class J Service Like?
While Class J seats are considerably better than regular economy class seats, the rest of the service – both on the ground and in the air – is less differentiated. In fact, while in the past there used to be some differentiation, now there is none at all.
Lounge, Ground Service & Baggage Allowance
JAL’s domestic Class J tickets do not offer lounge access as part of the fare.
That said, there are multiple other ways in which you can enter the airline’s lounges before your Class J flight as per JAL’s regular lounge access policy. Those include:
- Being a oneworld Sapphire or Emerald member; the former can access JAL Sakura Lounges and “shared lounges” while the latter can also access JAL Diamond Premier Lounges
- Paying for access (only available at select major airports)
- Connecting to/from international business or first class on the same day/by 6AM the next morning
Alternatively, at some airports in Japan like Tokyo Haneda, Osaka Kansai, and Nagoya Chubu, some lounges (albeit not JAL Lounges) accept Priority Pass and similar memberships.
As with lounge access, Class J passengers do not receive any other special ground service on top of what economy class passengers receive. They cannot use priority check-in desks or security lanes, do not get to enjoy priority boarding, and their luggage doesn’t get handled with priority.
Class J passengers get the same baggage allowance as economy class passengers.
In-Flight Wi-Fi, Entertainment & Charging
All JAL’s aircraft that feature Class J are also equipped with free onboard wi-fi. Additionally, A350-900s and 787-8s are equipped with personal in-flight entertainment screens. That said, the selection of content is quite limited, especially if you do not speak Japanese.
In terms of keeping personal electronic devices charged, Class J on A350-900s and 787-8s offers both universal power outlets and UBS charging ports. On E190s, only universal power outlets are available. On 737-800s and 767-300ERs, only USB charging ports are available.
Until March 2011, Class J passengers were served both packaged snacks and drinks. Now, only drinks are offered.
Unfortunately, the drink service saw a slight downgrade at the end of March 2023 too. Until then, there used to be one extra “Class J special” drink type on top of the regular economy class selection. The drink, most recently vegetable juice, changed every now and then.
Currently, the drink selection in both economy class and Class J is the same. Hot drinks offered include coffee, green tea, and consomme soup. Cold drinks include water, green tea, Coca-Cola, Minute Maid 100% apple juice, and JAL’s original Skytime drink. The flavor of Skytime changes from time to time; now the drink’s flavor is peach and grape.
Is JAL Class J Worth It?
Back when upgrades to Class J on all routes were just 1,000 yen, it was absolutely worth it trying to upgrade on the day of your departure regardless of the route you were flying on. While the price has increased since then, I still think in most cases, paying the same-day upgrade fee is worth it if there is availability.
The service you will receive will be the same as when flying in economy class. Class J passengers get no priority check-in, boarding, or similar. They do not get lounge access either.
However, the extra space you will have will be more than worth the upgrade cost. Especially so if your flight is longer than an hour and happens to be relatively full.