Our Japan Airlines Business Class Review
Japan Airlines is one of our favorite airlines when flying to and from Japan. But until our trip in June 2018, we had only flown economy class. For our flight from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Tokyo (Narita) we booked seats on Japan Airlines Business Class using American Airlines points (more on travel hacking in this post!).
As I said, this was our first experience flying business class internationally so we were excited to see the contrast between the seats that Japan Airlines offers in economy and business classes.
In this review, we’ll be covering our own personal business class experience on Japan Airlines, seat configurations, menus, and more may be different depending on the plane and flight you take. But we hope that this information is helpful in order to see what flying business class is like and also help determine if you’d like to splurge a little on your next international flight.
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Before Boarding Lounge Privileges at Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines offers its own lounges for Business Class and First Class customers in select cities. However, we did not take advantage of the lounge at DFW because we utilized our Priority Pass Lounge access instead. We have Priority Pass Lounge access with our Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which is one of our favorite perks! In hindsight, I wish we would have taken the opportunity to compare the Japan Airlines lounges to our Priority Pass lounge.
Boarding Process on Japan Airlines
One of the best things about Japan Airlines is how structured and timely everything is. When flying Japan Airlines in business class you’ll be in priority boarding so you’ll be in one of the first groups to board and get settled for your long flight.
Japan Airlines Business Class Review: Cabin
After boarding, we noticed some key differences in the cabin area of business class immediately, which was to be expected. 😉 JAL business class had slightly more aisle space and of course, roomier seats. We flew JAL business class on a Boeing 787-9 which has a 2:2:2 configuration and 44 business class seats. Depending on your flight your seat configuration might be different.
Japan Airlines Business Class Review: Seats
We felt that the biggest difference in flying business class versus economy class is the seats. In business class, we had a private suite that felt like our own cubby – kind of like the capsule hotels in Japan! The seat itself was much more comfortable than the economy class and had ample legroom for each of us (we are 5′ 6″ and 6′ 1″ in height for reference).
When the cabin lights go dim and we wanted to rest, we laid our seats into a fully-flat bed that still allows for enough legroom to stretch out and sleep. There is also a retractable privacy partition between seats so we could have closed it if we were flying next to someone we weren’t accompanied with or for sleeping purposes. But, since we were right next to each other we left it open the majority of our flight so we could talk to each other.
When it comes to eating or working there was a larger swivel table where I was able to put my laptop, read a book, and dine with ease. Underneath the ottoman was a large space where we stowed some small carry-on luggage for ease of access.
There was also an overhead storage space, side table, shelf by the LCD monitor, and plenty of places to charge our electronics including a USB power port and AC power outlet. Overall, the business class seats are fully equipped for comfort and connection.
Sleeping in Japan Airlines Business Class
If you’ve ever traveled internationally you know that sleeping can be quite uncomfortable at times because you’re forced to sleep while sitting upright. With the Japan Airlines business class seats, we were able to recline the seat completely flat forming a cozy twin-sized bed.
Logan and I both found them to be quite comfortable in comparison to economy class. Logan was even able to comfortably stretch out without his feet hanging too much over the edge of the seat which was pretty impressive! We were also provided with a pillow, A REAL PILLOW which was nice considering the little flat pillows that we usually get in economy.
Our only complaint was that the blanket was a little thin so I was glad I had a sweatshirt to keep myself a little warmer while sleeping – it sure can get chilly on some planes!
Japan Airlines Business Class Review: Food and Beverages
Going back to the beginning of the flight, once we were comfortably seated the flight attendants came around with a complimentary glass of champagne and/or orange juice and a hot towel to freshen up. It was a nice touch to add to the relaxation of the business class flight.
On our flight, there were two meal options available, a Japanese-style meal or a Western-style meal. Since we wanted to try both options and compare, Logan opted for the Western-style meal and I chose the Japanese-style meal.
The Japanese-style meal was beautifully presented in a kaiseki style with a small appetizer, a bento box of various items, the main course, and a choice of green tea or coffee with dessert.
- Basil Mozzarella & Cherry Tomato Antipasto
- Parmesan Cheese Panna Cotta
Irodori Gozen (Bento Box)
My bento box included the following (from top to bottom, left to right):
- Deep-fried Tofu Shrimp Cake
- Fried White Fish marinated in Vinegar Sauce
- Soy-simmered Celery
- Simmered Yam & Chicken with Japanese Broth Sauce
- Deep-Fried Stuffed Lotus Root, Simmered Shrimp, Egg Cake, Bell Pepper & “Konnyaku” Noodles mixed with Spicy Cod Roe, Mashed Pumpkin Ball, and Simmered Fried Eggplant
Dainomono (Main Dish)
Choice of one of the following:
- Japanese Braised Short Beef Ribs
- Salt-grilled Sea-bass with Yuzu Miso
I chose the salt-grilled sea-bass since I don’t eat beef. I am normally not one to order fish on an airline but this one was pleasantly delicious for airline food. It was served with steamed white rice, miso soup, and Japanese pickles.
The dessert offered on our flight was the same for both of us. It was a sweet custard pudding that was paired with a cup of coffee or hot tea.
Amuse Bouche (Starter)
- Basil Mozzarella & Cherry Tomato Antipasto
- Parmesan Cheese Panna Cotta
The appetizer for the Western-style meal was a Prosciutto di Parma, Summer Ratatouille with Poached Egg and Sauce Pistou. It was served with a side of assorted breads that could also be saved for the main course.
Choice of one of the following:
- US Prime Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Corn Potato Purée, Smoked Soy Wasabi Dip
- Sautéed Chilean Sea-bass with Oriental Cashew Nut Sauce
Logan chose the prime beef tenderloin and said that while it wasn’t fabulous, it was also pretty good for airline food. 😉
Anytime You Wish
There is also a menu of items that we could have at any time during your flight as long as it was 1 hour and 30 minutes prior to arrival.
During our flight, our menu items were the following:
- Chinese Barbecued Pork Rice Bowl
- Kale & Ravioli with Sweet Corn Sauce
- Vegetable Curry with Hokkaido Potatoes and Onion
- JAL Original Healthy Ramen Noodles from Kyushu
- Japanese Hot “Udon” Noodles
- Rib Slider Sandwich
- Assorted Cheese Tray
- Fresh Fruit Selection
- Ice Cream
About 3-4 hours before landing we ordered ramen and udon noodles. We noticed that most of the other menu items we already unavailable so if you have your eye on something you might want to order it earlier in the flight.
Another nice touch that I noticed was snacks, treats, and drinks in the galley that was replenished a few times during the flight. Some of the items included a box of chocolates, cookies, crackers, water, wine, and juice all available for business class guests to choose from.
Japan Airlines Business Class Review: Restrooms
The restrooms for Japan Airlines Business Class are comparable to that of economy class but did seem to have a little more space and small amenities were offered in the restroom like a toothbrush and toothpaste.
There are three restrooms available on the 787-9 that we flew, one in the front of the plane, the other two in the middle of the business class section. In my opinion, I think that this is the biggest difference considering there are fewer people in business class so more availability and less waiting for the restroom than in economy class.
Japan Airlines Business Class Amenity Kit
For those flying business class, you will be provided with a small amenity kit which varies by flight. On our flight, we received a small red toiletry bag filled with items to utilize in-flight and/or keep for after the flight.
Our amenity kit items include:
- Lip balm, toothbrush set, moisture mask, earplugs, eye mask, and pocket tissues. These were all things we ended up reusing on our economy class flight back to the United States since economy class doesn’t provide the same amenities. 😉
Other amenities that you can use/have on your flight include:
- Comfortable loungewear to wear for sleeping or relaxing (sizing is limited)
- Slippers so you don’t have to take your shoes on and off
- Newspapers and in-flight magazines
- Medicines such as analgesics, motion sickness medicine, rhinitis relief spray, abrasion healing spray, bandages, and thermometers
- Bamboo massage sticks to help soothe sore muscles and feet
- Postcards and pens to write notes back home
Although we used the slippers provided, we didn’t utilize many other extra amenities, but it was nice to know we had the option!
Japan Airlines In-flight Entertainment
As with many international flights, there are a variety of movies, TV shows, games, audio programs, and news shows to either watch or play. The biggest difference we noticed in our business class flight was the size of the screen! Japan Airlines has a 23-inch LCD screen, which is one of the largest in-flight entertainment screens in the industry.
We were provided with complimentary noise-canceling headphones to use for the duration of our flight which was a nice touch as well considering most of the time airlines provide cheap earbuds.
Japan Airlines WiFi
If you would like to use the internet while on your flight, Japan Airlines offers WiFi for a small fee for economy, premium economy, and business class customers or complimentary internet for first-class customers.
They also have three different plans for those who are wanting to purchase WiFi access. For 1-hour it is $10.15, 3 hours is $14.40, or for the duration of the flight (or 24 hours) is $18.80.
If you are a Japan Airlines Credit Card holder there are some small discounts available or you can exchange 2,000 airline miles for one international WiFi pass with Japan Airlines.
I have to say, this is probably one of my bigger complaints because I think WiFi should be free for business class customers. But, the fee is relatively small so if you really wanted to work online paying for it isn’t too much of an inconvenience.
So, was it worth it to fly business class? We think it depends! For long haul flights of 12+ hours, it’s definitely worth it for the extra comfort but for shorter flights it’s a toss-up considering the number of points or amount of money it takes to fly business class!