A highlight when connecting through Narita on Japan Airlines flights in premium class is being able to visit the Sakura Lounge. There are two Sakura lounges at Narita, one in the main terminal building and the other in the satellite terminal. It's said that the main building boasts the better Sakura lounge. That was the one I visited. The satellite lounge would be hard pressed to be viewed as a better lounge than this one, as would most lounges in any airport.
The main terminal lounge is two floors. Once you enter and greeted by an attendant, you can turn right to the dining room or go downstairs where the lounge area is located. Lighter snacks and beverages are served downstairs.
The upstairs dining room was very busy at dinner time. After gorging myself on JL11 I was more interested in a shower than a meal. The lounge is known for serving a popular freshly baked bread from a well know Japanese bakery named Maison Kayser.
A nice view of the tarmac is offered from window seating.
Downstairs had plenty of seating in a number of rooms.
Behind these seats is the spa and shower area.
This narrow corridor had a nice view of the tarmac as well as smaller rooms for business and a kids room.
No it's not a coffee machine to go with your cookies.
After about 20 hours since the last one, priority dictates it was time for a shower. But showers were busy with a wait time of 60 minutes. I was given one of those things they give you at a restaurant with the red lights that vibrates when it's your time. The attendant was a very pleasant Japanese woman who escorted me back to my shower room. The lounge appeared to have around 8 shower rooms that were surprisingly large.
Brand new after a shower, it was time to trek to the gate. When I arrived at the lounge the attendant had told me how long a walk it was to the gate and exactly what time I should leave the lounge. Little things do make a difference….
While JL11 DFW-NRT was a 787-8 with Apex business class seats, JL735 NRT-HKG was a 787-8 with JAL Shell Flat NEO seats. They are configured 2x2x2 across.
My seat was in the second cabin at 8A.
Bulkhead rows 1 and 7 have enormous leg-room. However JAL blocks these seats for pre-assignment. When AA reserved seat 1K for me months in advance, JAL moved me to the second cabin in row 8 without notice. All seats in the front cabin were blocked as well as row 7 in the 2nd cabin.
And if you do end up in a bulkhead seat you get a smaller monitor, but plenty of room to hang your bassinet.
The seat itself is comfortable to sit in. The devil is in the details.
Non-bulkhead seats still have plenty of legroom.
A simple controller for seat adjustment. This is not a lie-flat seat. It's angled at an about 15 degrees.
As with side by side seating things are placed at the sides by the cushions; headphones, controllers, etc.
And sometimes you have to be a contortionist to get at them.
The 15 inch monitor is located in the seat back in front of you. This is a touch screen monitor. Problem is you can't reach it sitting in your seat with your belt on. And ditto for your phone if charging using this oddly placed USB port.
I was not a fan of this seat at all. Comfortable upright and uncomfortable in any kind of a recline position. I always felt myself sliding down the seat. While it would be fine for a 4 hour day flight, this aircraft does overnight international (San Diego) flights as well. It's mostly used for connections within Asia, and after a long haul to Japan it doesn't offer much comfort if you are tired and want to sleep.
Menus were passed out after departure. After having success with the Japanese menu on JL11 and seeing the cover photo for this post, I need not elaborate on my choices any further.
Even if it was terrible, it was beautiful.
Fortunately it was not terrible. But it wasn't my favorite meal as I didn't care for some of the bento box items such as the black tofu.
Is it art or food? The attention to detail is amazing.
Probably a little over sauced, but who can complain at this point? Certainly not me.
A mini-version of the JL11 dessert.
Once I finished the coffee my eyes would not stay open and I sunk in the seat for a couple of hours with a restless sleep. When I woke the empty coffee cup had not been removed. This FA crew was not proactive at all.
The IFE system had the same content at on the international flight, but the air show was different, and not overly informative.
The more I fly the 787 the more I like this aircraft. This flight departed Narita in some foul weather, the reason for being tardy. Tokyo is also known for rough skies. The 787 really performed differently than I've experienced in these situations. While no two situations are the same, and I'm not an aviator with experience, this craft seemed to handle the turbulence quite well. You could hear the plane hitting the turbulence, but you couldn't feel it. Hard to explain but it was impressive.
Overall I wasn't too impressed with the JAL Shell Flat NEO (which is a misnomer as the bed is not flat). It was not comfortable to rest in. ANA has a similar seat on their regional 787's. These are fine for 3-4 hour day time flights, but I would avoid them long haul or overnight. The flight crew was a disappointment as well. A full two hours leaving an empty coffee cup and ice cream container on the tray and not removing it is unexplainable or acceptable.
The lounge (I first typed spa) was nice with a shower area that challenges Lufthansa's first class lounge in Frankfurt terminals (not FCT). And the food was a joy just to look at and quite good as well. Thumbs up for JAL overall, I'm looking forward to my first class flight with them over the summer.
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