Japan Airlines Tokyo Narita to New York JFK 787 Business Class trip report

TL;DR This flight is exactly what you want from a Business Class trip: great lounge, good food, good liquor, a comfortable bed, Wi-Fi, and a bit of entertainment, all politely and professionally executed. 

COST
  • 105,00 Avios points + $145 in fees per person
  • Cash cost would have been $5800 (i.e., 5.2¢ per point)
  • How I did it

PRO
  • row 1 still has the same stowage and space as other Business Class rows
  • the seat design is a nice middle ground between intimacy and privacy. 
  • 787 has higher humidity and cabin pressure, plus it's much quieter and has bigger windows 
  • one of the few British Airways Avios redemptions that doesn't have astronomical co-pays
  • toto washlets 
  • better bedding that ANA Business Class (my review of their competing flight here). 

CON
  • even in a new terminal, they boarded the whole plane through the front door
  • the window seat can be a bit claustrophobic 
  • no personal air vent controls (aka gaspers)
  • no pajamas

Narita Terminal 2 was largely empty when we arrived 3 hours before boarding (our friends navi estimated our trip time to be double what it turned out to be…). Bag check and security were a breeze. I also noticed that JAL has a priority security line for International First Class passengers - something I've never seen in Asia. We really wanted to be aboard the 787 and JAL doesn't have First Class in their 787's, so we were in Business.
No wait at the check-in counter
JAL First Class priority security

After very quick exit immigration and security, we went to the Sakura lounge. It was large, open, and lovely. It got a little more crowded as our boarding time approached but never obnoxiously so. Free wine, liquor, shochu, and sake. Free buffet with hot dishes. Free, fast Wi-Fi. Great plane spotting. The terminal itself is huge and spacious with plenty of seating and coin-op massage chairs so the lounge isn't as, "necessary" as it is in, say, Newark. Also in the terminal area is Toto's toilet gallery. So if you wanted to try out a bunch of their various toilet models, you can do so in a club/gallery-like atmosphere. Ah, Japan :)

Sakura lounge panorama
Toto toilet gallery!

Boarding was very orderly. Flight attendants inspected every person's boarding pass and lined everyone up in separate lines before the doors opened. The whole plane was boarded and ready to go in 15 minutes. 

Gate agents made orderly lines before boarding
our 787
They boarded the entire plane through the front door, so the pre-flight experience was more chaotic and busy than it should have been. Waiting at my seat was a fantastic pillow, a duvet, slippers, noise-canceling headphones, and a Zero Halliburton amenity kit. Nothing noteworthy except the kit comes with a moisturizing mask instead of actual moisturizer. Champagne and orange juice were both offered before takeoff.

New Business Class SkySuite
Amenity kit
Washlet!

The seat itself is a huge improvement over the original angle-flat seats JAL installed on these planes. Everyone has their own little cubicle and their own direct aisle access. There's a sliding partition between the seats that you can lower if you'd like to chat with your neighbor. It's a lot like BA's Business Class seats.

The video system was great, it has a smartphone-like remote control that was easy to use. There was more than enough programming to keep us both busy for the duration of the flight. While there were lots of movies and TV shows, I was watching informational programs from JAL and NHK about Japanese history and food. ANA has similar programming and it's awesome. They also have in-flight Wi-Fi provided by T-mobile: $18.80 for the whole flight, $14.40 for 3 hours, or $10.15 for one hour.

The turn-down service was a bit strange. Over the PA they announce that there are mattress pads in the overhead bins and sort of imply that you should deal with them yourself. But in both my and my seatmates' cases, when we asked about them and what to do, she took care of it all for us. The pad is much more comfortable than the tatami-like one used in ANA Business. I slept great -- maybe 6 out of the 13 hours.
Sky Suite
footrest, large video screen
partition can be lowered
or raised :) 

Food

Since we took off at 6pm and landed at 6pm, neither of the meals was breakfast-y. As usual, a Western and an Asian option are available for the main meals, along with an a la carte snack menu you can order from whenever you're hungry. Full menus are at the end of this post. 

On this trip to Japan I ate a LOT of ekiben, so when I when they brought out the bento box, I admit I got very worried. Like I know it's Business and not First, but I just didn't want to eat another train station bento at this point. But I took a couple of bites and the food was definitely 3 or 4 notches above that of a normal ekiben so I happily continued with the menu I'd chosen. I had a Niigata prefecture sake to go with it.

when I asked if they had matcha to go with the red bean dessert and the Flight Attendant said no, I asked for a glass of champagne instead. She gave me the most awesome smile at that point - equal parts "great idea!" and "I see you, fellow booze hound"... or maybe I'm just projecting.



Sesame tofu and truffle cauliflower
bento box

beef tongue and miso cod

red bean jelly with rice cracker bits and sweetened condensed milk
Business Class self-serve bar
Cheese plate 
Curry (I chose this instead of either of the 2nd meal options)


Full Menus








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