We left the lounge after ten minutes or so and headed to the security screening area before the gate. Once into the gate itself we were greeted by the JL supervisor, who handed us a new set of boarding passes, a window and an aisle, next to each other at the back of the Business Class cabin.
I’m not going to lie, it felt really weird being aboard a JL 77W and turning right but I would hardly have enjoyed JL First to its fullest on a seven hour redeye and I was intrigued to see what the Business Class cabin was like. For the second time in one day I was going to try a new long-haul Business Class product!
My seat: 12A was right at the back of the cabin, I quite like being back here as it gives you the opportunity to see everything that’s going on.
My first impression upon seeing the seat was that it looked very private indeed and basically had a lot of the same ideas as BA’s Club World without the two major flaws:
No clambering over peoples’ legs to exit the window seats
No rear facing seats and awkward eye contact that ensues
I also really liked the fact that this seat has a permanently deployed foot rest with storage below, space above and a fixed shelf under the TV.
My only slight concern with the seat was that it felt a little narrow, although my shoulders never actively touched the sides. I really liked the shelf running all the way along the right hand side though. It was wide enough to put down a phone, a pair of glasses or a drink (again comparing this to BA where there is no shelf at all).
The shelves actually carry on all the way into the ‘alleyway’ leading to the aisle. This was useful as a place to open up my carry-on as well as being useful for placing the meal tray when I was finished eating and wanted to get up and get changed.
The Business seats get the same touch screen IFE control as in First.
Universal power, USB and the usual defunct video socket
Plenty of ways to get comfortable. I also like that the controls for the divider are easily found, together with those for the seat.
Above my head was another small storage area, good for placing things both on top of the mesh and underneath.
K was sat in the aisle seat next to me. Again, this has a number of benefits over a similar seat in BA J. Firstly you gain a lot of privacy by having an enclosure both around the IFE screen and around your head.
The aisle seats also have more storage than those at the window.
This large cubbyhole provides a a hook for headphones and a large surface on which to charge electronic devices.
JL doesn’t supply Bose headphones in Business but the Sony headphones were really comfortable, high quality and looked super cool.
A rudimentary sleeper kit (earplugs, mask and toothbrush) was handed out to each passenger before takeoff.
Of course, it would be unthinkable to not provide slippers on a Japanese airline.
Breakfast cards were also distributed before our departure from the gate. A sneaky move by JL as breakfast is not only the main meal on this flight but also the one that most people are likely to skip (as I did).
Post take-off a lot of people went immediately to sleep. I was initially worried about being seated by a family with two young kids but they made no noise at all. Once the seatbelt signs went off, both kids were placed in the middle seat and left to their own devices, whilst the parents, sat on the outside seats, doing their damndest to finish all of the gin on the plane.
At one stage I was sure we were going to get some crying as this baby got punched clean in the jaw by his big sister.
With so many people going to sleep, service was very quick, even in the back row. I ordered a glass of the delicious Delamotte a.k.a. ‘Salon Jr’ which was served with a packet of dried natto and a packet of rice crackers.
Unfortunately the dinner option was utterly lamentable. Some convenience store sushi and a little salad thing. Not acceptable for a 21:25 departure on a seven hour flight. Really disappointing given JL’s reputation for good food.
I finished the ‘meal’ in about ten seconds and got changed for bed. Thankfully the cabin wasn’t too hot and I was able to find some more packets of natto to sate my hunger.
I slept really well and woke up around 20 minutes before the seatbelt signs came on, the wait for the bathroom was improved considerably by this spectacular sunrise. Apposite given our destination.
JAL Business Class was a mixed bag. I found the service to be competent but not particularly friendly. I also really didn’t like how bare bones everything seemed for a flight which is similar in distance to LHR-JFK. No airline would cross the Atlantic without providing a proper amenity kit and a real dinner in Business, so I was very disappointed to see JL scraping through with the bare minimum. I would actively avoid flying JL on a similar route in the future.