Japan Airlines - JAL
14 reviews from the community
Review of "Japan Airlines - JAL"
What a shocking title, sorry about that.
Recently I was looking for some flights to head off to Japan to treat my girlfriend and decided to spend some airline miles to get there. The best availability for us was to fly with JAL and using miles allowed us to fly in business class for practically free, otherwise we'd have been sitting in the back. So my review is based purely on the experience of JAL in business class.
Well I booked our flights on the telephone with American Airlines, so can't say much about the booking process direct with the airline themselves.
I did however call JAL as I was unable to view my booking on their site (different booking system to AA) and the very helpful staff were able to provide me with a booking reference and some guidance for the website so that I could pick seats in advance. The hours are limited for calling their office in the UK but the staff are very helpful. Booking can also be done online of course.
Check in for our outbound flights was easy as we did it before a connecting flight and simply changed planes at Heathrow. For the return trip we used the self service machine at the airport and despite missing the 'English' option we were eventually able to get our boarding passes. There is a bag drop for those with stuff to check in. Each time we got our seats that we'd requested so I would say that the check in process was easy.
There is also the online check in option, but you still need to pick up boarding passes at the airport.
JAL operate their own lounge in Terminal 3 at Heathrow and it's nicer than most lounges you will come across. There's a wide variety of drinks, plenty of newspapers and magazines in English and Japanese and the usual snacks you'll find in a lounge like cakes, biscuits and alike.
Boarding announcements are made for every flight, there aren't so many so it's not a lot of work for them I imagine. The lounge wasn't crowded but our flight was really rather empty so it's possible the lounge would be much busier at peak times.
There are a number of large lounges at Narita providing free internet access and snacks and drinks as before. Things were a lot busier but the lounges had adequate room. I suspect things were busy as the previous day had seen all flights suspended due to an accident so more people would have been at the airport.
The lounges were very very clean indeed, both at Heathrow and Narita.
On boardService is certainly with a smile on JAL, everybody was extremely pleasant and requests from passengers were dealt with promptly and without making people feel as if they were bothering the staff (many airlines have some shocking staff attitude).
The first meal was served soon after departure with a choice of Western or Japanese options for every meal. Personally I went for the Japanese meals every time and wasn't disappointed with the quality. The second meal was served on request, so I left it as late as possible. Despite a large number of choices I found that there was nothing that suited my tastes on the return flight with only evening meals available after waking up from a 5 hours sleep. I really wanted some kind of breakfast and on this flight it just wasn't there. I realise it was a midday departure arriving in London in the afternoon, but I still wanted breakfast :-)
The Japanese menu has a lot of fish in it as you would expect, but the quality was excellent. The Japanese breakfast on the outbound flight was also very nice indeed.
There were lots of drinks options, I'm happy with coffee and water when flying but I did try a couple of the wines and they were very nice indeed.
Entertainment is provided via an on demand system with a wide number of movies. The choice of language options is wide and some movies are not in English or with English subtitles, so there will be a few you can't watch. I counted more than 20 movies to choose from. What was missing for me was some good TV comedy. The TV shows consisted of a single episode each of Planet Earth, House and CSi. I think there is some room for improvement here, I'd like something to laugh at! I only watched one movie going each way.
The screen is 10 inches in size, more than large enough in my opinion. Panasonic noise cancelling headphones were provided. You won't be able to use these with your iPod however as the connector has two prongs, just to be awkward.
The cabin was spotlessly clean, even the toilets were shiny. There's no amenity kit, these have been declining in size over the years anyway but JAL just come around with a basket offering a few items for you to take. I only bothered with the toothbrush.
The seat was impressive, it was the 'Shell Flat Seat'. It's not fully horizontal, but that suits me fine. Most 'fully flat' seats just go horizontal but maintain the contours of a seat so are really quite bumpy, although there are a couple that don't have this annoying feature.
In the upright position it's just about possible to touch the back of the seat in front with your toes. The seat reclines into the space behind but it is all enclosed in a plastic shell, so the seat in front will never bother you, regardless of how it is positioned. When fully reclined it's like trying to sleep on a slight incline, quite comfortable in my opinion.
The seat area lacks a bit of storage. You're not allowed to store anything on the floor for take-off and landing, so you would hope to have somewhere to put your book, mp3 player or whatever else you may consider essential. There's a tiny little storage area in the back of the seat in front, but when it has the provided noise cancelling headphones and slippers there isn't much room. There is also a magazine area, but there's no room in there for the magazine you brought with you.
It's not all bad about the storage, you'll have almost 2 overhead lockers to each pair of seats, you won't be fighting for space. There might be a fight if the aisle seat is reclined and you're trying to squeeze out though, there will still be a bit of climbing involved.
Despite the couple of problems I have described I'm still giving the JAL business class experience a 5 rating. I really thought the experience was impressive from start to finish and I did feel a lot happier than when using business class on other airlines. If the price was competitive I'd choose them ahead of BA but I think Virgin would still be preferable on flights to Japan.(also posted on dooyoo)
Product Information : Japan Airlines - JAL
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 28/06/2000