By clicking "Checkout" you agree to understanding the terms and policies, including licensing, for these products.
Powered by

Japan Airlines Business Class B787-900 Tokyo Narita NRT to Seattle SEA

November 7, 2023
Osman Dadi
JAL Business Class in the B789 has a lot going for it, including very stable Wi-Fi excellent for working and excellent food, as expected. The seat offer lots of privacy and tons of window space, but one major drawback is the lack of storage. The service was chaotic and lacked a personal touch.
From
Tokyo Narita NRT
To
Seattle SEA
Duration
8h 35m
Via
Japan Airlines
Seat(s)
Business Class 8A (Rear Cabin)
Points Used
60,000 Alaska Miles
Cash Spent
$56.65

This flight was a relatively last-minute booking for a return from Japan after Memorial Day weekend 2023. I was looking forward to it since my experience in Japan Airlines First Class was incredible and was my favorite flight of 2022. I was super curious to see how JAL Business Class compares to my last experience with JAL First Class.

To make matters even more interesting, I took a very similar flight on ANA on the way TO Japan on this trip, from Vancouver to Tokyo, just a few days prior. That was also on a B787-900, so this return trip to Seattle would directly evaluate the competition on a similar route (in destination and length) on the same kind of aircraft in the same cabin type.

The Seats in JAL business class on the B787 are incredibly private
The Seats in JAL business class on the B787 are incredibly private

I booked this flight with Alaska Miles. However, it was late in the day since Japan Airlines released the award availability two weeks before the flight. As a result, there were no window seats available in the forward cabin due to my last-minute booking. Still, I managed to snag the last window seat in the second, smaller business-class cabin by routinely checking the seat map. Near the departure date, someone canceled, and I found the opening in the second cabin, seat 8A!

Japan Airlines Business Class My Impression

Overall, JAL Business has some serious pros and some minor gripes. This seat is definitely excellent in some regards, as it has lots of privacy and tons of window space, but one major con is the lack of storage. Also, the food is fabulous. I also loved the small touches like the Red Crane chopsticks holder, which reminds me of pure class (similar to Virgin Atlantic, for instance), not to mention the brilliant coffee option JAL provides.

On the downside, the service and organization felt chaotic and underwhelming on this particular flight. The boarding was poorly organized and needed more instruction from the ground team to the passengers hoarding the boarding area. I think some of this was just a group herd mentality they didn’t handle well.

JAL Business feels understaffed, and there was some lack of attention from the flight attendants. Upon Boarding and through the flight, greetings and general personal attention from the team, both on the ground and in the air, felt weak or nonexistent.

Booking a Japan Airlines Business Class Ticket

Booking this ticket was easy through the Alaska Portal, and I did so about two weeks before the flight. Searching around, I found 60,000 points awards available from Tokyo to cities on the USA West Coast and Vancouver, Canada.

Unfortunately, I had to time my booking since Japan Airlines only released the award availability two weeks before the flight. I found a Tokyo Narita to Seattle opening for May 30, just after Memorial Day.

The deal was not as good as before, sadly. Last year, I managed to snag a JAL First Class ticket for just 70,000 miles – which has since been heavily devalued by Alaska Airlines.

The Ground Experience

I checked in online, through the  Japan Airlines website, about 6 hours before the flight, and it was easy. Check-in was a six-step process that took about two minutes to finish on my phone. Unfortunately, since I booked my ticket so late, the aircraft had few seats open. I could not find another available window seat besides what I had already chosen, which is Seat 8A.

Transiting through Narita was an interesting albeit confusing experience
Transiting through Narita was an interesting albeit confusing experience
Japan Airlines aircraft models on display in Tokyo Narita
Japan Airlines aircraft models on display in Tokyo Narita
Getting to the International Departure terminal involves lots of lots escalators
Getting to the International Departure terminal involves lots of lots escalators

This was my first time at Narita, so navigating Narita from the Sky Express rail station at the airport took some time. The process entailed long walks, not to mention traversing three levels of escalators.

Even more escalators to get to the departure terminal at Tokyo Narita
Even more escalators to get to the departure terminal at Tokyo Narita

At Narita airport, the JAL check-in is at Area/Row J. This is on the third level, which is three or four levels above the Sky Xpress.

Finding my flight on the Japanese language departure board was fun
Finding my flight on the Japanese language departure board was fun
Making my Way to the J check-in area at Tokyo Narita
Making my Way to the J check-in area at Tokyo Narita

However, I learned my lesson navigating this airport, and I’ll definitely budget more time for this in the future. At the terminal, check-in was a straightforward and fast process. I waited just five minutes in the dedicated Business Class line. I received my boarding pass very quickly.

My Japan Airlines business class boarding card card and terminal map
My Japan Airlines business class boarding card card and terminal map

The other fantastic thing about Narita is the extremely fast security. Tokyo’s other airport, Haneda, can get extremely crowded even though it’s also efficient. However, although the airport design was more confusing, Narita felt easier to move through. My security and emigration process took just ten minutes.

Clearing security took a flash, what an impressive performance
Clearing security took a flash, what an impressive performance

The JAL Sakura Lounge and Boarding

Once past security, I headed to the JAL Sakura Lounge in NRT, which is actually combined with the JAL First Class Lounge. Fortunately, there were no extensive walks this time since the Sakura Lounge is located immediately after security.

The exit to the lounge with direction to Gate 63
The exit to the lounge with direction to Gate 63
The outside of the Sakura Business Class lounge
The outside of the Sakura Business Class lounge

At Narita, the setup is quite similar to that of Muscat MCT International Airport. Departure passageways on the upper level, and stairs and elevators to take you down to each Gate Area and waiting level. I got some fantastic views of my aircraft from this bird’s eye view vantage point.

The Gate layout affords some fabulous views of your plane from the gate
The Gate layout affords some fabulous views of your plane from the gate

It was about an 8-minute walk to my gate at number 63, and I took the stairs down to the gate area.

My flight was departing from gate 63
My flight was departing from gate 63
The escalator down to the gate 63 boarding area
The escalator down to the gate 63 boarding area

Boarding

I was in Group 2 this time, with Group 1 being for Elites and first-class passengers. Boarding for Group 2 started at 17:50 and was a little chaotic.  This is because they only announced Group 1, but everyone in Group 2 was lining up in 1, not knowing where to go.

Flying in Japan Airlines business class i was in boarding zone 2 this time around
Flying in Japan Airlines business class i was in boarding zone 2 this time around

In the end, boarding was slightly delayed, but overall, very timely. First, the crew spent about ten- or fifteen minutes loading passengers needing extra assistance because there were many elderly and families with children on this flight.

Heading out to the jet bridge to board my Japan Airline business class flight to Seattle
Heading out to the jet bridge to board my Japan Airline business class flight to Seattle

Following that, we went through a very brief Zone 1 and then Zone 2 for Business Class. Honestly, I thought both the agents and the passengers were thoroughly confused by the whole process.

Only one bridge was in operation for this flight
Only one bridge was in operation for this flight

After passing through the boarding pass scanning, we walked to the jet bridge. Here, only the second bridge was available to all passengers.

Waiting to board my Japan Airlines Business class flight
Waiting to board my Japan Airlines Business class flight

The Japan Airlines Business Class Cabin and Seats

The Japan Airlines Business Class is very tastefully decorated in JAL Beige, Dark Wood, Red, Dark Maroon Red, and Black Accents.

The Japan Airlines business class cabin center seating
Center cabin seating of Japan Airlines business class
Window seats have a small corridor which makes them incredibly private
Window seats have a small corridor which makes them incredibly private

In terms of lighting, JAL had very plain white lighting at night,  while LED lights changed between orange and white.

I had very little choice of window seats but i had to settle for 8A
I had very little choice of window seats but i had to settle for 8A
The view form behind into my seat next to the window
The view form behind into my seat next to the window

The windows were the standard B787 ones with auto-dimming window shades; I found this to be a very balanced lighting arrangement.

The center divider can be raised to create a much more private atmosphere
The center divider can be raised to create a much more private atmosphere

Japan Airlines Business Class Restrooms

The restroom I checked was nearest to my seat, in the middle of the plane, by the entry door and cabin service area. This is a small restroom, but slightly larger than what you typically find on this plane.

The Japan Airlines business class toilet
The Japan Airlines business class toilet

I love the bidet feature that you find on Japanese planes.

The special bidet feature is unique to Japanese airlines
The special bidet feature is unique to Japanese airlines

In addition, there are a couple of small amenities provided for passengers:

  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush

The amenities were missing on my first visit. However, that was remedied quickly, and they were repeatedly re-stocked for the duration.

The restroom was not well stocked with amenities at the start
The restroom was not well stocked with amenities at the start
Soon the restroom was well stocked and stayed like that for the whole flight
Soon the restroom was well stocked and stayed like that for the whole flight

One thing I LOVE about JAL is that the bathrooms are always kept spotlessly clean. Every major quality attentive airline needs to learn from this.

View into the Japanese Airlines business class bathroom
View into the Japanese Airlines business class bathroom

JAL’s attention to detail is often impeccable; after restocking and cleaning the bathroom, the toilet paper rolls are folded for the next person’s use.

Very neatly folded toilet paper, is ready for the next passangers
Very neatly folded toilet paper, is ready for the next passengers

Japan Airlines Business Class Seat 8A

JAL uses the Apex Suite, a unique business-class seat that consumes a ton of real estate but creates a fantastic experience, especially along the windows. I found mine to be pretty good and very private. This is because a small corridor takes you into this seat, making it very private.

You need to use this small corridor to access seat 8A
You need to use this small corridor to access seat 8A

Seat 8A is located in the middle of the rear cabin and has perfect window alignment. The seat has three different windows and no breaks or barriers. Sadly, it is directly adjacent to the engine, so the views are somewhat blocked).

The view from my seat was restricted by a rather large GE GenX engine
The view from my seat was restricted by a rather large GE GenX engine

You can find a huge TV screen to the front of the seat.

The IFE tv screen is huge
The IFE tv screen is huge
below the IFE screen is a small footrest
Below the IFE screen is a small footrest

While below the TV, there is an ottoman with a small storage below.

There is a very small footwell storage below the foot rest
There is a very small footwell storage below the foot rest

To the left of the TV is a  magazine storage slot, while the TV remote can be found on the right-hand side of the seat.

There is tiny magazine storage next to the IFE screen
There is tiny magazine storage next to the IFE screen

There is a reading light on the side by the head position and an overhead light, but no overhead air vents!

The reding lights on the side of the chair and in the overhead storage bins
The reding lights on the side of the chair and in the overhead storage bins

The headrest is wide, padded, and comfortable.

The Japan Airlines business class seat has a very comfortable headrest
The Japan Airlines business class seat has a very comfortable headrest

Near the entry to the seat, you can find a power port and a USB charging port.

The seat comes with a USB socket and power socket
The seat comes with a USB socket and power socket

The tray table comes out of the side, pulls up, and folds out. It was decently stable. However, it did provide a somewhat limited working area.

The tray table in the halfway out position
The tray table in the halfway out position
The tray table stowed away
The tray table stowed away
The table fully deployed it was not he most stable or easy to work on
The table fully deployed it was not he most stable or easy to work on

The one main issue with this seat was the lack of storage. I wasn’t sure where to put either of my laptops for take-off. Neither did I know where to put my shoes.

Shoe storage was an issue with these particular seats
Shoe storage was an issue with these particular seats

In terms of privacy, this seat is outstanding. There’s a partition on the side that can be raised or lowered. This can make the window seats particularly exceptionally private. I found it easy to sleep and not see a single bit of traffic in the aisle. I happened to be seated next to another travel-adventure and videographer couple, Jason and Rachel of Jaychel Adventures.

My seat with the mattress pad, and pillow
My seat with the mattress pad, and pillow
I was very impressed with my seat even though it had a restricted view.
I was very impressed with my seat even though it had a restricted view.

The seat also came with some amenities, including slippers.

Japan Airlines business class passengers receive a very comfortable pair of slippers
Japan Airlines business class passengers receive a very comfortable pair of slippers

However, that was not all, and JAL offered us temporary coats/sweaters for the flight. These were very comfortable for sleeping!

Japan Airlines also issues you some very comfortable jumper
Japan Airlines also issues you some very comfortable jumper
Me modelling the very comfortable JAL sweater.

Seat Controls

This seat was quite complex in its functionality, with a huge range of options, and the controls are just below the main seat surface.

The Japan Airlines has pretty complex seat controls
The Japan Airlines has pretty complex seat controls

There are five separate functions.

  • Seat firmness
  • Do Not Disturb button
  • Back and Forth
  • Sleep Mode
  • Landing and Take-Off Mode
My IFE screen and controls from the sleeping position
My IFE screen and controls from the sleeping position

Sleeping Mode

When it came time to catch up with some sleep, we were offered a mattress pad, pillow, and sleeping robe.

The seat with water, slippers, and other amenities
The seat with water, slippers, and other amenities

This combination makes sleeping on JAL amazing. This was such a comfortable sleeping experience, even though, sadly, it was very short. Sleeping is very private with the partition raised.

The privacy partition makes this seat extra private for sleeping
The privacy partition makes this seat extra private for sleeping

There is also a reading light for the seat, so you can lie in bed and catch up with your latest book.

The reading light available at the seat
The reading light available at the seat

Headphones

I don’t have much to say about the JAL headphones since I did not try them on this flight. Suffice it to say they are wrapped in plastic and found at each seat.

The amenity kit, slippers and mattress pad wrapped up for my journey
The amenity kit, slippers and mattress pad wrapped up for my journey

The Japan Airlines Business Class Amenity Kit

What can I say? I was a little disappointed, to be honest. The amenity kit was a bit lacking and very basic, but I did like the case that was provided and still use it. The JAL amenity kit is a Maison Kitsune brand.

If I were comparing, I would say that ANA offers a better amenity kit in Business Class with products I still use.

Japan Airlines Japan Airlines Maison Kitsune amenity kit
Japan Airlines Japan Airlines Maison Kitsune amenity kit

Amenity Kit Contents:

  • Tissue
  • Ear Plugs
  • Moisture Mask
  • Eyemask
  • Toothbrush
Japan Airlines Japan Airlines Maison Kitsune amenity kit contents
Japan Airlines Japan Airlines Maison Kitsune amenity kit contents

The Inflight Entertainment & Wi-Fi

The giant screen is the first thing that grabs your attention; it feels absolutely massive. While it does have touchscreen functionality, it is also operated by a controller on the side of the seat. Generally, the remote was more convenient due to the seat design.

The IFE screen on these planes is massive
The IFE screen on these planes is massive

The TV was bright, clear, and not grainy, and the interface was very fast and responsive. I didn’t watch or try movies, TV shows, or headphones since I was busy working. I mostly used it to track the flight on the moving map.

The seat controls are responsive and very fast
The seat controls are responsive and very fast
I mainly used the IFE for the flight map and spent the rest of my time working
I mainly used the IFE for the flight map and spent the rest of my time working

Wi-Fi

Again, compared to ANA, the Wi-Fi connectivity was easier, and to make things even better, the Wi-Fi Pricing is also more reasonable than on ANA.

I connected to the “Japan Airlines” Wi-Fi, which is a  Panasonic Internet Service. The paid options are as follows:

  • $10.15 for 60 min
  • $14.40 for 3 hours
  • $18.80 for Full Flight

I opted for the full flight option since I had lots to get done. I noticed the service was very stable, fast, and uninterrupted for the duration. It was a much better connection than I found on ANA.

If you plan on getting some work done on the flight and require a stable internet connection, I think JAL is a better choice than ANA. Unfortunately, there is no Free Wi-Fi Code for Business Class

The Flight 

This flight started before sunset, took off into the night, and arrived in the USA the “same day” but in the morning instead. It was a nice jump back in time.

Taking off into the night, there was not much to see. However, the views grew better midway into the flight as we chased the sunrise to the east. I must say I still prefer being in the forward cabin with a direct view of the turbofans.

Although in the way the view of the engine in the dawn light was something special
Although in the way the view of the engine in the dawn light was something special
Chasing the sunrise was a nice experience and led to some stunning views later on
Chasing the sunrise was a nice experience and led to some stunning views later on

On this flight, I did not have that much interaction with the crew in this cabin. This was a massive contrast to flying JAL First Class, where the crew is super attentive to your every need.

The crew felt less than attentive, and the cabin felt understaffed
The crew felt less than attentive, and the cabin felt understaffed

Although we boarded on time, we were delayed in leaving Tokyo Narita by about 30 minutes.

A Cathay Pacific aircraft next to us at the gate in Narita
A Cathay Pacific aircraft next to us at the gate in Narita

By the time we took off, the sun had set, and it was nearly nighttime.

The safety briefing was on the the IFE screen
The safety briefing was on the the IFE screen
The lights were dimmed as the cabin was prepared for takeoff
The lights were dimmed as the cabin was prepared for takeoff

Japan Airlines Business Class Service

The first thing I have to say is the JAL Flight Attendants in this cabin didn’t feel very personable. Kind, yes, but very little interaction beyond direct service. Clearly, this is the most significant difference between JAL First Class and Business Class levels of service. One is an extremely high caliber of service, whereas JAL out of Narita was a bit lacking.

However, the presentation was excellent, but the food I noticed was much fresher coming FROM Japan rather than from Canada. Is this a surprise? Not really.

I think airline food tends to be better when originating in the airline’s home country rather than on the return flight to the home base.

Pre-Departure Drinks

The seat came with a large water bottle, and as pre-departure service, I was given a choice between Champagne and Orange Juice; I chose OJ.

I had the choice of Champagne or Orange Juice, OJ was my poison
I had the choice of Champagne or Orange Juice, OJ was my poison

Post Departure Service

Once we were airborne, the flight attendant came around and distributed plastic-wrapped disposable wet towels.

A disposable wet towel was provided before the post departure service
A disposable wet towel was provided before the post departure service

Following that, we were offered a beautifully presented dual serving of olives and warm mixed nuts. The mixed nuts consisted of almonds and cashews, and a small fork was provided in a beautiful presentation.

The Unopened Wet towel
The Unopened Wet towel

I also  tried the Albert Bichot Bourgogne Vieillees Vignes de Pinot Noir 2018. My flight attendant recommended this when I asked for a choice between the Red Wines.

I also tried the signature JAL drink – the SkyTime Peach & Grape Mix, which I loved; it was super tasty and a bit tart/sweet—I continued to have this throughout the flight.

Olives, nuts and red wine was an awesome start to my day
Olives, nuts and red wine was an awesome start to my day

While all this was going on, the crew took our food order.

Japan Airlines Business Class Main Meal

Japan Airlines’ business class menu is very classy and elegant. I liked the graphical display of the different options. That helps navigate the experience because it’s difficult unless you know Japanese culture a bit more.

The Japan Airline business class menu
The Japan Airline business class menu
The Japan Airline business class menu front page
JAL business class menu front page
The Japan Airline business class menu second page
The Japan Airline business class menu second page
The Japan Airlines business class menu is very well laid
The Japan Airlines business class menu is very well laid
More image of the delicious Japan Airlines business class menu
More image of the delicious Japan Airlines business class menu
The various chefs who cater for Japan Airlines
The various chefs who cater for Japan Airlines

I chose the Japanese Menu selection on this flight, continuing my tradition of picking the local option on outbound flights from the home country.

Details of the Japanese menu
Details of the Japanese menu

The presentation of the main Japanese course offerings was incredible and exceptionally classy. I especially appreciated the Red Crane chopstick holder.

The little paper red crane was a nice touch and great presentation
The little paper red crane was a nice touch and great presentation

Starter Course array of five dishes:

The Japanese Airlines business class starter course
The Japanese Airlines business class starter course
Detailed look at the JAL starter course
Detailed look at the JAL starter course
  • Grilled Black Cod “Saikyo Miso” Flavor, Yuba Roll, Butterbur Stem, Duck Dumpling, Carrot, Bamboo Shoots, Japanese Pepper Buds – SO GOOD! I had this last, but this was my favorite, with layers of taste and different sensations that are hard to describe in words. This is the kind of dish I look forward to when flying JAL
The grilled black cod was sumptuous
The grilled black cod was sumptuous
  • Simmered Abalone and Sea Urchin in Abalone Broth Sauce – cold, sharp Sea Urchin taste, a bit tough, and a bad (fishy) aftertaste. Not my favorite.
I think I will pass on the simmered Abalone next time
I think I will pass on the simmered Abalone next time
  • Prawn Cake – cold, soft, light, chewy, and tastes like light prawns.
The prawn cake was yummy
The prawn cake was yummy
  • Omelette with Crab & Vegetables – cold, very soft, very light crab taste
I also enjoyed the crab omelet with vegies a very delicate balance of soft tastes
I also enjoyed the crab omelet with vegies a very delicate balance of soft tastes
  • Simmered Sakura Shrimp, Bracken, Potherb Mustard, Red Konjac & Deep-Fried Tofu – tiny shrimp, varied flavor, great for seafood lovers with a mix of green
The Sakura shrimp was delicious and tasty if you are a lover of sea food
The Sakura shrimp was delicious and tasty if you are a lover of sea food

Then came Dainomono, An absolutely amazing Main Dish! Much better than the appetizer.

  • Braised Beef with Garland Chrysanthemum – Fresh & Tasty
  • Udo Mountain Vegetable & Burdock
  • Deep-fried Salmon with Asparagus
  • Ren’s Special Curry – I LOVE curry, which was awesome.
Fabulous, every part of the main course was absolutely stunning
Fabulous, every part of the main course was absolutely stunning

The service also included the following.

Steamed Rice: this was very fresh and tasty.

The Steamed rice package was so tasty
The Steamed rice package was so tasty

Miso Soup with Aosa Seaweed and White Leeks

Again JAL did not disappoint and the miso soup was to die for
Again JAL did not disappoint and the miso soup was to die for

Kounomono: Picked Vegetables and simmered Kelp; this was a delicious dish.

I was surprised by how delicious the Picked Vegetables and simmered Kelp was.

Kanmi: Matcha Green Tea Pudding w. Strawberry and Red Bean Jam and Green Tea

JAL Café Lines – Coffee Of the Month

One of the unique aspects of flying with JAL is having excellent options for coffee. This time, we had the San Sebastian Coffee Estate “Bourbon Natural” x “San Miguel Antigua.”

If you love coffee then Japan Airlines is the company for you with its wide range of choices
If you love coffee then Japan Airlines is the company for you with its wide range of choices

The coffee was dark, toasty, and delicious, and I ordered several of these coffees throughout the duration of the flight.

The Japan Airlines business class coffee was awesome
The Japan Airlines business class coffee was awesome

Japan Airlines Business Class Meals on Demand

This flight had no official second meal service; JAL offers a pretty extensive On-Demand Food Menu.

The JAL on demand dining menu has lots of tasty options
The JAL on demand dining menu has lots of tasty options

Secondary Meal Before Landing

Because this flight is a shorter turn for a TransPacific flight, a second meal was not offered before landing, in its place, I just substituted my meals on demand as a secondary meal in the “morning,” after I got some sleep.

With about three hours of flight time remaining and no official landing meal service, I opted to get three “On Demand” meal items. I thought I would be getting them one at a time, but instead, they came served all at once! The Full-second service tray was nicely presented even though the table was moderately stable. I ordered the following On Demand items.

I was a little surprised that all my on demand choices were delivered at the same time
I was a little surprised that all my on demand choices were delivered at the same time
All my on demand food items
All my on demand food items
  • Salmon & Salmon Roe Rice Bowl: Oh my god, this was so good! I loved the Salmon Roe caviar; this was simply incredible.
Salmon Roe paired with the Salmon Rice Bowl
Salmon Roe paired with the Salmon Rice Bowl
  • Miyazaki Wagyu Curry: Again, utterly delicious, it brought me right back to some of the small curry restaurants in Japan.
The Miyazaki Wagyu Curry was outstanding
The Miyazaki Wagyu Curry was outstanding
  • “Sangenton” Pork Cutlet Sandwich: The truth is I was so full I didn’t have a chance to try this properly, as a result.
I am sure the “Sangenton” Pork Cutlet Sandwich was excellent although I was to full to try it
I am sure the “Sangenton” Pork Cutlet Sandwich was excellent although I was to full to try it

Snacks

The middle of the Japan Airlines business class cabin is kept stocked with a range of snacks, the same as what you find in JAL First Class. My favorite is the cheese snack & almond mix, although I also like the Jean Paul Hevin chocolate.

Japan Airlines business class array of snacks
Japan Airlines business class array of snacks

Arrival at Seattle

Before landing, a flight attendant came around to all Business Class passengers, offering an Eye Mask. Which I thought was a nice touch! However, I tried this on at home rather than in flight. It was highly refreshing, and I understand why these were delivered on the flight itself. On a future JAL flight, I’ll definitely use mine.

I thought the eye mask was an amazing touch from Japan airlines
I thought the eye mask was an amazing touch from Japan airlines
The next time I will use the mask on the flight and not take it home
The next time I will use the mask on the flight and not take it home

I also asked for one final coffee, which was promptly provided in a paper cup so that I could keep it during landing.

My last coffee was served in a paper cup so I could enjoy it during landing
My last coffee was served in a paper cup so I could enjoy it during landing

Due to a late departure, we were thirty minutes late into Seattle. We came in from the south, in a change of operations for me, and landed in cloudy and light rainy conditions.

Approaching into Seattle we were treated to some fabulous views
Approaching into Seattle we were treated to some fabulous views
Taxing in Seattle was relatively quick and we were at the gate in no time
Taxing in Seattle was relatively quick and we were at the gate in no time

Soon enough, we docked in the South terminal island, and for the first time, I experienced the extra-long sky bridge over the terminal at SeaTac, the tallest and longest in the world. The Japan Airlines plane really stood out in the sea of blue at SeaTac Airport.

My JAL aircraft all alone in a sea of Southwest and Delta aircraft
My JAL aircraft all alone in a sea of Southwest, Delta, and Alaska Airlines aircraft

I was happy to enter the United States, where I found the immigration and connection process very easy.

Finally on home soil and heading for my last leg and adventure home to New York city
Finally on home soil and heading for my last leg and adventure home to New York city

However, this is where my next adventure started. Initially, I planned to self-connect to Delta in Seattle, but my flight was canceled abruptly. Instead, I was transferred to a completely full Alaska Airlines Economy flight from Seattle to New York JFK. I was lucky to get one of the few remaining available seats on the flight.

Final Thoughts

This flight was an interesting contrast to my JAL First Class experience, which is definitely a huge level above in service, comfort, and food. I will definitely try this flight, JAL, and this route once again, and hopefully next time in the forward cabin.

JAL business class has a lot going for it, including very stable Wi-Fi, which is excellent for working. This seat is definitely cool in some regards, as it has lots of privacy and tons of window space, but one major drawback is the lack of storage.

The food was fantastic, as expected. While obviously not a dozen-course meal like in JAL First Class, it was nevertheless an excellent and well-presented foray into Japanese cuisine. I appreciate the small attention to detail, like the Red Crane chopstick holder. Not to mention the variety of coffee on offer.

Unfortunately, The service and organization were underwhelming and felt a bit chaotic. Not to mention, boarding was poorly organized and needed more instruction from the ground team to the passengers hoarding the boarding area. JAL’s business class felt understaffed, which took a toll on the attention the cabinteam could give their passengers.

This trip to Japan was remarkable in that I got to try ANA and JAL’s B789 products head-to-head. It’s hard to say who wins, as I enjoy them for different reasons. Japan Airlines offers a very “classic Japan” experience, whereas ANA has a more contemporary feel.

If there’s any area where ANA wins, it’s in their amenity kits and perhaps the quality of service. I need more sampling for a definitive answer on the latter. The seats and food are comparable and have different pros and cons so that really depends on what you want. I think JAL has better, more stable, and more active Wi-Fi, which makes it a better choice for working flights!

Overall, I love flying with Japan Airlines, and I will have a few more reviews from their flights soon!

Pros

  • Comfortable, private seat. Some might not like the Apex Suite, but I enjoyed it, especially the three-window arrangement.
  • Clean, spotless bathrooms. 
  • The food was fantastic, as expected. Japan Airlines does food well– in presentation, courses, and quality.
  • One of the unique parts of flying JAL is the excellent options for coffee.
  • Very stable Wi-Fi, great for working.
  • The eye mask before arrival was a great touch.
  • Also, I love the temporary sleeping robes offered in flight.

Cons

  • JAL Flight Attendants in this cabin didn’t feel very personable. Kind, yes, but very little interaction beyond direct service.
  • Chaotic boarding process. It could have been much better organized. The lack of communication threw off everyone and made everyone waiting to board more aggressive.
  • This seat is definitely excellent in some regards, but one major con is the lack of storage.

Verdict: 9.0/10