The Japanese flag carrier is joining the ranks of ANA and other major airlines to charge for extra legroom seat selection, despite international flights operating at one-fifth capacity in the second quarter.

The new fees, which took effect on 10 November, apply to pre-booking bulkhead and emergency exit row seats in international economy class. For JAL flights between Japan and East Asia, Guam, Manila, and Vladivostok, the extra legroom surcharge is 4000 yen (US$40). Flights to Southeast Asia will see a fee of 6000 yen (US$60) while long-haul flights to Europe, North America, Oceania, and India will charge 10,000 yen (US$100).

Passengers holding JAL Mileage Bank or oneworld elite status, as well as those on full-fare economy tickets with fare code Y, can continue to select extra legroom seats for free.

“These services were implemented in response to the diverse needs of our customer base,” said the airline in a statement to Business Traveller. “Over the years, [JAL] has received requests to offer such services, including the option to implement a fee-based system.”

The move comes amid record low passenger loads on JAL flights. From April to September, the airline saw only 20.8 per cent of seats on international flights being filled. Overall, JAL posted a net loss of 161 billion yen (US$1.5 billion) in the second quarter, compared to a net profit of 54.1 billion yen during the same period last year.