Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 777 Tokyo To San Francisco

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

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
Depart: 12:05AM
Arrive: 5:25PM (-1 day)
Duration: 9hr20min
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).

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Japan Airlines 777 business class 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.

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Japan Airlines 777 business class cabin

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.

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Center seats in Japan Airlines 777 business class

To access the center seat you’d have to walk through the narrow entryway from either aisle.

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JAL 777 business class middle seat entryway

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.

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Window & aisle seats in Japan Airlines 777 business class

The aisle seats in this configuration are pretty normal and still very comfortable, though aren’t all that private.

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JAL 777 business class aisle seat

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).

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JAL 777 business class aisle seat legroom

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.

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JAL 777 business class window seat entryway

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JAL 777 business class window seat

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JAL 777 business class window seat

The seat has an insane amount of legroom.

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JAL 777 business class window seat legroom

The ottoman is huge, and you can even fit a full 22″ carry-on underneath it, if you wanted to.

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JAL 777 business class window seat ottoman

To the left of my seat were the seat controls, which were easy to use.

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JAL 777 business class seat controls

Next to that was a power outlet, as well as a USB plug.

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JAL business class outlets

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.

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JAL 777 business class entertainment controls

You could also use the controller to look at the flight map, and even to order food and drinks, if you wanted to.

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Seat controller

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Order food from controller

Waiting on my seat on boarding were slippers, headphones, a blanket, and a pillow.

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JAL 777 business class amenities

The pillow was once again of the foam variety, while the blanket was nice and light.

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JAL business class pillow & blanket

The headphones on this flight were decent, though still not as comfortable as my Bose headphones, so I didn’t really use them.

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JAL 777 business class headphones

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.

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JAL business class pre-departure champagne

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.

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JAL business class breakfast order sheet

I was also given an amenity kit, along with slippers and a shoe horn.

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JAL business class amenity kit & slippers

The amenity kit was pretty basic, with eye shades, tissues, earplugs, tissues, lip balm, and a moisture mask.

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JAL business class amenity kit contents

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.

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JAL business class cabin view

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.

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JAL business class 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…

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JAL business class privacy partition

…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.

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JAL business class privacy partitioned lowered

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.

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JAL business class menu

As we climbed out I browsed the airshow, indicating that our flight time would be 8hr53min.

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Airshow between Tokyo and San Francisco

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Airshow between Tokyo and San Francisco

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Airshow between Tokyo and San Francisco

After menus were distributed, the crew distributed bottled water.

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JAL business class bottled water

While most people went straight to sleep, I connected to the inflight Wi-Fi and got some work done. My 24 hour Wi-Fi pass was still valid from the previous flight. You’ve gotta love that JAL charges ~$19 for a 24 hour Wi-Fi 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:

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The beverage list read as follows:

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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.

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JAL business class late night snack

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JAL business class late night snack — corn soup, pate of duck, and salmon mousse canapé

I had the same sake that I preferred on the previous flight. Sake is really growing on me…

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JAL business class sake

I was still hungry at this point, so ordered the beef curry.

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JAL business class late night snack — beef curry

While it’s a simple dish, it’s so tasty.

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JAL business class late night snack — beef curry

For dessert I had Dean & Deluca vanilla ice cream, which was top notch.

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JAL business class late night snack — Dean & Deluca vanilla ice cream

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.

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Airshow between Tokyo and San Francisco

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Airshow between Tokyo and San Francisco

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.

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JAL business class bathroom

They had some basic amenities in them, like toothbrushes and mouthwash.

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JAL business class bathroom amenities

However, by far the coolest feature was that they were bidet toilets.

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JAL business class bidet

That always gives me a good laugh on a plane.

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JAL business class bidet controls

In the galley the crew had a nice little snack setup, with bottled water, packaged snacks, and really tasty macarons.

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JAL business class self serve snacks

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JAL business class self serve snacks

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JAL business class self serve snacks

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).

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Airshow between Tokyo and San Francisco

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Airshow between Tokyo and San Francisco

I ordered a coffee and asked for some more water, which were promptly delivered.

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JAL business class water & coffee

At that point I decided to watch a movie while getting some work done. I eventually decided on Zootopia, per a reader’s recommendation.

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JAL business class entertainment

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.

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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.

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JAL business class breakfast — hot towel

The breakfast menu read as follows:

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To start, flight attendants distributed blood orange juice.

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JAL business class breakfast — organic 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.

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JAL business class breakfast

The Western breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, including cantaloupe, kiwi, grapefruit, and orange.

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JAL business class breakfast — assorted fresh fruits

I was also proactively offered a croissant and roll, which were warm. The croissant was even flaky.

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JAL business class breakfast — rolls and croissant

The breakfast came with a side of yogurt, served with honey.

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JAL business class breakfast — yogurt with acacia 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.

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JAL business class breakfast — eggs benedict and lasagne

I had a cup of coffee to go along with the breakfast.

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JAL business class breakfast — coffee

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.

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JAL business class breakfast — udon noodles

The udon noodles were tasty, and along with the beef curry, was my favorite thing.

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JAL business class breakfast — udon noodles

A lot of people slept through breakfast, and woke up about an hour before arrival.

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JAL business class cabin before landing

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.

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Airshow approaching San Francisco

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Airshow approaching San Francisco

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.

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777 wing view

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.

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View approaching San Francisco

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View approaching San Francisco

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.

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View approaching San Francisco

We had a smooth touchdown on runway 28L at 5:25PM.

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Final approach into SFO

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Touchdown SFO

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Taxiing SFO

From there we had a roughly 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.

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United 737 SFO

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Taxiing SFO

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Taxiing SFO

We pulled into our arrival gate at around 5:35PM.

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Gate arrival SFO

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 Wi-Fi 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?

  1. Hi; just curious… When you say you’re working, is that writing and editing these reports? Or do you have other professional activities? I appreciate your reports and comments, as they’ve assisted me in choosing airlines and seats. Thanks

  2. I flew in the same Business Class product in a Japan Airlines B777-300ER from London to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago, and I love the experience as well (this is my review: Next time, you should go for the Japanese meal (brilliantly presented & awesome taste) !

  3. Those feet! Oh boy.

    On a brighter note, this looks MUCH better than BA’s configuration and provides better options for solo flyers. I have to concur with the note on their WiFi as well. Cheap and reliable!

  4. Hi lucky! Would love to pick your brain.

    I’ve got two trips comming up and would appreciate your advice as to what you think is the best experience.

    1. Europe to Auckland – in paid business, would you prefer Singapore biz, Jal Biz, Qatar biz, or another (I would consider new zeland but they seem much more expensive)

    2. Europe to Japan using miles in first (vacation next spring) I’ve got tons of points on AA so was thinking to go in Cathay or JAL and then I’ve got tons of Amex MR and TYP so was thinking to take Singapore on the way back.

    Consider both itenerarys which would you take assuming points and costs where about the same? Which do you think provides the best experience. I’ve also heard ANA is good but was worried if I put the points to SIngapore would I realistically be able to get the tickets (also would you give up the SQ flight in return for an ANA flight) When I check KVS I find the options above match my dates. As I am planning to book in the next few days I would appreciate your advice.

  5. I think JAL’s pilots only give an announcement just once prior to landing! I flew from NRT-HNL and while we were getting rocked by strong turbulence, not a word from the flight deck!

  6. Also the questions are open for your expert readers as well! As I normally fly skyteam inter-europe this is one time the miles are not as relevant as the ride.

  7. May sound gross to some folks, but seeing the champagne in a plastic cup and only filled that little, reminds me of my urine sample when I go in for STI testing 🙂

  8. “Organic blood orange juice”

    That makes me conflicted between my desire to not use products that use BS pseudoscientific marketing ploys (“organic”, “non-GMO”, etc) and my love for all things blood orange. LOL

  9. Re: dividers being down during take off/landing, I think it’s the same reason that curtains between cabins are open: emergencies are most likely to happen during take off and landing, and the crew are supposed to evacuate the plane in 90 seconds, therefore there must be no impediment to free movement or sight. If the crew cannot see you at the window behind your partition, they cannot help to evacuate you. It takes too much time if they need to squeeze into the narrow space leading to each window seat to check that the passenger has not become incapacitated by the emergency.
    Also, some airlines require that window shades be up during this time so that everyone can see outside to determine if it is safe to exit out that side (e.g. no raging fire on a wing), and so ground crew can see inside.
    I don’t know if the rules are airline-specific or country-specific. On an American Airlines flight during take-off from Lima, Peru, I was required to put away my iPad, which was in Flight mode. I can’t remember if I had to also turn it off. The flight attendant said it was the requirement in Peru. I certainly wasn’t required to do this on my earlier flight when departing from Miami for Lima.
    Perhaps you will now think differently about Oman airlines.

  10. The only problem with a public bidet is that you don’t know where it’s been….

  11. More re: dividers down during take off and landing…

    Here’s the only official reference I could find to take off and landing requirements. It’s from 2001, so outdated. See item 2-7 starting on page 2-14. It says that curtains and dividers must be open for landing:

    Perhaps you could ask a flight attendant on your next flight.

  12. have they changed their F amenity kit? i flew from jfk last week and got the exact same amenity kit you got. i noticed the other F passengers got it too. when i flew JL F last year, they gave out these really nice Lowe kits.

  13. REALLY appreciate your JAL reviews and the article about Haneda day rooms. I myself am seriously thinking about redeeming miles from a lackluster airline carrier for JAL for a similar route. Your experiences have helped me with my decision, THANK YOU!

  14. Hey

    thanks for the review
    In light of your review and both JAL and OMAN air product that’s it’s time you try the one on KE.
    It seems to me that on KE the aisle pax has a large screen on the aisle side for additional privacy.
    And I don’t think in KE a pax can reach with his feet until the TV screen so the pax in the window smells them.

    Hope to read hour review and see who do you think did a better job with the seat

  15. Great trip report as usual, Lucky. I flew JL2 in C last week and 3 other flights on JL in Sky Suite. Some quick comments:
    – terrific seat and very private when against the window
    – JL does a lot of things (IMHO and western sense of taste) that make the product feel a bit dated – ie navy table clothes, dark burgundy fabric seats that just look worn even though they’re not, ’80s coloured cabin tones like cream instead of more modern greys or whites
    – no amenities in the toilets – nothing fancy needed, just give us a nice hand soap instead of whatever liquid comes out of the metal dispenser
    – meal and drink ordering system on handset is wonderful but turned on only after the main meal service
    – cabin IS WAY TOO HOT!!!!! that is really old school pumping it up after the meal to make you go to bed – just makes me angry!

    Overall terrific hard product – can’t be beat and of course excellent JP customer service. On any route to/from JP versus another O/W carrier (perhaps not CX) they can’t be beat!

  16. I quite like your articles and have been reading it for a while. I think sometimes you are a bit too snobbish and complain too much. Just like you complain about the divider during take off and landing. Surprise me how unprofessional you are. It’s for safety reason, come on……

  17. Hi Lucky
    thanks for the comprehensive info on JAL Business class. Last time I used them, 20 years ago, I was completely hungover the day after my wedding as my brand spanking new husband and I flew into Toyko for our first expat position lol.

    I would like some help. I am going to Montana from Sydney then from JFK to Sydney. Business class seems really expensive into America. I did Ethiad Airlines BC to Frankfurt last month and it was brilliant and reasonable . flat bed and length essential (I am over 5″9).
    Much warmth

  18. Love this review. I’m wondering: if no window seats were available, would a center seat or an aisle seat be the best choice for a 6’4″ person of average build? It sounded like the window seats were slightly longer than the aisle seats, I couldn’t tell from the review if the same was true for the center seats.

  19. Great review. Was wondering with the Japanese set meal, was the food hot or cold. I see there are meats and different salads. Thanks!

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