This was my first time back flying after the disruptions caused by the global pandemic. As such I was kind of excited and not to mention, I would be headed to Vancouver and Whistler to ski. This made my mood all the more jubilant and as such might have an inherent positive bias to this review. With that disclaimer in mind, it is time to enjoy this flight review.
Boarding for this flight was on time and passengers needing assistance was given first priority. Group 1 boarding was reserved for top tier JAL Mileage Club members, while Business class passengers were in boarding group 2. There were 2 JAL Diamond members on the flight today and one was seated in 3K, just in front of me.
JL720 Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK - Tokyo Narta NRT Scheduled: 0635-1605 Actual: 0642-1545 Boeing 767-300 JA608J Gate 7 Seat 4K
Once onboard the lead purser handed sanitizing wipes with a plastic bag. She proceeded to greet the elite members who were both Japanese. She also welcomed me onboard and informed me of the estimated flight time of 7 hours.
Japan Airlines uses a relatively old Boeing 767-300 airplane to serve this route in the daytime, though pre-Covid, Japan Airlines has another daily service to Jakarta from Tokyo on the better 787 with a nicer Business class cabin. The Business class cabin on the 767 is still a full lie flat seat arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, and feels somewhat similar in size to Delta’s 767. For this staggered configuration, the even row seats A and K would be the window seats closest to the seat, while odd row seats are closer to the aisle. There are only 6 rows of seats in Business class making for a relatively small Business class cabin.
On each Business class seat, there was a regional amenity kit, inflight menu, a pair of headphones, slippers, blanket and pillow. Across from the seat, there was a nice high definition personal monitor along with a magazine pocket on the left. I am pleased to say that there was adequate space to enter and exit the seat.
A bottle of water was placed on the ledge next to the seat along with some sanitizing wipes and a disposable plastic bag for waste. The latter items are part of the post-Covid hygiene practices.
Being seated in the take-off position, this seat felt spacious and it was comfortable for someone with a medium build, with plenty of room to stretch out.
Another great feature of this kind of Business class seat is the large storage cubicle next to the seat. The storage has a segmented space for bottled water and was large enough to place tablets, amenity kits and other peripherals one might travel with. A reading light is located next to the storage cubicle and can be adjusted and dimmed accordingly by passengers.
Other storage space around the seat can be found below the magazine pocket. There was a flexible net that makes it convenient to place the included slippers when not in use along with the inflight menu. Underneath the flexible netting, there was a cubby for shoes when passengers change into slippers onboard. I have to say I like this seat configuration on Japan Airlines for the multiple storage units.
Below the personal monitor, there was a power outlet that worked well where I used it to charge my phone. There was also an USB outlet and AV connector on the left with the retractable tray table underneath it.
Boarding was completed at 6:28pm and we were quickly on our way to the runway. I was so excited to be flying once again that I did not note the take off time. Rain and clouds was the weather at the airport during the rainy season and it took a while before we flew above the cloud cover with slight bumps along the way.
As we reached cruising altitude the crew handed out packaged wet towels. Refreshments orders were taken shortly after and the friendly purser offered to bring me both sake for tasting. The menu for this flight is as follow:
Up there in the skies, the beautiful sunrise above the clouds was a good start to this flight. It brought back fond memories of flying and why I enjoy it.
I used the seat recline button located on the edge of the armrest and made myself comfortable as I started watching the movie ‘Dune’. I appreciated that I could watch the inflight map while enjoying the movie as it allowed me to keep track of our flight.
There was a salmon tartar and avocado mousse served which was a nice snack, except the Indonesian avocadoes are a bit bitter since it doesn’t seem to be ripe before the caterer used it. It was accompanied with tomato, basil and bits of mozarella cheese.
After the purser cleared the snack dish, she offered me cup noodles and I asked for the Chanpon flavour since I was still a bit hungry. She came back and informed me to wait a minute indicating the timer on her smartwatch. Pretty smart and attentive service! The cup noodles was satisfaction in the skies and I head to the washroom to refresh myself after the nice snack service.
Washroom is clean but small and there are two washrooms in the front, one of them was located beyond the curtain leading to the cockpit so passengers might miss that one. Like my past JAL flight, there was an origami and a note pasted, though it was in Japanese. Shiseido lotion can be found inside, along with dental kits and mouthwash. There was a bathroom freshener spray as well to get rid of odors.
Back at my seat, I reclined the seat into a full flat position to catch up on some sleep due to the early morning wake up. The footwell space is more than adequate for the average male but the seat is a bit narrow on the shoulder so it can feel a bit narrow for those with wide shoulders unless you sleep on the sides. Managed to get some rest for an hour or so before waking up. The lead stewardess saw me awake and offered drinks, but I still had my bottled water, so I declined on her offer. By this time the flight was flying over Sabah in the northeastern part of Kalimantan (Borneo).
One highlight of this flight was the views as we flew across the Philippines. Our flight veered past Palawan Island, crossing the Mindoro strait before heading towards Manila.
The views got even more interesting particularly when we approached Manila. Passengers on the port side get views of Manila bay and I had views of the Taal lake volcano from the starboard side. During this time I was just pre-occupied with taking photos outside from my window.
Our flight veered east upon crossing Manila towards the vast Pacific Ocean. The views become less interesting since it was just a wide expanse of ocean with scattered clouds. I did manage to capture a bit of the urban sprawl of Manila through the port side of the plane.
Back in Economy class, the front section is about 70% occupied though there was only a couple of passengers on the aft cabin. Seems intra Asia travel is still a bit far from being normal. Seats in Economy class are in a nice 2-3-2 configuration, and this provided a higher proportion of passengers an aisle seat.
Before heading back to my seat, I checked out the snack basket that the stewardess have prepared for this flight. There was a bottle of red wine available in the galley for self pour, along with a basket consisting of rice crackers or natto, along with wet towels.
Paid inflight wifi is available on this flight and costs $18.80 for the whole flight but I didn’t utilize this service. Instead I browsed through the entertainment program that was offered on this flight.
The inflight entertainment system on this flight was codenamed Magic-V and there was two versions of the most popular blockbusters, a Japanese-dubbed version and the original version. The remote control located underneath the the armrest seems to be an older model and is not the most ergonomic model.
Asked for a cup of coffee after my photo taking and enjoyed it with more rice crackers from the galley. JAL serves good coffee, and one of the best ones, worthy of its Cafe Lines program. I took a liking to the coffee mug but unfortunately it was not for sale. Pretty sure they would make better mementos than the duty free items on sale.
Around 1:20pm Tokyo time (11:20am Jakarta time), or about 3 hours prior to our landing, the cabin lighting was switched on and the crew handed out packaged wet towels again from the basket. This is the 3rd towel service since boarding. The crew also mentioned the meal service will be served shortly. Meal was served around 2 hours before arrival and the crew was really particular about placing the table cloth.
Japanese meal started off with a cold bento box with several tasty items. Bento box was covered in plastic film due to the pandemic. My favourite items from the bento box was the tuna poke with kelp along with the spinach in sesame sauce that came with an egg omelette beneath it.
Main course was a hot salmon with miso and it was served covered with foil. Alongside it, there was pickles and a bowl of miso soup with rice being packed in a nice paper covering. Chopsticks were refreshed as well during the service.
As the main course was cleared, the crew asked if I wanted black tea, green tea or coffee with the dessert. The caramel mousse was average, though at least it wasn’t too sweet, with the flavour to my liking.
Announcement by the captain on our impeding descent was made about an hour prior to landing. Fortunately meal service was completed by then and the crew was able to go about their busy routine prior to our landing. What surprised me at the end of this flight was that the crew came over and packed one of their coffee mug for me as a gift.
In addition to that, a gentle steam eye mask was distributed in the Business cabin prior to the descent. This was a nice parting gift for the flight, and is meant for passengers to refresh after a long flight.
Around 30 mins before landing the crew went around to ensure seatback is set to upright position and seat belts were fastened. Aircraft made a descent into Narita from the Northwest and it was quite a bumpy landing with plenty of cross winds. Though we did still land safely and ahead of schedule under cloudy weather in Narita.
After landing in Narita, passengers who are staying in Japan are requested to disembark first while other passengers are asked to sit down but it seems the message was lost on the transit passengers which form the bulk of passengers. For some reason passengers just have that hurry to get out of the plane once on the ground, such that the crew had to repeat the announcement again over the intercom.
From the plane, the transfer security check took a while as I had inadvertently chosen the rightmost lane where there was an escort with an elderly lady which I let through first. It was around 4:15 pm by the time I cleared security and there was a new duty free selling Japanese confectionery and gifts that I spent some time in before heading to the lounge.
Perhaps it was the joy of being able to fly again that adds a positive bias to this flight report, but the service and the food offered on this flight was excellent and as good as it gets for a regional flight. While the flight was operated by an older 767, the refreshed Business class cabin and the staggered configuration was comfortable for a day flight.
What left me a more memorable impression of this flight was the crew who were very attentive to the needs of passengers and they kept the cabin in a very good condition. The meal service being split with a snack service first and offering passengers additional snacks in case they were hungry was great. Most of the compliments goes to the amazing crew from Japan Airlines servicing this flight which made it a great flight albeit the older hardware.