Why isn't it on my plane?
There’s nothing more frustrating than expecting to be able to try out the new seat on your trip, and for it not to be available, with a tired and older product there in its place.
It’s a common complaint on our Letters page, specifically when details of a new onboard product are being actively marketed, but it isn’t available on the route flown. In defence of the airlines, there isn’t much they can do about this. It can take weeks to retro-fit a new product to a single plane (it has to be taken out of service, and normally will have other, non-seat specific, work done on it during this time), and so fitting a new product across a large fleet can take many years.
The flat-bed Club World seat took six years to fit across the British Airways fleet, and no sooner was that completed than the new Club World seat was unveiled, which is currently being rolled out. If airlines waited until all planes were fitted with the product before they advertised it, it would already be out of date (and would be confusing for those who had already encountered it), so instead they normally wait until a certain proportion of the fleet has been fitted – scant consolation if you find it’s not on your plane.
In the Asia Pacific, Japanese legacy carrier JAL is one of the carriers infamous for its wide array of seat products. The business class seats range from really old and tired-looking 125-degree recliners to full-flat suites. JAL, however, plays it fair and square by listing out the seat product it flies on specific routes on its website. All you have to do is check before making a booking.