This is my review of Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class, in its regional intra-Asia configuration.
Last year I ran an excellent article, written by a reader, on how to use Avios points to travel domestically in Japan. As Japan Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, with BA, you can redeem Avios for flights on its network. As cash tickets can be expensive, and Avios tickets in Japan have minimal taxes, it is good value.
You are spoiled for choice when travelling around Asia. With Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Japan Airlines, Sri Lankan and Malaysia Airlines all available with Avios, there are a lot of options for using your points to put together a trip.
Travelling around Asia is not the same as travelling around Europe. The distances can be far larger – Hong Kong to Tokyo is a four hour flight, as is Tokyo to Beijing.
Longer distances mean that Asian network carriers often use long haul aircraft for regional flights. When we flew from Hong Kong to Tokyo last month, it was on a (pretty old, to be honest) Japan Airlines 777-200 in Premium Economy. I’m not writing about that flight as it was, frankly, very average.
Tokyo to Beijing, however, was more interesting. Japan Airlines was using a brand new Boeing 787 for the flight we took.
You should note that, even when a long haul aircraft is used, it often has different seating to a ‘proper’ long haul plane. The business class seats in our 787 were not fully flat – they sloped gently towards the floor, in the style of the old Lufthansa business class seats. Fly JAL to Heathrow, on the other hand, and you get a ‘proper’ flat bed.
Here are a few pictures (click to enlarge). Here’s my daughter modelling the seat:
and a broader view of the Japan Airlines Boeing 787 cabin:
and the IFE screen, which had a decent number of Western options:
and a shot of how the seat slopes gently to the floor, not that it mattered one jot to me on a four hour daytime flight:
This is the meal served:
What you have is:
an appetiser plate of lobster and vegetable terrine, caprese salad, liver tart
cabbage and anchovy soup
corn salad with thousand island dressing
a main plate of grilled beef fillet with marsala sauce
honey bread and petit french bread
This is what I would have got had I taken the Japanese menu. You get everything listed below:
an appetiser plate of Japanese pickles, broad bean tofu with light soy sauce, sweet simmered herring with salted squid beak
chilled pork shabu-shabu and mekabu seaweed
mixed plate of grilled salmon, potato ball with minced chicken, grilled taro with shishito pepper miso, smoked duck breast, perila flavoured icefish and octopus
a main plate of steamed soy-marinated flounder with sea urchin sauce
What did it cost?
Each Business Class seat from Tokyo to Beijing, one way, cost 20,000 Avios points plus £16.50 of taxes and charges. I consider this a good deal for a 4 hour flight. We had no problem getting four seats.
For comparison, our Japan Airlines Premium Economy seats from Hong Kong to Tokyo cost 15,000 Avios plus £15.50 each. Cathay Pacific also flies this route, of course.
It is difficult to draw many firm comparisons about Japan Airlines from a couple of mid-range flights, only one of which was Business Class. The staff were friendly and understood English (the menu comes in Japanese and English, the IFE is also in English), the plane was as fresh as you would expect from a new 787, the meal was large although a bit heavy on the beef and the seats were more than acceptable for a four hour flight. If you get a chance to try out this route, I recommend it.
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