Japan Airlines is by far one of my favorite airlines. They offer some of the best food in the sky in business class, and service is impeccable. With wifi on their 787s, Apex Suites business class seats and good amenities, it’s tough to beat them.
The Good: Great food, great service, great plane.
The Bad: Basically nothing, I have no complaints!
The Noteworthy: Try to order part or the whole Japanese meal, it is an experience!
Arrival at Gate:
After spending some time at the JAL Sakura Lounge, we walked to the gate. Once there, we realized that boarding was to commence in about 5 minutes, and there were already people lining up in the economy class lines. We walked over to the Business class lane, and within 3 minutes of us lining up, we were invited to board.
Airline: Japan Airlines
Cabin: Business Class
Flight Number: JL 12
Route: Tokyo Narita to Dallas Ft Worth
On time: Yes
Cabin and Seat:
The cabin on the Japan Airlines 787 is beautiful. The maroon/burgundy finishes are so nice when contrasted to the off-white faux wood. The seats are Apex Suites, which are nicer than British Airways’ First Class seats. The seats have a large screen monitor, and the IFE controller has dual function mode. You can watch something on the main screen, and keep the flight tracker on the control (for example).
On the aisle side of the seat you find the seat controls. They are fairly intuitive, and you can control the seat divider from there as well. There are also power outlets and USB outlets on each seat. As on every 787, windows are electronically dimmable, and you can play around with the opaqueness and get some cool photos.
Waiting at my seat there was a pair of noise-reducing headphones, a soft pillow, slippers and a blanket. If you want to have a mattress pad for sleeping, you need to request one from the crew.
The amenity kit was a Halliburton branded kit, similar to the one on my inbound flight. I am still weirded out that Halliburton has amenity kits, as I associate them with military technology. I mean, diversification is good buuuuut. Inside you could find all the basics, as well as non-branded moisture mask, hand cream and lip balm.
Departure and Take Off:
Within 20 minutes of starting, boarding was complete. The flight was fairly full, with business class about ⅘ full. It amazes me how fast Japanese airlines can board aircraft. At this point, the captain came on the PA to announce details of our flight, such as flight time and our expected early arrival at DFW. The flight attendants also came by with pre departure beverages.
We pushed back 5 minutes ahead of schedule, and as we taxied got a good view of many of the JAL aircraft at the terminal. Closer to the runway, we got a more varied mix of airlines. Overall, I love the traffic at Tokyo Narita, you can find airlines from all over!
As we took off and started our climb, we got great views of Japan, and some pretty decent views of the wing. Mt. Fuji was in the distance, and it is always nice to see it when you take off or land in Japan.
For lunch, you get the option between a Japanese meal and a Western meal. I opted to get the Japanese appetizer and the western Wagyu Steak. The menu read as follows:
The meal began with a warm towel placed in its own little plate. It was followed by setting up the table, and a choice of drinks.
There was an amuse bouche that consisted of shrimp in a mayonnaise based sauce, and foie gras.
The appetizer was a variety of small dishes, and most of them were delicious, there were some that I wasn’t adventurous enough to try. Overall, however, it was very very good.
The beef came with a side of white steamed rice, and I had ordered an extra Miso Soup. The meat was tender and well cooked, but the flavor was a bit underwhelming. The highlight of the meal was the origami bird that comes with each meal. It was one of the mementos I got from this flight (apart from a model airplane).
Sleeping on a window seat in an Apex Suite cabin feels like having your own private room. There is almost absolute privacy, and the bed is wide enough you can move comfortably. I requested a mattress pad, and made my own bed. It was a nice sleeping surface, and I was able to get two naps of 4 hours each.
After my first nap, I decided to order one of the snack options. The pork sandwich was really good, and my dad tried the pastrami sandwich. The pastrami, he said, was a bit meh. We also ordered a curry to share, and it was actually amazing. It was spicy enough, and superbly flavorful.
After the snack, I went back to sleep for another four hours or so.
Pre-Arrival meal Service:
For the pre-arrival meal service, I ordered the Japanese option, which consisted of a sashimi, and clear Japanese soup. The food was great, not as good as the main meal service, but I would consider it better than any meal I have had on a US carrier.
My dad ordered the Western option, and he also enjoyed it.
After the meal, I ordered some Dean DeLuca ice cream, which was frozen solid.
Note on Service:
The service on this flight was impeccable. JAL has some of the best crews out there. They are responsive, attentive and non-intrusive. They always came by with a smile, and seemed very proud to work for Japan Airlines. If only US based crews were always this passionate.
Landing and Arrival:
Before we knew it, we were preparing for arrival. One of the flight attendants gave my sister and origami crane, and I found it to be one of the most touching gestures any airline crew has ever done.
We landed at 6:35am, some 45 minutes before schedule. We were at the gate within minutes of landing, and immigration and baggage recheck was a breeze.
I WISH ALL AIRLINES WERE LIKE JAL! It has been one of the best experiences I have had in the air. Both from DFW and from NRT, the crews were wonderful and attentive and the food eas excellent. If only I could fly them more often. I do plan on flying them First Class in the upcoming months, so I will hopefully be able to try that out.
What do you think? Have you ever flown JAL business class? What was your experience like? Let us know!