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June 4, 2014 / oneworld82

JAL Sakura First Class Lounge (Tokyo Narita)

Flagship First Class lounges tend to be oasis of peace and tranquility. At its own hub, an airline will (usually) go above and beyond trying to impress its top-paying (or most loyal) customers, pampering them with good food, good drinks, relaxing amenities, and luxury hotel-style service.

JAL didn’t disappoint in this regard. The Sakura First Class lounge at Narita is a true hallmark of relaxation. Yet, it fell somewhat short of some of the best first class lounges out there.

The design and decor of the lounge is certainly top notch. Dark, wooden panels confer a luxurious, modern and warm feeling to the whole lounge. Three super-elegant ladies were at the main front desk to check customers in. After seeing my First Class boarding pass, they directed me to the First Class section of the Lounge, where other two attendants welcomed me in. As you walk in, you find a luggage area with lockers. That was a nice feature, as it allowed me to safely leave there my camera bag and other valuables I was carrying with me.

As you enter the main area of the lounge, you have a darker, quieter room to your left and a brighter side to the right. The quieter side houses some workstations and the smoking area; the brighter side features the dining part of the lounge.

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The writing is not out of focus: it looks like this in person as well!

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The quieter area is a great place where to type on your computer while sipping some incredible Yamazaki whisky (that stuff is truly remarkable). The sofa I sat on was very comfortable, and I could have napped on it easily.

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The brighter part of the lounge featured a full bar with bartender, a buffet, an a-la-carte dining option, and a nice view over the tarmac. This part was quite busy with people chatting or eating, and I didn’t stay long. The food selection at the buffet was ok – nothing special (it reminded me, comparatively, of a BA Galleries lounge) but nothing bad either. A passenger was enjoying at a table a Japanese curry dish (ordered a-la-carte) that looked very appetizing.

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After getting a little snack and some more whisky, I headed to the showers area to take a quick clean-up. The shower room was nicely appointed (although not too large), with decent amenities. The one at the Wing in Hong Kong was larger and – overall – better appointed. A rain shower helped me to get relaxed and ready for the long flight ahead.

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One of the cool features of the Sakura First Class lounge is a complimentary 10 minutes massage that you can book with the showers attendant. I booked it as soon as I got in, and  I was given an appointment for about 70 minutes later. At my appointed time, I showed up and I was asked which treatment I wanted. I don’t remember all the options, but I went for a back massage. The massage room was a proper little spa room; the masseuse was nice and very skilled, and in only 10 minutes I felt reborn. Right pressure, right technique. A winner!

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My two hours at the lounge flew by very quickly; the lounge is definitely very nice, but not the best I have visited so far. If anything, I found the food buffet to be somewhat limited, and the massage (albeit great) to be very short. But overall, this is a solid lounge that provided me with some good relaxation before my long flight back home. Well done, JAL.

 

 

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