Air Travel

Japan Airlines Will Now Rent You Clothes So You Don't Have to Pack

The airline's new wardrobe rental service helps reduce luggage weight and carbon emissions.
A wing of an airplane.
Jida Li/Unsplash

Heading to Japan in the next year? You won’t need to pack your bags. Japan Airlines just launched a new initiative dubbed “Any Wear, Anywhere,” which allows passengers aboard JAL-operated flights the option to rent sets of clothing for the duration of their stay in the country, eliminating the need to pack. The program will be run on a test basis through August of 2024.

With the new initiative, devotees of checked baggage may be on the verge of a revelation, but the primary goal is not a simple matter of convenience for the individual traveler. The clothing rental service first and foremost aims to reduce the weight of aircraft in the JAL fleet, thereby cutting down on the airline’s carbon emissions. “With more and more people flying again after the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the recent emphasis in sustainability, there is a growing movement around the world to promote sustainable tourism,” the airline said in a statement. “The concept of the service is therefore to provide a travel experience with minimal luggage by offering clothing rentals at the destination, thereby creating environmental value.”

The weight of passengers, luggage, and cargo adds to the fuel consumption and carbon output for any given aircraft. For every 10 kilograms of weight cut from baggage on a flight from New York to Tokyo, for example, carbon emissions can be reduced by 7.5 kilograms, according to the site for the clothing rental service. With visa-free tourism having returned to the country last October, such long-haul routes are likely experiencing heavier traffic.

Nevertheless, the prospect of flying all the way to Japan without some semblance of a wardrobe in tow could be as daunting to chronic overpackers as it is music to the ears of light travelers. How exactly does it work? Is one’s personal style taken into account?

Depending on the number of items included, rentals run anywhere from ¥4,000 ($28) to ¥7,000 ($48). What’s included? The cheapest option comes with three tops and two bottoms, and the costliest set of clothes offers six tops and three bottoms. Categories are also divided according to season—summer, winter, and spring/fall—as well as occasion—casual, smart casual, and a mix of the two.

Those interested in using the service should register on the program’s website a month in advance of their travels, inputting their JAL flight reference number and the address of their hotel or other accommodations, where the wardrobe sets will be delivered. The clothing rental period lasts for two weeks. Sumitomo Corporation will run the show, overseeing the procurement, delivery, and cleaning of clothes in the program.

And who knows? Airline clothing rentals could catch on, eliminating the need for passengers to deal with the headache of checked baggage once and for all.