BusinessClass.com - Review of Japan Airlines Business Class
Japan Airlines Business Class
BusinessClass.com expert review by Ramsey Qubein
9
/10
A great flight you will recommend to friends
Airport Experience - 9/10
Cabin & Seat - 8/10
Cuisine - 9/10
Beverages - 8/10
Service - 9/10
Entertainment - 8/10
Amenities & Facilities - 9/10
Short & Medium Haul - 8/10

Review of Japan Airlines Business Class

Japan Airlines – referred to as JAL, is the country’s flag carrier and the second largest airline in Japan – behind ANA. With a global network and distinctive onboard service reminiscent of what you will find in the finest hotels and restaurants in Japan, JAL’s impressive international and domestic route maps help bring the world to Japan and take Japanese travellers wherever they want to go.

Part of this wide reach is possible thanks to its membership of the oneworld alliance. It joins an impressive roster of global airlines including American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Qantas, Qatar and Royal Jordanian. Frequent flier members of any oneworld carrier can earn and redeem miles for their flights, and oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members can enjoy access to oneworld lounges no matter what cabin they are travelling in when flying internationally.

There is also the opportunity to codeshare with these airlines - travellers can fly multiple oneworld airlines on the same ticket.

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9/ 10

Airport experience

Japan Airlines operates major hubs at both Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita airports. It also flies from many of the country’s other major airports including Nagoya and Osaka. Japanese hospitality blends respect and kindness with formality, and Japan Airlines is no different. From the check-in experience to security and boarding, the airline’s staff is welcoming and polite.

The airline’s Sakura Lounges feature Business and First Class sections. The latter is only available to First Class passengers as well as oneworld Emerald elite members. Business Class passengers can enjoy the Sakura Lounge which comes complete with beautiful runway views, a selection of hot & cold Japanese or international food, an open bar and, in many locations, shower facilities.

Lounges are in both Tokyo airports plus Nagoya and Osaka. Overseas, a Sakura Lounge is available in Bangkok, Frankfurt, Honolulu, Manila and San Francisco. In other cities, Business Class passengers have access to partner and oneworld lounges where available.

When it comes time to embark, Business Class passengers enjoy priority boarding.

8/ 10

Cabin & Seat

The airline’s long-haul fleet consists exclusively of Boeing widebody jets. The fleet includes a mishmash of Boeing 767, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft that all come in a range of configurations with varied styles of seats. Some are in a 1-2-1 setup, others in a 2-2-2 configuration and some even in a tight 2-3-2. With so many configurations, and plans to continue updating and retrofitting, it can be hard to understand which product is offered on which flight. Seatmaps provide a good indication of what to expect. Japan Airlines have also added the Airbus A350 to its fleet, but with a high-density configuration, thankfully confined to domestic flights.

The Business Class cabins on Japan Airlines all feature a distinctly Japanese design, largely using tones of black and grey, with seat shells in cream and white. Long-haul flights all offer the JAL SKY SUITE with fully flat beds, although in three very different designs.

Arguably the best version is simply named the JAL SKY SUITE and is offered on select Boeing 777s and 787s. Although the 2-2-2 configuration on the Boeing 787 and 2-3-2 on the Boeing 777 may be on the tight side, the suites are remarkably comfortable. Every suite offers direct aisle access thanks to clever positioning, and retractable partitions add privacy. For couples, the privacy partition can be lowered for conversation. For the most private of all suites, select one by the window. Entertainment is provided on 23-inch monitors, and Airweave mattresses and pillows help provide a good rest on long flights. Bulkhead seats offer greater legroom.

Another popular seat is the JAL SKY SUITE III, which comes in a standard 1-2-1 reverse herringbone setup on other Boeing 777s and 787s. Every seat has direct aisle access and good privacy thanks to all seats facing slightly away from the aisle and featuring winged seat shells. Pairs of seats in the centre section are ideal for couples because you can lean forward and chat together or sit back in privacy thanks to a movable central divider. These seats feature 17-inch monitors.

The final version of the JAL Business Class long-haul seat is the JAL SKY SUITE II, which is only featured on select Boeing 767-300ERs. They come in a staggered 1-2-1 setup and feature a 15.4-inch monitor.

In addition to the flat-bed JAL SKY SUITES, Japan Airlines also offers three more seat types in Business Class. The JAL SHELL FLAT NEO reclines to an angled flat bed and the JAL SKYRECLINER is more like a cradle seat. The even older JAL SKYLUXE seat is a standard recliner seat with generous legroom. It is best to avoid the reclining or angled lie-flat seats that are low on privacy and comfort. These are mostly used on regional routes aboard the Boeing 767 and 787 Dreamliner, but are sometimes used on longer flights.

Power outlets are convenient in all setups, and tray tables are easy to unfold. Small storage areas detail thoughtful touches such as a place for reading glasses, a water bottle or reading material. Still, with such a dizzying array of seat types, be sure to pay attention to the route and aircraft type.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested, before making your choice.

9/ 10

Cuisine

Japan Airlines offers exceptional cuisine as part of its BEDD menu program and serves traditional Japanese fare as well as international dishes to please every palate. While the airline does not provide a pre-departure beverage during boarding, the rest of the inflight service experience is designed to impress. It begins with a printed menu explaining all of the options. Passengers can choose between a Japanese set menu, which is traditionally heavy on seafood or an international menu with choices including beef or chicken. A vegetarian option is sometimes available.

JAL is known for its chicken curry served with rice. This signature dish is available in many of its airport lounges as well as onboard as part of its snack menu. Snacks are available à la carte in between the traditional meal times. Other options include sandwiches, ramen noodles and rice dishes.

After takeoff, flight attendants come to each seat to greet passengers and offer a drink with salty snack. Soon, they lay the linens and begin the multi-course meal, which is served on trays. Since the airline offers first class on many planes, the tray service differentiates Business and First Class, but it is all delivered with grace and precision.

Some of the Japanese dishes come from well-known chefs including Fumiko Komo - known for her healthy Japanese fare and Yuki Onishi - known for his Japanese soba noodle ramen. On flights leaving Europe, a new donburi rice bowl program is designed to represent many of the destinations the airline serves on the continent. Options include a London bowl, Finland bowl and Frankfurt pork bowl.

For two decades, JAL has served Maison Kayser breads and pastries as well as Jean-Paul Hévin chocolates.

JAL has BEDD meal options for children prepared by well-known chefs. Passengers of all ages can reserve the inflight menu for their flight online before the flight. This helps passengers decide what they want or whether they prefer to order a special dietary request meal. There is no “dine-on-demand” service.

If passengers know in advance that they want to sleep, they can make a sustainable choice and choose the “no meal” option before departure. This means that no food will be catered for them on the flight, which helps to reduce waste.

8/ 10

Beverages

The bar menu offers a wide range of international wines, Japanese sake and a long list of spirits and beers. Of note is the airline’s wine advisor Motohiro Okoshi who provides his thoughts and feedback as an international sommelier for the inflight wine, sake and sochu list. Japan Airlines rotates its Business Class Champagne offering, which include excellent choices including Delamotte Blanc de Blancs, Ayala Brut Majeur and Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve Champagne.

Soft drinks, juices, coffee and tea are on offer including green, black and herbal teas. There is also a Japanese cooled-green tea – Ayataka - on board.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes, but feel free to let us know if there is something we missed. 

9/ 10

Service

JAL crews are among the best in the world, and that is in part due to the art of Japanese hospitality. While they do not pass through the cabin regularly to offer refills or check on passengers, the crew are always available at the touch of a button. They prefer to give people the quiet opportunity to rest, but are very eager to please and make passengers feel welcome. Crews do speak English but expect the occasional request to be lost in translation…

8/ 10

Entertainment

Programming is available in many languages with noise-reducing headphones available before takeoff at each seat. There is a variety of international films, sitcoms, documentaries and music albums available. Another popular feature are the interactive, on-screen games including mahjong and word puzzles.

To keep apprised of the aircraft’s location, a moving map display is available. Inflight Wi-Fi is available on many flights for a flat hourly fee with the option to pay a discounted price to stay connected the entire flight.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi.

9/ 10

Amenities & Facilities

In 1958, seven years after its inaugural flight, Japan Airlines adopted the tsurumaru or “crane circle” as its logo, featuring a crane bird with its wings forming a circle around its head. In early 2021, Japan airlines unveiled a new design for its inflight amenities and they all revolve around tsurumaru. The uber-trendy Japanese design house Nendo swung into action and came up with the idea of integrating the lines and geometries of a red folded paper crane – a symbol of peace, prayer, and hospitality – as the principal design for the remit. 

To this end, blankets, napkins, and tablecloths feature the birds head in the form of red triangles in the corners, while small red tags are visible on the edges of the pillows, pyjamas, eye masks, slippers, and cutlery bands. The trays, menu cards and pouches are printed lightly with paper crane motifs. Nendo used seven tones of grey in its designs – with the middle hue resplendent in Business Class – giving it a contemporary and sharp look. The Nendo-designed amenities look fabulous and will surely end up being as much collected as used by passengers.  

Japan Airlines keeps changing the design of the Business Class amenity kit. Recent iterations have included designs by Zero Haliburton and Tatsamura, a Japanese textile designer. Contents include high-quality beauty products and toiletries, and additional items are available from a basket including moisture masks and aromatherapy spray. For those that feel chilly, cardigan sweaters are available from the crew to use in addition to the pillow and blanket provided at each seat. Many passengers may find the cabins already too warm, however. Slippers are provided on all routes.

Families travelling with infants can request a bassinet on long-haul flights to use at certain seats.

8/ 10

Short & Medium Haul

On shorter flights, it is more common to find the recliner-style seats, but the service quality remains the same with excellent hospitality, an open bar and a meal based on the length of the flight. While it may not be as elaborate as long-haul flights, there is always an option between Japanese and international cuisine.

Domestic flights within Japan are known to offer unusual seating configurations, often in a high-density layout even in Business Class. Expect Boeing 737s featuring 2-3 seating and Boeing 777s with a tight 2-4-2 setup in Business Class.

Sustainability

Energy conservation, carbon emission reduction and recycling are all core elements of JAL’s sustainability efforts, but the airline takes things a step further. It conducts classes for students to teach them how to be better stewards of the environment. The airline is also honing in on biodiversity efforts and reducing noise in the airport communities it serves.

Japan Airlines has a long-term partnership with UNICEF dating back to 1991, and is part of the Change For Good foreign coins collection initiative, along with several other airlines. In recognition of this partnership, the UNICEF logo can be found on the fuselage of Japan Airlines aircraft.

The JAL Group takes part in Japan’s social contribution program, TABLE for TWO. When staff dine at the JAL Employee Cafeteria, 20 yen per menu item is donated to the program, an amount equivalent to one school lunch in a developing country, and for every meal eaten, one school lunch is presented to children in developing countries. 

Since 2004, Japan Airlines supports the objective of the Breast Cancer Campaign. The airline participates in awareness-raising activities such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October and operates Pink Ribbon Flights and sells pink ribbon products aboard flights to raise awareness of customers.

The JAL Foundation was established in 1990 and is committed to carrying out projects which contribute to a “New Global Age of Aviation” and to fostering international exchanges which will help create globally-minded citizens. One of the activities organized by the JAL Foundation is the biannual “World Children’s Haiku Contest”, where children under the age of 15 from around the world are invited to submit a haiku under a specific theme together with a hand-drawn or hand-made artwork that captures a scene or memory related to the haiku, the world’s shortest form of poetry.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.

What We Love

  • The Japanese hospitality both inflight and during the airport experience.
  • A wide array of high-end food and beverage partnerships with well-known brands and Japanese personalities.
  • The JAL SKY SUITE. Found on the carrier's Boeing 777s and 787s, they offer comfort, privacy - when needed - and 23-inch monitors. 

 

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