[Click above for the video review.]
Airline: Japan Airlines
Flight Number: JL33
Class: Business Class
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Delivered: July 2002
Flight Duration: 6 hours 20 minutes
Distance: 2,852 Miles
OMOTENASHI: The Art of Japanese Hospitality
Japan Airlines (JAL) is indeed one of the best when it comes to hospitality both on the air and in the ground. I just have this special je ne sais quois feeling about Japan and Japanese culture that keeps me coming back for more. I feel that JAL for the most part represents the best of Japanese hospitality in the air, as it is Japan’s flag carrier after all. This flight from Haneda to Bangkok departed just after midnight at 12:40am, and the duration was a little over 6 hours. This JAL Boeing 777-200ER offers 3 classes of service ranging from Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy Class. There are 42 seats in business class configured in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout. All seats have direct aisle access, and turn into a full flat bed. The onboard service was professional and efficient with a smile. Although I felt that there was a slight language barrier, the crew were chatty and engaged with all business class passengers including us. The catering, as with most flights catered out of Tokyo (in my experience) was topnotch and of good quality. Since the flight departed at such a late hour (or early depending on how you see it), JAL only served a beverage service with a light meal right after takeoff. Instead, the main meal service was done 2 hours before landing. Both our light and main meals were delicious and beautifully presented. Overall I think JAL offers a very good business class product for this route. The seats are comfortable, service very good, and food beautiful and tasty!
What I liked:
Tokyo! – Tokyo is my favorite city in the world and continue to go back after all these years. There’s always something to discover around the corner. The food scene here is crazy amazing and the people are too! 🙂
Tokyo Haneda International Airport – This is one of my favorite airports because of its proximity to Central Tokyo. The terminal is beautifully decorated with Japanese inspired décor and is a relative breeze to get in and out of.
The JAL First Class Lounge at Haneda – Because of our Oneworld Emerald Status, we had access to the JAL First Class Lounge in Haneda. There’s plenty of food and beverage options including made to order food. The lounge is expansive and offers plenty of seating to lounge and relax before the flight. There’s even a room with massage chairs and a smoking room.
The Seats – The reverse herringbone configuration is one of my favorite business class configuration, and I like the JAL Sky Suite product on the Boeing 777-200ER. The seat offer plenty of space, privacy, comfort for the over 6 hour flight to Bangkok. Compared to the JAL Boeing 787-9 business class seats which I find narrow, I feel the seats on the 777 offers more shoulder and leg room.
The Food – In my experience, I usually find the onboard catering from Japan excellent and the food on this flight was no different. Right after takeoff, the crew did a beverage service along with a light snack. I had a glass of champagne, which was served with some packaged Japanese rice crackers. The amuse bouche was 3 small ramekins consisting of broiled unagi eel with cream sauce, Cold Pork with Apricot Sauce, and Scallop Carpaccio with Balsamic Sauce. Although the portions were small, the dish was delightful. For breakfast, the meal started with a cold glass of fresh apple juice. I ordered the Japanese breakfast, which consisted of a bento box of assorted cold small dishes (Zensai), miso soup, rice, and a grilled sea-bass with Kujo Leek, and Scallion Oil Sauce for the main dish (Dainomono). I was also offered a hot beverage after the meal, and I opted for some coffee with cream and sugar. Overall, I was very happy with the meals and thought they were beautifully presented and were delicious.
The Onboard Service – The flight attendants delivered excellent and polished service. Hot towels were offered prior to the flight. Though I believe there was a slight language barrier, the crew on this flight were very engaging and chatty. The flight attendant working our aisle asked what our plans were in Bangkok. The meal service was done very well and the flight attendant even explained to me the egg pouch to put on the hot rice. I was also proactively offered drink refills and the crew always responded to my please and thank yous.
The IFE – This plane uses JAL’s Magic VI Entertainment system. There was a good number of movies, TV programs, and Audio content, and games. There was also a basic, but functional moving map app. More importantly, unlike the IFE on the 787-9, I’m happy to report that I was able to browse and navigate through all the media content using the main screen and remote.
What I didn’t like:
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.
It was OK…I guess:
The Airplane – The Boeing 777-200ER is one of the older planes on JAL’s fleet, but I’m glad that they were refitted with the newer seats and are impeccably clean and well-kept by the crew. The lavatories were also spotless and offered toothbrushes, toiletries, and a Japanese Toto washlet!