On a recent trip between Tokyo and the US west coast, I tried ZIPAIR for the first time. The airline is a low-cost carrier owned by Japan Airlines (JAL). However, what makes ZIPAIR extra interesting (compared to other LCCs) is that they offer premium seating options with full-flat “Business class” seats.

Be aware that ZIPAIR full-flat is really popular, so book your tickets in advance. On the NRT-SFO, most full-flat seats are sold out up to 2 months in advance!

Flight ZG26
Cabin Business
Equipment Boeing 787-8
Aircraft JA-827J
Flight Time 9h 10m


This is not a real Business class product like you’d expect on a full-service carrier. On ZIPAIR, you are only paying for the upgraded seat, and many of the things you’d usually take for granted are not included in a ZIPAIR ticket, such as seat selection, in-flight meal, checked baggage, or lounge access. Even pillows and blankets are not included, and the seat has no built-in IFE (more on later).

When booking your ticket with ZIPAIR, you have the flexibility to add on any extra services that suit your needs. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the service packages. I chose the Premium package (which was around US$100). This decision proved to be a good one, as the amenity set included a cozy blanket (which I kept as a souvenir) and a surprisingly comfortable inflatable pillow.

Given that ZIPAIR prices are much cheaper than the competition (in some cases half the price), it’s a great option if you just want a good night’s sleep on a red-eye or long-haul flight.


ZIPAIR check-in is available at T1 North Wing at Narita. The first step was to print my boarding pass in the automated machine. Then, the staff swiftly directed me to the Self Bag Drop area, which had a very short queue. Be sure to adhere to the bag count and weight limits since all bags were thoroughly checked before entering the bag drop area. Once at the front, checking in my bag was an easy and efficient.

Security and immigration were, as usual, very efficient, so I was through to the airside within a couple of minutes.


While the ZIPAIR tickets or service packages don’t automatically include lounge access, they do offer it as an add-on for 5,700 JPY for the NARITA PREMIER LOUNGE. This additional service, though not included, could be a valuable option for those seeking a more comfortable pre-flight experience.

Instead, I decided to try the NOA lounge, which I could access with my Priority Pass. The lounge experience could have been better, as it offered only a very limited set of drinks and small snacks. Even the cups were paper, which felt very basic.

Since it was approaching dinner time, I left the lounge and went to the airside IPPUDO ramen restaurant instead, which was definitely worth the money.


I spent the rest of the time hanging out near the gate. Boarding started with pre-boarding for anyone needing assistance, followed by priority boarding for “Full-Flat” passengers, although this doesn’t seem to be an official “perk.”


The cabin looks great. I really like the black-and-white color scheme. Of course, the highlight is the 1-2-1 full-flat seating, with every seat having direct aisle access.


Even though this, at first glance, looks like an actual Business class seat, it is not. The most significant difference you’ll notice is the lack of any IFE screen. Instead, you’ll have to rely on bringing your own entertainment or stream from the inflight WiFi.

However, the seat felt premium and was just as comfortable as any of the best Business class products I’ve tried. It also comes with a power outlet, a USB charging port, and all the controls you need to adjust the seat and lighting.

It’s worth noting that the last row of Full-Flat seats is situated right in front of a row of 4 lavatories. This proximity might not be ideal for some, especially considering that all lavatories are shared among all passengers, with no dedicated facilities for ‘Full-Flat’ passengers.


As you’d expect with any Low-Cost Carrier, the service is polite but minimal, even for Full-Flat passengers. They were available to call if you needed anything, but other than that, they stayed in the galley. I don’t necessarily view this as bad, though, since sometimes you want to keep to yourself without distractions or interruptions, especially on a night flight.

IFE and WiFi

As mentioned, there is no IFE screen at your seat. Instead, you’ll have to connect to the inflight WiFi service, which gives you internet access (for free), shopping, and (some) entertainment.

I rarely use the IFE anyway, but I like it for viewing the map. Fortunately, a map is available on the inflight WiFi.

Admittedly, the movie selection was on the smaller side, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were some fairly recent options available for streaming.

As mentioned, internet access is free, which is a fantastic perk. It was easy to connect to and worked well for messaging.


It’s important to note that there is no complimentary amenity kit or standard pillow and blanket provided with the seat, which might be something you’d expect. However, you have the option to purchase a blanket, pillow, and other amenities to suit your needs.

Since I pre-purchased the Premium package when booking my ticket, I received a ZIPAIR-branded blanket, which was very soft and something I’ve kept and still use! I also received slippers, earplugs, and a blow-up pillow. The pillow was surprisingly comfortable and worked amazingly well if you’re a side sleeper wearing headphones, thanks to the donut-shaped design. I don’t know if that was the intention.

Shopping, Food, and Drinks

No complimentary food or drink is offered onboard. Instead, you’ll have to pre-order your meal when booking your ticket, bring your own food, or buy onboard. One important thing to be aware of is that the buy-onboard service is only available during certain hours, so if you need to purchase anything later, make sure to do so when the service is available!

You’ll also see that if you need a cup, that’s something you’ll have to pay for, albeit very cheap (10 JPY = $0,06).

The premium package included a meal, and I chose the Gyudon (beef rice bowl). It was served around 1.5 hours into the flight. Overall, it was “ok” but nothing special.

I think the best recommendation is to bring your own food and drinks onboard. There is a 7-11 airside at Narita T1, so I’d recommend grabbing some essentials there before the flight.

ZIPAIR Point Club

ZIPAIR has its own loyalty program called “Point Club.” You earn points by booking ZIPAIR flights, and you can redeem points when making purchases; 1 ZIPAIR point is worth 1 yen.

You can also link your JAL MileageBank account in order to convert to/from JAL Miles.

  • 2 ZIPAIR Points => 1 JAL Mile
  • 1 JAL Mile => 1-1.5 ZIPAIR Points (you get a better conversion rate when converting 10k+ JAL miles at once)

I earned 100 ZIPAIR Points for my NRT-SFO flight. It’s not much, but better than nothing, I guess!


Overall, I really enjoyed my ZIPAIR Full-Flat flight. I really love the idea of Low Cost Carriers offering premium seating options. Sometimes you just want a comfortable seat, at a lower cost, and you’re willing to forego all the bells and whistles of a traditional Business class flight.

The cabin was a haven of comfort, and the seat was a dream to recline in. I was able to enjoy a restful sleep during the flight. The added bonus of free WiFi for all passengers was a pleasant surprise!