As a first time visitor to Japan, I figured Japan Airlines was the only logical choice to get there. Thanks to Alaska Mileage Plan (a Japan Airlines partner) I managed to book one of the fantastic “hacker” points redemptions from Singapore to Tokyo and then onto Kuala Lumpur 5 days later. Essentially a return flight considering KL and Singapore are so close to each other.
In this post:
How to book Japan Airlines business class with points?
In total this ticket cost me 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan (which I purchased during a bonus sale) and around $90 in taxes. I consider this an absolute steal for 2 business class flights and over 14h of flying.
As it turned out, Alaska Airlines and/or Japan Airlines also considered this fare too good to be accurate and unfortunately only a few days after flying Japan Airlines; they blocked multi-city bookings where you attempt to backtrack. Read more about that here.
If you’re new to Alaska MileagePlan and curious on how you can purchase their miles for highly discounted business class travel, check out my full Alaska Mileage Plan guide here.
Ground Service & Lounge
Our flight was leaving Singapore Changi Terminal 2 at 8:30 AM, by the time we got to the airport there was still no one there, so check-in was done in a matter of minutes.
Thanks to pure coincidence, I found out my friend and founder of Holiday Swap (James) was on the same flight. You might have seen him on Instagram, being obnoxious and slamming champagne. As it turned out, he also surprised me with a gift. Knowing my disgust for adults travelling with stuffed soft toys (if you do, you are probably a serial killer), he bought me a gigantic blue soft toy (I believe it’s a character from some Disney movie?).
Blue stuffed Disney character in tow; we headed to the Dnata lounge Japan Airlines uses in Singapore.
If you have Priority Pass, you can also check out the Plaza Premium lounge in the same terminal. While both lounges are “ok”, I would not go out of my way to spend extra time here.
However, if you want lovely views of the tarmac, head to the Plaza Premium lounge.
Japan Airlines Seat & Cabin B777-200
Japan Airlines has a few business class products, on the B777-200 they have the JAL Sky Suite III which is a Zodiac Cirrus long haul design in a 1-2-1 configuration. If you’ve ever flown any reverse herringbone product such as Cathay Pacific business class, you will be familiar with this design. The same seat can also be found on select B787’s operating the Asia routes.
The Japan Airlines B777-200 has 2 business class cabins, separated by the galley in the middle. Behind the second business class cabin, you will find premium economy.
We were seated in the second and smaller cabin which has 16 seats, while the front cabin has 26 business class seats.
The seats are very comfortable, although they do feel a little bit narrower compared to other similar products. I also found the seat itself is lacking the storage capacity you might expect in business class, so the only place you can put a small bag or laptop is on the ground under the ottoman. This also means you can’t get access to it without having to move the seat upright again.
The seat control is also very minimal; normally you would want to be able to adjust the leg rest and back individually so you can set it to your preferred lounging position. With the JAL Skysuite III, all parts are connected, which isn’t ideal.
In bed mode, the seat goes very low to the ground (198cm long and 47cm wide). Personally, I’m not a fan of this but the seat padding itself was good and suitable for a quick nap on the 6-7h flight from Singapore to Tokyo.
In terms of privacy, the shell of the seat offers plenty to passengers with at the window, but those in the middle only have a small divider which can be pulled down, so you don’t have to make eye contact with your neighbour. I prefer to be able to pull up or down a big divider, so your belongings don’t spill into your neighbour’s section.
The table mechanism of the seat is pretty good, and it makes for a good working and dining table.
Japan Airlines Service
After boarding, we were pretty much ignored until we were at cruising altitude. No welcome drinks were offered before departure. I think that’s something Japan Airlines can improve upon.
That said, once we were in the air, the service was fantastic. The crew were attentive and made sure we had a great flight.
Japan Airlines Business Class Food & Beverage
The Japan Airlines Business Class food and beverage menu were very impressive. There was an option (lunch) to go for the western menu or the Japanese bento box.
Everything was very fresh, tasted great and the steak on the western menu was cooked to perfection (as far as aeroplane steak goes). The crew were also kind enough to prepare a bento box for us so we could take a picture.
Inflight Entertainment & Amenities
The in flight entertainment section wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I think Emirates and Singapore Airlines offer some of the best, so when you compare other airlines to their offering, they almost always fall short.
As for the display, it’s a 17-inch monitor with touch screen capabilities which is easy to operate. At least a benefit of the JAL seat design is that the screen does not need to be stowed for takeoff and landing.
Of course, there are plenty of power options in your seat, so if you want to work or watch your own movies, that’s an option too.
I was surprised that JAL offers a small amenity kit on daytime flights, it’s a small drawstring bag with JAL colours and contains a dental kit, face mask, eye mask and earplugs. Slippers were also provided along with bottled water.
Japan Airlines B777-200 Business Class – Conclusion
Even though the multi-city Alaska Mileageplan hack seems to have been shut down, the regular price of 25k points for a one-way flight in business class is still great value. I wouldn’t seek this product out for long haul flights, but for a daytime flight between Singapore and Tokyo, it’s great.
A comfortable seat, great food/drinks and Japanese hospitality are hard to fault.