SEATTLE-TACOMA – On March 31, Japan Airlines returned to the Pacific Northwest relaunching flights between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Tokyo Narita International Airport for the first time in 26 years with the airline’s flagship Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

“We are pleased to launch daily Seattle – Narita service, together with American Airlines, which will offer customers a new choice for travel to destinations throughout Japan and Asia on JAL’s network,” said Hideki Kikuyama, Senior Managing Executive Officer, Managing Division Route Marketing for Japan Airlines.

“Customers can experience the comfort of our JAL SKY SUITE 787 aircraft featuring our latest seats and inflight services, and they can also enjoy the benefits from our regional partnership with Alaska Airlines”, he added.

The latest route is a joint business service with fellow Oneworld alliance member American Airlines, and further strengthens the two airlines combined transpacific operations.

“Tokyo is one of the world’s most important business and leisure destinations and our customers value the new nonstop flight from Seattle,” said Joe Mohan, American’s Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships. “This route is another example of the strength of American and JAL’s joint business across the Pacific that provides the seamless travel experience that our customers in both markets prefer.”

Japan Airlines and Alaska Airlines have also enhanced their partnership and codeshare access to over 55 routes through Seattle, adding 19 new destinations to JAL’s network.

“Our Global Partners, including Japan Airlines, are connecting Seattle to the world, with a combined 80+ flights every week by the end of this summer. Over half of our international connections are with our Asian partners, and Japan Airlines’ new nonstop service from Seattle to Tokyo means Asia is even more within reach,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines president and chief operating officer.

“Our guests can look forward to an authentic taste of Japan as soon as they step on the plane, while earning and redeeming their hard-earned miles”, he added.

Representatives from both Alaska Airlines and American Airlines were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“The growth of the greater Seattle metropolitan community is spurring unprecedented demand for business travel and leisure tourism,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman.

“Puget Sound’s diverse economy and inclusive culture make us a natural point for Asia, and we are delighted to help local businesses and individuals seize these opportunities to expand their horizons”, she added.

With the relaunch of service, SeaTac becomes Japan Airlines 11th US destination offering daily flights between the two cities, previously they offered flights on the route in 1983 until 1992.

The carrier is the first of three new airlines launching routes into SeaTac in 2019 and the eight international carrier to launch service since 2017.

“Our new Seattle service perfectly complements JAL’s global network and increases our West Coast reach to six routes daily,” said Kikuyama,

“Seattle business and leisure travel demand to Asia continues to grow and we look forward to offering more travellers JAL’s five-star service and unique approach to hospitality”, he continued.

Japan Airlines 68 departs from Narita at 1805 local time and lands in Seattle at 1105 local time.

The return flight, Japan Airlines will depart SeaTac at 1415 local time and land in Tokyo the following day at 16:25 local time.  

The airline’s plan is to use the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on its new route which features 186 seats in a two-class configuration of JAL Sky Suite which is the airlines business class product and features 30 of these seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.

In the back part of the airplane features the JAL Sky Wider economy class in a 2-4-2 configuration. The seat is approximately 17.5 inches wide while offering 31 inches of seat pitch. WiFi is also offered on all 787 flights for a fee.

Japan Airlines becomes the third airline to fly the Seattle to Narita route along with All Nippon Airways who also uses a 787-8 on the route currently but swaps between both the -8 and -9 frequently.

The third airline to operate on the route is Delta Air Lines who earlier in the month launched its newest flagship, the Airbus A350-900 on March 1st to replace its Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 767-300 that often operated the flights on the route ahead of Japan Airlines launch.

By operating the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft on the route, Japan Airlines becomes the fifth airline to offer regular service with one of the most environmentally friendly and quietest aircraft currently in service into SeaTac Airport. The others being All Nippon Airways, Hainan Airlines, Norwegian Air and Virgin Atlantic of course.

It will be interesting to see how the route will fare and whether the competitiveness of the market will affect Japan Airlines or not. Only time will tell for sure.