Review of Japan Airlines flight Tokyo New Delhi in Business

Airline Japan Airlines
Flight JL749
Class Business
Seat 3A
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 09:00
Take-off 26 May 17, 12:00
Arrival at 26 May 17, 17:30
JL   #13 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 141 reviews
By GOLD 2732
Published on 9th July 2017
photo jl749 cover 2

Welcome back to the trip around the world with no fresh air.

For the background on this trip and how it came about follow this link

or the short version…
Originally I was booked to fly a British Airways 787 in first class to New Delhi after enjoying their A380 service to London from San Francisco. But the attraction of fewer points and many fewer dollars got me to change. Trading BA first on an A380 for first class on JAL was not a hard decision, but giving up the 787 in first for a repeat on JAL business class was difficult at best. While I like to try new carriers and aircraft, being frugal won the day, plus my recent JAL 787-8 flight from Dallas to Narita was good, even considering I'm not a huge fan of the APEX seats for sleeping. But Tokyo to New Delhi was a day flight, meaning eat and watch movies which was the highlight on that Dallas flight, so the question I pondered was if this flight would be up to the task. The short answer is, well not quite.

But first, a pitch for Hilton. There are numerous hotel options around Narita. The Hilton is a great choice. For about $125USD or 20,000 Hilton points you get a night with a decent size room, comfy bed, spa with sauna and nice restaurant serving a full breakfast buffet that I've enjoyed at no charge every time I've stayed there, with and without Hilton status.

photo jl749 hotel 1photo jl749 hotel 2photo jl749 hotel 3

A bonus is nice views of Narita activity.
photo jl749 hotel 5
(Little did I know as this jumbo passed overhead on it's way to San Francisco that I'd be on this exact flight in few weeks, only not on a 747, but United's new 777-300 with Polaris seats!)

Morning rain spoiled the plan for a quick trip to downtown Narita, so it was off to the airport. At the time I had no idea this 20 yard walk from the bus to the terminal entrance would be my last breathe of fresh air before arriving home in Chicago.

photo jl749 airport 1

I've reviewed the Sakura lounge in a previous report, so instead of taking more pictures I simply relaxed in one of the many comfortable chairs throughout this attractive lounge. Wait, something looks familiar. Yes, JA740J, it's yesterday's ride from LAX. Today it's headed to Chicago. (It might have been wiser to board this one.)

photo jl749 airport la plane 1

Bored, and again denied a visit to the observation deck, I headed to the gate. Along the way, if so inclined, you could have a massage and view the tarmac.

photo jl749 airport 2

And from the upper level you'd be staring down at my 787-8 to New Delhi, getting prepped in the rain.

photo jl749 airplane 1

I guess I'm lucky. Every time I've transited Tokyo it's raining. But the times I've stayed in Tokyo it was nice.

Boarding was orderly, except for a gentleman who insisted he board first. Whatever, we all get there at the same time. Turns out he was sitting in the pod next to me.

I moved, just in case.

Pushback was on time. Not much happening air traffic wise, except this 757 heading to Uzbekistan, most likely Tashkent.

photo jl749 scenic plane 2

Up next for departure it wasn't long before we were on our way.

photo jl749 scenic away they go

It occurred to me that this flight path to India would have two opportunities to view famous mountains, Mt. Fuji and Mt. Everest, with the former on the left side and Everest on the right. I was sitting in 3A. Here is my view of Mt. Fuji.

photo jl749 scenic ft. fuji

Only for it to clear up shortly thereafter offering a view of the Yamaguchi area.

photo jl749 scenic over fukoka

Back to the plane. The JAL 787-8 has two business class cabins. Each have 3 rows of window seats and the back cabin has an extra row of center seats. An annoying thing with JAL (and growing with other carriers) is they block numerous seats for airport assignment upon check-in.

These seats are blocked on all seat maps:
Row 2 H/K
Row 3 A/C/H/K
Row 8 D (go figure)

photo jl749 seat guru 2

Beyond that most front cabins seats are blocked for pre-assignment. Take 1A for example. It's not blocked but you can't assign it yourself on or even if you call to request. These other unassignable seats must be reserved for JAL premium members.

Also I would ignore the yellow markings on these seats as traffic is minimal. 7G might be problematic but the others are most likely fine.

This is the front cabin. In my opinion it is the preferred cabin as well. Very little traffic. Just be sure you ask for it at check-in. Unless the flight is full you probably have a good shot at getting seated up front. It's also quieter.

photo jl749 cabin 5photo jl749 cabin 3

This is the back cabin and less desirable simply because most business class passengers were forced to select seats in this cabin. Plus there's more engine noise.

photo jl749 cabin 1photo jl749 cabin 2

My prior flight on this aircraft had me sitting in 1K. My comments at the time were the seat was a little claustrophobic, especially when trying to sleep. On this flight I was originally in 9A, got 1A at the airport and asked to be moved to 3A when Mr. Neighbor became full of himself at the gate. Sitting in 3A I noticed something that may affect the width and room in seats 1A/K. The curvature of the aircraft.

photo jl749 cabin 8

This photo looking down the "A" seats also shows the curvature. While 3A is a nice seat it only has one window which you can see if you look closely in this photo. Conclusion: Best window seats: 2A/K. For that matter Row 2 any seat.

photo jl749 seat 2a

Another issue for Row 1 is center bin storage. It's interesting that they make the crew rest area look like storage bins but they don't open. Is this done to piss people off?

photo jl749 cabin 9

The self serve bar at door 2 was being used today, marginally.

photo jl749 cabin 11

And the lavs, not much other than a mini-shower.

photo jl749 cabin lav 1photo jl749 cabin lav 2photo jl749 cabin lav 3

A couple photos of the seat and surrounding area. As presented upon arrival.

photo jl749 seat 1

One still must be impressed by the monitor (and probably the reason I changed to this flight not being a fan of the seat, well that and 10K points plus $500 British Airways surcharges).

photo jl749 seat 4

But there is no storage within reach unless you sit in an aisle seat and get this cubby hole.

photo jl749 seat acc 5

I did notice that these pods are not wearing well. Observe the wood laminate finish in the photo above as well around the seat controls below. This aircraft was delivered in January 2015 making it just over 2 years old. Not a good sign.

photo jl749 seat acc 1

But if you keep an open mind you can always find something new. Headphone hook. Missed it last time.

photo jl749 seat acc 4

If interested the manual for JAL's APEX Business Class seat.

photo jl749 seat card 1

Amenity-wise was pretty much shown in the photo of seat 1A. But in case you missed it, which is entirely possible when there isn't much to see, I offer a clearer view except for the small blanket stuffed under the ottoman.

photo jl749 amenity

The highlight of JAL from Dallas to Narita last year was the food. For comparison purposes I offer the amuse on that flight versus today's flight to India.


photo jl11 food app 1


photo jl749 food amuse

Uh oh.

Beverage selections were pretty good, included the standard of the airline business class champagnes, Charles Heidsieck Brut.

Like an old dog I stuck to what I know and honestly I don't remember if it was good. But sitting on the left side as you can see it was much easier for the flight attendant to maneuver inside the pod to pour the wine. Justifying my theory stated on the JAL11 DWF-NRT report that when sitting in seat K a left handed flight attendant was needed. But I digress.

photo jl749 food wine 1photo jl749 food wine 2

Today's entrees.

photo jl749 menu food jap fullphoto jl749 menu food western

Beef or beef. I chose Japanese beef.

First the bento box was presented.

photo jl749 food box presphoto jl749 menu food jap bento box

A lovely presentation. photo jl749 food box

Abalone and Bamboo Shoots

photo jl749 food box1 - abalone

Egg Roll and Prawn
photo jl749 food box2 - prawn

Jellyfish and mushrooms, interesting and very good.
photo jl749 food box3 - jellyfish

photo jl749 food box4 - sea-bream

And finally Flounder with Yam and Tomato.
photo jl749 food box5 - sashimi

If nothing else, very creative. All were excellent.
photo jl749 menu food jap dainomono

While the picture on the menu suggests you are getting Kobe beef, the dish when presented says otherwise.

photo jl749 food main pres

Which is not to take away the fact it was very good.

photo jl749 food main steak salmon

Perfectly done Salmon.
photo jl749 food main salmon

And surprise, beef on a plane not cooked into oblivion.
photo jl749 food main steak 1

Miso soup and Japanese pickles finished off the main meal.
photo jl749 food miso soupphoto jl749 food pickles

Next was Kanmi, dessert I guess. Kudzu Starch Cake Black Sesame Flavor.
photo jl749 food kami 1photo jl749 food kanmi 2

I was instructed to put the "sweets on top."
photo jl749 food kanmi 4

The finished product, literally.
photo jl749 food kanmi 3

Service was reasonably paced. Now it was time for a nap and some movies. No mattress pads were available. Just this rather small pillow and a light blanket.

photo jl749 amenity pillow

Flying parallel south of the Himalayan Mountains, Everest was approaching. What do you think the odds were of seeing it from this view at 40,000 feet?

photo jl749 scenic storm 1

Good guess. As close as I'd come.

photo jl749 scenic mt. everest

Prior to arrival a lighter dish was served.

photo jl749 menu food prior to arrival

Lasagne on a flight from Tokyo to India? I stayed with Japanese. The dish was as sparse as the menu.

photo jl749 food arrival pres

The flounder is hiding, can you spot it?
photo jl749 food arrival main

Sensing the possibility that this meal wasn't satisfying after not eating for about 6 hours, my flight attendant offered me a choice of noodles; Champon, Udon, Soba.

photo jl749 food arrival udon noodle

We descended into the New Delhi area. Of note was the airshow and the top screen ticker.
photo jl749 ife scenic del temp 1

If it's 89 degrees up here at 4,000 feet, what's it like down there?

photo jl749 scenic del 1a

To be exact.

photo jl749 scenic del temp 2

A number of interesting photos on the descent.
photo jl749 scenic del 4a

The density was startling.

One would think it'd be a good day for a swim.
photo jl749 scenic del 11a

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Japan Airlines

Cabin crew8.0

JAL Sakura Lounge


Tokyo - NRT


New Delhi - DEL



This flight was fine. JAL continues to impress with the food. The monitor is great for watching movies and such. The seat is comfortable to sit in. While I'm not a huge fan of the APEX seat you can't argue that they are the most private business class seats in the sky at this point, with Qatar and Delta maybe having something to say about that feature in the near future. I wouldn't hesitate to fly a JAL anytime as they have become one of my favorite airlines.



  • Comment 403591 by
    Razza_Pr 214 Comments

    Greetings, rewardflying, and thank you for this FR.

    Uh oh indeed. It looks like JL has had to cut some corners of their own. But what intrigues me most is that this was a flight to India, and yet both protein options were beef. Curious indeed..

    In 2013 I flew 9W from Singapore to Delhi and the cabin was sprayed with disinfectants upon descent "in accordance with local regulations" - was anything like that done on your flight?

    Thanks again for this FR. Cheers!

  • Comment 403606 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hi Razza_Pr,

    Didn't consider your protein observation, good point. I was to focused on the fact lasagne was offered as the 2nd meal, odd choices all around.

    No the cabin was not sprayed, however on my VS flight out of DEL the cabin was sprayed upon decent into London. Any idea why this is done?

    • Comment 403620 by
      Razza_Pr 214 Comments

      So I came across this handy article:

      Essentially targeting any "unwanted passengers" aboard the aircraft. I read somewhere that India requires it for flights arriving to and departing from the country and wanted to confirm if that was the case with you. Though perhaps it's mainly focused on flights coming in from malarial countries like Southeast Asia, Africa, and the majority of the middle east?

  • Comment 403650 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Sounds like it depends on the departing country, or area within a country. In my case Japan no and India yes. The photo of the FA spraying in that article you found is exactly the way they sprayed on the VS flight.

    Not being a fan of ingesting chemicals I'm glad they waited to the end of the flight before spraying as opposed to one of the comments in the article where they sprayed at the beginning. Would have hated to breath that poison in for 8 hours, WHO seal of approval or not.

  • Comment 403704 by
    Thomas TEAM 421 Comments

    Merci pour ton FR !

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