Zipair 787-8 Full Flat review: affordable business class for the masses!

Zipair 787-8 Full Flat review: affordable business class for the masses!

I dedicate this review to anyone who (at any point in their life) has cursed while looking for good deals on business class for flights to Asia. I’m talkin’ the kind of cursing that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

Thanks to Zipair, you can now fly to Tokyo in a lie flat seat for the price of premium economy. The catch? There are no video screens (though streaming in-flight entertainment is available). You also have to pay for extras such as snacks, blankets, pillows, etc.

They call it the “Full Flat” seat. I call it the ultimate cheat code for affordable business class. It’s about ************* ******* time!

San Francisco, CA (SFO) – Tokyo, Japan (NRT)
Monday, April 29, 2024
Aircraft: 787-8
Registration: JA826J
Duration: 10 hours 29 minutes
Seat: 3K (Premium / Full Flat)

Zipair 787-8 (JA826J) side view
Zipair 787-8 (JA826J) side view illustration by
zg025 flight track
Our route from San Francisco to Tokyo / Narita this evening as ZG025.

My full review of the Zipair 787-8 Full Flat experience from San Francisco to Tokyo (Narita)

At the time of this writing, Zipair flies to Tokyo from both Los Angeles and San Francisco in the United States. I wanted to go out of LAX, but all of the Full Flat seats were sold out. SFO was the only other option.

Arrival at the International Terminal at SFO

I flew up from San Diego in United 737-800 Economy Plus. That flight got me into SFO approximately 4 1/2 hours prior to this Zipair departure to NRT. It actually worked out well since it gave me plenty of time to grab a leisurely lunch before exiting Terminal 3 and walking over to Concourse A in the International Terminal (something you can’t do airside).

Zipair check in counter at SFO
Welcome to the International Terminal at SFO! I found the Zipair check in counter without any issues, but…what the hell is the “Express Service” thing all about?
SANspotter waiting to check in for Zipair flight at SFO
When in doubt, stand in the normal line (and pretend hard AF that you know exactly what you’re doing).
Zipair check in and baggage drop at SFO international terminal
For an airline that everyone in the aviation community calls “zippy”, they sure do seem to be taking their sweet a** time getting people checked in today. Hello? Konnichiwa?
inside Terminal A at SFO
It’s been a while since I’ve been inside Terminal A at SFO! Remember my Icelandair 767-300 economy experience to Reykjavík? I don’t either, but that flight departed from here as well.
Zipair 787-8 parked at gate A12 SFO
Parked all the way at the end (gate A12) is the Zipair 787-8 tasked with the chore of taking us to Tokyo tonight. Considering that this aircraft started life with JAL, I’m willing to bet that it could fly to NRT without any human intervention at all. 
SFO Terminal A gate A14
“Wow, it looks like there are a lot of people going to Tokyo today!” – SANspotter (as he mistakenly takes a picture of passengers getting ready to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha)
Zipair gate a12 SFO international terminal
There we go. THIS is the gate for the flight to Tokyo / Narita. “Wow, it doesn’t look like there are that many people going to Tokyo today!” -SANspotter (and probably the Zipair executive team too)

The boarding process for flight number ZG025 to NRT

Want to know what’s really trippy? Showing up to the gate for a flight to Tokyo out of SFO only to find it completely vacant. San Francisco to Tokyo has got to be one of the busiest international routes in the world, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the gate area for this Zipair flight to NRT. It was a total ghost town.

Zipair Full Flat boarding pass SFO-NRT
My boarding pass. “ZIPFULLF” FTMFW.
Zipair 787-8 forward boarding door
Zip zip zipping down the jet bridge into my first low cost lie flat seat experience since that ridiculously fun AirAsia X A330-300 Premium Flatbed flight from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei back in 2020. Let’s just hope the food is better on this one…
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat cabin
Whoa. I didn’t think that seeing the Zipair 787-8 Full Flat cabin for the first time would hit me that hard, but…I recall being slightly lightheaded (and seeing stars) as I made my way to my seat.

My first impressions of the Full Flat seats

Make no mistake about it – the Zipair Full Flat seats on the 787-8 are every bit as impressive as any other long-haul international business class product that I’ve ever tried. No, they aren’t as feature rich, but they are as every bit as spacious and private. Even without video screens, they look (and feel) very premium.

Zipair Full Flat seats
< insert the Japanese equivalent of “sweet Jesus!” here > Yup, these Zipair Full Flat seats are fully legit.
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat 3K
3K looks like a pretty nice business class seat, doesn’t it? They’ve convinced me. I’ll take it.
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat no video screen
That moment when you start to understand why your ticket was so cheap. Seeing a modern business class seat without a video screen is like seeing Marilyn Monroe without hair (or SANspotter *with* hair). It’s weird.
SANspotter sitting in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
“This is freakin’ weird, yo.”
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat headrest
It may be weird, but it sure is nice. That’s a good looking headrest.
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat leg room
From certain angles (especially when I crop out where the video screen is supposed to go), this looks every bit as nice as the JAL 787-8 Sky Suite. Leg room is よし!
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat controls
Ooooh, I can’t wait to run my fingers up and down that control panel!
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat storage space
There may not have been enough money in the budget to give us video screens, but they made up for it with Grand Canyon-like storage space. You could park a Suzuki Samurai in that hole.
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat upright button
I especially like the fact that there’s a button for putting the seat upright beneath my right elbow. I referred to it as the “sake recovery button” (which will no doubt to come in handy to anyone who drinks too much, passes out, and has difficulty reaching the main control panel).
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat armrest
Oh, and that armrest? Hell yeah it’s adjustable.
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat cabin looking forward from seat 3k
Fun fact: this was not the first time I’ve flown transpacific out of SFO without video entertainment. Yup, my United 747-400 upper deck business class experience was just as fun as it was glitchy.
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seatbelt shoulder strap
That looks like an awfully satisfying seatbelt tug, doesn’t it? I don’t remember it feeling as good as this looks.

The departure out of SFO

Pushing off the gate 3 minutes early might normally seem like a pretty big deal, but there was nothing normal about this flight. The premium / Full Flat cabin looked to be 100% full, but it was nearly empty back in economy class. The boarding process was extremely quick, and I figured they’d have us on our way out of here ahead of schedule. I guess they did. Sort of.

Zipair 787-8 taxiing to runway SFO
The theme for today’s taxi and a departure out of SFO was: wind. MF’n W I N D. I could actually feel the plane rocking in the wind gusts as we made our way out to the runway.
Zipair 787-8 taking off from runway 28L SFO
Zipping (and flexing) off runway 28L like only a Boeing 787 can. Full powah!
view of San Francisco upon takeoff from SFO
That view. Everyone who hates San Francisco for being foggy all the time can suck a you-know-what.

I also recorded a video of the departure process. It’s definitely worth a look if you love the sound of a Boeing 787 at full send:

In-flight entertainment

Yes! There is in-flight entertainment (movies, TV shows, and Spotify). It’s of the streaming variety though, accessible via your personal device(s) only. I highly recommend bringing an iPad (or laptop with a good screen) if you plan on watching movies and/or TV.

Zipair 787-8 wi-Fi
Well, I’ll be damned. It turns out there’s Wi-Fi *and* streaming in-flight entertainment. The hell kind of low cost carrier is this anyway?
Zipair 787-8 in-flight entertainment main menu
Not only that, it’s as zippy as it is snappy. It’s really fast!
Zipair 787-8 in-flight services menu
This ain’t no LCC-style in-flight entertainment crap either. We’re talking movies, TV shows, an in-flight map, and Spotify. There’s even a shopping portal for purchasing food and amenities (because they gotta get your money somehow).

The selection of content isn’t exactly what I would call extensive, but there’s certainly enough to hold most people over for 10+ hours.

Zipair 787-8 streaming movies and TV shows
Dang it. There goes my plans to bitch and moan about flying all the way to Japan on a crappy low-cost airline. There are like…options.
Watching the minions movie in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
VERY good options. Not only did they have the most recent Minions movie, I watched it in Japanese (which, let me tell you, is a trip).

The dinner service

A free meal is one of the perks of sitting in a premium / Full Flat seat. You’ll be able to make your selection at the time that you book your ticket online. The good news? There’s an extensive onboard menu stuffed full of all kinds of snacks and small meals available for purchase once inflight as well. You’re not going to starve.

Zipair 787-8 Full Flat tray table
Freshly wiped tray table engaged. At least I hope that’s moisture from being freshly wiped (and not sweat from the belly of the disgruntled ground staff guy who picked up trash around this seat back at SFO).
Zipair 787-8 meal tray
No you guys, you’re not gonna starve when flying Zipair.
Getting ready to eat in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
You will be bored AF while eating though. I’ve already read that in-flight Wi-Fi service card twice now, and I refuse to do it again.
Zipair meatball tomato sauce with cheese meal
The “Meatball tomato sauce with cheese.” I believe this to be a dish native to Northern Japan (going all the way back to the 1400s).
SANspotter eating in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
Completely immersing myself in the culture wherever I go is fun!

All jokes aside, the food was extremely basic but good. Think of it like a cheap microwave dinner (inexpensive, nourishing, and enough to keep you alive until your next meal). Quality wise, it wasn’t as good as what you would get on other airlines in long haul economy class.

Testing out the lie flat seat

Other than the obvious lack of a video screen, the Full Flat seat feels every bit as fancy (and comfortable) as any other lie flat business class seat. The only difference is that you’ll have to pay extra for the amenities to make it as comfortable as possible. Want a blanket and pillow? That’s going to cost you.

Pressing buttons in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
Let’s see what this bad boy can do…
Lying flat in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
Low cost long haul my a**! This lie flat seat feels every bit as spendy as any other international business class seat that I’ve ever tried.
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat footwell
As much as I’d like to tell you how well endowed I am, the honest truth is that my feet are normal size and the footwell is a little tight.
Sleeping in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
The only criticism I have about this lie flat seat experience is my stubbornness to resist purchasing a blanket and pillow. Pro tip: purchase the blanket and pillow if you plan to sleep.

Some thoughts about the midflight experience

Once the meal service is over (and your seat is in a lie flat position), it’ll feel like proper business class on any other airline. OK, yeah, you will have to pay for any drinks and snacks. But that’s a small price to pay when you’ve paid so little for that kick ass lie flat seat (at least compared to what other airlines are charging).

Zipair 787-8 lavatory
Oh! The fact that these are not Japanese style toilets is another minor criticism. Sorry, you’ll have to do all the wiping yourself.
Watching movies on the laptop in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
Looks like somebody came prepared. Too bad she had the brightness cranked all the way up to “sun” though.
Zipair 787-8 dimmed windows
At least the flight attendants were kind enough to flip the master switch that dimmed everyone’s window for the entire duration of the flight. You just know there would’ve been at least one a**hole who would have insisted on blinding the entire cabin with “their god-given right” to do whatever the hell they want with their window shade. ‘Murica!
Zipair 787-8 food ordering app
Feeling thirsty (or hungry)? There’s an app for that.
Ordering water on the Zipair 787-8 food and drink app
“Oooooh, that Silica water 500 ml looks gooood!”
Purchasing water in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
Not only was my water delivered quickly (2 minutes and 48 seconds after making the purchase), it was presented me with the kind of smile that made it seem like I made that flight attendant’s day for giving her something to do.

The pre-landing meal

Wait. There is no pre-landing meal service on Zipair. Sure, they’ll encourage you to order something off the menu, but they’re certainly not going to give you anything for free.

Bringing snacks on Zipair
My plan: To outsmart Zipair by purchasing this assortment of snacks back at SFO before departure. The result: A swing and a miss. It turns out that all of this cost me more than what it would’ve cost to purchase something off the menu prior to arrival at NRT. 
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat pre landing service
It worth noting that they won’t even ask if you want a pre-landing meal. If you don’t order anything via the app, they’ll ignore you harder than women have ignored me for my entire life.
Relaxing in a Zipair 787-8 Full Flat seat
My recommendation? To get as amped up as possible to take on Tokyo prior to arrival, fill your belly with beef jerky, salted peanuts, and Cliff Bars. Let’s. Freaking. Go!

The descent and arrival into Tokyo / Narita

The sun had completely set by the time we began our descent into NRT, so there’s not much I can show you in regards to the landing. We did arrive 7 minutes early though.

Zipair 787-8 landing at NRT
Just in case you’re wondering why I haven’t shown you any pictures of the scenery yet. Welcome to Tokyo / Narita…I think?
SANspotter looking out the window of a Zipair 787-8
I may be amped, but I can’t see sh*t!
Zipair 787-8 Full Flat passengers arrival at Tokyo Narita
Oof. This wasn’t supposed to be one of my best ever long haul flights, but…I think it was one of my best ever long-haul flights.
Passengers walking up the jetway at NRT
“Zipair and SANspotter sitting in a tree…”
Zipair 787-8 connected to jetway at NRT
“…kay eye es es eye en gee!” Seriously though – this was a really fun (and comfortable) experience. Let’s just hope Zipair survives.

Pros and cons of the Zipair 787-8 Full Flat experience

The best way to sum all of this up just to say that Zipair isn’t for everyone. If all you want is a really comfortable seat (and you couldn’t care less about the food and in-flight entertainment), this is the airline for you!

Those of you who live to be wined and dined with 5 star service are going to be disappointed. I recommend reading my Emirates A380 business class review if that’s what you’re looking for.


  • It’s a 100% legitimate (comfy) full lie flat business class seat.
  • Privacy is quite good – especially if you can nab a seat by the window.
  • There’s plenty of food, drinks, and snacks to purchase. You don’t have to bring your own if you don’t want to.
  • Wi-Fi (for streaming in-flight entertainment) is fast and free.
  • The onboard service is impeccably Japanese – equally as good as what you would get on any other Japanese airline.


  • The meals are fairly low-quality – but perfectly edible.
  • Amenities (such as blankets, pillows, eye masks, etc) cost extra.
  • The catalog of in-flight entertainment is so-so.

Comments (11)

  1. JCC

    May 20, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 20, 2024
  2. Peter

    May 27, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 27, 2024
  3. Alex

    May 30, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 30, 2024
  4. Mike

    May 31, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 31, 2024
  5. Nicholas Elzi

    May 31, 2024
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      May 31, 2024
      • Nicholas Elzi

        May 31, 2024

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