[Click above for the video review.]
This is a trip report on my flight on Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class on their Boeing 787-8 on March 31, 2016.
This trip started in Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport. This is my favorite airport in Japan because of its proximity to Tokyo (only 30 mins by bus compared to 1.5 hours from Narita Airport). Haneda has a new international terminal with an impressive mezzanine level shops with a Japanese inspired facade. It also boasts an awesome observation deck for all the avGEEKS.
Japan Airlines has a newly renovated First Class lounge. The lounge is beautiful in a minimalist sense. It has a beautifully decorated section called the “Red Suite” which has a Laurent-Perrier champagne bar, a Foosball table, and aviation inspired décor. The lounge has a dining area and a buffet spread with a decent hot food selection. My favorite dish is the signature JAL beef curry. They also have a good selection of soft drinks, wine, liquor, and the ever so popular beer dispenser. They have some made to order food at certain times. Sadly, there was none during our visit. The lounge also offers a luggage storage area, showers, smoking room, business center, and private “telephone” booths.
We were lucky as our flight was leaving from gate 112 which is just in front of the lounge. Our plane was a Boeing 787-8 fitted with JAL’s Shell Flat Neo (angled flat) seats which were perfectly fine for a 3 hour flight. Service was very efficient, prompt, and professional as expected from the Japanese crew. Hot towels were distributed after take off. For the meal, I opted for the Japanese offering which was delivered all in one tray (same for the western meal). For dessert, I ordered a cup of coffee and some ice cream. I was pleasantly surprised that the ice cream was not ROCK SOLID like in previous flights. Our glasses were constantly refilled and the flight attendant working our aisle was conversant, which was a big contrast to our previous flights on JAL.
In terms of comfort, the seat itself is one of JAL’s previous generation business class seats. The Shell Flat Neo Seat I think is perfectly comfortable for short to medium haul flights, but others may have issues sleeping in an angled slope for longer flights. There was a side storage for eyeglasses and/or cellphones and a rather large seat back pocket in front of you. The flight attendant went around and offered a basket of amenities for the flight. I just got a toothbrush and mouthwash, which were also available in the lavatories. Slippers were also available which was a very nice touch.
The IFE was JAL’s Magic V system which was simple yet responsive. You can use either the wired remote or touch the 15.4″screen. It offers movies, TV shows, music (I recommend JPOP), infotainment, and some games. The movie selection was rather limited, but still offered some new movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was very happy to see Street Fighter II was one of the game selections. There’s nothing like “hadoken-ing” Sagat at 30,000 feet. The moving map was great and I was able to cycle through the different map views. I was disappointed that the headphones they offered were the cheap non-noise canceling headphones that they give out in coach. No problem, as I used my own headphones. There were AC and USB Power Outlets to charge your devices during the flight.
I reclined my seat and got about an hour of sleep. Soon enough, we were landing in Beijing Capital Airport. The landing was smooth and uneventful. It was a few minutes taxi to the gate after we promptly deplaned. This airport is huge! Upon disembarking, we had a long walk from the gate to the tram which took us to the main terminal. We didn’t have Chinese Visas, but instead took advantage of the 72 hour Visa-Free layovers the Chinese Government was offering for foreign tourists. I made the mistake of going to the regular immigration passport control queue, only to be told by the officer to go to the APEC/Crew desk instead to be processed. They asked for a proof of onward journey, which I provided and I was processed in about 2 minutes. Another long walk towards the exit and we were finally in Beijing.
Our driver was waiting for us in the arrival hall and soon after we were at the Grand Hyatt Beijing.
Overall, I give this flight a good 8 out of 10. The seats weren’t the best, and the abbreviated meal service was sort of a letdown. Although I do realize that this a short flight, and the efficient crew more than made up for what’s lacking.