Business class on JAL

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May 21st, 2015, 08:51 AM
  #1
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Business class on JAL

We will be using JAL business class from SAN to NRT, any comments appreciated.
Thanks
sr_milione_miglia is offline  
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May 21st, 2015, 09:02 AM
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I've flown first class on JAL to Narita and I have to say, despite the excellent food and pleasant personnel I would not choose it again. This is because of a strange conviction that Japanese passengers must be serviced in priority over non-Japanese, regardless of who asks for assistance first or the layout of the seating. I thought I was surely imagining this and was talking to a friend about it, he was a first class steward for them for many years, one of few non-Japanese in that role, as he speaks fluent Japanese, and confirmed that I hadn't imagined it and it was one of the behaviours he frequently debated with colleagues about -- their response was that as a national airline, this was correct behaviour. My feeling is that once passengers have all paid for their tickets, they should be treated with similar respect and service.
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May 21st, 2015, 11:06 AM
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We are not Japanese and had a stellar experience on JAL, from LAX-NRT-BKK. The crew was polite and accommodating to all. We were not on the new 787, and we're not very picky, so didn't dwell on every detail as in the above reports. We mostly look for an on-time flight, comfortable lie-flat seat and good entertainment systems.

Overall, seats were comfy (make sure the ones on your flight are truly lie-flat, as some older planes might lack this), food was good (and plentiful) and the service and entertainment was fine. Lounges were good with awesome toilets, of course. And both flights were on time.

Just flew Cathay and AA to Hong Kong and back from Tokyo in business. Have also flown Thai business. I would say Cathay was the best (mostly for service), and JAL was better than Thai and AA (and we were in First on AA).
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May 21st, 2015, 11:08 AM
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Ugh - need that editing function. Meant to say:

Just flew Cathy to Hong Kong in business and AA back from Tokyo in first.
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May 21st, 2015, 03:50 PM
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We haven't flown JAL but have flown another Japanese carrier, ANA twice. We spent three days in Tokyo last fall and took a 9 day cruise out of Yokoyama to 4 or 5 Japanese ports and our experience with them and the culture was very positive. I am American and my wife is Indian. The FA's on ANA were very polite and I saw no deferential treatment. Everyone one we met including tour guides, hotel personnel and people in ports were as a group the most polite people we have ever encountered. In one port stop my wife was looking at a kimono and before we knew it there were three people fussing over her putting in on correctly. I would love to go back one day.
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May 21st, 2015, 04:46 PM
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Our ANA flights were biz too BTW.
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May 22nd, 2015, 06:28 AM
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I've flown on JAL several times in 1st and in business class, and I have never had any issues with the service, especially of the type that Kavey had mentioned. The service has always been excellent, and the worst service on Japanese airlines is far better than the best service on United Airlines.

That said, the SAN-NRT route on JAL uses the 787, just like the BOS-NRT route. And the business class seats on these planes are not very good at all compared to true lie-flat seats. (JAL is beginning to introduce lie-flats on newer 787s, but neither SAN nor BOS is scheduled to get these anytime soon.) The seats notwithstanding, other elements of the flight are great: After your initial meal service, you can order a la carte whenever you're feeling like another meal or a lighter snack. Also, the bathrooms are extremely spacious and always maintained throughout the flight.
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May 23rd, 2015, 10:24 AM
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I had a similar experience to Kavey's on JAL in first class, NRT -> JFK. The FAs were fussing over the Japanese pax and I felt pretty much ignored.

The JFK -> NRT trip in first was terrific. There were fewer pax than the return. That flight was 4 hours late due to a medical emergency the previous day. I was supposed to connect to Sapporo on a separate award ticket. JAL took care of me with vouchers for the overnight in Shinagawa and got me on HND-CTS the next morning.

The business class flights on JAL, NRT-DPS-NRT, were great. At one point, I looked over my shoulder to see the FA standing there with her hands clasped in front of her chest (like a nervous mother) looking at me. She sprang into action to see what it was that I needed.

All that was over 10 years ago. I definitely would be happy to fly JAL again.
mrwunrfl is online now  
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Jun 4th, 2015, 12:31 AM
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MrWunrfl, glad to know I am not the only one that experienced this. And as I said, my friend who was a 1st class steward with them confirmed that this was definitely not in my head.

I agree that I'd still pick JAL over many airlines, but BA have really upped their game after a dip in service standards about 10-12 years ago and I would pick them over JAL unless there was a significant price differential.

Of course, I DID love the food aboard JAL, that was utterly super.

And to be clear, the staff were never rude, it was a matter of prioritising the Japanese customers that irritated me.
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Jun 4th, 2015, 05:15 AM
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> BA have really upped their game

I'll disagree, strongly. I fly a fair bit, only in business and 1st, and I can't think of any airline that's gone downhill more in the past 10-12 years than BA in the premium classes.

Let's look at seats, which is probably the most important piece to most people. BA gives you less space than any other player I can think of. In Business, where they used to have a world-class product, at least half of the other majors have passed them by. Most of the other airlines have solved the problem of having lie-flats where you don't have to step over someone's legs to get to the aisle, to say nothing of BA's odd divider that has you looking into the face of your next-door neighbor. Even the least-likely of competitors (think Alitalia, Air Canada, Delta, etc.) have surpassed BA in business seats.

In First, the differences between BA and the rest of the world are even more stark: they stuff 14 seats into the nose of their 747s -- compare that to Cathay Pacific's 9 or even United's 12. When you're penny-pinching more than United, you know that you've got a problem. In boarding, BA doesn't even bother to load F customers before everyone else -- just get in the scrum with the business-class throng. And BA's F lounge at their home airport is a sad joke compared with those of top airlines -- including JAL.

Now it's not a burden to travel on BA in First or business, don't get me wrong. But please don't try to tell me that BA hasn't gone downhill compared to everyone else in the past dozen or so years.
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Jun 4th, 2015, 05:41 AM
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I flew JAL Vancouver to Tokyo in business class in 2010 and was extremely disappointed. Started with the lounge at Vancouver, which didn't even have toilets. Then, dinner was at best OK, while breakfast was abysmal - tasteless pasta with canned mushrooms followed by fruit and ice cream! We landed in a rainstorm, and they did not cover the luggage, which meant that my bag and a good part of the contents arrived wet. The experience was in no way comparable to Cathay Pacific on the same route, and a far cry from Qantas later on the same trip.

Sorry to hear that about BA, but I expect it to be better than AA which doesn't seem to have lie flat seats on trans-Atlantic flights.
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Jun 4th, 2015, 07:05 AM
  #13
 
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"Sorry to hear that about BA, but I expect it to be better than AA which doesn't seem to have lie flat seats on trans-Atlantic flights."

AA does have some aircraft with lie flat seating, the 77W is used on some of their trans Atlantic routes. Both business class and first have lie flat beds on the 77W.

To the op, I've flown JAL on trans Pacific flights.
JAL's service onboard is good (btw, so is ANA's) Their lounges in NRT are also good.

Each time I've flown trans Pacific with JAL I've had bad luck with connections (mostly weather related delays, so nothing to blame JAL for, IIRC only one of the delays was mechanical), I give them credit for handling my missed connections efficiently. JAL provided a hotel, meals, etc which is far more than what most airlines will do for weather related delays.
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Jun 4th, 2015, 08:35 AM
  #14
 
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Don Topaz, I was referring very specifically to service in my comment about BA. There was a period where cabin crew were almost universally incredibly sullen, behaved very resentfully towards passengers and service was downright appalling. That has turned around and service is now friendly and at the level I'd expect of them.

I can't comment on comparison of the seats as I only fly business and first on BA and Virgin, and not with the frequency I think you fly, and the occasional JAL experiences that I commented on here.
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Jun 4th, 2015, 01:32 PM
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I recently flew LAX to NRT and back in JAL business class. I was all excited to get to try the new fully reclining seats and the partitioned "suites." I even snagged a seat in row 5 both ways, which is in it's own private area. Business class on that flight consists of 77 seats, which amounted to 76 Japanese businessmen, and little me.

However, I found the service was disappointing. The main problem is that there is an anytime policy on meals, including the main meal, meaning that the flight attendants don't have a set schedule, and are running around like chickens without their heads trying to serve everyone in different phases. The food was wonderful and plentiful, but they never offered wine refills, and left the tray for 45 minutes after the meal was done--only removing it when I asked.

I never felt ignored for being non-Japanese, but perhaps the flight attendants felt slightly "ashamed" with their English. I did notice that they talked a little more with the Japanese men, but that is cultural ("my English is terrible"), and not meant to slight me in any way.

My son took the same flights shortly before I did, and had the same reaction, calling the service "perfunctory", and commenting,"if you are one of 77, how special could the service be?"

Cathay is still my favorite. The business class configuration is 1-2-1, instead of 2-3-2 on JAL. The service is wonderful.
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