Japan Airlines Regional Business Class Shell Flat NEO on the 787 from Nagoya to Bangkok

From the lounge it was quite a bit of a walk to the gate, though we still made it to the gate when boarding is halfway through. Fortunately the compact size of the terminal made it possible to walk to the gate in slightly more than 5 minutes.

Boarding gate 15 at Nagoya International Airport
JL737 Nagoya Chubu NGO - Bangkok Suvarnabhumi BKK  
Scheduled: 1025-1415 
Actual: 1033-1407 
Boeing 787-8 JA833J 
Gate 15 Seat 8D
Japan Airlines 787 Dreamliner at NGO

On this flight, even though we were flying on a modern 787 Dreamliner, the Business class cabin was comprised of a more antiquated angled flat seat named Shell Flat NEO. Japan Airlines has one of the widest variety of Business class cabins on their planes, making them less consistent compared to rivals like Cathay Pacific, EVA Airways or All Nippon Airways.

Forward Business class cabin

Seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration though the open concept made the cabin feel more spacious than those with staggered pod seats. The Business class cabin is also split into 2 sections with most of the passengers seated upfront. The passenger load in Business class was low and thus there was several empty seats and I had no seatmate seated on the last middle section.

Aft Business class cabin bulkhead

On the seat was the blanket, menu and a small amenity pouch. The headset can be found on the side of the seat while the pair of slippers is underneath the seat. Cardigans are also offered by the crew. Newspapers and magazines were distributed around the cabin after boarding. However, no pre departure beverages was served.

Japan Airlines Shell Flat NEO seat with amenities on the seat
Regional amenity kit and inflight menu

We were amongst the last to board the Business class cabin and most of the cabin was already onboard. After the doors were closed, the stewardess made the customary greeting of passengers by bowing and this ceremony made it special onboard Japanese airliners.

Boarding greeting onboard Japan Airlines

A short while later, pullback occurred on time. And a quick ride to the runway later, the flight took off with slight turbulence and this meant the seat belt sign remained lit for some time, and thus the cabin remained quiet without foot traffic.

Regional Business class seat onboard Japan Airlines’ 787

While the seat belt light is still switched on, I took the time to look at the menu. As always, there was a Western and Japanese meal option for this flight and the menu for this flight is below. Normally, there would be a meat or fish option for the main course of the Western menu while the Japanese menu is a set with no choice of main course. Japan Airlines also showcases the coffee used inflight through their JAL Cafe Lines program.

Cabin remained bright until after meal service, and since it was a morning flight there was not much passengers dimming their windows. This was a good time for me to check out the features of this seat and compare it with other angled flat seats I have flown before.

View of the cabin from Seat 8D

Like most angled flat Business class seats, there was amazing legroom and the whole seat felt more spacious that staggered or full flat seat configurations. There was a large personal monitor on the seat back and the pitch between seats made it difficult to touch the screen when seated in the upright position with a seat belt. This also made it difficult for passengers seated upright to access the magazine compartment where the inflight literature was located at. There was also a USB power outlet and a connection port at the seat back.

Legroom in the seat

On the right side of the seat, passengers can find a headphone outlet and a reading light that can be adjusted for brightness. Adjacent to the headphone port, there was a one-touch button to set the seat to an upright position and a button to stop the position change of the seat. This makes it easy to get the seat back to a take-off/landing position as this button is lit up.

Reading lights and headphone outlet
One-touch button for the seat

More complete seat controls can be found on the outer armrest and there was also one-touch buttons for the upright, relax or bed mode.

Seat controls

Another neat feature of this seat is the recessed compartment that easily fit small items like a pair of glasses that is easily accessed from the seat.

Storage for eyeglasses

Inside the literature pocket, there was a more detailed guide showcasing all the features of the seats and instructions on how to operate the seat and open the table. There was also a guide to using the inflight wifi, the safety instruction card for the 787 airplane, a copy of the inflight magazine and the duty free shopping catalog.

Seat manual and entertainment guide
Inflight magazine and duty free catalog

Meal service started about 45 minutes after take off. Hot towels were first distributed before starting meal service with a round of drinks and a packet of rice crackers for passengers. I asked for a cup of coffee and cold genmaicha with my rice crackers. The coffee was to perk me up for this flight.

Towel service
Coffee, rice crackers and genmaicha

No additional drinks were offered when the bento box starter was presented. Japan Airlines wins points for the beautiful presentation and the bento box came with an ornate film cover over the food ensuring hygiene. The starter for the Japanese meal was colourful as usual and has a nice mix of seafood and beef, though they are all cold dishes. As expected, the bento has a mix of flavours as well and while not every item is enjoyable, there are always some that I really enjoy.

Presentation of the appetizers on the bento box
Japanese meal starters on the bento box

Next up for the meal was the main course, which has a half portion of fish and half portion of pork with miso sauce. Rice and miso soup was served in separate bowls on the tray. For this meal, the pork tasted better as the fish was a bit thick and dry at the ends. Pickles provided on the side dish is always enjoyable with the freshly steamed rice.

Main course or fish and pork with rice and miso soup
Grilled jobfish and pork simmered in miso

The generous portion of the main course meant it was a filling meal so fortunately there was a long break between the main and the dessert service. For dessert, I picked the special dessert for this flight which is a tasty coffee cheesecake in conjunction with Toba Hotel. I asked for the special JAL Sky Time drink as well and it was a kiwi flavoured beverage.

Toba Hotel Coffee cheesecake and JAL Sky Time drink

Crew was less than attentive though as there was no drinks top up nor was I served the hot green tea. I had to ask for a hot green tea after the meal before reclining my seat to rest for the flight. A bottle of water was passed around for passengers to hydrate for the flight.

Bottled water and umeshu

After the meal, I head to the lavatory to freshen up. There was amenities like toothbrushes, mouthwash, lotion and toner inside. As a Japanese airline, the toilet also has a built-in bidet function.

Lavatory on the 787
Lavatory amenities

Since I was travelling with my parents, they actually chose not to have the meal first as they slept after our take-off. I was able to reserve one Western meal and one Japanese meal set for them to be served about 2 hours prior to landing which was the minimum permissible time allowed for the full meal to be served.

Shell Flat NEO seat as an angled flat bed

However being a day flight, I was not sleepy and only took a short nap before waking up to head to the galley in search of snacks. Aside from the packet of rice crackers, there was dry Natto and chocolates from Jean Paul Hevin onboard. The chocolates was tasty and I grabbed a couple to bring back to my seat to enjoy with a movie.

Snacks in the galley

A short while later, the crew came around to pass me wet towels as the crew went around the cabin asking passengers if they wanted snacks prior to landing. There was JAL branded cup noodles available or fresh fruits platter, and I asked for the latter.

Wet towel service and chocolates

The pre-arrival fruit platter comprises of only small slices of apple, kiwi and orange though the crew still provided cutleries and took drink orders. Japan Airlines does have an extensive beverage list which I enjoy.

Fruit plate served prior to arrival
Cold tea for refreshment

Shortly after the crew cleared the fruit plate, the flight started its descent. The approach to Bangkok was turbulent due to clouds and rain, and perhaps it was due to the this, there did not seem to be a check by the crew on the seat to be set upright.

Middle pair of Business class seats

Final Word

Regarding the angled flat seat, I found it was not that bad and it felt more or less as comfortable as the reverse herringbone full flat seat on the 777, that I experienced for the outbound flight from Singapore to Tokyo Narita. For the day flight I actually enjoyed the open feel of this cabin and a Business class cabin in this configuration was perfect for this day flight. Flexibility in service like delaying the meal service is nice to have for a day flight, and there was no problem or trouble throughout my flight.

Shell Flat NEO seat as an angled flat bed

If there was any improvement that could be made for this flight, it would be the service since the crew was less than attentive considering the load for this flight was quite light in Business class. Otherwise, this was a very nice flight onboard Japan Airlines considering this was a minor regional flight that did not depart from Tokyo nor Osaka.

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