Japan Airlines Regional Business Class Review Tokyo (HND) to Bangkok (BKK), 777 SKY SUITES Herringbone (Zodiac Layout) and Sakura Lounge Tokyo Review
After my more than satisfying flight from San Francisco, I was looking forward to spending another six hours on Japan Airlines Business Class to Bangkok. Check in at Tokyo's Haneda Airport was crowded at around 8AM but the business class line was short. However, it took the check-in agent a good 20 minutes to get all the visa and seating arrangements worked out. There were several supervisors involved but not a single question or statement was directed toward me/us. Odd. Just past security on the left is the brand new Sakura Lounge that was filled to capacity on this Saturday morning. I liked the open design and fresh colors. The last refurbishment can't be older than a few months. The wireless Internet was super-fast. I also found the breakfast spread to be OK. There were a few high-quality Japanese items and a number of not-so-high-quality western breakfast items. I arrived at the gate right at boarding time and this being Japan, boarding for first class passengers had just started, with me being next. The business class cabin filled up in seconds and to my surprise, I saw a much different seat being used for this 777. Japan Airlines refers to them as SKY SUITES as well but what you'll see is the herringbone Zodiac seat that we know from Cathay Pacific and Air France among many others. The cabin is configured in a 1-2-1 layout. However, there is a quirk - the middle seats have a different level - on each side. You won't notice it much when in a seat position but when reclined to a duly flat seat, you'll notice the right middle seat comes up to more than 3 feet from the ground while the left middle is just a foot off the ground. This likely increases the foot space and indeed it was longer than I remember but there is very little vertical foot space in the right middle seats. Knowing that limitation, the window seat is your best choice on this configuration. There was no pre-departure drink served (I was also rather busy taking pictures in the cabins that were quickly filling). There was an amenity kit, as well as a pillow and thin blanket on every seat. Additionally, there were noise-canceling headphones and the flight attendants gave out sweaters to wear. I found the flight attendants to be friendly and attentive - a little less so than on the San Francisco flight a few days earlier. I selected a combination of Japanese and western items for my meal choice. This time, I wasn't happy with the Japanese choice - none of the little pickled and marinated items tasted very good. I thought the fish from the western menu was just OK but it really lacked flavor and tasted like a low-carb hospital meal (it looked much better than it tasted). I really liked the green tea cake that was served as dessert and the flight attendants managed to get me a second one right away. We kept circling around China and surprisingly had barely any turbulence (I felt plenty on this route other times before). The entertainment system was the same as on my prior flight. The amount of movies is good but it could be more. The remote control is a nuisance but I was able to touch the screen, which is better in the herringbone configuration than in the SKY SUITES I had flown a few days prior. About one hour before landing in Bangkok, another snack was provided - a musubi-style rice snack or Häagen-Dazs ice cream. I opted for the latter which was too sweet and just a tiny container. In summary, Japan Airlines provides a competitive long-haul product on the medium-range regional flight. The seat and comfort are great and the food and entertainment are good but could be improved to be excellent for this route. Japan Airlines Business Class revenue tickets for intra-Asia are very expensive for this route and likely sell to major corporations only. High prices command high expectations and Japan Airlines provides a product that is very similar to intercontinental routes.