A few weeks ago I posted about how I managed to book an 18-hour flight journey in Japan Airlines Business Class for USD 30 and 70,000 American Airlines Advantage miles.
Flying back to the US from Asia is always easier mainly because the flight duration is much shorter than going the opposite way.
Luckily I had the chance to experience two different types of business class cabins and while the seat is still a luxury to my standards, it’s probably not my favorite business class seat so far.
JAL Business Class on 767-300ER
JL720 : Jakarta to Tokyo Narita
Flight Time: 7 Hours 30 Mins (06:45 AM – 04:25 PM)
There are 24 open suites in this cabin with alternating configuration on each row, I always prefer sitting closer to the window (tables by the aisle) because it creates a more enclosed space (privacy) and I enjoy looking out the window mid-air.
Middle seats are all quite similar with no love seats in the middle like in Asiana, Etihad or British Airways. So if you’re traveling with another person there will still be a table separating the two seats.
The early morning 7-hour journey was thoroughly enjoyable, I managed to get a good rest and enjoyed most of the in-flight meals. The service was courteous and prompt as expected from a Japanese carrier. I’m the type of traveler who is never demanding and generally don’t need anything out of the ordinary so as long as the airline has an excellent standard of customer service, I’m a happy flyer.
Sakura Lounge at Narita International Airport
I feel like I’ve been to Narita Airport for a layover quite too often this year and with that in mind I’ve been able to experience 3 different lounges in Narita.
ANA First Class Lounge was the quietest one I’ve visited, Star Alliance Business Class Lounge was nothing special (it had no views of the tarmac and no natural light) but it is a decent size lounge with quiet corners suitable for business travelers to catch up on work.
One of the largest (and nicest) lounge in Narita is JAL Sakura Lounge & First Class Lounge located in T2 – Main Building. At the time I visited though, it felt more like a luxurious boarding gate instead of a lounge because there were too many people which made it feel a lot less exclusive.
Sakura Lounge is located on the lower level while the First Class Lounge is on the same level as the entrance.
Narita also has another JAL Sakura & First Class Lounge located in the Satellite Building within the same terminal.
Japan Airlines Sky Suite on B777-300ER
JL720 : Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles International Airport
Flight Time: 11 Hours (05:25 PM – 11:2o AM)
The business class in this aircraft is called the Sky Suite, each seat has an aisle access even though looking at the seat map it may look quite cramped, somehow they’ve managed to design it quite well to allow window and center seats to be fully-enclosed once the seat dividers are up.
I would not choose an aisle seat when traveling alone as it doesn’t have the same privacy as the window (A,K) or center (E) seats.
There are 49 open sky suites in this cabin and it was almost at full capacity when I boarded.
I was not able to pre-select a window seat online because it showed that all window seats have been taken but luckily the check-in counter in Jakarta was able to reassigned me to the last available window seat at 12A.
I’m a fan of sitting in the last few rows when in first or business class for the extra privacy. When sitting in coach (economy) though I would always try to sit as forward as possible because some carriers would allocate seats with larger leg rooms towards the front.
What I like about JAL Sky Suite:
- Window Seat has complete privacy & direct aisle access
- Extra long leg room for taller people
- On-board WIFI is affordable, around $18 for the entire flight or $8 for 1-hour (unlimited data)
- Would never say no to a good Japanese meal
What I don’t like about JAL Sky Suite:
- While I enjoy the privacy of my seat, I felt a little neglected several times during meal hours with the assumption that my seat was at the very back corner so they couldn’t see me very easily (or I was just forgotten).
- There was no storage or personal compartment by the seat (I couldn’t place my phone & laptop properly).
- Seat width was decent for my size, but it could be quite tight for larger-sized passengers.
- The in-flight (Western) movies were very limited that I believe I’ve seen them all! Singapore Airlines’ still has one of the most comprehensive movie library.
Would I fly JAL Sky Suite again?
Yes, if I can redeem the seat using points, for $30 and 70,000 AA miles it was definitely worth it. However if I was to pay a full business class fare of over $3,000 (one-way) I might consider other options such as Cathay Pacific, ANA or Singapore Airlines.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading.