I have to say, I was dreading my trans-Pacific segments in economy class as this would be the first time I had flown internationally in economy class in nearly a year. But I have to say, Japan Airlines offers the absolute best economy class product I have ever encountered anywhere in the world!
Introduction: Taipei Mileage Running Extravaganza
Review – American Airlines 767-300 Business Class – MIA-JFK
Review – British Airways Galleries Lounge – JFK
Review – Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class – JFK-HKG
Review – Dragon Air G16 Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific The Bridge Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific The Cabin Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific 777-200 Business Class – HKG-TPE
Review – Sheraton Grande Taipei Hotel
Review – The More Lounge – TPE
Review – The Premium Plaza Lounge – TPE
Review – The VIP Airlines Lounge (JAL Contract Lounge) – TPE
Review – JAL 767-300 Economy Class – TPE-NRT/NRT-TPE
Review – JAL Sakura Lounge (Near Gate 61) – NRT
Review – JAL Sakura Lounge (Near Gate 92) – NRT
Review – JAL 777-300ER Economy Class – NRT-LAX
Review – The Club At DFW Lounge (JAL Contract Lounge) – DFW
Review – JAL 787-8 Economy Class – DFW-NRT
As I mentioned in my Introduction post, this was a mileage/status run on paid tickets. If you wanted to redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles, a flight in economy from Taipei (TPE) to the United States would cost you 37,500 miles. In the interests of not posting multiple reviews of the same flights, I will consolidate all of my flights on the route into this one review.
Japan Airlines 62
Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Depart: 5:50 PM
Arrive: 11:20 AM (+1)
Duration: 10 hours, 30 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 24C, 48A & 54G (Economy Class)
I got to the gate about 45 minutes prior to departure and made my way down the stairs to the departure lounge area. The lounge area was already packed with people and it was pretty clear that there were nowhere near enough seats for all the passengers on this flight. The gate area was cramped and the gate agents started checking documents and lining people up about 40 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. On each flight there were 2 announcements of delayed boarding due to final preparations in the cabin and each flight was at least 20 minutes late pushing back.
As I am a OneWorld Sapphire, I was able to queue up in the business class line and board when the business class cabin boarded. For each flight we boarded through door 2L where I turned right to pass through the business class and premium economy cabins before reaching the economy cabin.
I have previously flown JAL’s 777-300ER in first class and it was a fantastic experience, so I was interested to see how their economy class stacked up.
The economy class cabin is in a 3-3-3 configuration split between a mini cabin towards the front and a larger main cabin at the rear of the aircraft.
The economy class seats on JAL’s 777-300ERs feature their Sky Wider seat which has an industry leading 34 inches of pitch and 19 inches of width.
I tried to assign myself a variety of seats, so I assigned myself the following seats:
- 24C – An aisle seat in the front mini-cabin
- 48A – A window seat in the rear main cabin
- 54G – An aisle seat in the center section of the rear main cabin
Waiting at my seat each flight was a pillow with a cutout for your neck, as a well as a packaged blanket.
The legroom available to the economy class seats was surprisingly good.
Sitting straight up in the seat, my knees did not touch the pocket of the seat in front of me.
I lucked out on my flight where I took seat 48A – a window seat – as there was no one seated in the middle seat for that flight. This was a good thing as the curvature of the fuselage made sleeping and sitting a bit difficult. There is also a seat support rail right in your foot space, so you end up having some difficulty with being able to move your legs/feet around while seated.
If you are tall or have broad shoulders, I would avoid a window seat on these aircraft. Instead, you should opt for a an aisle seat as they offer better space.
Each seat features a built in touch screen in-flight entertainment (IFE) system.
While the system is a touchscreen, it can also be controlled with the tethered remote stored directly under it.
The selection of television shows, movies, music and games was quite varied and featured a lot of good titles. The only thing I did not like about the system is that due to the touchscreen, if you get someone seated behind you using the touchscreen instead of the remote, you are subjected to repeated hits on your seat which gets extremely annoying quickly.
Each seat featured its own 110V power plug, which was great for economy class.
Each seat also offered its own USB plug to charge your phone, iPod, etc.
One thing I did not like about the plane was that there are no individual air vents.
JAL has a habit of keeping their cabins a bit on the warmer side, so if you prefer to stay cool while flying, it might get a bit uncomfortable for you.
Boarding took a good while for each flight, though the little kid sitting in front of me on my first flight won the award for best one liner of the trip. After boarding and taking the seat in front of me with his brother and father next to him, he turned to his mom and said “mom, next time get us better seats. I’m not impressed.” I died laughing and his poor mother just gave me a dirty look while she took her seat with her daughter further back.
The captain came on the PA to announce that we would be delayed by about 20 minutes and each flight advised that they would be speeding up a bit to try and get us to Los Angeles (LAX) as close to on schedule as possible. As a result, the flight time was only slated to be about 8 1/2 hours instead of just shy of 10.
As I mentioned earlier, each flight was delayed on the departure which meant we were taking off right at dusk. That made for some great views!
About 10 minutes after takeoff, the seatbelt sign was turned off and the cabin crew began their preparations for the first meal service. Surprisingly, meal service started with a hot towel being passed out and then the drinks cart coming through. JAL offers complimentary wine, beer and spirits in economy class, so it was really nice to have a wide variety given I was sitting in the back of the bus.
The first meal served on each flight was the same – an option between a chicken dish of some sort and a traditional Japanese dish that I could never get a straight answer as to what it contained. Each was served with a picked vegetable, coleslaw with way too much vinegar, fresh fruit and a side salad with a creamy ginger dressing.
The chicken dish was as awful as it looks and this particular meal was served to me partially frozen in the middle still.
The Japanese dish looked equally unappetizing and I noticed that the majority of people did not eat much of their main course. Since the options were the same on each of my flights, I skipped the meal service for my second and third flights. This was in contrast to my flights to Tokyo which had the two best economy class meals I have ever had.
After the meal service, the flight attendants came through offering mini cups of ice cream for dessert along with a selection of hot tea or coffee.
Throughout the flight, there was a snack basket available in the galley which offered some various snacks and drinks.
Try the chocolate chip cookies! They are insanely good!
About an hour and a half out of Los Angeles (LAX) the crew came around with a second meal service. This meal was the same on all flights as well and featured a delicious build your own soup. The soup was a tomato based broth with chicken and vegetables. It was served with pasta that could be added in to the soup, a delicious sourdough roll and some sliced fruit.
While I would have preferred breakfast as we were scheduled to arrive at 11 AM, the soup was not a horrible option all things considered.
One thing that I really liked about the seats was that the tray table could be folded in half if you did not need the full room. That was really nice for when I was watching the IFE and had a cup of coffee that I did not want to hold onto.
Of course, if you preferred a full table, that was available as well.
One thing I found a bit puzzling about meal service was that the flight attendants asked you to bring your seat forward before they would provide the meal tray to you. I have never experienced this before and thought it was a bit odd. Anyone know why they do this?
Every flight I took on this route was as smooth as could be and the crew on every flight were fantastic. We had a smooth landing and a quick taxi to the gate each flight and were about half an hour behind schedule each time. Upon deplaning there was an American Airlines agent with a sign with my name on it. Even though I have Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, American still proactively offered me an express pass through customs, immigration and security.
With Global Entry, no checked baggage and TSA Pre-Check I was waiting at the gate for my next flight within 20 minutes of landing. The normal lines though were atrociously long so I was very happy to have Global Entry! The American agent waiting for me did not sit well with one particular gentleman on my first flight. He caused a big scene yelling at the agent that she should be offering that to everyone. Although wouldn’t that kind of defeat the entire purpose?
As a whole, I love Japan Airlines. Their service is fantastic, the food is usually pretty good (though not the first meal on this particular route) and they have hands down the best flight attendants in the sky. What I was really dreading was the economy class seat though. Surprisingly, the seat was more than comfortable for the 11 hour flight. What helped was a fantastic IFE system with a large variety of options as well. I really cannot say enough good things about JAL’s economy class though. I never expected the service to be just as good in economy as it was in first, but it absolutely was!
What are your thoughts on JAL’s 777 economy class?
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