Whine Wednesday: Very Tight Regional Configurations On Japan Airlines Economy Class


Our Whine Wednesday topic this week is about Japan Airlines (and other airlines in a wider sense) that have a regionally configured aircraft where flying in Economy Class can be very uncomfortable due to lack of legroom.

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Japan Airlines just like many other carriers has different configurations for the same aircraft type and for regional flights within Asia they often use their high density Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner which I encountered a couple weeks ago in Economy Class.

Flying Japan Airlines Economy Class one should note that it’s always the best to get the bulkhead or an Exit Row but of course that’s not always available. I had good experience in the past even with regular window or aisle seats on JAL so when selecting my seat on Bangkok-Tokyo I picked the last available window seat in row 19, the second row of Economy Class – a big mistake as I learned.

I never had this problem flying Japan Airlines on a long haul flight such as Tokyo-Los Angeles or Tokyo-Frankfurt but these tightly configured aircraft are really difficult and not just because I’m 1.84m tall.

Let’s have a look at two of JAL’s B787-800 configurations.

This was my 787-8 from Bangkok to Tokyo-Narita:

In contrast this is also one of their 787-800 with the new Business Class and a much less dense Economy configuration:

The Economy Class configuration is 2-4-2 throughout the 787 fleet but the seat pitch is different depending on the respective aircraft type and it pays off to have a close look at your seat when flying JAL.

Thankfully the crew was able to change my seat to row 46D (Bulkhead Aisle) upon request otherwise the 5:30h flight would have been anything but comfortable.

Service on Japan Airlines is usually quite good and in this case it was really my fault for not doing proper seat research in advance. I couldn’t believe it would be this uncomfortable in a standard window seat.


Many carriers try to squeeze as many passengers as possible into the aircraft when flying on regional routes, some of which can be up to 7 hours in flight duration. After making this mistake I will pay closer attention to the seat maps and aircraft type in the future, even though with JAL you really have a task on hand with that. They have 787-800 and 787-900 each of which has 3 different configurations.

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