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Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 BKK-NRT

a seat in an airplane

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Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 BKK-NRT

This review and experience should be a cautionary tale to anyone booking a trip. ALWAYS, ALWAYS look at seat maps. Lemme tell you, I’d been looking at a lot of seat maps, but I got very excited when this routing fell into place the night before we left on our Southeast Asian adventure. SOOOOO excited that I danced around like Yosemite Sam pretending to shoot coffee cans and I forgot to check the seat map. Who does that?! See, I’d been tracking a different Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 route from Hanoi to Tokyo which had been retrofit to feature the JAL Skysuite. I knew that flight was going to have the JAL Suite because I’d checked the seat map 😉

Hanoi to Tokyo was our preference, but problem was the avail for that route never opened up and since I had The Sky Suite in my head I didn’t even bother to look after we locked down the BKK-NRT routing.  I was so happy to find a route that fit our needs that I just plain forgot to check which product it would feature. I assumed it would be the JAL Suite. It’s not like it would have mattered. Our priority was to find routing that arrived at NRT in time to connect and fly JAL First Class to Chicago on January 9th. But this didn’t stop my JAL Suite expectations from building up.

Here is the JAL Suite

  • pod
  • lie-flat
  • aisle access

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.15.07 AM

What we got was this: The JAL SHELL FLAT SEAT

Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 BKK-NRT - 7 of 40

I rounded the corner with pep in my step. At last…the JAL SUITE

My face fell flat. I’d been talking to Dave about how dope the JAL Suite was going to be and we’d get a good night’s sleep, land in Tokyo, and hit up the First Class lounge for some incredible sushi. So when I saw this cabin I was speechless. The crew was greeting me and asking if I needed assistance and I had a quick moment where I thought, my God, we’re on the wrong flight somehow.

Expectation is the mother of disappointment.

To make matters doubly worse, we were late to board and the cabin was full – the crew had already given out some drinks. People were everywhere. That’s another thing – I always like to try and board close to first so I have plenty of time to settle. Being slightly embarrassed, deflated, carrying Miles and looking to snap pictures I just stopped and stared in disbelief.  What in the hell are these seats?! It was like a flashbang had gone off and now my apoplexy was holding up the boarding queue.  One of the flight attendants asked me if she could help me to my seat.  I fumbled around.  I looked over and Dave was already settling it like it wasn’t a biggie.  I was the one just standing there thinking how could this be? Talk about being overly dramatic – I was still in BIZ!  I just expected something else and also felt as though I’d somewhat failed.  Damn you expectations!

Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 BKK-NRT - 38 of 40

To make matters worse…we picked the bulkhead. You don’t even get the normal sized tv! You get one that pulls out of the armrest. The Horror! I know…high class problems.

The Deets:

  • When: January 8th, 2017
  • Loyalty: AA (67,500 pre-deval )
  • Airline: Japan Airlines
  • Flight: JAL 718
  • Routing: BKK-NRT
  • Time: 10:25pm – 6:15am
  • Plane: 787-8
  • Seat: 1H

Before we get further into this…How can you tell the difference between the JAL Suite and the JAL Shell on a 787-8 seat map?

We can use seatguru to tell the difference. Notice they both are 2-2-2, but on the left, in row 10, there are just 2 seats. That’s the retro fit cabin with the JAL Suite.

We quickly got settled in:

As I’d mentioned before. The crew was amazing. Deferential, attentive, and friendly. She gave me a menu and asked what I’d like to eat. I said I’d prefer to just sleep until we landed.

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The Seat.

Japan Airlines already knows what I’m about to say because they’re actively replacing these angled lie-flat seats on their planes. They are waaaaaaay behind the competition. Having flown China Airlines, EVA, and Qatar in the past week made that even more obvious. They’re narrow, don’t lie flat, and have a lip at the bottom to stop you from sliding right onto the floor. I constantly felt like I was going to slide out.

I didn’t have enough room to put my arms down to my side.

 

I couldn’t sleep. The narrow breadth of the seat combined with the angle just made it very uncomfortable. HOWEVER, as soon as I pulled my eye mask up, angled the seat to lounge position, a flight attendant was there asking if I needed anything. I was very impressed. Again, my hard product complaints are already on JAL’s radar, but the service (soft product) was top notch.

IFE was subpar too. Small and hard to use.

The overnight amenity kit

Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 BKK-NRT - 11 of 40

The “moisture” mask was a new feature for me. I loved it. Whether or not it actually filters out germs I’m not sure, but it made me feel like I wasn’t going to catch the cold from the guy 2 rows back who was hacking up a lung the whole flight. And I never did.

Overall:

Check your seat maps! There are certainly much worse ways to fly, and the crew did a great job taking care of their passengers. But, truthfully, the hard product is horribly inferior to their competition. JAL knows that, and I look forward to flying on any of the new JAL Suite products they offer: 1, 2 or 3. They all look pretty nice.


This review is a part of the Trip Report: Miles Traces his roots in Southeast Asia

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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14 Comments

  • Wael Khoury October 16, 2020

    Hi,
    I am flying from LAX to Tokyo and I have a choice of business class on JAL 777-300ER or 787-8.

    I understand that the Sky Suite is the same on both, but can you please offer a preference if you have tried both.

    Most appreciated.

    • Miles October 16, 2020

      Personally, I’d go 773 in the mini cabin in either A or K. 788 will be quieter, but regarding the apex suites they should be the same product wise. I prefer mini cabins though…

  • […] 787.  Cabins can vary as JAL has a few business class offerings. I flew one of them last year from Bangkok to Tokyo pictured in the middle. I recommend making sure your flight is outfitted with the Jal Sky Suite on […]

  • […] If you meander on back you’ll find areas where you can sleep. I wish I’d known about these ahead of time. I could have used a small nap after being wide-eyed the whole flight from Bangkok. […]

  • […] Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 BKK-NRT […]

  • SightseeMC March 31, 2017

    I laughed all through this, but I was laughing *with* you.

    We’re having our first business class flight ever in 6 weeks, on Qatar. And I’ve been so stoked I’ve been gushing to my wife about what a great experience it will be. So I kept imagining how I’d feel if, instead of our expected seats, we got angled seats that we slid out of. She’d probably be fine, because it’s still far better than anything we’e ever had, but I’d be sooooooo (stupidly) disappointed that I’d probably cry into my pre-departure champagne. 😉

    • Miles April 1, 2017

      SightseeMC – we are kindred souls 😉 Hope you enjoy your flight! What’s the routing? Thanks for reading!!

  • […] and I arrived on our Japan Airlines Business Class 787-8 flight before the lounges were open.  It struck me as odd that flights would arrive with […]

  • John the Wanderer March 29, 2017

    I am surprised they did not make all the seats 1-2-1 since that seems to be the norm these days. When I was on JAL Business last year, I felt that the service and meals were excellent.

    • Miles March 29, 2017

      John the Wanderer – I agree, service was incred. Thanks for reading John!

  • AdamR March 28, 2017

    You can also see that the SeatGuru seat maps show the updated product when the pairs of seats nearest the windows are slightly offset from each other. Plus, if you hover your mouse over the type of seat, it usually gives you a rundown on that seat itself. Plus the upper right corner of a seatmap screen describes each of the different seat types. So, there’s basically 3 ways to tell if you have the new or old product.

    • Miles March 29, 2017

      AdamR – great points!

  • George March 28, 2017

    I know the feeling : )

    Thank heaven I got the chance to fly the JAL’ Skysuite in the 789 from NRT to BOS 🙂
    Btw, I actually had to be in LAX the other day, so I managed to get a BOS-LAX with Jetblue and their Mint seat.

    The things we do to have a chance to try different seats 🙂

    • Miles March 29, 2017

      George – but so worth it 🙂 thanks for reading

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