Business Class Japan Airlines OneWorld Trip Reports

Review: Japan Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300ER | Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita

[Click above for the video review.]
Airline: Japan Airlines
Flight Number: JL61
Route: LAX-NRT; Los Angeles (Los Angeles International, Tom Bradley Terminal) to Tokyo (Tokyo Narita International Airport Terminal 2)
Class: Business Class
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Registration: JA733J
Delivered: June 2005
Flight Duration: 11 hours 35 minutes
Distance: 5,451 Miles

Overall Impression:

Irasshaimase! Come join me and let’s fly Japan Airlines Business Class fly to Tokyo!

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Japan Airlines (JAL) is one of my favorite airlines, as I love anything Japan. JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER flight from LAX-NRT offers 4 classes of service ranging from First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy Class. There are 49 seats in business class, configured in a 2-3-2 staggered layout. All seats have direct aisle access and convert into a fully flat bed. Onboard service from the crew was excellent. Although I felt that there was a slight language barrier, as the flight attendants working our aisle were a bit reserved to us, but not to other Japanese passengers. The food was amazing! I was a bit iffy about the catering from LAX, but our meals turned out to be delicious and beautifully presented. Overall, I think JAL offers a solid business class product. The seats are comfortable, service very good, and the food was pure awesomeness! Now, if only they can fit their planes with air nozzles! :/

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What I liked:

Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX – We got access to the Qantas First Class Lounge via our Oneworld Emerald Status. This is my favorite lounge at LAX. There’s plenty of food and beverage options including a sit-down restaurant with made to order food and a full bar inside the lounge. There’s also plenty of seating to lounge and relax before the flight.

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The Seats – I like the JAL Sky Suite product on the Boeing 777-300ER. The seat offers plenty of space, privacy, comfort for the 11.5-hour flight to Japan. The seat configuration is  2-3-2, which may be a bit tight to some, but the staggered layout helps give passengers more room and privacy.  All business class seats including the middle seat have direct aisle access.  An amenity kit with ETRO branded toiletries, slippers, full size pillow, noise canceling headphones, and bedding were waiting at our seats upon boarding. An airweave mattress pad is also available to make the bed more comfortable.  My only complaint is that the seat width is a little on the narrow side, so bigger folks beware.

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The Food – JAL calls its First and Business Class menu offerings “BEDD, Sky Auberge, Your exclusive restaurant in the sky”, and it really is. Onboard catering was excellent, especially if you like Japanese food. I ordered the Japanese meal for the first meal, and it was very colorful and nicely presented. Most of all it tasted amazing! My companion opted for the western set, and it was also nicely plated, and he said it was delicious! After the first meal, JAL offers a “dine-on-demand” concept, where you can order any item from the anytime menu. Mid-flight, I had the JAL healthy ramen (vegetarian), while my companion ordered the mapo tofu bowl (vegetarian) along with a cup of ice cream for a snack. Both snack items were very filling and tasty! If the snacks don’t fill you up, there’s also an onboard snack bar with light snacks, wine, bottled waters, and magazines if you get bored. 2 hours before landing, I ordered the bacon, ham, and egg burrito set, while my companion ordered the Japanese set, which was steamed fish, miso soup, rice, and pickles. My companion and I were both very pleased (and full!) with all our onboard meals on this flight.

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The Onboard Service – The flight attendants delivered excellent and polished service during the flight. Though I believe they were a bit reserved because of the language barrier, I still think the crew was well-intentioned and very eager to please. Pre-departure beverage service with hot towels were offered. The flight attendants also regularly checked on passengers if they needed anything during the flight. I was proactively offered drink refills and the crew always responded to my please and thank yous, which I very much appreciate.

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What I didn’t like:

The IFE – This plane uses JAL’s Magic V Entertainment system. There was a good number of  movies, TV programs, and Audio content, and even some games, but I am not a fan of having to navigate through all the content with just the touchscreen on the small remote. There is also a pretty basic moving map, which can be viewed on the IFE monitor.

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The Cabin Temperature – JAL is notorious for having a very warm cabin which is not everyone’s cup of tea. I personally like a cooler cabin, which more conducive to sleep. Sadly, this flight was a bit too warm for me. Also, the lack of personal air vents did not help get the cabin cool.

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It was OK…I guess:

The Airplane – The Boeing 777-300ER is the workhorse for a lot of airlines because of its range, capacity, and most importantly its fuel consumption. However, with the release of the 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus A350, I feel that the airplane is past its prime. The interior of the plane is starting to show its age, but was well maintained and kept very clean by the crew.

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Bottom line:

All things considered, I really enjoyed this flight. Yes, the plane is old, there are no air nozzles, and the cabin was super warm, but there’s just something special about this airline (or may be it’s just my obsession with Japan).

The seats were comfy (even in economy, mind you), and the cabin was kept very clean. The meals were beautifully presented, plentiful, and even beyond restaurant quality in JAL premium cabins. The flight attendants were well-trained, polished, and delivered excellent and efficient service despite the slight language barrier. Above all I really do feel the “Omotenashi” or the Japanese sense of hospitality is well represented when I fly with JAL.

Gambatte, JAL !

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