Japan Airlines’ Premium Economy offers a well-designed hard product in tandem with a refined soft-product which gives a glimpse of genuine Japanese hospitality in the sky. This combined delivers one of the best Premium Economy classes in the industry. Japan Airlines (JAL) is the national flag carrier and the country’s second-largest airline after All Nippon Airways (ANA). With a global network, JAL’s impressive international and domestic route maps help bring the world to Japan and take Japanese travellers wherever they want to go.
JAL is a member 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. JAL currently flies to 52 domestic and 39 international destinations in 21 countries, including North America, Asia, Oceania and Europe.
JAL’s own frequent flyer program is called JAL Mileage Bank (JMB). For the airline’s frequent flyers, JMB offers the Fly On Program with four membership levels, Crystal, Sapphire, JGC Premier and Diamond. There’s also JAL Global Club (JGC), for JAL’s most experienced and valuable travellers.
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 JAL is no different. From the check-in experience to security and boarding, the airline’s staff is welcoming and polite.
Japan Airlines Premium Economy passengers can use the impressive Sakura Lounges when departing Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Osaka-Kansai and Nagoya from Japan, and internationally from Honolulu, San Francisco, Frankfurt, and Bangkok.
The Sakura Lounge is a soothing place - ‘sakura’ being the Japanese word for cherry blossom. It is a large modern space with plenty of seating in an assortment of neutral hues with a buffet station offering both Japanese and Western dishes together with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. There are newspapers and magazines, PCs, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The Sakura Lounge at Tokyo-Narita even has a kids’ room, nap rooms, showers and massage chairs.
Worth noting is that passengers who upgrade to Premium Economy at the airport are not permitted to use the Sakura Lounge. Premium Economy passengers also get priority boarding, after First and Business Class, of course.
JAL’s long-haul fleet that features Premium Economy consists exclusively of Boeing widebody jets, and can be found on the B777-200ER, B777-300ER, B787-8 and B787-9 aircrafts – which in turn comes in different configurations due to the size difference of the fuselage. Despite certain nuances, one can adhere to the rule that the B777s have 8 seats per row in a layout of 2-4-2, whereas there are 7 seats per row on the B787s that have a 2-3-2 configuration. Seat maps provide a good indication of what to expect, and it is worth noting that the seat rows in Premium Economy are arranged in an incredible 42 inches of pitch – truly industry-leading.
JAL calls the seats in its Premium Economy cabin “JAL SKY PREMIUM”, and feature a noticeably Japanese design. The seats are designed to emphasise functionality and privacy, and seatbacks in front of you do not recline backwards, but rather slides forward – hence the advantage of having an industry-leading pitch. Seats are equipped with power and USB ports, an adjustable head and foot rest, a centre divider for increased privacy and a large tray table.
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Japan Airlines inflight menu varies according to the route. Passengers flying long-haul including the USA, Europe, and Oceania can enjoy a menu from the Sky Wellness Kitchen and Tanita Café - a concept cafe which promotes mental health, with dishes designed to ‘please the body’ including a salmon and millet short pasta bowl. Those travelling to Honolulu and Kona can enjoy a menu created by Namae Shinobu, grand chef at French restaurant, L’Effervescence, with signature dishes of beef ribs and chestnut lasagna.
On all other routes where Premium Economy is offered, passengers can enjoy a menu devised by six finalists of Japanese television show RED, who have partnered with chef Fumiko Kono to create a menu with themes including ‘Love For The Planet’, ‘Love For The Society’ and ‘Love For Ourselves’. JAL’s Udon De Sky - a tasty cup of udon wheat noodles is also available for its Premium Economy passengers.
Premium Economy passengers can enjoy Champagne (Vollereaux Brut Reserve N.V.), wine (JAL has its own range of wines blended using five different French grape varieties created by Okoshi Motohiro), beer, Japanese sake and Japanese shochu (a distilled liquor that is more popular than sake in Japan), whisky, gin, vodka, brandy, and plum wine. There are juices (including JAL’s signature Skytime peach and grape mix), soft drinks, tea (including Ayataka, a Japanese cooled-green tea) and coffee.
The service provided by Japan Airlines cabin crew is generally excellent and, in many cases, outstanding. 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.
The current JAL crew uniforms were launched in 2020 and were created by designer Yasutoshi Ezumi, who worked for Alexander McQueen before launching his own Tokyo-based label. The uniforms incorporate a range of materials and are navy with red belts, balloon-shaped sleeves and accessorised with scarves.
JAL’s inflight entertainment system – the JAL Entertainment Network - is delivered via a 31-centimetre (12.1-inch) touch-panel screen, which can also be operated using a handheld controller. The system offers a good range of Japanese and international films, television series, music, e-books and games and is complemented by Sony noise-cancelling headphones. Wi-Fi is available on all international JAL flights for a fee, with plans ranging from one hour to the whole duration of the flight.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on WiFi and inflight entertainment.
The Japan Airlines Premium Economy amenity kit is basic - a toothbrush set, moisture mask, earplugs and eye mask. Warm aromatic towels are supplied prior to the meal service. Slippers are also provided together with blankets and pillows.
JAL primarily deploys its older Boeing 737 fleet on short-haul routes, but is in the process of upgrading to newer, more fuel efficient aircraft. The airline does not offer a Premium Economy service on its domestic routes. However, on high-demand domestic routes out of Tokyo, the airline flies a newly-purchased and specially configured A350 fleet. The aircraft is high-density and sits 8-abreast in its Domestic Business Class, called “J Class” - which offers the excellent service akin to Premium Economy on international routes.
JAL plans to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft can help meet that target - operating the Airbus A350 can reduce CO2 emissions by 15% - 25% compared with conventional aircraft. JAL wants to be a leader in sustainable airline fuel (SAF) and plans to replace 10% of its fuel with SAF by 2030. The airline has a range of schemes to reduce, redesign and recycle waste, including plans to compost the more than 150 tons of leftover food residue each year by 2025. Passengers themselves can contribute by using JALs Carbon Offset initiative.
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.