Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Introduction
I’ll be honest – I didn’t even realize Japan Airlines had a business class configuration with reverse herringbone seats. I knew they had the Apex Suite, since I flew it on their 787 from Delhi to Tokyo on my crazy 11-day trip around the world, and I assumed they would operate some sort of regional configuration with outdated seats within Asia, similar to what ANA does. I was pleasantly surprised when booking my trip to Singapore to find a fully-flat product with direct aisle access from every seat on the Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class product.
I booked this flight using 75,000 Alaska Airlines miles, which included my first class flight from San Francisco to Tokyo on Japan Airlines. Normally that flight would be 70,000 miles, so I considered it really good value to pay an additional 5,000 miles for the connecting flight (almost 7 hours) in business class.
My flight was scheduled to depart at 9:50pm from Singapore, so I spent much of my time at the impressive British Airways Business Class Lounge before heading to the gate. Singapore Changi has 4 airport lounges for passengers departing in premium cabins on oneworld flights, so I would encourage anyone wanting to full experince to take advantage of early check-in offered by most airlines and do a bit of lounge hopping.
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Security checks at Changi are performed at the gate, but are super efficient, so about 10 minutes prior to scheduled boarding I made my way over and was through in less than 5-minutes. Boarding began right on time, but I have to say I’m not a fan of the Japan Airlines boarding process. First to board was anyone requiring special assistance, followed by all JAL elite members, followed by all oneworld elite members, followed by business class. By the time business class was called, literally half the plane had boarded, which made taking photos extremely difficult (my apologies for the poor photo quality).
The Flight: Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Singapore To Tokyo
Japan Airlines 36
Singapore Changi (SIN) – Tokyo (HND)
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Arrive: 05:25am (next day)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 2D (Business Class)
This review is going to be fairly short, since it was an overnight sleeper flight with limited service, and the cabin was packed/dark, which didn’t allow for a lot of high-quality photography. I flew the same configuration on my segment between Tokyo and Singapore and had basically the same overall impression: not great.
I was greeted at the door and pointed towards my seat, 2D – the first row of centre seats in the business class cabin. Due to the chaotic boarding process, I was basically the last person to board and didn’t get many pictures of the cabin. This reverse herringbone configuration is a bit more cramped feeling than say, Cathay Pacific or Air Canada, and the cabin being full didn’t help. Apparently Japan Airlines won an award for designing a high-density configuration that felt spacious, though to me this definitely felt high-density.
Seat privacy was as good as it gets for this style of seating, with a privacy divider between the middle seats. Once settled in, it was pretty tough to see anyone else in the cabin without physically trying.
The seat itself is fairly comfortable, with a decent amount of personal storage. Seat controls are basic, and it was a bit tough finding a comfortable relaxed position given the seats don’t have leg rests, which was a bit surprising. Each seat came equipped with a personal reading light, and power plugs.
During boarding the crew came around with menus, along with cards for passengers to complete indicating whether or not they wished to be woken up for breakfast service. I decided to skip breakfast, since the menu looked unappetizing and I knew I would have plenty of time in Tokyo for a bite to eat. Most importantly, though, I wanted to maximize my sleep time.
The menu was fairly limited, with Japanese and Western options prior to landing, and a small snack after take-off, along with a very decent beverage menu and a couple of anytime options.
Boarding was quick, and we pushed back right on schedule. The seatbelt sign was turned off about 15 minutes after take-off, at which point crew came around with warm towels and offered beverage and snack service.
Before the larger snack was served, I decided to check out the lavatory and get changed into something more comfortable. The bathroom was basic, but clean, and featured a few amenities such as toothbrushes and mouthwash.
The snack arrived shortly after I returned to my seat, and consisted of a sautéed prawn along with a steamed chicken in ginger sauce. It was delicious, and I actually could have eaten about 10 more (conservatively).
The amenities on this overnight business class flight were fairly sparse, with slippers, a basic amenity kit, small blanket and pillow. The headphones were flimsy and felt cheap, but provided surprisingly decent sound quality.
Naturally I couldn’t fall asleep right after eating, so I decided to browse the entertainment selection. I thought the movie selection was very good, though the headphones were a bit uncomfortable. Screen size was great for business class, and the resolution was sharp.
I managed to fall asleep about 2 hours after takeoff, and was really annoyed when breakfast service started a whopping 2.5 hours prior to landing!! Is it just me, or does that seem a bit early considering this was a medium-haul redeye flight. I ended up only getting about 2-hours of sleep, and still can’t figure out why they needed to start serving so early.
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I watched a bit more of the IFE before we began our descent into Tokyo. We touched down around 5:15am, and made a short taxi to the gate, where I quickly cleared transit security and headed towards the first class lounge, which was scheduled to open at 6am.
Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Bottom Line
This was probably my least favourite business class flight to date, mainly because I really needed to sleep for the bulk of it, which didn’t really happen due to the strange service timing. Actually, come to think of it, my three worst business class flights have all been on Japan Airlines (the Singapore to Tokyo flight a few days prior to this, and my Dreamliner flight from New Delhi to Tokyo last year – both of which I was barely able to sleep).
Admittedly, these were all overnight flights where I planned to rest but couldn’t, and probably not a fair assessment of their business class overall. I have a feeling if I tried Japan Airlines during the day I would have a completely different opinion, but I just don’t get their service flow on these (reasonably) short redeye flights. Starting breakfast 2.5 hours prior to landing isn’t necessary, and it really cut into precious sleep time (and I assume most passengers want to maximize sleep on overnight flights). While all of the cabin crew were friendly and well-intentioned, the timing of everything just didn’t work, and I think one meal service would have been enough on this flight.
It was still a great deal adding just 5,000 additional Alaska miles to book this ticket to Singapore as an add-on to my first class flight from North America, I would just time it differently next time to arrive in Tokyo a bit earlier for an onward flight. Japan Airlines has a number of flights that get into Tokyo early afternoon, which would be early enough to connect to many of their early evening flights onward within Asia, which I suspect would be a completely different experience!
Have you experienced Japan Airlines business class on an overnight flight? How did your experience compare with mine? Let me know in the comment section below!