a seat with a pillow and a pillow in the middle of a seat

What Is Japan Airlines’ 777 Business Class Like?

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Hello from Tokyo! It’s the first time I’ve been here in nine years, and I’m really keen on exploring a city I remember loving. Tokyo is a city that I remember feeling a connection towards, a city that excited me with its dazzling vibe. Anyway, the original reason of coming here this time around was because I found award space on Japan Airlines’ 777 business class product, which I’d wanted to try for a while. My June looked really free, so I basically planned the trip around trying a new product (where I’ll also be trying Scoot’s 787 ScootBiz, as well as Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000).

Today was my chance to try Japan Airlines’ new business class product. So how did this much-anticipated product fare in the grand scheme of things?

an airplane at an airportJapan Airlines Boeing 777 Tokyo Haneda Airport

I was hoping to be blown away, though unfortunately, in reality the answer was “eh, okay”.

Japan Airlines 777 Business Class Seat

Japan Airlines’ 777-200s feature reverse herringbone seats in business class, laid out across 11 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

a group of people sitting in an airplaneJapan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Cabin

While reverse herringbone seats are some of my favourite out there, it’s worth noting that Japan Airlines’ version is especially tight. There’s a reason for this – Japan Airlines’ reverse herringbone seats were designed to be high-capacity, so the middle seats are actually “staggered” upon one another. This means that the footwells of the middle seats are atop one another, as opposed to being beside each other. As a result, the seat pitch and width of these seats are both less than that of a reverse herringbone seat on, say, Cathay Pacific’s 777, despite the fuselages of the two planes being just as wide.

a seat with a pillow and a pillow in the middle of a seatJapan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Seat 11A

That being said, I found the seat to be very comfortable in bed mode, and the footwell especially spacious. I’m not sure if this particular seat goes “lower” than most, though my legs had no problem moving around in bed, which isn’t usually the case in reverse herringbone configurations.

a bed with a pillow and a blanket on itJapan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Bed Mode

Japan Airlines’ tighter configuration also retains the heaps of storage unique to reverse herringbone seats, which includes a large side table, a small cupboard beside the seat, as well as more storage space below the retractable armrest.

an open door on an airplaneJapan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Storage

In addition, a USB and 110V power port were provided and conveniently situated.

Japan Airlines 777 Business Class Amenities

On this shorthaul flight, Japan Airlines had a pillow, blanket, and headphones. The headphones were noise cancelling and very nice, though the pillow and scratchy blanket were both quite sad. Fortunately, Japan Airlines provides legitimate mattress pads on longhaul flights, so the lack of a proper blanket wasn’t a big deal (I would’ve appreciated a nicer pillow cover, though).

a brown blanket on a person's lap Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Pillow

a black blanket with white and red stripes Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Blanket

a black headphones on a tableJapan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Headphones

In addition, I was pleasantly surprised by the slippers provided, as well as the eye mask, toothbrush and earplug set that they passed out. Provided that Japan Airlines has proper bedding on longer flights, this category is where Japan Airlines excels.

Japan Airlines 777 Business Class Food

This category is where I had the highest hopes for Japan Airlines. I’ve heard great things online about Japan Airlines’ meals, and went with the Japanese option on the menu, as I knew it’d be nice. Well, Japan Airlines certainly puts a lot of thought into their meals, though I have to say that some elements tasted better than others. I liked the rice (in the packet), the cod teriyaki was great, and many of the side dishes tasted good as well, though the same sauce was used for the pork in the main dish, the jelly, as well as the mixed vegetable dish beside the jelly. I found that sauce a little off-putting, as it overpowered the taste of all three elements mentioned above. All in all,, this is still one of the better business class meals I’ve had, though it wasn’t perfectly executed by any means.

a tray of food on a tableJapan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class Meal

Japan Airlines 777 Business Class Service

Japan is known for its hospitality, and on the plus side, the crew was very nice. There was a lady serving my aisle who was courteous and engaging (when I mentioned I wasn’t a fan of the signature Sky Time drink that I asked for with my meal, she said sympathetically “you don’t like it?”).

However, a few issues leave me scratching my head. Firstly, the photography policy was weird on this flight. The crew didn’t have a problem with me taking pictures of my seat, but cabin pictures weren’t allowed, since they could include other passengers. That’s understandable, but what’s less understandable is that I wasn’t allowed to use my GoPro suction camera mount on the window or on my TV during the flight. I get it if I’m not allowed to during takeoff or landing, but to disallow mounting a GoPro on a TV screen midflight seems very asinine to me. In all cases, the policies were communicated to me with an apology, which I appreciated.

In addition, I forgot that the drinking age is 20 in Japan (I’m 18), so I ordered an alcoholic beverage during the meal service only to be denied it when the flight attendant checked my passport. This is my fault, though I was also apologised to, which I don’t think I deserved.

What I found most bewildering was that the crew didn’t come around to do pre-takeoff and landing checks. The window shades were closed during boarding (probably for aesthetic effect), so most window shades stayed closed during takeoff. On my flight on Thai Airways earlier in the year, the same thing happened, which I considered a lousy oversight; considering how attentive the crew were towards minute things such as mounting a GoPro on a TV screen, I’m not sure whether to count this as a huge “miss” or simply a deviation in aviation policies. I’m intimidated by how good Japanese companies are at following their own rules, and believe they might be different from what I’m used to, so I’ll leave that up to you guys for comment.

a screen on a plane

Lastly, I didn’t see the crew much outside of meal services, and they took a while to respond to call buttons. Long call button waits were always followed up with an apology.

Bottom Line: Japan Airlines 777 Business Class

There’s no denying that this was a solid flight, but from the tight seat to the weird service issues, I can’t promote Japan Airlines business class as industry leading, as much as I’d like to. Japan Airlines uses reverse herringbone seats as somewhat of a “mid-haul” configuration – they continue to use Apex Suites on almost all of their ultra-longhaul flights, and fly these 777-200s to southeast Asia and occasionally Australia – so I’m not sure if I’m being fair to them by calling their seats inferior to their competitors.

That being said, this was a good use of 30,000 Asia Miles, and got me to Tokyo more comfortably than most of my other options would’ve. I’d like to try Japan Airlines’ Apex Suite configuration someday, as I’ve heard it’s quite a bit better.

Have you flown Japan Airlines’ 777 business class before? How was it?

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