Japan Airlines vs ANA – Which Japanese Carrier Is Better?
Japan is home to two of the finest legacy carriers currently gracing the world’s skies, in the form of Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA). On certain routes, passengers may find that they have a choice between this pair of esteemed airlines, but which one would be the better choice? Let’s take a look and find out.
According to data from Flight Connections, as of May 2022, Japan Airlines serves 52 domestic destinations and 39 international destinations in 21 countries. Meanwhile, ANA also serves 53 domestic destinations, but has a stronger international footprint. Specifically, it flies to 53 international destinations in 27 countries.
Both airlines also fly out of both major Tokyo airports – Haneda and Narita. Overall, it would generally seem that ANA is the winner in terms of overall places one can travel with the airline. However, the gap is further widened when you consider the extensive reach of the two alliances to which these carriers belong.
Japan Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, which serves 963 destinations in 172 territories, according to data from Flight Connections. Meanwhile, Star Alliance, to which ANA belongs, has its member airlines flying to 1,211 destinations in 195 countries worldwide. A key is its intra-Africa offerings with Ethiopian Airlines, something not fully realized with oneworld despite Royal Air Maroc’s recent entry.
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Both airlines have reasonably modern fleets. Indeed, data from ch-aviation.com shows that JAL’s 209 aircraft have an average age of 10.9 years old. Meanwhile, ANA’s 235 aircraft are slightly younger, clocking in at 10.4 years old on average. The carrier also has 56 aircraft on order, compared to just 15 at Japan Airlines.
Typically, both airlines favor Boeing aircraft more than those produced by Airbus. Indeed, each carrier only flies a single widebody type from the European manufacturer. ANA has three turtle-livered A380s in its fleet, although the entire trio is presently inactive. Meanwhile, JAL flies 16 A350s, and has a further 15 on order.
The Boeing 777 and 787 families play an important role at both airlines, with ANA having been the first to introduce the Dreamliner commercially back in 2011. It flies all three variants of the type, while Japan Airlines flies the short-fuselage 787-8 and the mid-size 787-9. Interestingly, JAL’s Dreamliners have just eight seats per row (in a 2-4-2 layout) compared to the industry standard of nine (3-3-3).
ANA’s fleet presently features 77 of the US manufacturer’s Dreamlienrs. Photo: Boeing
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By all accounts, both airlines offer fantastic inflight service. In fact, according to Nippon.com, a 2019 Airline Satisfaction Survey conducted by AB-Road Research Center of Japan, awarded second place to All Nippon Airways and third to Japan Airlines. As for Skytrax’s 2019 rankings, the results were slightly different.
Specifically, ANA ranked third in this list, while Japan Airlines came in at eleventh place. For 2019, Skytrax awarded ANA 3rd place for “best cabin crew” and 8th place to Japan Airlines. ANA had retained its third-place spot in the most recent Skytrax awards, while Japan Airlines had made an impressive leap to fifth place.
Both carriers ultimately represent a good choice for travelers worldwide. Photo: Getty Images
It’s clear that Japan has two excellent full-service carriers, both rivaling the best that any European or North American legacy carrier could offer. Ultimately, there is little to split between them, with ANA’s extensive network and JAL’s low-density configurations among the many pull factors offered by both airlines. Overall, it seems that, when deciding between ANA and JAL, you can’t make a bad choice.
Which of these airlines have you flown with? If both, do you have a particular favorite? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
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