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Last week, before my flight from Tokyo to Dallas, I checked if seats were open on JAL. I originally booked my way home with 50,000 Alaska miles for an American Airlines Business Class ticket. But I was totally willing to pay 10,000 more miles to fly back on JAL. Especially when the cash rate was $7,300+!
Seats were available! I called Alaska Airlines to make the switch. A few minutes and 10,000 miles later, I was booked into a JAL Sky Suite seat back home to Dallas.
I’d always wanted to fly a Japanese airline. Both times I’ve flown were with American. So I did a happy dance I was able to score this seat.
Even better, the new flight time was within 5 minutes of my old one. So I didn’t have to change any plans, other than fly home in a better seat on a new (to me) airline!
In This Post
JAL Business Class Sky Suite review
- Link: JAL Sky Suite seats
The trek back to Narita sucked hard, dude. I missed the Narita Express train before I realized they only leave once per hour at certain times of day. Missing the 7am train meant waiting until 8am. And for a 10:45am flight, I didn’t want to cut it that close. So we took a JR East train to Nippori and transferred to the Skyliner. It was roughly the same cost, but with more stops and a connection.
Even still, we got to NRT around 8:45am. So had plenty of time to check a bag and have a drink in the Sakura lounge.
We’d already checked in online. But my friend shopped a lot in Tokyo and needed to check a bag. The bag drop line moved slower than expected. Like, isn’t it a bag drop – as in drop and go? 🤬
Afterward, we used the Fast Pass lane for Business and First Class passengers. And got through security in under 10 minutes.
There was a full dining floor in the Sakura lounge. But I staved off to save room for what I hoped was delicious dining on the plane. So just had a drinky and played on my phone until boarding time.
I was so ready to get on that plane! Not because I wanted to leave Japan (au contraire!), but because I was excited for the experience of the seat, service, and dining.
Plus, I’d read a lot about the Sky Suite and tried to not have expectations.
I wanted to sit next to my friend. So we chose 2 seats together in the middle of the plane.
When I got to my seat, I found:
- Amenity kit
No food menu just yet. That gave me more time to look around the seat and get settled.
To start, the seat was plenty spacious. I’m 6’1″ and couldn’t reach the end of the seat even with legs fully stretched.
Instead, I put on the slippers and stowed my shoes underneath the tray slash ottoman that’s also the end of your bed when the seat’s flat.
The seat control is next to the seat. And right next to your head, you’ll find the remote for IFE and a reading lamp.
The power plugs for USB and devices are actually near the foot rest in this seat. So I plugged my phone and set it on the tray next to my feet. During the flight, I stuck it in the mesh pocket on the opposite side, so the cable draped above.
There are pre-set modes for sitting, relaxing, and sleeping. To activate, hold down the corresponding button until the seat stops moving. You can also customize the angle of your head and foot rest.
The seat width is roughly the same as the entire compartment. There isn’t a ton of storage space within or around the seating area. So aside from my phone and wallet, I stuck everything else in the huge overhead bin.
Seat as a bed
When you’re ready to pass out, there’s an AirWeave mattress pad you can put over the seat. And you get a pillow and a light duvet cover.
In the middle seats, the Sky Suite is open in the center of the compartment. So if you face the aisle, you can see into the compartment of the person across the aisle. This isn’t good or bad, but worth mentioning. You can always cover your eyes with the mask – it’s the light in the aisle I wanted to avoid. I ended up sleeping on my side facing inward. And was able to get a few hours of solid rest in the bed position.
I liked how the foot area spanned the width of the compartment. I can’t stand seats that narrow or force you to angle your feet in any kind of way. Though I do think the bed could’ve been a bit wider. Because when I moved around, I bumped my elbows on the wall.
And the pillow was very thin. I had to fold it over a couple of times to get any sort of support. The duvet cover was great though – not too heavy.
That’s worth noting because, woof, they kept the cabin temp really warm. If the duvet was any thicker, I would’ve been sweating while trying to sleep.
Of course, these are first world problems – getting a bed in the sky is always a treat. Just an inch or two of more seat width and a thicker pillow are my only suggestions for improvement. The length was excellent – my feet didn’t touch the end of the seat. And with the pillow folded, I was able to drift off for a few hours: always a bonus on a long flight (this one was 12 hours).
I love a good amenity kit. So I was looking forward to what JAL would provide.
- Lip balm
- Moisture mask
- Eye mask
- Dental kit
I know what you’re thinking – where’s the lotion or hand cream (and pen)? Because I like to moisturize in-flight! The ear plugs and eye mask are standard, and the lip balm is a nice touch, but… no moisture?
Well, at least there was a “moisture mask.”
But it was actually just a surgical mask with a wet towel inside. Hmmm…
It all came in an Etro paisley bag (of course). Nothing really that notable or special, though. I was hoping for something a bit more from the amenities, TBH. 🤷🏻♂️
But screw the little kit, what I really wanted was the food!
Here’s the full menu (click to enlarge):
I had a glass of the Charles Heidsieck champagne. But then, oooh honey, I had to try both of the sake choices! And duh, with the Japanese menu.
It all started with the sakizuke, which is the Japanese version of amuse bouche. Noodle with fish broth jelly and a tomato and cheese mousse. Sounds weird, but was actually savory and deee-lish!
Next up was a bento box of sorts filled with seasonal food.
I loved the little red crane figurine that came with the box! They let me keep it. And gave me another to take home.
The box contained:
- Simmered chicken
- Tuna and boiled octopus
- Lotus root
- Egg rool
I loved the accents, like wasabi, radishes, and the sauces and glazes they used. This box was the starter and part of the entree.
Next, they brought out salmon, beef, miso soup, rice, Japanese pickles, and a slow cooked egg. I also had a green tea. And the dessert was seaweed and kidney bean paste. I also had another sake. 😲
Later, I had to try the soba ramen noodles in soy sauce soup.
I paired it with Suntory (a Japanese whisky) and a soda water.
While not the best ramen I’ve ever had, it certainly did the trick on an airplane nearly 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. I ate every last bit, and even drank the yummy broth. This was an excellent mid-flight snack.
Finally, before landing, I had some fruit and cheese, and exclusive Dean & Deluca “super premium” vanilla ice cream.
Overall, the food was definitely on the savory side (even on the Western menu) – which I LOVED.
I also loved the presentation and creative selection. But most importantly, I loved the excellent flavors. I’ve never had airplane food like this.
The ramen was NOT the best I’ve had, and some of the sauces were too thick for my liking. It was also heavily skewed toward salty food (which again, I loved). But for eating in-flight, I was very impressed with the food.
I’ve heard of the fawning flight attendants on ANA (another Japanese airline). And wondered how service would compare on JAL.
Unlike other long-haul flights where the FAs disappear after the main meal and before landing, they did an excellent job of making routine cabin sweeps. Nothing intrusive. But they were definitely there and easy to flag down without pressing the call button. They also regularly brought over bottles of water, which I kept chugging. Between the salty food and the natural dehydration of the cabin, I was parched.
The service was pitch-perfect. Not overly attentive, nor were they absent for long stretches. They were also thorough and very kind. When I remarked I liked the red cranes on the dinner tray, they brought me an extra one to keep.
And when the FA brought out the main course, she shared how I should dip the beef in the soft egg – “Japanese style, like when I was a little girl.” I found it endearing and genuine.
Overall, the flight was comfortable and excellent. When we began to descend, I wished it would last a little longer – even after 12 hours of flying already.
- Link: JAL Sky Suite seats
- Link: Electric Tokyo: A $15,000 Week in Japan for $58 (With Business Class Flights and Free Hotels!)
I traveled on this flight with a friend. You can keep the divider in the middle of the aisle seats up, or down for privacy. Even still, it was hard to talk around the actual compartment itself.
The seats are built for optimum privacy and to minimize disruption – every seat has direct aisle access. And I found even with a companion, I had to try hard to break through the built-in barriers. These seats are very private.
I understand the window seats have outlets closer to the seat and slightly more tray area – and even more privacy. So if you’re traveling solo, opt for those if you can!
When I saw this seat was a possibility, I was happy to pay an extra 10,000 Alaska miles after only paying $58 in cash to begin with. I also checked the retail price, which was $7,300 for the one-way flight. And sure beats the heck out of flying coach.
I loved the seat, food, and service. My only tweaks would be a cooler cabin temp, thicker pillow, and maybe a few more sweet (as opposed to savory) food options. It was a real treat to visit the Sakura lounge before boarding and arriving back home in style.
I’d love to try ANA next – and I will visit Japan again. The country has a piece of heart and I must keep visiting. So while I was happy to simply be there again, this flight back was a perfect way to end a trip filled with cherry blossoms, great weather, amazing food, and so much fun. What an incredible place. I’m still reeling from it.
If you’ve flown JAL Sky Suite seats before, how does your experience compare? And feel free to ask questions if there’s anything I missed!
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