Introduction: Flying Halfway Around The World For Half A Day
Review: China Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To Taipei
Review: China Airlines Lounge Taipei
Review: China Airlines Business Class A330 Taipei To Singapore
Review: Singapore Changi Airport Transit Hotel
Review: British Airways Lounge Singapore
Review: SATS Premier Lounge Singapore
Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 767 Singapore To Tokyo
Review: Royal Park Hotel Tokyo Haneda Airport
Review: Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Haneda
Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 777 Tokyo To San Francisco
I’ve flown JAL first class several times before, so was very excited to finally try their business class. I was even more excited after my recent flight on Oman Air, where I got to fly in the Apex Suite that they have, which is the same product that JAL offers in business class. The window seats in an Apex Suite configuration are my favorite business class hard product out there (though the non-window seats aren’t among my favorites).
Japan Airlines 2
Tokyo Haneda (HND) – San Francisco (SFO)
Saturday, June 25
Arrive: 5:25PM (-1 day)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 12K (Business Class)
I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by the cabin manager and one of the flight attendants. I walked through the two rows of first class, and then the one row of business class immediately behind it. At that point I was past the second door, where the main business class cabin started. JAL’s 777 business class consists of a total of 49 seats, spread across seven rows (with one row in the forward cabin, and six rows in the rear cabin).
At first the cabin almost felt a bit claustrophobic, due to the high privacy partitions of the seats, combined with the overhead bins being down.
On Japan Airlines’ 777s, business class is in a 2-3-2 configuration. The center seat in each row is a bit further forward, while the two aisle seats are further back. In theory the center seats would be most similar to the window seats in this configuration, given that you have a lot of privacy when the partitions are raised. Still, it seems rather claustrophobic, given that you have partitions on both sides, rather than windows on one side.
To access the center seat you’d have to walk through the narrow entryway from either aisle.
I had assigned myself seat 12K, the window seat in the last row of business class. The window seats are slightly further forward than the aisle seats.
The aisle seats in this configuration are pretty normal and still very comfortable, though aren’t all that private.
They have a decent amount of legroom, though it’s not an exceptional seat, in my opinion (I’d much rather be in a reverse herringbone seat, for example).
The window seats, on the other hand, have an incredible amount of privacy and personal space. The seats can be accessed through a fairly narrow walkway directly from the aisle, without having to disturb the person seated next to you.
The seat has an insane amount of legroom.
The ottoman is huge, and you can even fit a full 22″ carry-on underneath it, if you wanted to.
To the left of my seat were the seat controls, which were easy to use.
Next to that was a power outlet, as well as a USB plug.
Right next to the privacy partition were the entertainment controls. You could use the screen on the controller to browse the entertainment selection, and then once you made your selection the programming would start on the personal television.
You could also use the controller to look at the flight map, and even to order food and drinks, if you wanted to.
Waiting on my seat on boarding were slippers, headphones, a blanket, and a pillow.
The pillow was once again of the foam variety, while the blanket was nice and light.
The headphones on this flight were decent, though still not as comfortable as my Bose headphones, so I didn’t really use them.
Moments after settling in, a male flight attendant came by to offer me water, champagne, or orange juice. I’ve taken a good number of flights on Japanese airlines, but this was my first time ever having a male flight attendant.
I ordered some champagne, which was served in a plastic cup filled up maybe a quarter of the way.
Much like on my last flight, I was handed a breakfast order form. Given that this was yet another redeye flight, you could fill out a form specifying whether you wanted to be woken for breakfast, and if so, whether you wanted the Japanese or Western option.
I was also given an amenity kit, along with slippers and a shoe horn.
The amenity kit was pretty basic, with eye shades, tissues, earplugs, tissues, lip balm, and a moisture mask.
Boarding on this flight was extremely efficient. 15 minutes after I boarded it was announced that boarding was complete, with the business class cabin about 80% full (there were 10 empty seats). At 12AM we began our pushback.
As we taxied out the crew distributed cardigans. It’s a common practice on Japanese airlines, though I’ve never really understood it. When airlines hand out pajamas I see passengers putting them on all the time. On this flight, however, I don’t recall seeing anyone put on the cardigan.
Now here’s my one complaint about the seat, in relation to the one offered by Oman Air. In the JAL business class seat, the standard position for the privacy partition is “down,” meaning that during takeoff and landing you have no privacy from your seatmate…
…and if they choose to put up their feet, they’re basically in your face. On Oman Air, on the other hand, the standard position is “up.” That means you have full privacy from the moment you board until the moment you deplane.
The safety video screened as we taxied to the runway, and by 12:20AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 16L.
The seatbelt sign was turned off 10 minutes after takeoff, at which point menus were distributed.
As we climbed out I browsed the airshow, indicating that our flight time would be 8hr53min.
After menus were distributed, the crew distributed bottled water.
While most people went straight to sleep, I connected to the inflight wifi and got some work done. My 24 hour wifi pass was still valid from the previous flight. You’ve gotta love that JAL charges ~$19 for a 24 hour wifi pass with no data limits, which is pretty incredible.
The flight attendants came through the cabin to provide service to the few of us who were awake. This is probably a good time to note that due to the late night departure, JAL serves a light snack in business class, in addition to a dine on demand menu. The only scheduled meal is breakfast, which is served before landing.
The menu read as follows:
The beverage list read as follows:
The last “real” meal I had was breakfast on my JAL flight from Singapore to Tokyo the previous morning, so I was quite hungry at this point.
I had the snack, consisting of corn soup, pate of duck, and salmon mousse canapé — all three were delicious. To accompany that I had sake, as well as some snack mix and soybeans.
I had the same sake that I preferred on the previous flight. Sake is really growing on me…
I was still hungry at this point, so ordered the beef curry.
While it’s a simple dish, it’s so tasty.
For dessert I had Dean & Deluca vanilla ice cream, which was top notch.
I worked while I ate, so the service took a bit longer than usual. However, the flight attendant working my aisle was extremely friendly and attentive. I’d note that the window seats in this configuration are so private that it’s almost awkward to be served. That’s because when the partition is raised, the flight attendant basically has to walk into “your” suite area to serve you.
After the meal I headed to the business class galley to check out the lavatories. There are two lavatories in business class on the 777. They’re pretty standard in size.
They had some basic amenities in them, like toothbrushes and mouthwash.
However, by far the coolest feature was that they were bidet toilets.
That always gives me a good laugh on a plane.
In the galley the crew had a nice little snack setup, with bottled water, packaged snacks, and really tasty macarons.
After my snack and getting work done I decided to nap for a bit. I managed to sleep for a couple of hours, and woke up a few hundred miles after passing the international dateline. The bed was extremely comfortable, and it’s worth noting that JAL even offers legitimate mattress pads in business class.
The flight was remarkably smooth, and upon waking up I powered up my laptop again to get some more work done. We were just about 4.5 hours out of San Francisco, and at this point it was completely light outside (as you’d expect).
I ordered a coffee and asked for some more water, which were promptly delivered.
At that point I decided to watch a movie while getting some work done. I eventually decided on Zootopia, per a reader’s recommendation.
I don’t generally like movies at all, let alone animated ones. But this was by far the cutest movie I’ve seen in a long time. It’s amazing how so many animated movies nowadays can be watched by kids, but are probably even more interesting to adults. It was such an awesome movie, and especially relevant given what’s going on in the US.
After finishing the movie I worked for a bit longer, and eventually the cabin lights were slowly turned up in anticipation of breakfast. About 2hr20min before landing hot towels were distributed.
The breakfast menu read as follows:
To start, flight attendants distributed blood orange juice.
On this flight I decided to order the Western breakfast to try that out, since on my previous flight I had the Japanese breakfast.
The Western breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, including cantaloupe, kiwi, grapefruit, and orange.
I was also proactively offered a croissant and roll, which were warm. The croissant was even flaky.
The breakfast came with a side of yogurt, served with honey.
The main course consisted of eggs benedict and lasagne, which seemed random. It tasted good, but I can’t say I’ve ever had eggs benedict with lasagne before.
I had a cup of coffee to go along with the breakfast.
I also decided to order the Japanese hot udon noodles from the anytime menu. Even though the anytime menu is technically only available until before breakfast, the flight attendant was happy to oblige.
The udon noodles were tasty, and along with the beef curry, was my favorite thing.
A lot of people slept through breakfast, and woke up about an hour before arrival.
About 45 minutes before landing the captain came on the PA to provide us with updated arrival information, informing us of our anticipated landing time of 5:30PM. That was the first announcement from the cockpit, presumably due to the late night departure.
At that point I opened the window and enjoyed the wing views, given that the cabin was starting to get brighter. Being in row 12 I was right over the wing. That’s cool in terms of being able to observe the flex of the wing, though it also obstructs being able to gaze at the passing scenery.
The flight attendants prepared the cabin for landing about 35 minutes out. One of the flight attendants came around with a basket offering an “eye refresher.” She held out the basket as she said “thank you for flying with us today.”
My one annoyance was that they already prepared the cabin for landing more than 30 minutes out, including requiring that the privacy partition between seats be lowered. This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, though the seating is rather awkward with the partition lowered. That’s because the window seat is positioned further forward, so you’re basically being “watched” by the person in the aisle seat. I wish the standard position for the partition would be “up,” as is the case on Oman Air.
The views of the California coastline were gorgeous as we descended.
Eventually we found ourselves on our final approach, as the gear dropped as we passed over the San Mateo bridge lining up for runway 28L.
We had a smooth touchdown on runway 28L at 5:25PM.
From there we had a roughly 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.
We pulled into our arrival gate at around 5:35PM.
Clearing Global Entry took no time, and I even managed to standby on an earlier flight to Los Angeles.
JAL 777 business class bottom line
Arguably this is the longhaul JAL flight with the most abbreviated service, given that it’s under nine hours and leaves after midnight. Even so, the flight was spectacular.
I love the window seats in the Apex Suite configuration. My only complaint about this configuration is that the privacy partitions have to be down during takeoff and landing.
The service on this flight was what you’d expect from JAL — typical Japanese perfection.
The food on this flight was great, given the late night departure. I think their menu is perfect, given that most people went to sleep right after takeoff.
On top of that, JAL’s wifi is tough to beat, as it’s $19 for a 24 hour pass with unlimited data.
I think JAL business class might just be my favorite transpacific business class product… what’s not to love?