With our connection in NRT for our journey to Bangkok, we connected on JAL 707 NRT – BKK.
Since JAL doesn’t offer first class service on this route we were booked in JAL Business Class.
In this trip report we take a look at their hard product and what to expect on what would be considered a trans-con flight in the U.S.
Japan Airlines (JAL) flight JL707
NRT-BKK Gate 87
Thursday, 15 September 2016
Flight Time: 5+25
Seats: 7A and 7C
With our ground time in NRT already at a premium due to our late inbound first class flight from LAX, boarding was about to start for the second leg of our journey. Now, this may seem impossible to some that work in the airline industry and I’m finding myself still in question on how it happened. Departure time for our flight was at 18:20 for a FULL 787.
We arrived at the gate at 18:03 and were among the first few business class passengers to start boarding (yeah, that’s 17 minutes from departure for those keeping track).
At 18:17 the door was closed.
They boarded a FULL 787, business and coach in 14 minutes. 14 MINUTES!
A turn time that would make Southwest envious. It still doesn’t seem possible that in the U.S. it takes most airlines a full 40 minutes to board a 737/A330?!,but JAL can board a full 787 in 14 minutes. MIND BLOWING!
As we boarded we saw the cool boarding plaque with the names of the pilots and lead cabin attendant.
Our seats for this leg were located at 7A and 7C.
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JAL’s 787 does not offer a First Class product. And this plane features what I call their “old” business class shell seats. Unfortunately, it didn’t feel like the “Shell Flat Neo” seats we read about on the JAL website.
First off, I try my best not to be a negative person, I only like speaking great things, however, I have to say these seats were uncomfortable. They don’t go flat, they rest at an angle. There is just no easy way to find a comfortable spot to sleep in these seats. I know, I know, first world problems. I love JAL and everything about them, but these seats have got to go! They might work for a shorter flight, but with a flight time of 5+ hours I feel you really need lay flat seats.
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Let’s take a look around the seat. There are controls for massage and to lay flat (at an angle)
In the bulk head seat there isn’t any storage room. So as with most carriers all bags must go in the overhead for take off and landing. As to seat space, it’s limited as well as the IFE is in the armrest. However, leg room was very nice.
On this flight, JAL doesn’t offer amenity kits, so the FAs bring a basket of items around and you can pick out what you need. More are available in the lav during the flight. Headsets were at the seat and a small pillow and thin blanket were at each seat.
Before the start of the safety demo the FAs bow to the passengers. A nice touch.
Push back was fast and we got off the ground pretty quick in NRT. Considering this is rush hour there, it wasn’t bad.
At exactly 10,000 feet the seat belt sign was turned off and the service started.
This 787 featured WiFi. So, if you remember from our first flight on JAL First Class, we were given complimentary WiFi codes. I remembered as I was logging in a screen had appeared and said, “you now have access for the next 24 hours”. Weird, but ok. I was curious if the code would work again. I tried to login and SUCCESS! Without missing a beat we had free WiFi left over from our first flight for the next 5+ hours.
I have to give it to JAL on their WiFi speed and pricing. It’s a tuff one to beat on any carrier I’ve flown.
Another great feature of JAL is they allow you to pre-order your meals in first or business. Ordering for business class couldn’t have been easier. Simply find the menu on their website, input your PNR and you are all set.
The difference between pre-ordering for First is that you must call reservations, with business it’s all done online!
Our FA confirmed with us our preorder and even thanked us as she said it makes it much easier for them. A nice thought to share with us.
First up hot towels.
Then some tasty Japanese snacks were offered and drinks. I had a sparkling water and Mitch had JAL’s signature drink, “Sky Time Kiwi”.
Mitch had chosen the western meal and we will run though his courses first. He started with White Fish Salad with Spanish Dressing.
Followed by the main course of “Wagyu” Beef Sirloin Steak with Truffle Flavored Fond de Veau & Soy Sauce, “Sudachi” Citrus.
Finished with Chestnut Tiramisu
I had pre-ordered the Japanese meal. The menu is created by Chef Jun Kurogi of “Kurogi” Yushima Tokyo.
First course which came beautifully presented in a wooden box and bow was a Selection of seasonal colorful delicacies: Prawn with Japanese Style Tartar Sauce & Caviar. Flower-Shaped Lotus Root Japanese Pepper Flavored Pacific Saury Egg Roll with Eel, Salted Duck and Steaed Taro. Braised Pork Sukiyaki Style Carrot, Slow Cooked Egg, Shiitake Mushroom, Welsh Onion and “Konnyaku” Noodles with Snow Pea. Vinegared Persimmon and Vegetables with Sesame Cream. And finally, Poached Pike Conger with Pickled Plum Kelp Flavored Pufferfish.
We did an unboxing video here:
This has to be one of the most impressive business class meals I’ve seen on a plane. Especially on a regional route.
The Dainomono (Main Course) was Japanese Style Stewed Beef Tongue and Miso-marinated Salmon with Steamed Rice, Miso Soup and Japanese Pickles.
Finally, a build your own dessert was offered. The Kanmi was Rice Wafers stuffed with Adzuki Bean Jam.
At this point the FAs cleared service items and offered bottles of water. We struggled to sleep for about the next 4 hours. However, as noted above, the seats were NOT sleep worthy.
About 90 minutes before landing FAs came though with snack items consisting of Japanese Delicacies “Onigiri” or Ice Cream. A second meal was NOT offered. You heard it right!
We arrived in BKK 15 minutes ahead of schedule which is always nice!
As I’ve flown Delta on this sector many times, I just have to say that I’m sad Delta is leaving this market. I feel that Delta offered a MUCH BETTER product with flat bed seats, two full meals, Tumi Amenity kits and the Westin Heavenly beading. In my opinion, JAL fell short in comparison. The pillow and blanket were what I would consider coach quality, the angle flat seat was not comfortable and did not provide the ability to sleep. No amenity kits were offered and there was no arrival meal. However, if you’re planning to stay connected and work on the flight, JAL’s wifi connection is one of the best in terms of speed and pricing. While JAL did provide a decent business class product, I do not feel this flight would be comparable to a U.S. trans-con market type of flight.
Our final grades of Japan Airlines (JAL) JL707
JAL First Class lounge @ NRT: A
Comfort of the Seat: D
Cabin Space Seat Layout: D
Amenity kit: D
Storage space: D
Inflight cabin crew service: A
Ground customer service: B
JAL’s international product is amazing, however, I feel what they would consider their domestic trans-con flight fell short of my expectations. Have you flown on their 787 with the angle flat shell seats? How was it? Let us know in the comments!
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