From Tokyo Haneda to San Francisco I gave JAL a try in business class for the very first time on a 777-300ER. Overall, I give the flight high marks with particular praise for the food and service onboard. But there were a couple aspects of the flight that drove me crazy.
JAL 777-300ER Business Class – My First Impressions
I had the choice to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the 777-300ER to San Francisco (no mileage award space to Los Angeles, where I live) and chose the 777 for the convenience of Haneda Airport (especially in relation to where I stayed in Tokyo Bay) versus Narita Airport. I may have taken the 787-9 Dreamliner had it had the JAL Sky Suite III (reverse herringbone seats), but according to the seat map it had the same Sky Suite (Apex) seat I would have on the 777.
It was tough to choose business class when first class was also available, but I resisted the urge (and modest additional amount of miles) since I reviewed JAL first class last year (and hope to do so again on the A350-1000 if JAL ever starts releasing first class space again) and have never flown JAL business class in my life, let alone on the 777-300ER.
Let’s start with what JAL does well. First, the Apex Suites provide a tremendous amount of privacy and are quite comfortable. This flight departs in the evening and I spent the majority of the flight sleeping, which is always the mission when in business class.
Second, the food onboard was excellent. I always consider ordering the Japanese menu for purposes of these reviews, but JAL does Western food better than most Western carriers, so I pre-ordered the filet mignon for dinner and it did not disappoint.
In fact, it was cooked an absolutely perfect medium rare (per my request)
But it was not just the main course that was excellent. Service began with a Negroni cocktail…I love that JAL had the ingredients (though I had to sub Vermouth for Cointreau). The ladies were so great about mixing this up. They had no idea what a Negroni was, but after I explained it (twice) they found the ingredients and brought them over to make sure they were mixing them correctly (1/3 of each).
The appetizer was a bit strange (the anchovies were something new for me on a plane), but edible.
The cheese and red velvet cake were also superb.
Great meal overall.
Before landing, I ordered breakfast…an omelet with some odd sides…
Now, let’s focus on what I really did not like about this flight: the lack of storage space. The huge drawback to the Apex Suite (at least the “true” window seats) is that there is virtually no storage. There was a very small ledge on the side but no side or rear pockets or containers. Underneath the ottoman there is limited space, but that is not at all handy for storing things like your mobile phone or tablet.
So despite the excellent privacy these seats offer, the storage space is limited.
I also found the “Magic V” IFE system annoying, to say the least. The screen in front of you does not have a menu on it: you have to use your handset to scroll though options and it is only when you choose an option that it launches on your screen. That is an annoying and needlessly complicated system.
One more minor complaint: the largest sweater they had onboard was far too small for me!
And am I the only who finds it a little strange that JAL gives business class passengers sweaters, but collects them before landing?
Excellent service, a comfortable seat (though with limited storage), and delicious food characterized my JAL 777-300ER business class flight from HND to SFO. It was not perfect, but certainly solid. In my full review, I will provide details on the amenity kit, more on the IFE and wi-fi, and many other details about the transpacific flight.