Airline: Japan Airlines | Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 | Class: Business | Flight: JL724 (KUL-NRT)
I wrote about the opportunity to use Alaska Airlines miles for heavily-discounted Business Class flights on Japan Airlines back in May 2017 before it became common knowledge here in Singapore and have already taken advantage of this amazing deal on a number of occasions (check out my review of the SKY SUITE III from SIN-HND and HND-BKK!). Since I was interested to check out the brand new Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge in KUL, I booked myself on SIN to KUL on MH and then KUL to NRT (even though it was further than HND) with a three hour layover in between.
Having flown Malaysia Airlines on multiple occasions, I have already foreseen delays with this SIN-KUL flight (therefore I reckon that a three hour layover in KUL would give me enough buffer for any potential delays). The flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur was scheduled to depart at 6:10PM but after a series of unfortunate delays (and extremely poor communication on the ground), the plane finally departed at 9:20PM, making a visit to the new Golden Lounge impossible. In fact, I was so close to missing my flight so I really have to thank the Japan Airlines ground staff in KUL for escorting me through security even though I only had 20 minutes from landing to JL724's scheduled departure time (and I had to take the train to the satellite terminal as well!). Let's just say I will probably not be flying Malaysia Airlines again anytime soon.
After finally making it to the plane in the nick of time (the flight practically took off a couple of minutes after I sat down), I was given a cold towel as well as a much-needed bottle of water. When I flew from Singapore to Haneda back in February, I was given a bottle of Evian mineral water (which is only given in Suites on Singapore Airlines) but this was substituted with the local Spritzer brand instead on this flight. For this flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo (Narita), I chose Seat 1K only to realise that it differs slightly from the 777-200ER which I took previously - this flight is operated on a Beoing 787-9 Dreamliner. In fact, the JA870J that I flew on was so new that the cabin products were not even retrofitted. As you can see in the photo above, the literature pocket is located in a slightly different position and you will also notice that the window seats in Row 1 are somewhat aligned to the middle rows which is not the case on the 777-200ER.
Another difference that you will notice on the SKY SUITE III product that has been fitted into the 787-9 Dreamliners (I believe this is fitted even in retrofit products but correct me if I am wrong) is the existence of a 3-point Seat Belt. I have only first encountered this on the Singapore Airlines 787-10 Dreamliner Delivery Flight from Charleston to Singapore and I was surprised to see this here on the 787-9. With that being said, the cabin crew did not seem to enforce the buckling of the shoulder strap during take-off and I was probably the only passenger who had it on during take-off.
There is plenty of legroom in Seat 1K and I am not saying that the seats on the 777-200ER do not, but there is just so much more space on the 787-9 Dreamliner. There is no storage space under the foot rest so if like me, you have a camera bag, it will have to go into the overhead compartment on top of you. Unofficially though, I have seen people placing small items into the foot rest (since it is so large) prior to taking off as well.
Each one of these Business Class seats also come with an adjustable arm rest on the side facing the aisle - there is even a small storage space inside when it is lifted but you do have to lower them prior to taking-off and landing. I personally prefer to keep them up and if you are planning on sleeping on the plane, keeping them up gives you a greater sense of privacy as well since it adds to that 'cocoon-effect'. Each Business Class seat is also provided with a small pillow (which I think is ridiculous) that has very little cushion or support. Times like these, I miss traveling on Singapore Airlines (even if it means forking out more miles to get to Tokyo).
As I have mentioned in my previous trip reports on Japan Airlines, the headphones that are provided for the flight are placed in this really unsightly bag - it looks like someone bought some takeaway food from a really dodgy street-side store. The headphones utilised on this flight was different than the ones that I have gotten on the 777-200ER. They are small but actually more comfortable in my opinion but more on this later.
Shortly after take-off, one of the cabin crew came by my seat to take my drink order - I opted for Champagne (no surprises there) since coffee would keep me up the entire flight. In case anyone is wondering, Japan Airlines pours Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve in Business Class (yes that is what Singapore Airlines serves in Business Class as well) on intra-Asia flights. In case you were wondering what they pour on long-haul Business Class flights, JAL offers Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV Champagne on long-haul flights like Narita to New York. For some reason, I have always found Champagne served on Japan Airlines to be warmer than what it should be ideally but perhaps it is just a series of anomalies? Some rice crackers were also served alongside my flute of Champagne but supper was brought out shortly after.For this flight in May 2018, I was served a selection of Salmon Roll, Fried Tempeh (curry flavour) and a Seafood Dim Sum in Oyster Sauce.
I have mentioned this on many occasions but day flights are always better if you would like to get the full Business Class experience. The service is always a little more hasty on red-eye flights since the cabin crews are typically rushing to complete meal service as soon as possible so that the passengers can get some rest. In fact, you will probably notice that some passengers choose to skip the meal service altogether to simply get more rest on the flight. The flight from Singapore to Haneda takes approximately seven hours (even though the actual flight time is lesser than that) so if you factor in the supper and breakfast service, you are really left with three to four hours to really sleep on the plane. Because of the whole situation in Singapore with Malaysia Airlines, I was actually feeling really hungry (since I have actually skipped dinner) so I opted for one of the famous JAL Original Snack Noodles (available in all cabin classes) - there are three versions and I chose the UDON de SKY which was delicious!
The SKY SUITE III Business Class seats may not be the widest (the seat width is 20.1" only) but the seat pitch is great (78"). As you would expect, the seat reclines into a flat bed and there is no flipping-over required. There is also a cardigan-lending service available on most flights in case you are worried about getting cold but you cannot actually bring these back with you.
The seats on Japan Airlines' SKY SUITE III product can be quite hard and I wish an optional topper can be provided (much like what Emirates do in Business Class). While they are quite comfortable to sleep in, I have slept in much better seats over the years. The small pillow that is provided in Business Class is also quite miserable so make sure you plan for that. After sleeping for approximately two hours, I decided to check out the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on this flight. Even though the IFE system used on this flight is the same one as those used on the retrofitted 777-200ERs, the handset is actually different as you will be able to see below.
Unlike the ones that are being utilised on the 777-200ERs, the handsets on the new 787-9 Dreamliners looks a whole lot better. In fact, they are touchscreen-enabled as well so you can actually select your movie of choice from the handset itself. The flight attendant call button is also located here in the event that you need it.
Alternatively, you may also control the content on your screen from the touchscreen itself, or the tiny buttons underneath the screen. I do not remember what I ended up watching since I am always very distracted on flights (because there is too much drinking and eating to do!) but there is a decent selection of new movies available.
The main meal service that you get on this flight is breakfast and passengers traveling in Business Class (there is no First Class on this flight) will be able to choose from having either the Japanese or Western set. If you are traveling on Japan Airlines and would like to see what is available on your flight, you will be able to check out the menu HERE - do note that only menus for the quarter are available (e.g. June/July/August menu). I love Japanese rice (honestly, I can eat it on its own with a bowl of miso soup and some furikake) so being able to enjoy this on the flight is quite an experience on its own. Even though breakfast is never quite as impressive as a full lunch or dinner service, the food served on Japan Airlines in Business Class is still very delicious - I am not too sure about the Western menu since I have never once picked it on this airline.
As I have mentioned earlier on, noise-cancelling headphones are provided for use on this flight. The version of headphones that was provided on this flight were smaller than usual but they felt more premium and comfortable. If this is the first time you are flying on Business Class with Japan Airlines, do remember to switch on the noise-cancelling function on the side - a green light will come on once it is activated.
Full amenity kits are not given out on this flight (since it is considered a medium-haul one) but a small drawstring bag with a few amenities are provided. If you are interested to see what it contains, please refer to my previous trip report for more information. I ordered myself a cup of coffee after breakfast and it is worth noting that espresso-based coffee is not available on the flight - they only serve brewed coffee (there is also a decaffeinated version if you would like) in Business Class unfortunately.
I should probably mention this earlier but every SKY SUITE III Business Class seat on Japan Airlines come with a universal power outlet as well as USB charging port. I did encounter some issues charging my phone but it probably had something to do with my cable.
The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Narita on Japan Airlines in Business Class in fantastic (especially when you take in account how much I actually paid for it). As a quick recap, you can typically take two intra-Asia Business Class flights with a stopover in Japan for 25,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles (which you can purchase all year-round and there is typically a 40% bonus which happens multiple times a year) and I highly recommend for anyone who is interested in this deal to book as soon as possible since it seems very unlikely that this arrangement would continue in the near future.