Review of Japan Airlines flight Tokyo Hong Kong in Business

Airline Japan Airlines
Flight JL735
Class Business
Seat 8A
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 06:00
Take-off 26 Dec 16, 18:00
Arrival at 26 Dec 16, 23:00
JL   #23 out of 120 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 145 reviews
By GOLD 2190
Published on 19th March 2017
photo jl735 cover

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.

photo jl735 lounge 4

A nice view of the tarmac is offered from window seating.

photo jl735 lounge 5

Downstairs had plenty of seating in a number of rooms.

photo jl735 lounge 1

Behind these seats is the spa and shower area.

photo jl735 lounge 2

This narrow corridor had a nice view of the tarmac as well as smaller rooms for business and a kids room.

photo jl735 lounge 3

No it's not a coffee machine to go with your cookies.

photo jl735 lounge beer 1photo jl735 lounge beer 2photo jl735 lounge food

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. 

photo jl735 lounge shower 1photo jl735 lounge shower 2photo jl735 lounge shower 3

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….

photo lcmqkxprdmofgu5ym0fw_thumb_14fa

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.

photo jl735 cabin 1

My seat was in the second cabin at 8A.

photo jl735 cabin 2

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. 

photo jl735 cabin 3

And if you do end up in a bulkhead seat you get a smaller monitor, but plenty of room to hang your bassinet.

photo jl735 cabin 4

The seat itself is comfortable to sit in. The devil is in the details.

photo jl735 seat 1

Non-bulkhead seats still have plenty of legroom. 

photo jl735 seat 2

A simple controller for seat adjustment. This is not a lie-flat seat. It's angled at an about 15 degrees. 

photo jl735 seat 3

As with side by side seating things are placed at the sides by the cushions;  headphones, controllers, etc. 

photo jl735 seat 4

And sometimes you have to be a contortionist to get at them.

photo jl735 seat 5

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.

photo jl735 seat 7

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. 

photo jl735 menu 1photo jl735 menu 2

Even if it was terrible, it was beautiful.

photo jl735 food 1

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. 

photo jl735 food 2

Is it art or food? The attention to detail is amazing.

photo jl735 food 3photo jl735 food 4photo jl735 food 5

Probably a little over sauced, but who can complain at this point? Certainly not me.

photo jl735 food 6

A mini-version of the JL11 dessert. 

photo jl735 food 7

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. 

photo jl735 ife 1photo jal plane 3

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. 

photo jl735 flight path

Visit for JAL ratings on this flight
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Japan Airlines

Cabin crew4.0

JAL Sakura Lounge


Tokyo - NRT


Hong Kong - HKG



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.

Information on the route Tokyo (NRT) Hong Kong (HKG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 11 reviews of 4 airlines on the route Tokyo (NRT) → Hong Kong (HKG).


The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.

The average flight time is 4 hours and 59 minutes.

  More information


  • Comment 390332 by
    Razza_Pr 215 Comments

    Hello, rewardflying, and thank you for sharing this FR.

    Doesn't sound like an overly pleasant regional hop on JL. Maybe you just had bad luck regarding the crew? Though it would make sense that the crew handling this flight are the more junior ones, given it's a regional flight.

    "When AA reserved seat 1K for me months in advance, JAL moved me to the second cabin in row 8 without notice."
    -Yikes. Are you not a oneworld Emerald member? Or perhaps JAL prioritised their own elites over those from other member airlines?

    "Probably a little over sauced, but who can complain at this point? Certainly not me."
    -In the current state of affairs, given how many airlines are under strict cost-cutting measures, it's not exactly overkill. Might even be a luxury. Though the fish does look a tad bit overcooked. Was that the case?

    Thanks again for publishing. Cheers!

  • Comment 390335 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hi Razza_PR, Good to hear from you. No, I'm United Gold with lifetime status, not AA. My paid flying days are over for the most part, Now its just award tickets. But the seat issue was all JL. AA assigned the seat and then JL moved me. I called AA back they moved me back to 1K. JL moved me again. So I called JL and they told me it was blocked for airport assignment meaning JL members most likely. The whole front cabin was blocked which didn't make any sense. Qantas does the same on their A330. Pretty soon everyone will follow your hometown airline and charge for pre-assignment, at least that is the trend.

    The fish was good, just a little too much sauce, made it a little too sweet. It was the box that had some things I didn't care for. And a mini container of ice cream isn't what I'd call a proper J dessert. Even United makes a sundae.

    The flight would have been fine for a day flight going fro 3-4 hours from A-B, but after transpacific and being tired it just wasn't comfortable. Apparently JL has heard the complaints as they are replacing this type of seat that's on their 777-200 long haul aircraft with the Cirrus 1x2x1 configuration, a seat I will write about next.

    Thanks as always!

  • Comment 390783 by
    hometoyyz SILVER 538 Comments

    Thanks for another great FR, reward!

    I've flown the ANA "Business Cradle" seat on PEK-NRT, and didn't find it too bad, but JL's equivalent does look (and sound by your descriptor) doesn't look quite as good.

    Catering looks good, though... both in terms of quality and especially in terms of presentation. I like the way JAL lays out its menu so as to reduce the chances of passengers being confused as to which item is which should they be unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine. Like the "map" to a box of chocolates.

    JAL Sakura Lounge looks very nice. I would really like to check it out someday.

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