This was my first time flying JAL, and we decided to try out their business cabin on the way to Jakarta, and first class on the way back. (Stay tuned for my flight report from that leg)
Boarding was very efficient, in typical Japanese fashion. We started only 20 minutes before takeoff, and we still pushed back in time. Business cabin was 2/3 full. No first class on this 767-300.
The finishes in business were faux wood and leather. Plane was quite warm on boarding and there were no A/C vents in biz. Seating was 1-2-1. The window seats alternate, so every other row is closer to the window, while opposite rows are closer to the aisle. The middle two seats also alternate, so one seat is next to the aisle and one is between two armrests. The seats open to an aisle do feel a little more private but also claustrophobic. This is definitely better for thinner people.
Waiting on the seat were headphones, blanket, memory foam pillow, and slippers. The blanket was thinner than I've seen, but the cabin was far too hot to use it anyway, other than to wipe away sweat. Pajamas were also not provided.
Our flight attendant introduced herself and offered a selection of reading material. No amenity kit was provided. Instead, the attendant walked through the cabin holding a basket containing various items, ear plugs, eye mask, moisture mask, and eye refresher. She later returned with a bottle of water.
The seat provided USB & international mains power. The IFE provided a dedicated video port and USB jack for playing your own content. Unfortunately, my second annoyance besides the heat was the headphone jack. It was the old two-prong setup, preventing passengers from using their own headsets. I asked for an adapter so I could use my QC20s, but they had none and I was left with no choice but to use the very low-quality sets provided. Enabling the noise canceling had almost no discernible effect and I had to raise the volume almost to the max to hear the sound over the background noise.
After takeoff, the attendants offered a tray with small glass of OJ or champagne. And a (scalding) hot towel.
Next, the attendants came around to present the menu and take our orders. I chose the western meal. Apparently it was popular because the Fa came back later to ask me politely to change to one of the Japanese offerings. When she saw my hesitation to choose one, she apologized and moved on, asking several other passengers until she found someone willing to switch.
The tray tables extend from under the TV in front of you, and they were large and sturdy. Perfect for working or dining. One interesting aspect of the service was the 3 different kinds of salt provided with the meal.
The Pate wasn't my thing, but the beef was very tender and delicious. The truffle sauce was a little overpowering. The tea pudding was interesting and tasty - my wife's favorite part of the meal.
Putting the bed down I'm suddenly reminded of hibernation sequences in sci-fi movies. Your legs must be squeezed into the narrow footwell tunnel and pushing the recline button, your body is slowly lowered down into the confines of the seat. My thin 6'0 frame fit, but only barely and I was afforded only minimal movement in each direction. This is definitely better suited for asian frames. The bottom of the foot tunnel is approximately 10x12 inches. The tunnel is very deep - at my height, I was in the tunnel almost up to my waist. You have to lay perfectly straight as a mummy in a sarcophagus. The photos really don't do it justice. When my legs got sore from being stretched out straight, I had to return to a seating position to bend my knees, since it's impossible to do so lying down!
The bed nearest the aisle may be better. The foot tunnel is partially open to the aisle, and the arm rest retracts down into the seat, freeing up extra width and making it possible to move freer.
The bed material was comfortable, and the memory foam pillow was excellent. Curiously, the seats are so narrow that while in bed mode, the pillow is too wide to fit without compressing it.
I slept well, despite sweating through my clothes and being too hot to use any blankets. I enjoyed the bedding but not the confined space. My wife disliked even the bedding.
Once I was awake, an attendant was immediately at my side to ask if I needed anything. I asked for a diet coke. She quickly returned with a drink and a bag of rice crackers and asked for permission to serve me now. The presentation and pouring was reminiscent of a fine champagne and concluded with the little Japanese bow. I appreciated that the staff's English was almost perfect.
Another attendant offered a tray of different snacks, including different types of ramen, and I selected the ice cream. Rather than giving me the one I had pointed to, she excused herself and returned a moment later with a new tray dedicated to my ice cream and spoon. It was again presented, placed deliberately and carefully into position at a precise angle at my side, before again she bowed and returned to the galley. During discussion, all flight attendants squatted down so they were beneath the passenger's eye level, and not staring down at you. It's these little touches that make the experience on a Japanese airline extra special.
Tokyo - NRT
Jakarta - CGK
Overall, I felt the service was excellent, but the tight seats and hot temperature prevented this from being a perfect flight.
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