While I have flown business on a number of occasions as a young associate accompanying my bosses for meetings overseas, I have not flown business for leisure my last 28 years on this planet. That was until now. Whilst backpacking to boot. This is my experience flying on Japan Airlines Business Class from Bangkok to Narita, Tokyo for cheap (Approx SGD1100 return ><).
Checking in @ Suvarnabhumi Airport
We arrived early after having done a whole day’s worth of shopping at Chatuchak Market and Platinum Mall. And I was sure glad that we were on Business Class. Shorter queues while checking in and also a chance to grab a well needed shower at the Sakura lounge after lugging my backpack with me all around Bangkok. For the uninitiated, Business Class passengers are entitled to use the airline’s lounge. Such lounges typically come with a small buffet spread, drinks, wifi and shower facilities.
Jumping the queue – Surprisingly, there was still a queue likely because its a shared lane with JAL’s Premium Economy Class.
We were given a Premium Lane pass as well as a Miracle Lounge pass. The former allows you to use a special lane for faster custom clearance. The latter offers passengers a chance to use the Miracle Lounge (I believe its a pay to use lounge) instead of JAL’s Sakura Lounge. The reason being that Sakura Lounge may be too packed. For us, we decided to risk it and try out the airline’s main lounge. Of course, I felt duty bound to ensure that you readers get a first hand experience of the Sakura Lounge from me.
Sakura Lounge @ Suvarnabhumi Airport
Surprisingly, the expected crowd did not materialise. Maybe all the passengers decided to play safe and decided to hop over to the Miracle Lounge >< The lounge looks spacious and relatively new having been renovated recently. There are two main seating areas. One is more of a lounge setting. The other is more of a dining area with proper tables.
The Japanese buffet spread was decent. While it adds a more authentic experience to flying a Japanese airline, I believe the lounge can offer a better and more varied selection of food. While there was a spread, most of the food was more like an appetizer and/or light. Don’t get me wrong. The food tasted fine but could have been more substantive and/or heavier (i.e. more meat and/or fish). Maybe some chicken katsu instead of small chunks of fried chicken? Or maybe some sushi?
The drinks on offer was okay. You have the usual soft drinks, milk, tea and coffee. For those who like to indulge themselves, the lounge offers cans of Asahi (and if I remember correctly Singha beer) and also different kinds of wine / spirits and also recommended sakes!
While I was there, I also got a chance to use their shower facilities. Unlike the lounges I have been before, Sakura lounge offers a more private experience. Instead of shower cubicles in a shared washroom facility, the lounge has several private shower rooms. These rooms are cleaned and the towels / toiletries replaced after each use. Just approach the attendant outside for the key. Sorry no pictures as I forgot to bring my phone in =[
Business Class on JAL flight
For this flight, the seats are arranged into mini cabins separated by a panel.
Each mini cabin is spacious enough. This is with the separator screen down. However, I would have preferred a more open seat arrangement and less of a feeling that I am confined in a box. I can imagine the flight be less comfortable (psychologically since there is no difference in terms of the actual physical space) if the screen was actually raised.
The flight kit is pretty decent. You have your usual toothbrush, ear plugs, slippers and eye mask. There was also a “Moisture Mask” which is essentially a glorified face mask that help filter the dry air. The Sony earphones were pretty good as well.
Once you are settled, the flight attendant will confirm your meal selection for the flight. For those wondering, this was the menu for my flight. Way different from what you see in Economy. No?
For such late night flights, dinner is not served. Instead, breakfast is served just before you land. Business Class passengers can have a late night snack to help tide them through till breakfast. I had a plate of sushi and a “Sky-time Kiwi” for my late night supper while watching Pirates of the Caribbean ^_^ before falling asleep.
Did I mention that the seats recline till they are flat? Really comfortable and as though you are sleeping on a bed! I am really considering splurging for my next trip to Europe and flying business and avoid having a stiff neck at the end of the flight.
I went with the Japanese Breakfast. Of course, I had to try something unique to JAL right?
My verdict? Skip the Japanese Breakfast and just stick with the Western selection. Somehow, the Japanese Cuisine just doesn’t taste right with the reheating. The rice balls were disappointing. The reheating made them a tad bit too dry. The rice was also bland. The food was also so-so. Maybe Japanese food isn’t a flight suitable type of food (Did you know our taste buds taste things differently when we are way up high?).
Other than the average breakfast, I found the entire experience enjoyable as a whole. In fact, having flown the return flight back to Singapore, it appears that JAL’s Business Class is actually something that I would recommend and/or fly on again if I have the opportunity.
If you want to read more about my flight back from Tokyo to Singapore and/or the lounge in Haneda Airport, please remember to like and follow!!!