My business class flight from New Delhi landed just before 7:00am and I couldn’t have been happier to be off that plane. I had been planning to sleep most of the flight, but got only a couple of hours due to the strange service schedule on the overnight flight. Thankfully I had a 4 hour layover in Tokyo and was connecting on Japan Airlines in first class, meaning I would get access to their best lounge product at Narita Airport. I was excited to see how the JAL lounge would compare to my favourite Cathay Pacific lounge at Vancouver Airport and my more recent experience at The Qantas first class lounge at LAX.
The airport in Tokyo is eerily quiet first thing in the morning, and transit security took less than a minute with nobody in line. I found my way to the lounge thanks to the ample signage throughout the airport, and was at the entrance less than 10 minutes from arrival at the gate.
Unfortunately for me, the lounge didn’t open until 7:30am, so I had about 20 minutes to kill which I did by walking through the mostly deserted terminal. The doors opened at 7:30 sharp and I was warmly greeted by two staff at the front desk. Upon entering, first class passengers and select loyalty program elites have access to the first class lounge on the top floor, while business class and other elite members can head to the right and downstairs for the large Sakura business class lounge.
The lounge access chart is a bit confusing in my opinion… Thankfully the website also provides a legend for decoding the many symbols.
Since my next flight was in first class, it was obvious enough that I had full lounge privileges, including the first class lounge or Sakura business class lounge. I’ve also read reports that people have no issue accessing the first class lounge with an arriving flight in first and connecting on a flight in business class, however your experience may vary depending on the staff member, time of flights, etc.
The lounge is really beautiful, with rich Japanese decor and minimalist style. The entire space was empty for the first 30 minutes I was there, which was great for taking photos. I often feel weird taking pictures of crowded lounges, as I know I wouldn’t want to be in someone else’s photos… Seating was generous, with various sections including semi-private work areas, group seating options, and a long row of chairs facing the airside operations with fantastic views.
I settled in one of the seats near the window and took in the views of all the airside operations. Directly behind the row of chairs was a television area with semi-private seating options.
The lounge had a separate eating area with a selection of hot and cold breakfast items on display, though I wasn’t hungry after being up all night.
Instead I decided to checkout the large selection of sake and other beverages. While I did try some sake, I settled on some champagne, since it was breakfast….
There was also a selection of liquor available, as well as some self serve soda, beer, and coffee. A small selection of snacks and breakfast options were available at the bar.
Just past the entrance on the left hand side was a large area for luggage storage with private lockers.
On the other side of the hallway was a small business area with private phone rooms and copy machine. Beyond that was the bathroom, showers, and rest area, where passengers could also enjoy a short complimentary massage.
I might be the only person in the world who truly dislikes massages, so I opted for the massage chair instead, which I find much more enjoyable.
I took a stroll downstairs to check out the Sakura business class lounge, which was much like upstairs with less desirable views of the airside operations and higher density seating. The lounge also featured a large smoking room, which seemed well ventilated and clean.
I had been given a second wind (could have been the champagne…) and decided to get some work done for the rest of my time in the lounge.
My flight to Jakarta ended up boarding a few minutes late, which one of the lounge attendants had informed me of in advance, and at about 10:45am I was on my way.
The Japan Airlines lounge exceeded my expectations in every way. The design was aesthetically pleasing and very functional, the space never felt crowded, and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. The food and beverage selection was fantastic (especially compared to what one might expect at a North American lounge) and the amenities were generous, including complimentary (short) spa treatments, massage chairs, rest rooms, showers, smoking lounge, business services, and luggage storage. Best of all, there was generous seating overlooking the airside operations with fantastic views from the top floor.
Using Alaska miles to book Japan Airlines first class was a bargain at 30,000 miles for two segments spanning 18 hours in premium cabins, and was made even better by such a great lounge to quickly pass the 4 hour layover in Tokyo. Although my business class flight was somewhat underwhelming on Japan Airlines from New Delhi, my faith in the airline was quickly restored after this visit and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Japan Airlines to anyone wanting to experience a luxury travel experience to Asia.