Last month, after spending close to two weeks in Tokyo, I travelled back to Singapore from Tokyo on Japan Airlines and since I was traveling in Business Class, I had access to the Japan Airlines (JAL) Sakura Lounge at Haneda Airport (HND). When I visited Tokyo back in February, I took the opportunity to check out what I think is one of the most beautiful airport lounges that I have ever been to - the Cathay Pacific Lounge in Haneda Airport. Therefore, even though I was very tempted to head back to the Cathay Pacific Lounge (and get a double serving of that delicious Wanton Noodles), I decided to stay put in the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview this time instead.
The very first thing you will notice with the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview is how much more crowded it actually is. Now, I am not saying that the Cathay Pacific Lounge in Haneda Airport never gets crowded but it is comparatively quieter in the morning when you have a lot of JAL flights departing HND but not as many CX flights departing around the same time. With that being said, it is important to take note that the Cathay Pacific Lounge in Haneda Airport opens from 7:30AM to 5:00PM while the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview is open throughout except between 2:00AM to 6:00AM. It is also worth noting that the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview is different from the JAL Sakura Lounge in Haneda Airport - the former is located closer to Gates 141-148.
I am usually very discouraged by the crowd and I tend not to feature the lounge or flight if there are too many people since I do not like having people in my photos (for their privacy as well as my personal preference). This was very much the case in Dubai when I had initially wanted to feature the Emirates Lounge in Dubai International Airport but was completely persuaded to do otherwise by the crowd. My flight from Haneda to Singapore was scheduled to depart at 11:30AM and so I actually got to the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview at approximately 9:30AM but it was already crowded - there were plenty of Japanese passengers in the lounge enjoying breakfast.
Even though the photos do not quite do it justice, the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview here in HND is beautiful and it enjoys plenty of natural daylight. The space (but not the design) certainly reminds me of the Cathay Pacific Lounge (which is just located above) and I really like how the entire lounge is separated into distinct areas for dining, lounging, working, relaxing and even for aircraft-spotting.
Even though I have already had breakfast in the Hilton Tokyo (which serves an amazing Japanese breakfast now for Hilton Honors Diamond and Executive guests), I could not turn down a bowl of curry rice and a pint of beer while I waited for my flight. One of the things that I look forward most to visiting an airport lounge in Japan is the self-pouring beer taps (these are different than the self-service beer taps that are already in good airport lounges). If you are really interested to find out how they operate, check out my Instagram profile and click on the Tokyo (May 2018) Story Highlight!
Now I know it was only 10:00AM in the morning when I visited but if you are up for a drink (or two!), there are plenty of alcoholic drinks to choose from here. If you are seriously about a pint of beer, you will be able to select from Kirin or Asahi (or both!). Otherwise, there is a pretty good selection of liquors and spirits here - they use Tanqueray instead of that nasty Gordon's Gin which is commonly found in airport lounges in Singapore. Now the Cathay Pacific Lounge has an actual advantage over the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview (if you are an alcoholic) - they actually have a proper bar area (which is beautiful) which comes with a handsome selection of handcrafted cocktails.
I grabbed a beverage from the self-serve area (there are multiple areas located throughout the lounge) and settled behind one of these tables with a fantastic view of the runway. One of the things I love about being in Japan is how it never feels weird or awkward to sit alone - this applies not only to airport lounges but also restaurants and cafes around the city. Restaurants that I have been to in Tokyo often cater to the solo diner so you do not have to mutter 'hitotsu' under your breath.
I do not recall seeing any USB Charging Ports in the JAL Sakura Lounge (even though there are plenty in the Cathay Pacific Lounge) but there are power sockets located everywhere. The only thing to take note of is that these are typically not universal so you will probably require a travel adapter of some sort to charge your mobile device(s) or laptop(s).
Towards the back of the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview is where you will find these semi-private seats which I think are perfect for getting work done. Even though the seating area is quite big, they are designed for the solo traveller so you can place your laptop on the table in front of you and your cabin bag next to you.
There is also one power outlet (once again, these are not universal) under each seat for you to charge your laptop should you require it.
Directly opposite the semi-private seats in the JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview is what I would like to call the actual Skyview Lounge. Now, I am not sure if the name of the lounge was inspired by this area but if you love aircraft spotting, you would want to get yourself a seat located right in front of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
As I was gazing out from the lounge, I was lucky enough to have captured this moment where a JAL aircraft was passing by an ANA one. You do get a rather impressive view of the runways and airspace here so make sure you open up your Flightradar24 app for some serious plane-spotting.
Even if you are not interested in aviation, this lounge area is also a great area to literally kick back and enjoy a glass of your favourite wine or your favourite book.
Between the three airport lounges that I have been to here in Haneda Airport (don't forget the ANA Lounge too!), the Cathay Pacific Lounge is a clear winner for me. The JAL Sakura Lounge Skyview is really not a bad airport lounge at all and in all honesty, it is probably one of the better ones that I have been to but that masculine and dedicated bar area in the Cathay Pacific Lounge is hard to beat.