San Diego to Tokyo –
I recently traveled on a complicated itinerary / Mileage Run Vacation to Seoul South Korea. I will be writing about my experience over the following posts:
Seoul Trip Report – JAL – San Diego to Tokyo Narita
Date: September 24, 2015
Flight: Japan Airlines 065
From: San Diego (SAN)
To: Tokyo Narita (NRT)
I arrived in San Diego with only a few minutes before boarding time for my flight to Tokyo. I made my way to the gate area and the other passengers were lining up when I arrived.
As I approached the boarding area, my name was called out and was asked to come to the desk. I assumed that they needed to verify my passport as I was traveling on a ticket issued by American.
When I approached the desk a very kind agent greeted me warmly and offered assistance. I provided my boarding pass and said that my name was called. The gate agent thanked me and she greeted me by my name. I asked her if a seat was available a few rows further than what I was originally assigned. The gate agent smiled and she said that they upgraded me to an aisle seat in Business Class. I was really surprised as I was not expecting that since generally airlines only give operational upgrades to their own Elite fliers not the code share ones. The gate agent presented the new boarding pass and she informed me that boarding would begin shortly. I mentioned that I had a connecting flight and I asked her if she could print the boarding pass. She asked for the flight number and I provided her the confirmation document and she checked me in for the onward flight and provided the boarding pass. The gate agent thanked me and she wished me a good flight.
Boarding began about two minutes later. I joined the line and was greeted by another cordial gate agent. The colleague verified my passport and scanned my boarding pass and he asked me to enjoy the flight.
I boarded the plane and was greeted by two flight attendants who welcomed me and they reviewed my boarding pass and they explained where I needed to go for my seat.
I was assigned an aisle seat in row 9 in the center. This was towards the rear of the business class cabin.
The cabin was setup in two sections, one with three rows and one with four rows. The seats were in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats were angled flat seats with a variety of adjustments for lumbar as well as various positions. There were also three pre-set positions for upright, relaxing and sleep.
At the seat I found a thin white blanket and a small pillow. The linens were soft and comfortable. There was a Tumi branded amenity kit and Sony Noise Canceling Headphones. In addition, slippers were available at the seat.
Shortly after I was seated a flight attendant greeted me and offered a choice of newspapers. A few minutes later another flight attendant presented a sleep shirt with the logo JAL on it.
The flight attendants walked through the cabin and they removed the plastic wrap from the blanket and they kept the area clean.
No pre-departure beverages were offered, however, the flight attendants were frequently circulating the cabin and greeting the guests.
The boarding process was quick and everyone was on board within about 20 minutes.
A few announcements were made in Japanese followed by English and the safety video was played.
The flight attendants prepared the cabin for departure and after a short taxi, the plane was in the air. The Captain made an announcement in two or three languages and the flight attendants also made a few announcements about the flight. The Captain explained that the flight would go up to Seattle and then across the Pacific and into Japan.
The flight attendants were working in teams and they were constantly attending to the guests in the cabin.
Initially Champaign or Orange Juice was offered in glasses followed by a scented cool towel which was refreshing.
A few minutes later, the flight attendants greeted me and offered a selection of beverages. The beverages were served from a mini-cart. Four different wine options were available as well as a variety of cocktails. The wine was poured directly at the seat and the flight attendants showed the bottle before pouring the beverage. A large wine cup was utilized.
I requested a Riesling and was immediately provided it. The Riesling was not too sweet and it had a great flavor.
A few minutes later, the lead flight attendant returned to my seat and asked if for my meal order. I requested the Western Meal and was offered a choice between steak or salmon. I selected the steak. The flight attendant thanked me and she said they would serve the meal shortly.
A few minutes later the flight attendants returned to my seat and they placed a decorative placemat at the seat, followed by an Amuse-Bouche.
The flight attendants were attentive and my wine was topped off throughout the meal service.
The Amuse-Bouche was two dishes, one was a mushroom flan and the other was a crab and avocado dish. Both items were excellent. They were served cold and they were both full of flavor. Both items were served in small decorative black dishes.
After I finished the Amuse-Bouche course, the flight attendants promptly removed the plates and cleaned my place setting before presenting the appetizer and bread course. The flight attendants offered additional wine or other beverages at that time.
The appetizer was a duck breast with a light herb cream sauce along with a salmon potato mouse. The duck was served chilled and it was cooked nicely and was slightly chewy but had a good flavor. The duck was served on top of a bed of noodles and vegetables in an Asian ginger flavored marinade. A light herb cream sauce was served on the side that enhanced the flavor of the duck. In addition, the salmon potato mouse was served chilled. The salmon was fresh and it had a light flavor. The mouse was a light cream that enhanced the flavor of the salmon. The salmon was served with a micro-green salad. The appetizer course was excellent. Two breads were served one was a croissant type role and the other was a roll. The croissant type bread had an excellent taste; however, the roll was dry and lacked a good taste.
Once I was finished with the appetizer course the flight attendants promptly removed the used dishes before serving the entrée course.
The entrée was served hot and it consisted of a medium size filet that was cooked to well done and it was accompanied by green beans and a risotto. Despite the steak being well done, it had an excellent taste and flavor. A mushroom sauce was served on the side that enhanced the flavor of the steak. The vegetables were fresh and they were lightly seasoned and had a good flavor. The risotto was creamy and it also had a good flavor.
After I finished the entrée, the flight attendants removed my tray and cleaned the area.
A few minutes later, a dessert and coffee cart was served, I was offered a choice between coffee, English Breakfast Tea and a Green Tea. I selected coffee and was offered cream and sugar. I accepted the cream. The dessert was also served at that time. One item was offered. The flight attendants asked me to enjoy the dessert.
The dessert was served chilled. It was a light cream dish with a cranberry compote on top. The cream was smooth and it was rich in flavor. The cranberries were fresh and they were in a sauce that blended well with the cream. The coffee was served hot and it was excellent. I am generally not a airplane coffee person, but this had a bold flavor and went well with the dessert.
After I finished the meal, the flight attendants removed the used dishes and the place mat and they asked if I needed anything else. After I declined they thanked me.
A few minutes later, I was presented with a bottle of water.
The flight attendants were noted to walk through the cabin every 10-15 minutes and they were attentive allowed guests to relax and enjoy their experience on the aircraft.
During dinner, I watched a movie on the touch screen. The picture quality was high definition and the sound was excellent. A variety of movies were offered in various languages as well as subtitles were also available. The movie selection including Asian and Western and there were options for everyone. In addition, several games were available along with music channels and other flight information.
The flight maps had multiple view options which gave a unique perspective to the flight.
The aircraft was not equipped with WiFi.
The flight attendants setup a beverage station with wine and water available along with some desserts and light snacks.
JAL offers an on demand menu for the remainder of the flight and the menu indicated that the food was offered up until 1.5 hours before landing. Both Asian and Western options were available including light snacks to complete meals.
I walked around the cabin a few times during the flight. The economy cabin is setup in a 2-4-2 configuration. The aisles had a good amount of space to walk through and the seats looked like that offered a decent amount of leg room. All the seats had video monitors as well as USB power options.
I converted my seat into a bed and rested for a few hours before watching another movie on the video system. The bed was somewhat uncomfortable due to the angle which made me feel like I kept sliding down the seat. After making a few adjustments I was able to find a more comfortable position. The seat offered a decent amount of privacy while it was reclined into the bed, although the window seats were not direct aisle access so those passengers had to step over the person on the aisle if they needed to get up.
The windows featured the electronic shades. The windows were set to a blue shade after the meal service and the ceiling had a blue shade as well to encourage relaxation.
A couple hours before the end of the flight I was walking near the snack area and a flight attendant asked if I wanted anything to eat. I accepted and I ordered the curry dish and the mini slider. The flight attendant thanked me and she also offered a drink. I ordered a Coca-Cola. The flight attendant said she would bring it to my seat and she thanked me.
Within a few minutes, the flight attendant approached my seat and setup a tray table with the curry dish and the Coca-Cola. She said that the burger would be ready shortly as it was being cooked.
The Curry dish was served warm. The curry was flavorful and the ingredients were fresh. The curry had potatoes in it in a rich and creamy sauce. The curry was accompanied by sticky jasmine rice that had an excellent spice. The entrée was excellent.
While I was enjoying the curry dish, the flight attendant returned and she presented the slider. She asked if I needed anything else. When I declined, she thanked me and asked me to enjoy.
The burger was served hot. It was cooked well and was topped with cheese, pickles, onions and tomatoes. The burger had a good taste. The burger was served with a light salad. The salad included fresh lettuce and a tangy dressing.
After I finished the meal, the flight attendant returned and she removed the used dishes. The flight attendant offered coffee or ice cream. I declined both but requested water and she provided a water bottle.
About an hour and a half before landing, a flight attendant approached me to inform me that the kitchen was closing soon so she asked if I wanted to order anything else. I declined and she thanked me.
The flight attendants continued to circulate in the cabin and offer assistance to guests.
The cabin was prepared for landing and the flight attendants walked around and checked in with each passenger.
The flight landed on time. There was heavy rain in Tokyo at the time so there was some turbulence during the landing but nothing was too bad. The flight taxied to the gate within 15 minutes.
As I departed the plane, several flight attendants thanked me sincerely and wished me a good day.
I entered the airport and went into the transit area before going back through security. The process was efficient and I found myself with about an hour before the next flight.
Overall I felt that the flight on JAL was excellent. The flight attendants were friendly and polite and they made me feel welcome. The operational upgrade to business was a wonderful surprise as it gave me another opportunity to experience business class on the new aircraft.
One thing that surprised me was that despite the fact that the 787 is a new aircraft, that JAL used angled flat seats for business. It seems in recent years, the standard for international long haul flights is lay flat seats. Nonetheless, the service level by the crew was exceptional so it made up for not having the lay flat seat.
Note: My seat was at the rear of the business class cabin directly in front of economy. The first row of economy is where JAL places families with young children and they install basinets during the flight. There is the potential of hearing babies crying as the basinets are directly behind the curtain. If you have the option to select a seat, I would suggest one in the smaller mini cabin.