Note: This is a review from about a year ago. I never came around to publishing it until now, it is part of a bigger set of reviews from flights to Japan. Hope you find this helpful, as food and service have changed little, the only difference is in the amenity kits.
This was my first time flying with Japan Airlines. I had high expectations for the airline, as I personally admire Japanese culture. Needless to say, they exceeded all expectations. It ranks as one of the best business class flights I have ever taken, and I actively try to fly them now. Cathay Pacific’s business class is no match for JAL Sky Suite 787 seat.
The Good: Window seats are basically open suites, food quality was stellar, extensive IFE, one of the best crews I have ever had.
The Bad: Lame amenity kit, aisle seats are a bit exposed, narrow seats when upright.
The Noteworthy: There is so much food on offer, that it took my dad and I an effort to try as much as we could. The crew was fantastic, responded immediately to requests, and always did so with a smile.
Arrival at DFW
We flew in from San Antonio on a very early flight. The flight was uneventful and unmemorable, but it was on their MD-80, which now a days is fun to fly. For a review on MD-80 flights, click here.
Gate and Boarding
We left the Centurion Lounge around 20 minutes before boarding. It was early in the morning, and most of DFW’s terminal D was quiet. The only exception was the corner we were in, with an American 777 departing to Beijing, a Korean Air 777 to Seoul and our JAL 787 all boarding around the same time. Although this may sounds chaotic, the process was extremely efficient. They had dedicated lines for Business, Premium economy and Economy passengers. They boarded by groups, and I did not notice any major hiccups in the process.
Airline: Japan Airlines
Cabin Class: Business Class
Route: Dallas DFW to Tokyo NRT
On Time: Yes
Cabin and Seat
We boarded through door 2L, and turned right. We were seated in row 8A/C. The seat is the Apex Suite style, with burgundy and white finishes. The aircraft is in a very premium heavy configuration, and most of the square footage is allocated for business and premium economy.
At the seat were a pair of headphones, slippers, an amenity kit, a blanket and a pillow. Across the seat there was a large IFE monitor, one of the largest I have seen in business class, an ottoman and the divider.
Seat controls were on the side towards your seatmate, and were very intuitive and user friendly. Next to that was the IFE control. It has its own screen, where you can watch entertainment while watching another program on the main screen. It also serves as a means to order food or drinks during flight.
Directly next to my seat is the USB power port, the universal adapter power outlet, and a small cubby where you can store personal items. It is worth noting that the window seats do not have this cubby.
The first of the amenities I tinkered with was the pair of headphones. They were noise cancelling, but they were on the small side. I don’t have big ears, and found them to be small.
The slippers were of really good quality. They were soft and plus, and came with a shoe horn (an item I do not know how to use yet).
The amenity kit consisted of a ZERO by Halliburton case, which was sturdy and very high quality. Inside were all the basics, eye mask, toothbrush, tissues, dental kit, etc. Nothing was branded, and there were no hand creams. This struck me as very plain, but the quality of the case was superb.
As soon as boarding was over, the FAs came by offering cardigans to passengers. I don’t really understand what was the purpose of the cardigans, but they were very soft and comfy. They also had the JAL logo, which made them look amazing. They also offered OJ, champagne or water. This came accompanied by a scented hot towels (the first of many).
Just before takeoff, the FAs came by one last time offering passengers bottles of water and newspapers.
As soon as everyone was boarded, they closed the door to the aircraft. The captain came on the PA and welcomed everyone onboard. He anticipated a smooth flight, and an early arrival. After pushback, it was a quick taxi to take off, and we were airborne.
Food and Service
About 20 minutes after takeoff the FAs came by and took our menu choices. I picked the Japanese menu, but there was also a western option. Here are images of the menu:
The place setting for the table was delicate, but elegant. The first course was an amuse bouche consisting of potato salad, and smoked salmon.
Afterwards, the appetizer rolled by. IT WAS SO MUCH FOOD. I honestly don’t remember what everything was (thankfully I took pictures of the menu), but I do remember how good and fresh it all tasted. The tray came with a small JAL plastic origami figure, which I still have on my desk today.
The main course was also stellar, it came with Japanese garnishes, steamed rice, and miso soup. It was one of the best steaks I have had in business class.
For dessert I had a latte and some ice cream.
Bed Comfort and Sleeping
The seat turns into a fully flat bed, and JAL offers mattress pads to passengers in business class. The mattresses make a huge difference in sleep comfort, as does the memory pillow. The blanket was quite thin, but I found it to be alright, given the warmth of the cabin. I was able to sleep for about 2 hours. I woke up since I had slept a very good night’s sleep the night before, and it was around 2pm for me.
More Food More Yum
After watching some movies on the IFE system, I ordered a sandwich. The caprese sandwich was light and delicious, and came with a warm towel and a smile from the crew. I also ordered some ice cream. My dad ordered the JAL burger, which he said was a bit over cooked for his taste, but was still good. His dessert was a fruit plate.
I went back to sleep, and was able to sleep for about 5 hours, which woke me up 2 and a half hours out of Tokyo. I watched more TV, and soon enough the crew came by to take orders for the pre-arrival snack. My dad ordered the beef curry, which he said was amazing. I ordered the steak sandwich, which was fine. It was flavorful, but not very Japanese. It came with steamed rice, miso soup and a fruit plate.
About an hour before landing, the crew began to prepare the cabin. This seemed really weird to me, given that there were still people eating their pre-arrival meal. About 30 minutes before landing, the captain came on the PA to announce our updated time or arrival, thank us for flying JAL, and asked the crew to prepare for landing.
We had a smooth landing at Narita, and within minutes were at our gate.
JAL has a solid product. It is one of my favorite all around business class products out there. They have solid hard product and solid soft product covered. Yet, what stands out the most is the crew. They were kind, patient, and their disposition to help was truly appreciated. They always responded with a smile, and the respect and deference to customers is something more carrier should imitate. All in all, I would recommend JAL in a heartbeat, they are probably one of my favorite airlines out there.
What do you think? What has been your experience on Japan Airlines out of the US? Have you liked is as much as I did? Let us know!