Japan Airlines 777-200ER Business Class Review
A very comfortable business class experience without the full Japan Airlines "wow" factor, Shing Kam finds
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Shing's Japan Airlines 777-200ER Business Class Verdict: 5/6 stars
A perfectly comfortable option for intra-Asia hops, but lacking the full Japan Airlines "wow" factor.
- Private reverse herringbone seats
- Delicious Japanese food options
- Plenty of in-seat storage
- Narrow seats
My trip home from the US earlier this year saw me fly from Tokyo Haneda to Singapore with Japan Airlines in its regional Boeing 777-200ER business class.
Flight number: Japan Airlines 35
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-200ER
Route: Tokyo Haneda (HND) to Singapore (SIN)
Class: Business Class
Booking with frequent flyer points
To book a one-way Japan Airlines business class ticket from Tokyo to Singapore, you have several options:
- 61,200 Qantas Points
- 61,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- 25,000 Alaska miles (not a typo!)
Booking through Alaska Airlines offers a number of opportunities. You have the option of flying between Singapore and any US destination served by JAL for only 65,000 Alaska miles in business, with first class a small step up at 75,000 miles.
I purchased 75,000 Alaska miles during one of its bonus miles promotions at a cost of just under US$1,300 (around $1,900 today) and booked a first class award from San Francisco to Tokyo to Singapore for 75,000 miles through the Alaska Airlines website.
As there is no first class available on board Japan Airlines' Tokyo to Singapore service, I was booked into business class instead. To see what Japan Airlines' first class has to offer, read up on fellow Points Finder reviewer Enoch's experience.
Japan Airlines is a oneworld member, so Qantas Points are the primary option for Aussies booking on Japan Airlines. A one-way Tokyo to Singapore itinerary will set you back 61,200 Qantas Points, but Alaska miles remains my favourite currency for booking Japan Airlines travel due to their incredible prices.
Japan Airlines has two lounges available for business class passengers at Tokyo Haneda Airport:
- Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge
- Japan Airlines Sakura Skyview Lounge
Both lounges are largely similar in fit-out, décor and food options, but the Skyview Lounge boasts a panoramic view of the airport apron and runway, which I imagine would offer great views in the daytime.
The food spread in both lounges contains Japanese options (as one would expect) such as dumplings and miso soup.
There are also some interesting Western options, such as chilli con carne and mushroom gratin, as well as snacks such as scones and muffins.
Both lounges have clean shower rooms stocked with Shiseido amenities. If you request to use the shower at the counter, you will be handed a shower card and assigned a room. I was surprised to find no wait times during my 9pm visit.
Business class on the Japan Airlines 777-200ER is split into 2 sections, a forward cabin of 6 rows and a smaller rear cabin of 3 rows. All seats are in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration, with the centre seats facing towards each other and window seats facing away from the aisle.
In such a configuration, the centre seats are ideal for those travelling in pairs and the window seats are the pick of choice for solo travellers.
The cabin features overhead lockers above both the window and centre seats, allowing plenty of space for those that travel with hand luggage only.
The seat itself in particular is a modified version of the Zodiac Cirrus seat, which is the same business class seat found on Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Vietnam Airlines and American Airlines (among others). Each seat faces away from the aisle and the seat shell extends out slightly at head level to offer plenty of privacy.
One key difference to note is that the width of the seat itself, at 18.5 inches wide, is slightly narrower than the Cirrus seat on other carriers, which was immediately noticeable. This means the seat is almost as narrow as economy class seats offered by many airlines.
Each seat comes with features designed for the modern day business traveller, with thoughtfully placed power sockets, simple and easy-to-use seat controls and enclosed storage space compartments for valuables.
The tray table folds out of the seat sidewall and swivels towards you. A small LED light directly above the entertainment controller can be set to three different brightness settings which I found useful once the cabin lights were dimmed.
Seat controls are very simple and intuitive. There are two red buttons to straighten and recline the seat, a set of buttons to control the lumbar massage function and another button to recline the seat into bed mode.
The tray table folds out of the sidewall in a similar fashion to the entertainment monitor and is large enough to accommodate a 13-inch laptop quite comfortably.
The menu, along with a pair of slippers, headphones and a set of packaged amenities were waiting for me at my seat.
Lavatories are stocked with Shiseido moisturising products and single-use packets of mouthwash.
As is common in Japanese culture, the lavatory is outfitted with a bidet toilet, which is a feature not seen on most airlines.
Hot towels, water bottles and blankets were also distributed during boarding.
Before take-off, I was asked to place my breakfast order and pre-departure drinks were distributed. As this was an overnight flight, the crew asked me whether it was OK to wake me for breakfast 90 minutes prior to landing, which I said was fine.
Shortly after take-off, supper service started with an amuse bouche. It was a curious melting pot of flavours, including a brandade (salt cod and olive oil emulsion), ham with a sweet potato pastry slice and a "chicken cocktail" of shredded chicken topped with salad dressing, kiwi fruit and almonds.
The crew also distributed a packet of rice crackers to each passenger and an apple juice for my choice of drink.
Breakfast on this overnight flight is a choice of either a Japanese or Western-style breakfast.
Being a fan of Japanese cuisine, I chose the Japanese breakfast, which was grilled salmon and came with a bento box containing braised beef, shrimp, pickles, fruit and all sorts of veggies.
All in all, it was a great variety of flavours that proved to be healthy and light.
The headline bubbly on offer for this flight was Piper Heidsieck Essentiel – Extra Brut N.V, complemented nicely by a long listing of whites and reds. As this is a Japanese airline, there were also two sake options and Japanese shochu on the menu. JAL has a well-rounded selection of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options as well.
Cabin service overall was polite, friendly and efficient. As this was an overnight sector the service was condensed and turned down a notch to allow passengers to rest. Once the meal service was finished the crew flicked off the lights and vacated the cabin until breakfast service two hours prior to landing.
Admittedly the menu options were rather limited in comparison to my last flight on JAL, but given this was an intra-Asia overnight flight primed for sleep, I'd imagine this won't pose a major issue for most people.
Japan Airlines' onboard entertainment system, Magic VI, has a decent selection of 200 movies with a mix of new blockbuster releases and golden age classics. The 17-inch touchscreen monitor provides ample screen size for your own private in-flight movie marathon.
The beauty of this screen design is that the screen does not need to be folded away and stowed during take-off and landing. As someone who loves to watch the moving map during take-off and landing, this was something I appreciated.
Each business class seat folds out into a 198cm flat bed with 18.5 inches of width.
Being almost as narrow as economy class on competing carriers such as Singapore Airlines, some people may have difficulty getting comfortable. However, the seat cushion is well padded which greatly improves the level of comfort. The thin blanket provided is perfectly adequate for sleeping as the cabin was not kept too cold during this flight.
The Points Finder Flight Rating
5 out of 6 stars (★★★★★☆)
Japan Airlines' intra-Asia business class is quite comfortable and functional for flights of up to eight hours in length. You won't encounter any aspects of the experience that will totally knock your socks off, such as closing suite doors or Michelin-starred onboard degustation, but in its defence this is not Japan Airlines' flagship route nor does an overnight flight such as this (where sleep is the main priority) warrant the need for such luxuries.
At the end of the day, Japan Airlines business class is an experience where you can depend on a solid block of restful sleep and a nice teaser of the world-class Japanese food that the airline is known for.
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