This report will cover my first ever flight on JL metal (I feel so dirty) as well as a brief look at JL’s “premium” domestic product: ClassJ.
I casually took the train to NGO after an early lunch at home. Unlike NH, JL does not segregate the check-in areas for domestic flights based on your final destination.
I walked up to the premium check-in line, both agents were busy, but before I could turn right to look down to the economy side a JL agent was running towards me. She took my suitcases and rolled them back to her station. She was very friendly and spoke English to me. She checked my bags through to LAX. I originally had a middle seat, so I asked her if she had any window or aisle seats left since JL does not let you select seats for the domestic segments of an international itinerary. She only had one aisle seat left so I took it. She handed me my boarding passes and told me that I’ll need to go to the gate to get a new boarding pass for my AA flight. She also was very clear in pointing out my tight connection at NRT (65 minutes) so told me hurry through immigration on arrival.
With about an hour until boarding, I took a stroll through the shops upstairs before heading to the observation deck. Midday, the airport is always fairly quiet.
Outside it is a little bit hazy, but sunny.
On the domestic side, just two JL B737s hanging out. I’m really surprised to see the NU B737-400 in the “Sakura Jinbei Jet” special livery again; it will be doing the afternoon trip down to OKA.
The JAL Express B737-800 will be my ride up to Narita this afternoon.
Peaking over at the international side, a 9C A320 with sharklets is arriving from PVG. More interesting is the party going on in the background. The DreamLifter is here, but she brought some Russian friends today! My first time ever seeing Antonov An-124s in person before.
Antonov An-124-100s looking good in the late afternoon sun. I couldn’t see what they had loaded into the plane that was kneeling. All three of these planes took off before my plane.
CA A320 getting ready to leave for PVG. I know I’m in the minority, but I really like the CA livery.
MU B737-800 getting backed up.
MU B738 lifting off for service to PVG.
NH Dash8-400 getting ready to leave for Akita (AXT). It taxis off to the runway before lifting off for the northern tip of Honsh?.
A NH B737-500 lands from Kumamoto (KMJ) and taxis to the terminal.
A rare KE B737-900 landing from Busan (PUS).
IBEX CRJ-700 arriving from Sendai (SDJ).
6J B737-800 arriving from Naha (OKA).
NH B767-300 getting ready to leave for Sapporo (CTS).
NH Dash8-400 arriving from Matsuyama (MYJ).
NH B737-500 getting ready for service to NRT.
Final tail line-up on the domestic side as I head inside.
Security was deserted and I’m quickly on the other side.
Airside at NGO.
I’m not going to waste my time stopping in the Centrair Global Lounge (ClassJ does not give you access to the lounge, but having a ticket in business class on a connecting flight does) so I’ll show some other parts of the terminal before boarding. Computers that are free to use.
Kid’s play area.
My bird basking in the sun while the NH B763 lifts off for CTS in the distance.
Japan Airlines, JL 3084 Equipment: Boeing B737-800 [JA343J, delivered May 2012] Departure: 15:10 (ATD: 15:16) Arrival: 16:20 (ATA: 15:59) Flight time: 0:43
Boarding was called on time and priorities were strictly observed. Pre-boarding was followed by JL elites, OW elites, and then general boarding. There is no special boarding for ClassJ.
Down the jetbridge we go.
Smiling FA greeting passengers in the galley. On the right were some children’s books, postcards, and headphones (these were in the seatback so not sure why they were here).
ClassJ is in the really awkward 2-3 configuration on the B737s and yours truly gets the aisle seat in Row 1.
Seat pitch in the bulkhead is good. What is not good is the fact that I am essentially positioned directly in the aisle of the galley so everyone boarding after me hits me in the knee, elbow, and/or face with their bags while boarding. I was leaning as far right as possible during this process to avoid this issue, but it was to no avail. At least most of the Japanese passengers apologized while doing so.
Brief seat tour while boarding. Left armrest has the seat controls and the foldout tray table.
The right armrest had a little tray for drinks, had the controls for the audio, and had a little space for storing small personal items. Power outlets were located on the front of this center console (not shown).
Seatback pocket for the bulkhead that has headphones preplaced.
The bulkhead also had this rack containing various JL literature.
As soon as boarding was done, the front door closes. The FAs walk through with blankets and newspapers. I decline a newspaper, but take a classy red ClassJ blanket (this one is ‘Made in Japan’, economy only gets ‘Made in China’).
As we push back and taxi to the runway, the safety video comes on.
We turn onto the runway and immediately go. A pretty smooth takeoff, only a little bumpy as we cleared through the cloud level. The FAs bolt into the galley and close the curtain. So now I can show the view from my seat.
Safety card for this JL B737-800.
JL Skyward magazine.
The FA saw me taking pictures at this point, immediately runs into the closet and presents me with the following with a smile. A mint condition Skyward magazine (showing the English side), a postcard of a JL B737-800, and the JL sticker pack. I like AV souvenirs, so the crew gets an A+.
Drink service starts. I ask for a cup of coffee.
The overhead monitors came down and played news.
I quickly drink my coffee so I request a second cup as they bring the cart back to the front galley. She pours me a new cup with a smile.
A trip up to the clean lavatory.
The ridiculously long seatbelt. This thing almost went down to my feet even when it was fastened. They must have assumed I was normal sized American.
I spent the rest of the time just napping. The ClassJ seat wasn’t exceptionally spacious, but the extra seat width and recline are noticeable. The landing into NRT was fine and we touched down really early, but had the typical 15-minute taxi back to the terminal.
We pulled into a remote stand and the stairs were quickly positioned. Heading out through the galley, the two FAs wished passengers farewell. We funneled out onto the bus offering some tarmac shots.
I scored a window seat on the bus. I was little concerned about the tight connection time, but figured I’d live dangerously in exchange for some spotting. A pair of JL B788s.
AA B772 and CX B772. The AA B772 will be my plane to LAX.
The rest of the AA operations: AA B788 (to ORD) and AA B772 (to DFW) with NH B788 in final approach.
Close-up of the AA B788 to ORD.
Zipping by a JL B77W.
Pulling into the drop-off, the signage was clearly marked for international connecting flights.
I bolted up the stairs and through security and immigration in less than 10 minutes even though only one agent was working at immigration. So I’ll leave off this series as I funnel into NRT before my flight to LAX.
Nagoya - NGO
Tokyo - NRT
My first time on JL metal. Not that much different than NH on a short flight with respects to service. The English ability of this crew was better than the average NH crew, but that is obviously highly variable. The ClassJ product is not really that premium feeling. NH has a better premium product, but JL often sells ClassJ for only ¥1000 ($8) extra, so that might be worth it for the wider seat with more pitch. Standard catering and literature.
Cabin comfort: Full cabin and a not so comfortable 2-3 configuration. The seat is nicer than Y, but nothing to write home about. Not as good as a US F product. The NH Premium class product is much stronger. My seat was not the best since I got hit by everyone boarding, but any other seat wouldn't have this problem. I won't penalize them too much for that small caveat. I will knock them for a poor 2-3 configuration (who wants a middle seat in a premium cabin?) and fairly thin seats.
Crew: Good English ability, very friendly boarding and deplaning. They happily served me a second drink with a smile. Gave me souvenirs, so that is always a plus. Never engaged in conversation though, but it is a short flight so I don't hold that against them.
Meal and catering: Complimentary drink as expected. No food in sight, not even candies. You don't get any enhancement in catering by being in ClassJ.
Entertainment: Newspapers offered and the standard seatback literature. Overhead monitors played news. No window :( Overall, the standard offerings for a domestic flight.
On-time performance: Perfect.
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