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March 1, 2016 / oneworld82

JAL SkySuite – Business Class re-imagined (FRA-NRT, JL J 789)

Flight JL408, FRA-NRT

February 11th, 2015, 710p-240p+1

Business Class (SkySuite), Seat 4H

Boeing 787-900

I was very impressed with the cabin interiors: the layout, the color scheme, the overall décor was really nice, modern – and it clearly helped the fact that the airplane was brand new. This was my very first time aboard a Dreamliner, and I must say I had a very favorable impression. I should probably mention this later on, but it’s true what they say about the onboard air quality: it’s much better than your average plane.

Aisle leading up to my seat

Aisle leading up to my seat

The overall business class cabin layout looks like this:

JAL layout

As you can see, the cabin has a staggered 2-2-2 layout, with all aisle access for every seat. Each seat is a semi-enclosed suite, very spacious and overall private. The window seats are especially secluded – a great seat for solo travelers.

Cabin view from my seat, 4H

Cabin view from my seat, 4H

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My seat, 4H

My seat, 4H

My aisle seat was still very private, and the traffic by the aisle did not bother me almost at all. The seat is good also when traveling with a companion, as the dividing screen can easily be turned up/down.

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Shortly after seating down, the flight attendant came by offering to take my coat, and then a pre-departure drink was offered. I, of course, opted for some champagne.

Off we go!

Off we go!

The seat is definitely spacious, with a good amount of open storage space on the side (and very useful headphone hangers, so that the wires don’t get tangled everywhere). The TV is huge – I would say 24″ – and it looks even bigger as it’s not too far away from the seat.

Side storage space

Side storage space

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Seat controls

Seat controls

At my seat I found a JAL hard-she’ll amenity kit, a soft, warm duvet, BOSE headphones, and slippers.

Amenity kit

Amenity kit

BOSE headphones and a very handy side holder

BOSE headphones and a very handy side holder

The cabin filled up pretty quickly, but there were some seats left open. Boarding took around 30 minutes, and we started taxiing right on time.

A neat touch (that I experienced on ANA First Class as well): JL offers pj sweaters in business class, which are good if you wanna change in something more comfortable or if tend to get cold.

Boarding took around 20 minutes, and the IFE was working throughout. I had an issue with it, as I could not switch to English from Japanese, but my flight attendant was able to fix it for me. The controls were pretty cool though, easy to navigate; they also let you orders from the snack menu, which I thought was very neat.

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We pushed back on time, and we soon were en route to Tokyo. The Dreamliner felt very smooth during take off – and I definitely noticed a better-than-average air quality on board.

About 20 minutes into the flight dinner orders were taken. My FA was delighted that I chose the Japanese meal option – and even more that I asked for straight imo shochu (sweet potato distilled liquor) as drink of choice.

JAL uses BEDD menus in business class, just as in first class; this is remarkable, as the quality tends to be very high. The full menu read like this:

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As you can see, both the Japanese and the Western selections looked great, but whenever flying on a Japanese carrier I cannot pass on their signature Japanese meal.

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The drinks menu read as follows:

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After 15 minutes more, drinks were served from a cart, together with two amuse bouche: salmon “sashimi” and chorizo with beans. Both were really delicious. A wet towel (that Japanese use as towel throughout the meal as well) was also brought.

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The pace of service was good; I started watching the movie “Sherlock” – a story featuring a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes – and shortly after the appetizer was brought. Well, take a look and judge by yourself if this isn’t the coolest presentation you have ever seen on an airplane!

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I tasted and enjoyed all of my small plates, using the menu to guide myself through the many flavors. Quality was very high, and while some dishes aren’t necessarily “easy” on an untrained palate, everything was great.

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It took me probably around 20 minutes to go through all my small bowls, and I have to say that everything was light and flavorful, leaving space for the dainomono.

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This consisted of medium-rare, juicy, tender beef, served with daikon pickles, steamed rice, and miso soup. I really enjoyed it, although I preferred the appetizers overall.

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To conclude the meal, an excellent mango mousse followed, accompanied by some good green tea.

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The meal was perfectly paced (as each customer was served individually), and it was one of the best business class meals I have had so far. Kudos to JAL!
After finishing my meal I prepared my bed – which was very comfortable and spacious.

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I dozed off for 3-4 hours, after which I pressed the service button as I needed a snack – I opted for some fruit and a glass of Yamazaki. The galley between the two business class cabins featured a self-service area with a few snacks – nothing too impressive – but the snack menu was very good and honestly there is not even the need to have snacks in the galley.

Snack area

Snack area

Fruit and whiskey

Fruit and whiskey

At this point, the silliest thing ever happened to me. I thought that 1h30m before landing breakfast would be served, so I patiently waited, and waited… until the seatbelt sign came on. At that point I realized it was too late to order food, and by looking at the menu I realized that breakfast could have been requested up to 1h30m before landing… my bad (also, the flight attendant came by offering me a “last call” about 90 minutes prior to landing… I clearly did not get the cue). So, I missed breakfast, which was too bad because the Japanese option looked appetizing, but it was not a big deal in the end.

Too late for breakfast... :-/

Too late for breakfast… :-/

Right before landing I went to the restroom to freshen up; while the lavatory looks pretty standard, it did feature a Japanese toilet. Sweet!

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We landed around 20 minutes ahead of schedule, and we were soon at our gate.

Overall, this was one of the best – likely, THE best – business class flights I have ever had. Service was fantastic (in true Japanese fashion), food was great, drink selection very authentic and of quality, the new seat super comfortable and spacious. The only complaint I have is that the IFE does not have many “Western” options (which is fine) and that the Japanese selection does not come with English subtitles (or, at least,  I was not able to find them) – a minor complaint but that would be great if fixed.

The seat was, once again, the highlight here. It’s more like a mini first class open suite than a business class seat – very spacious and private, with a huge TV screen. Really, this was a fantastic flight, and I look forward to flying JAL business class again soon!

One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. awtytravels / Mar 1 2016 2:36 pm

    I’ve flown JAL’s 789 NRT-HAN, albeit down at the back – so down at the back that it was the last seat, in facts – and I echo your comments. It’s a quality product, a civilized way to fly and a solid airline all around. I wish I could fly them more often, in fairness.

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