Japan Airlines B777-300ER (W82)Back to Forum
Anonymous23 May 2016
I travelled from Tokyo Narita Terminal 2 to Frankfurt on Japan Airlines in May 2016. I was travelling on JL0407 which had a scheduled departure time of 11:25am and was travelling in Premium Economy class. My journey started by trying to take the Narita Express from Shibuya, having made ticket and seat reservations the day before. On arrival at the airport I was told the train was cancelled and I would need to take the Yamanote line to Shinagawa for another train leaving in 20 minutes (thankfully I'm young and managed to dash up stairs and between platform with 2 suitcases!)
A couple of things of particular note for business travellers: the train has wifi abroad and there are only 2 cars with unreserved seats. The trains are fairly infrequent from Shibuya so I would suggest booking and arriving comfortably in advance. I finally arrived at Narita Terminal 2 at just after 9am after a nearly 2 hour journey to the airport.
I was at the JAL Global Club check-in for about 9:05. This can be used by OneWorld Sapphire members. I was at a desk within a minute or so. The check-in agent was great, although the fact that I was travelling to London City seemed to cause confusion. The agent called a colleague over who said they had only heard of Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, but I assured them there definitely was a London City Airport and that was definatley where I was connecting to!
After visiting customs, I was through passport control very quickly and arrived airside at exactly 9:25am. The entrance/escalators to the JAL First and Sakura lounges were right in front of me. I was given a very warm welcome to the lounge by various staff and was shown my gate and walking time to gate 65 on a laminated sheet. I was pointed down the escalators to the JAL Sakura lounge. Almost immediately on entrance I took the curved staircase to the upper buffet dining area. There was a sign at the bottom of the stairs to say that the dining area was very busy and it may take some time to be seated, however, I managed to find a single seat overlooking a JAL 777 almost straight away.
The buffet comprised a mixture of Western and Japanese food. The western hot food comprised hash browns, sausages and scrambled eggs. The main hot Japanese option was a beef curry and rice, with various accompaniments including pickled onions and pickled plum. There was also various cold options including various salad items, croissants, cheese and sandwiches. I opted for the beef curry and rice and some salad (with 'green goddess' dressing) which were all decent. In terms of drinks, in this section of the lounge the alcoholic drinks included a pink sparkling wine (Vent de Fleur) and several types of red and white wine. The non alcoholic drinks comprised various juices (orange, apple and grapefruit) with jugs of water and soda fountains. After eating, as this part of the lounge was relatively crowded, I decided to head downstairs. Whilst the seating area nearest the entrance was busy there were plenty of seats/sofas/seating areas empty nearer the back where I had a quick cappuccino and used the wifi. One of the things that I liked about this lounge was that the attendants were proactive in approaching you and asking if you needed any help – for example, when I was looking for ice for my drinks, reading the instructions to the beer machine or browsing through the English language newspapers. There was a good selection of British newspapers including The Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph and FT. I was also interested to see that the lounge contained various small beds in small rooms for those wanting to sleep. For business travellers, there is a large business centre which looked almost completely empty.
After some shopping, because I had the time and was interested, I made a short visit to the American Airlines lounge. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. The lounge was large, spacious and was well appointed with interesting Japanese artwork and items. The drinks seemed to be more or less the same as the Sakura lounge, although the food was more limited. A note for business travellers – the AA lounge was virtually empty on my visit – I think there were only 5 other people in the lounge and it seemed to have good computer, printing and wi-fi facilities – it seemed to be a good place to catch-up on work and take confidential calls (although I'm sure it gets much busier prior to an actual AA departure).
BOARDING AND PRE DEPARTURE
Two lines of priority passengers had already formed when I arrived at Gate 65 at about 11am. They were fast moving and I was onboard the aircraft within a few minutes. The aircraft was a 777-300ER. Unlike my outward flight, 2L had several crew members awaiting passengers and there was a warm welcome onboard. I was sitting in seat 19A which is the window seat in the third row of the Premium Economy cabin. There are five rows of PE. The whole PE cabin only had 5 passengers in it and all of the middle section and exit row seats were completely unoccupied. Business class actually seemed much busier. I think 19A is a good seat because it is located away from the galley which is at the front and the economy section behind. One point to note is that this seat is in the middle of the wing and the view is therefore restricted. There was noise cancellation earphones, a light purple blanket and a darker purple cushion on my seat. Slippers and a small shoe horn were in a plastic packet in the seat pocket.
For those that aren't familiar, the JAL PE seat is within a fixed shell and instead of reclining it effectively slides downwards which means it does not impinge on the space of the person behind. The seat had a large TV screen and, importantly for business travellers, has a flexible reading light, net pocket for small phones and other devices, privacy partition between the seats, a USB port and a plug for UK and other devices. There is also a large tray table and a small 'table' between the seats for drinks. As the flight was so empty I managed to charge my iPad, Blackberry and iPad simultaneously.
Pushback was 11:20 and there was a usual pre-departure announcement. It was quite interesting that this was announced as a code share flight with British Airways given this was a flight to Frankfurt and not London. A basket of amenities appeared shortly afterwards and I took one of each of ear plugs, eye mask, toothbrush, moisture mask and eye refresher. The safety demonstration then played. The flight map showed the flight time as exactly 11 hours and the distance as 5826 miles. Newspapers were then offered and I was told I would be brought a copy of the Financial Times separately (the attendant came back a couple of minutes later with a couple of German titles too). There was a good view of departure/take-off by 2 ANA flights, a BA 777, SQ 777 and others. There was a short announcement at around 11:40 to say there were five aircraft waiting to depart in front of us so there would be a short delay. Take-off was at 11:48.
Drinks were served from a cart at around 12:15 and I went for a champagne Vollereaux (which is a blend of all three champagne varieties of grape but I like it) and JAL Original Drink – which I really like despite it being a shade of fluorescent green! This was served with small packets of fermented soybeans and rice crackers.
Menus and hot towels were handed out at about 12:05. The menu said that it had been created by food stylist Nami Iijima. The menu said food would be served with traditional Japanese miso soup (I'm not sure if this needed to be specifically requested as it never arrived). The main course options were:
– Chicken in lemon cream sauce with Broccoli pasta.
– Ginger pork with steamed rice.
The flight attendant showed pictures of the 2 choices on a laminated sheet prior to departure and I went for the pork (Japanese) option. This was tasty, although I understand the food is the same as economy (albeit you're given a menu and some of the drinks/snacks are different).
This was served on a tray which included the following: lotus root marinated in vinegar sauce; dried radish salad; and green bean and baby corn salad with grapefruit dressing. At about 13:10 Haagen Dazs ice cream (cookies and cream) was handed out. A 350ml bottle of water was also given out.
Alcohol drinks available were: champagne, red and white wine, beer, sake, Japanese shochu, whisky, gin, vodka, brandy and plum wine.
Non alcoholic drinks available were: JAL original drink, orange juice, Apple juice, tomato juice, Coca-Cola, Sprite, cold green tea, sparkling mineral water, still mineral water, tea (including green tea) and coffee.
The meal service was followed by tea, coffee and further drinks (beers and wine were brought round on a small tray) – I was also brought a plum wine over ice on request which was great. The meal service finally finished at about 13:30. I then slept for a couple of hours. The JAL PE seat is great for sleeping in, although I did find the cabin too hot (as I did on the outward journey).
I wouldn't normally comment but the bathroom on the left hand side of the plane was very large for economy and is the best place to get changed. The bathrooms were also kept well stocked with toothbrushes and mouthwash during the flight and were regularly checked by the crew.
The economy tuck box selection was very limited with only some more rice crackers, individually wrapped chocolates and a few biscuits. That said, the crew were very happy to provide additional drinks – the Colombard Chardonnay from France was actually really good. The crew patrolled the cabin throughout the flight looking for lit call bells – I pressed it twice during the flight and a flight attendant arrived in seconds.
At about 6pm the lights came on and snacks were offered from a cart. The snack options comprised: cheese cube cakes; pumpkin bread with meat sauce and snack noodles 'Udon de Sky'. I was enthusiastically given all three by the crew and, as ever, the crew were very keen to offer further beer, wine, soft drinks and tea and coffee. I tried some red wine – the Merlot was ok and a cold green tea was offered quickly after the meal. The cheese cubes were fairly odd (and I'm used used to Japanese food) and the pumpkin bread was more of a dumpling with meat filling. I wasn't a huge fan but the snacks filled a gap prior to the second meal! Further drinks were continually provided throughout the flight.
The English inflight entertainment is not particularly extensive, although I watched The Martian and rewatched Spectre. I had a quick chat with a crew member who told me that JAL normally fly a 787 on this route and that, combined with it being Golden Week in Japan, meant there were a lot more empty seats than usual.
The pre arrival meal was served at about 20:30 Tokyo time. The meal was served from a tray and comprised the following: tomato and chicken stew; oven baked bread roll in a packet; small pot of pasta with grated cheese and a small pot of fruit (orange and grapefruit). The meal was accompanied by the range of drinks described above. The meal was relatively small but was certainly fine for me given all of the other food and drink that had been served during the flight. This was followed by tea, coffee and other drinks orders as preferred.
At 22:05 they said that we would commence our descent in about 15 minutes. The weather at Frankfurt was 15C. The crew came to personally speak to each passenger in the PE cabin and ask them about their onward travel plans, which I thought was a nice touch. Landing was finally at just after 22:50 (3:50pm German time) and was quite hard. We arrived at Gate C17 just before 4pm. I then made my way to the JAL lounge prior to my flight to London, which I will try to review separately. JAL staff had a large board at the top of the airbridge with onward connection gate information.
Overall, this was another great flight with JAL. The service and hard product were top notch and the lounge access would be a great benefit for those that don't have status. For a day flight I'm not sure I could justify paying the extra for business class (although I would like to try it!). The fact the flight was so quiet made it even more pleasant. I personally felt the meal service and food (in particular, the first meal) could be differentiated a little more from economy, but it didn't distract from the overall experience. I would definitely fly with JAL again.23 May 2016