Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport Review

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

My flight from Tokyo Narita to Chicago was departing at 10:50AM, though I got to the airport plenty early. I had spent the night at the Hilton Tokyo Narita, so figured I might as well go to the airport early and work from there, have breakfast, etc.

I got to Narita Terminal 2 before 6AM, though was shocked to find that security only opens at 7:15AM. As it turns out the, earliest flight departing from Narita Terminal 2 is at 9AM. Am I the only one who is surprised by that?!

Narita Airport Terminal 2

Narita Airport Terminal 2 departures board

It wasn’t a big deal, though, as I just had a seat and got some work done on my laptop. When the security checkpoint did open at 7:15AM, dozens of people lined up right away, though fortunately there was a separate fast track security lane.

Narita Airport security line

Narita Airport security line

My destination was the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge, which is located just past security to the right, and which opens at 7:30AM. This lounge is accessible by oneworld first class passengers, as well as oneworld Emerald members.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita exterior

The same entrance is shared by both the first and business class lounge. When facing the reception desk, the first class section is to the left, and is down a long hallway.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita entryway

The lounge is quite large, though I guess that’s not unexpected when you consider how many oneworld Emerald members there are. Inside the entrance is an area without windows, which has a couple dozen leather chairs.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita seating

The main part of the lounge is one big rectangular room, with a lot of seating.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita seating

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita seating

I feel like the furniture in the lounge is all arranged in a dense way. You’d generally think a first class lounge would give you a feeling of privacy or exclusivity, but the lounge has so many seats in it.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita seating

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita seating

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita seating

JAL First Class Lounge Narita seating

JAL First Class Lounge Narita seating

There’s a really long row of dining tables along the windows. The problem is that the tables aren’t spaced out enough to put luggage between them and also get in and out, so a lot of people just place luggage in the walkway area.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita seating

JAL First Class Lounge Narita seating

I do like that the lounge has wraparound windows with great views of the apron.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita view

As far as other amenities go, in the very back of the lounge is a smoking room.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita smoking room

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita smoking room

Near that is a business center with some workstations.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Narita business center

Back towards the entrance is an area with shower rooms and massage chairs. You have to reserve the massage chairs, but I find they’re usually readily available. This lounge used to offer complimentary 10 minute massages, but unfortunately those were eliminated in 2017.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita massage chair

As far as the food and drinks go, the lounge has a couple of buffet areas, as well as a sushi and sake bar. One area had mostly drinks.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita buffet

This included self serve liquor and wine.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita drink selection

JAL First Class Lounge Narita drink selection

JAL First Class Lounge Narita drink selection

JAL First Class Lounge Narita drink selection

Then there was a beer machine and soda fountain.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

Then there was coffee, both filtered and from a machine.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita coffee machine

There were also some light snacks.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita snack selection

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

The other buffet had a more substantial food selection, including some hot dishes. I’ll let the pictures speak mostly for themselves.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita buffet

JAL First Class Lounge Narita buffet

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

JAL First Class Lounge Narita food

The highlight is definitely the sushi bar, which is only available from 7:30AM until 12:30PM, and from 3PM until 8PM.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita sushi bar

JAL First Class Lounge Narita sushi bar

On the back side of this is a self serve sake bar.

JAL First Class Lounge Narita sake bar

I spent a couple of hours in the lounge working. Boarding was scheduled to start at 10:20AM, so at around 9:30AM I started wandering around the terminal to enjoy the views. This provided an excellent opportunity to get some Japan Airlines plane stock footage. 😉

Japan Airlines 787 Narita Airport

Japan Airlines 787 Narita Airport

Japan Airlines 787 Narita Airport

Eventually I headed to my departure gate, #71.

Narita Airport terminal

Narita Airport departure gate

The gates at Narita Terminal 2 are mostly one level down from the main concourse, so I took the escalator down.

Narita Airport departure gate

You’ve gotta love watching flights board in Japan because of the organization and precision, and how well the gates are staffed. At 10:20AM boarding was announced, starting with first class and oneworld Emerald members.

Narita Airport departure gate

JAL First Class Lounge Narita bottom line

JAL’s first class lounge at Narita is solid but unremarkable. The lounge has nice views and an alright food selection. I’d say the highlights of the lounge are the massage chairs, the sushi bar, and the views.

However, the lounge is also densely furnished, and I don’t find the furniture to be terribly spacious-feeling or modern. It’s a good lounge, but I’m not sure there’s anything that really makes this first class rather than business class.  It’s a great place to pass some time, but it also isn’t my favorite international first class lounge.

I do prefer Japan Airlines’ first class lounge at Haneda Airport for sure.

If you’ve visited this lounge, what was your experience like?

  1. I flew out of gate 71 in 1998 on Delta’s first ever nonstop flight from Tokyo to Atlanta. Prior to that Delta flew Tokyo to Atlanta via Portland. On that first flight, there was a ceremony etc at the gate prior to boarding, but other than that, the gate looks EXACTLY the same!

  2. @Lucky Does JAL not escort you to the fast-track security lane when you show up to check-in or was it because you got there too early? When I flew ANA, they had a separate check-in area for first class and walked me to a much shorter fast-track security line (which was right next to first class check-in) for premium passengers.

  3. JAL and ANA 1st class lounges are quite similar with food offerings at the buffets, in addition ANA has an a la carte menu. ANA 1st lounge is smaller and located at the end of a rotunda, while the JAL lounge is larger and more centrally located.

    JAL 1st class lounge now has a laminated sheet saying that they are renovating lounges and discouraging non JAL Oneworld Emeralds’ visits to limit overcrowding. In typical Japanese style, they do not push back if you politely insist.

  4. JL F NRT is most overrated F lounge. Tiny showers barely J class standards. No private areas. Very crowded. bleh

  5. Yea the loung is not amazing in design but the sushi and views of the planes make up for a lot of that. Still its never going to be The Pier. Its not a lounge i rush to get to but i do get there early enough to get some sushi.

  6. Given your self admission and proclivity for water bottle theft, I’m surprised you aren’t encouraging your readers to swipe the Sake…

  7. It is shameful that Japanese standards for F lounges is so low. I would’ve expected better from Japan.

  8. From looking at the photos, I drew exactly the same impression of how this lounge is very densely furnished. Clearly, no one was there when you were but I’d hate to be there at a peak period when it was filled to capacity. I’d be escaping into the terminal for breathing room.

  9. Great shots of those JAL birds! The JAL crane roundel (aka the “tsurumaru”) is one of my favorite airline liveries and logos. It was created by a San Francisco ad agency in the 1950s according to Wikipedia. I’m glad they brought it back!

    As for the lounge, it looks more like a nice business class lounge than a special first class lounge.

  10. To @Rik and all the others who are blaming Lucky for water “theft” and being singularly responsible for the global climate crisis because he takes flights, uses hotels and drinks bottled water. You aren’t being charged to read his blog, if you don’t approve of his livelihood, his views and opinions and his choices, maybe it’s time to move on to another blog where the writers live up to your high standards.

  11. Been twice. Meh both times. A shame coming from their home airport.
    Will be in NH Flounge this weekend. Low expectations

  12. Bowmore 18 Scotch is pretty nice for a lounge. I’ve never tried it, but it has to be better than Johnnie Walker red.

  13. I always enjoy transiting in Narita and Haneda. People always talk about how awesome Changi is (and it is), but my favorite international airport is actually the international terminal at Haneda. I love the outdoor observation deck, the elegant architecture and design, the amazing old shopping/restaurant street and of course the dining. Narita isn’t quite as nice as the new international terminal at Haneda, but has great dining, shopping for friends and a tranquility and aesthetic that I enjoy and find all over Japan.

  14. @Lucky – You forgot about the complimentary shoe shine via Paul Stuart products available in the bake of the lounge! I know it is not a big deal, but I always have a pair of dress shoes with me, and it is nice to get them shined while enjoying the Japanese cuisine.

  15. @Gary Just ask for it as sashimi, @Donna I’ve been reading Ben’s work since he worked with Hilary at Travelsort, I use his credit card links and Ford is one of my travel agents. If his blog were a subscription service I would subscribe and gladly recommend it to others. Over the past 8+ years by my calculations Ben has gone through 10,000+ plastic water bottles from his travels. That’s a lot of unnecessary plastic. Friends have to be upfront with their friends when they see they are doing something not in their best interest. There is nothing more shocking to me than than traveling to the world’s most beautiful places and seeing how much trash is washing up on the beaches.

  16. Come on, now. Are you expecting Sukiyabashi Jiro sushi from the JL F class lounge? If you want good sushi, go to a restaurant. I definitely wouldn’t go 6 hours early to the airport just to have lounge sushi.

  17. I have used it often and it’s usually never crowded….often empty in fact compared to lounges in Hong Kong, etc. It’s functional, comfortable, and has the fun beer dispenser that is so Japan. I honestly could give a hoot for the high glitz lounges as I am mostly there for an hour at best. I find the JAL lounge serves the purpose well and provide a functional bridge from check in to getting on the plane.

  18. the thing I remember was the fruit – a tiny plate with one piece each of honeydew, cantaloupe, and pineapple. easily the best fruit I’ve ever had in a lounge

  19. Agree that the JAL lounge disappoints. Amazing in-flight, but the lounge is definitely more in line with their *cough* jv partner.

    Honestly not surprised by the hours. Narita famously has some tight operating hour restrictions due to noise complaints from area residents. Besides, you also have to consider the need to get from downtown tokyo to narita — it’s an hour by train, so I doubt there’s that much demand for flights that early.

  20. Although it doesn’t have the sushi bar the first lounge in the satellite is much nicer. Often less crowded and with nice arm chains facing the target. Grab a quick sushi in the main lounge and then head to the satellite.

  21. This is the busiest first class lounge I have ever been to. I traveled on jl4 on late January. When I got to the lounge, I can hardly find a seat. The dishes were good for a lounge, but far from enough for a first class lounge.

  22. It’s an ok lounge, but it’s no HKG Cathay experience.

    It gets slammed and the staff handles things as best they can. The last few times I was there, it was just too busy to be anywhere near relaxing. People just running for the food and shoveling as much of it into their mouths as quickly as possible… It felt as if they were trying to get as much out of that 30 minutes there as they could.

    In the words of Chicago The Musical, ‘… The whole world’s gone lowbrow.’

  23. Whilst it’s not the most spacious lounge, it certainly more than does the job. Recently I have been travelling Sydney Narita New York on JAL which I have to say is a far more pleasurable & convenient experience than flying Sydney LAX or DFW to NYC despite being a little longer. I always have a shower which is perfectly servicable if a little on the small side, then drop my luggage in the holding room, drop my shoes for a shine and then head to the sushi bar which is such a treat it outweighs the crush of the lounge. Besides, it is invariably crushed when I arrive but almost empty when I depart.

    I recently checked out the QF lounge in the satellite to see if it might be a better option but I took one look inside and despite having less people, I was very happy to be able to return to the JAL lounge. Frankly the JAL first lounge is no worse and maybe even better than what QF is currently providing at Changi for J & F passengers and certainly the staff is more charming. I do have to say that every visit I go down to the massage place located at the entrance to the satellite and for whatever reason even though I always have at least 3 hours I can never get an appointment, maybe there’s some secret to securing space there but if I could make that work then I would be more than happy with the Narita experience.

  24. Lucky, there are no early morning departures from Narita due to most passengers travel long from Tokyo and beyond by public transportations. The exception to this is LCCs departing from T3, where most passengers have to spend over-night a day at Narita before.

    I’d slightly prefer ANA lounge at Narita for a bit more personalized service and a la carte dining. The sweets selection is also nice as well. However, both are over-crowded during peak times where I’d estimate 90-95% are non-first class status travellers. Very disappointing.

    I like what United and Qatar are doing with their exclusive business/first lounges.

  25. Your reviews are always honest and fun to follow. Somehow, i find JAL Business (at least PVG-NRT-YVR) and their “Sakura’ lounges underwehlming; somehow ANA is more with it; Thank You for your interesting reviews

  26. This reminds me of my experience with the ANA First Class Lounge years ago. That and check in was so bad that ANA has since been at the bottom of my preferred airlines. I had used miles for a United First Class return SEA-SIN, with a stop in Narita. I was booked Business Class on the segment NRT-SIN, as ANA did not offer a first class on that route and United First was booked full. I could not get a boarding pass in SEA for the NRT-SIN portion, so first stop in NRT was to get a boarding pass. There was only one agent handling all classes inside customs where I was. That agent was handling a BIG problem with a customer, so the wait was long, but eventually I got my boarding pass. Even though I was “only” business with ANA NRT-SIN, I thought I might be able to get into the First Class ANA Lounge, since I had “paid” for First Class and the rest of my trip was First Class. Couldn’t hurt to try. No go. It was annoying, but rules are rules, so only a minor annoyance. But as I left the lounge, I finally put on my readers and looked at the packet United had given me as I stepped off the plane in NRT. What do you know! There was a coupon for the First Class Lounge. I turned right around, gave them the coupon, and was ushered right in. I was there about 15 minutes, had poured myself a wine, and was trying some soup, when they came to my seat and kicked me out. Turns out there was a small box in the corner of the voucher that was checked that said United First Class Lounge. I did not see it, and they initially did not see it. If they had pointed it out on entry, it would be annoying but understandable. As I said, rules are rules. But to come remove me from the lounge after already being admitted was unacceptable.

  27. What language is this: I do prefer Japan Airlines’ first class lounge at Haneda Airport for sure.

  28. @Ben, the review will be outdated very soon, as the renovated 4th floor lounge opens 1st of April and this lounge closes for renovation 1st of April. I don’t expect any huge revolution, but the 4th floor lounge is getting some very nice looking ramen options.

    Please fly JAL again this summer to review the new lounge.

    And yes, as mentioned above you missed out on the shoe shine service by John Lobb (not Paul Stuart), they really do amazing work.

  29. Lucky, generally speaking, what do you consider a better choice: hotel breakfast or airport lounge breakfast? As we see here, you gave up hotel option in favor of the lounge. Any regrets?

  30. Thanks Lucky. I am flying First class out of Tokyo to Los Angeles in late April. Hopefully this lounge will be renovated by then or I will go to the 4th floor lounge. I would agree however that the Pier in HK is a very nice experience.

  31. @CMORGAN, this lounge closes to begin renovation April 1st. The announced reopening is summer 2019. So late April it will not be available for sure.

  32. Ben it has a beer machine. Let that sink in a few minutes….

    Hands down the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a first class lounge!

  33. Ben, you forgot to mention one important feature which makes this lounge exceptional, in my view – it’s dead quiet! phone calls are not allowed. For that reason I find it a more peaceful experience than pretty much any other lounge, including HKG’s The Pier, which has nicer ambience but that can be easily ruined by a loud party in the dining room or someone having a loud phone call in the “living room” area.

  34. I would expect so much more from JAL at Narita. I was in two ANA F Lounges in Narita last fall and was tremendously overwhelmed by both.

  35. Its one of the world class lounge. I got a chance to visit there few weeks with a businessman. We were traveling to Sydney from there.

  36. Lounge is on point after the refurb. Much more modern and good use of space upstairs with the dining area. Ramen comes up fast and you still have the beef curry. Couldn’t help myself and indulged in both. Only problem was no room for sushi. Alcohol selection on the other hand is meh.

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