Yikes, My Japan Airlines Flight To The USA Was Completely Empty!

Obviously global demand for travel is way down. Not only are most airlines canceling a majority of their flights, but even the flights that are still operating are quite empty.

Most airlines have said that even after canceling flights, they expect most flights to be operating at 20-30% full. Obviously, that does not remotely qualify as good for the airlines but it makes me happy that people are staying home.

Are Flights Operating At 20-30% Full?

Japan Airlines operates out of two major international hub airports in Tokyo: Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND). The airline also operates several routes from both airports to the USA.

Yesterday (Monday), I was supposed to fly on JAL’s non-stop flight from Tokyo-Haneda to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). I was excited about this particular flight because JAL had only days ago moved the flight from Narita to Haneda and I wanted to review my experience leaving from a different airport. but I chose to cancel it (for obvious reasons).

Ultimately, I chose to cancel my reservation (for obvious reasons) but Monday morning is usually a peak travel time, and I was curious about the seat map. I took a look just before departure to see how full my flight was and was shocked.

Note: I thought it would also be helpful to also highlight the other flights to obtain an general sense of what aviation looks like right now.

In no particular order, here are the details (and keep in mind this is after many flights have been canceled, and presumably flights have largely been consolidated):

Tokyo (HND) – Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)

The 11AM flight was operated by a 787-9. How full was flight JL12?

  • 2/44 business class seats were taken
  • 0/35 premium economy seats were taken
  • 25/116 economy seats were taken

That means there were 27 passengers on a plane with 195 seats, meaning the flight had an ~13% load factor.

Tokyo (HND) – Chicago (ORD)

The 9PM flight was operated by a 777-300ER. How full was flight JL10?

  • 0/8 first class seats were taken
  • 4/49 business seats were taken
  • 1/40 premium economy seats were taken
  • 27/147 economy seats were taken

That means there were 32 passengers on a plane with 244 seats, meaning the flight had an ~13% load factor.

Tokyo (HND) – Los Angeles (LAX)

The 5PM flight was operated by a 777-300ER. How full was flight JL16?

  • 0/8 first class seats were taken
  • 7/49 business seats were taken
  • 3/40 premium economy seats were taken
  • 15/147 economy seats were taken

That means there were 25 passengers on a plane with 244 seats, meaning the flight had an ~10% load factor.

Tokyo (HND) – New York City (JFK)

The 11AM flight was operated by a 777-300ER. How full was flight JL6?

  • 0/8 first class seats were taken
  • 2/49 business seats were taken
  • 1/40 premium economy seats were taken
  • 6/147 economy seats were taken

That means there were 9 passengers on a plane with 244 seats, meaning the flight had an ~3% load factor.

Just in case, you think I am joking…

Tokyo (HND) – San Francisco (SFO)

The 4:30PM flight was operated by a 777-300ER. How full was flight JL2?

  • 1/8 first class seats were taken
  • 1/49 business seats were taken
  • 2/40 premium economy seats were taken
  • 12/147 economy seats were taken

That means there were 16 passengers on a plane with 244 seats, meaning the flight had an ~6% load factor.

COMPARING TO POPULAR HAWAII

To put this into perspective, Japan Airlines operates the routes above, once daily. The leisure route between Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Honolulu (HNL) are so popular that they operate two widebody flights daily.

Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Honolulu (HNL); Flight 786
Departure: 730 PM
Equipment: 767-300ER

Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Honolulu (HNL); Flight 784
Departure: 9pm
Equipment: 777-200ER

Interestingly, neither flight has operated since March 23rd.

FINAL STAMP

A 3% load factor to New York!? Ouch! It seems that on average flights are more like ~10% full, rather than ~20-30% full.

This presents a unique question if JAL will continue to operate with a 3% load factor, what was the load factor for Hawaii given they decided to cancel both flights everyday for the past week?

Personally, I’m not sure why airlines just don’t cancel ALL THEIR FLIGHTS. This has to be an absolute bloodbath for airline bottom lines.

I guess the silver lining here is…the majority of people appear to be staying home.

Are you surprised by how empty flights are?

2 comments

  1. I have a flight booked on Japan Airlines for end of June 2019. Waiting to see what happens. I haven’t cancelled because the free cancellation period hasn’t been posted on their website as yet. I don’t want credit I prefer my money back.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s