Which is Better, JAL Sky Suite III on the 787-9 or the original JAL Sky Suite on the 777-300ER? The general trend since British Airways' 2000 debut of the first flat bed business class seat has been for airlines' international business class seats to get better, with aisle access for each seat, and more private, with closing suite doors in Qatar Qsuites Business Class, Delta One Suites, JetBlue Mint as well as new Air France 777-300s.
Similar Width, Longer Bed on Sky Suite III, Bigger IFE Screen on 777-300ER
The seats are similar in width (measured as the distance between the armrests): 20.5 inches (52 cm) for the original Sky Suite on the 777-300ER, and 20.1 inches (51 cm) for the Sky Suite III. The Sky Suite III as a bed, however, is longer, at 78 inches (198 cm) vs. 74 inches (188 cm) for the original Sky Suite. The original Sky Suite on the 77-300ER, however, has a bigger monitor: 23 inches vs. the 17 inch monitor on the Sky Suite III on the 787-9. To be fair, the 787-9 monitor is closer to the seat.
Better Privacy on the 777-300ER Sky Suite
As soon as I boarded the 787-9, I felt a pang of disappointment. Sure, it's convenient and standard to install a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 seat configuration with direct aisle access for each seat, but a step backwards in privacy, since aisle access without a door means every seat is more exposed to aisle traffic.
In sharp contrast, the 777-300ER Sky Suite, especially the window seat (A or K), has such a great sense of privacy even without a suite door, even more privacy than most business class seats that do have a door thanks to it being one seat removed from the aisle. The same is true of the middle (E) seats, although of course they lack the wonderful three windows you get with the window seats. That's why the original JAL Sky Suite on the 777-300ER remains my favorite business class seat, ahead of Qatar Qsuites and other business class seats with closing doors.
Seat Comfort, Airweave Mattress Pads, Pillows
On transcontinental routes, JAL provides an airweave mattress pad and airweave pillow for its Sky Suites, both the original on the 777-300ER and the Sky Suite III on the 787-9. The airweave mattress pad seems to be similar on both, but I found the Sky Suite III bed on the 787-9 significantly harder and less comfortable than the one on the 777-300ER, even with the airweave mattress and using the duvet on top of it, so I wonder if seat padding has been reduced.
Given the choice, we'd always select the original JAL Sky Suite on the 777-300ER, particularly the window seat, over JAL's Sky Suite III on the 787-9. The original Sky Suite, especially the window one, is like first class in terms of privacy, while JAL's Sky Suite III is just another reverse herringbone seat: good but very standard, with minimal privacy. The Sky Suite III also seems like a harder, less comfortable seat than the original, even with the airweave mattress pad, and at least on our most recent flight, food ordering via the IFE didn't work and neither did in-flight WiFi.
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