Review of Japan Airlines flight Osaka Tokyo in Business

Airline Japan Airlines
Flight JL126
Class Business
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 01:20
Take-off 29 Apr 22, 16:25
Arrival at 29 Apr 22, 17:45
JL   #1 out of 66 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 157 reviews
Oyaikasakasa
Published on 6th May 2022

Welcome


Hello! Thank you so much for your attention to my first post into this community. I wanted to show you what it was like to fly Japan Airlines for both domestic and international legs; Osaka to Tokyo Haneda, and then to New York JFK, in the end of Apr and early May 2022.


Routing


Background


As of end of April 2022, Japan is still mostly closed to overseas travelers. On the other hand, the restrictions to Japanese citizens imposed upon return to Japan from other countries was lowered in Mar 2022 to the extent where international travels were more or less feasible. Specifically, the 14-days self-isolation was waived provided that you have the 3rd vaccination and that the country you stayed before returning to Japan are on the list for this waiver option.

Under these circumstances, Japan entered a holiday season which we call Golden Week, stretching as long as 10 days, if one adds a couple of paid leaves in between.

Knowing the lowered restriction, I kept searching for first class award seats for JAL’s HND-JFK route. One happy fact about JAL’s first class is that it is sold at a fixed price (70000 miles one way) as opposed to other classes which are dynamically priced. Unbelievably, this ends up in first class seats sold at significantly lower price than business, premium economy, and sometimes even economy. In early Apr, I was lucky enough to find a return ticket at 70000+70000=140000 miles (+tax and surcharges). This meant the value of JPY20 per mile spent. For context, generally one mile is earned per JPY100 spent.

I do not live in Tokyo area; instead the nearest airport to me is the second-busiest domestic one, Osaka Itami (ITM). JAL generously offers free connection flights to Tokyo (HND/NRT) for those living in other parts of Japan.

 Therefore my travel experiences began with my check in at ITM.


Check in


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Perhaps due to my arrival at ITM being a little over the busiest hours, its terminal was not crowded as it expectedly was given that this was the first day of Golden Week. I heard in some news that flights from Tokyo (NRT/HND) to Honolulu the night before (=right after the end of business) were operated in full capacity, which was surprising (somewhat sadly) in my country in the era of pandemic.


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Since I had finished additional requirements for COVID as well as regular check-in activities before arriving at the airport, my check in at this first class counter (also open to Oneworld Emerald holders) was very quick. Of course this was also thanks to the very efficient staff at the counter.

At this timing I knew that they still had vacancy in their domestic business class (Class-J), offered at JPY2000 ($15). The flight was only for an hour, but I almost always take this opportunity for the upgrade at check-in; and so I did.


Lounge



At a few major airports, JAL offers two types of lounge: Sakura Lounge for Oneworld Sapphire holders, and Diamond Premier Lounge for Oneworld Emerald holders. Sakura Lounge is to business class lounge what Diamond Premier Longer is to first class lounge. Though I am Sapphire, my first class ticket HND-JFK granted me an access to Diamond Premier Lounge.



In Diamond Premier Lounge, JAL offered a few choices of bread, rice ball, and soup. Also on offer were drinks like coke and orange juice, as well as beer and Suntory’s Japanese whisky (Chita). Although Chita is not as famous as Hibiki or Hakushu, both from Suntory, I also highly recommend this single grain whisky for its clear taste.

Foods on offer are not as one might expect in many first class lounges. To be fair, though, I guess JAL is continuously trying to keep a sustainable way to serve the top-tier status holders flying within Japan, where other modes of transportation is and will continue to be the most convenient way to travel domestically; Shinkansen (bullet train) and buses, to name a few.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere of the lounge was very relaxing, without being over-luxurious.  


fleet


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Today’s fleet was B787-8 which came in 3 classes; first, business (Class J), and economy. Class J in JAL’s domestic routes is not something seen in business class flying in many other countries; no food is on offer. This is understandable given short flight times in almost all of the domestic routes, mostly due to HND serving as the hub almost always.


boarding


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Boarding was very efficient. We were grouped into several boarding groups.
1. Passengers requiring special assistance
2. First class passengers and Oneworld Emerald holders (including JAL's top tier statuses: JMB Diamond and JGC Premier)
3. Oneworld Sapphire holders (including JAL's midium tier statuses: JMB Sapphire and JGC)
4. Non-status passengers in the order of the assigned seats.
I did have a first class ticket, but it was for the leg from HND. My status being Sapphire, my boarding group was 3.

Usually, flights between ITM-HND is filled up with top-tier status holders (I guess more than a quarter percent), which some call "Diamond queue". However, since it was the first day of the holiday season, there were only a few status holders on this flight, and for this reason I was one of the first to board.


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As you can see, the seat was more like premium economy than it was business. Yet getting this seat for an additional fee of JPY2000 (USD15) was a generaous offer.



The seat had a fairly large and responsive entertainment screen. Movies on offer was West Side Story and some other major ones. For these long movies, you can save the timepoint where you had to stop watching on your outbound flight. In this case a resuming code is issued. Then you can resume watching on your inbound flight by entering the code.


Take off


Our departure was immediately after a storm had passed, so the air was very clear even though the heavy cloud was still covering the area.


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In-flight service


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During the flight, JAL offers free drinks like apple juice, Coke, green tea, coffee and beef consome soup. When you are in Class J, you can also choose vegetable juice as a premium option. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this vegetable juice. It was a tomato-based thick juice, and tasted great.

JAL also provides free wifi onboard to all passengers. You can use your JAL app to connect. In the landing page of wifi, such entertainment as short movies and reading materials are available. This is intended for passengers on smaller fleet like B737, where no entertainment screen is available.

I was glad that they still had paper-based reading material in this era. 


Landing


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We literally ran after the storm, and thus Tokyo Haneda was under a heavy rain and wind when we landed. 

See more

Verdict

Japan Airlines

9.3/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering8.0

JAL Sakura Lounge

8.9/10
Comfort10.0
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Services8.5

Osaka - ITM

9.6/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness10.0

Tokyo - HND

9.4/10
Efficiency9.0
Access10.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Thank you for reading! This is the end of the report of the first leg, and I hope you will continue on to my second report, first class to JFK on JAL.

Information on the route Osaka (ITM) Tokyo (HND)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 9 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Osaka (ITM) → Tokyo (HND).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Japan Airlines with 8.1/10.

The average flight time is 1 hours and 7 minutes.

  More information

4 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 602068 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5759 Comments

    Hello and welcome! It's so nice to see reviews from Japan as they've obviously become so rare these past two years.
    Also very cool to see a review on the Domestic 787, as there aren't many out there. Looks great!

    Class J seems much more spacious than on other domestic aircraft, especially the 737s with their off 2-3 configuration.

    Thanks for sharing your first report here with us! A very nice report and I enjoyed reading it. Looking forward to more in the future!

    • Comment 602095 by
      Oyaikasakasa AUTHOR 4 Comments

      Many thanks for your warm welcome, KévinDC! I am very glad you enjoyed my first post. Yes, unlike the 2-3 configuration on 737s, no Class J seat on 787s, 767s, and A350s is 2 seats away from the aisle, which is great.
      Hope I will keep up posting in this great community and see you again!

  • Comment 602237 by
    SoraNoTabi SILVER 92 Comments

    Thanks for this super interesting report, anticipating a gorgeous trip over the Pacific!
    I didn't know domestic flights were offered when booking an award ticket!! (only available for First Class tickets??)
    It sounds like a very nice gesture to customers not living in the Tokyo area!
    I am really looking forward to reading the next chapter!
    搭乗記ありがとうございました!

    • Comment 602238 by
      Oyaikasakasa AUTHOR 4 Comments

      SoraNoTabi san, thank you for your kind comments! Yes JAL offers free connections to and from Tokyo (in a few cases Osaka Kansai too) for award tickets, even from Naha, Okinawa. At least pre-pandemic, this was the case even for flights to and from Seoul, so I was able to fly ITM-HND-GMP for only 7500 miles one-way, including a dish of their signature beef curry at HND. As you mention, what a generous way by JAL to provide equal opportunities for international flights to people in many parts of Japan! I am also looking forward to enjoying your very thorugh reposts going forward!
      Thank you again!

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