Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 787 (NRT-CGK)

Jyaga likes (4/5)

Japan Airlines flight details

Airline : Japan Airlines (JAL)
Flight No : JL 729
Departure City : Jakarta – Soekarno-Hatta (CGK)
Arrival City : Tokyo – Narita (NRT)
Equipment : Boeing 787-8 (JA831J)
Blocked Time : 7h40m
Seat No: 1K

I wrote a detailed review of Japan Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 Business Class on the flight from Jakarta to Tokyo Narita, so I’ll keep this review short and sweet. In that review, I wrote in detail about the booking process and the cabins and seats. Since the cabin and aircraft are the same on this return portion, I will just expand on things like food and service.


For this 18.00 departure, I arrived at Narita International Airport two and a half hours early at 15.30. Since I arrived by the Narita Express, I just had to head two floors up to the Departures level. Once there, I headed straight to the L counters to the dedicated Japan Airlines elite check-in area. As Narita International is one of JAL’s two international hubs, the counters were open all day long. By virtue of my oneworld Emerald status with Cathay Pacific, we were able to check in at the dedicated First Class area. Similar to our flight to Tokyo, the Business Class counters likewise didn’t have any lines.

Japan Airlines dedicated First Class Check-in area

Nicely enough, there was someone to assist with loading the bags onto the conveyor belts. Whilst this was frankly unnecessary for me, I’m sure many others appreciate such service from JAL. Either way, after confirming that I was flying to Jakarta, the agent quickly checked us in and handed us our boarding passes. She also offered to explain the location of the lounge; however, having known where the lounge is located, I kindly turned down her offer.


Japan Airlines operates two lounges at Narita Airport Terminal 2 – the Sakura Lounge for Business Class and oneworld Sapphire passengers and the First Class Lounge for First Class and oneworld Emerald passengers. In my last installment, I have reviewed the JAL First Class Lounge, which I personally thought was decently nice. I have also reviewed the JAL Sakura Lounge on a subsequent visit, which I liked as well.

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge


After leaving the First Class Lounge, I briefly went for last-minute omiyage shopping at the airport’s duty-free. Unbeknownst to me, the flight was already well into the boarding sequence when we arrived at the gate. As such, we were one of the last people to board the aircraft, which was definitely a new experience for me! Having rushed to get on board, I unfortunately didn’t pay attention or take a picture of the aircraft flying us back to Jakarta. However, I later learnt that our flight today is operated by JA831J, the same Boeing 787-8 which brought us to Tokyo.

Narita International Airport

JAL 787 Business Class Cabin

Since this flight is operated by the same aircraft as the flight to Tokyo, I will not be expanding on the cabin. To cut things short, the Business Class cabin features the Shell Flat Neo configuration – Japan Airlines’ most outdated long-haul Business Class seat. There are 30 seats spread between five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. There are three rows, totalling 18 seats in the main aft cabin, complemented by the remaining 12 seats in the cabin behind.

JAL Shell Flat Neo Business Class on the Boeing 787-8

On this flight, we were seated in the bulkhead row, which has the benefit of not having a footwell. Instead, the seats had pretty much unlimited legroom, as you’d expect from a front-row seat. Despite this positive aspect, it comes with the drawback of not having any meaningful storage areas apart from the pitiful seatback pocket.

Bulkhead seats on the JAL Boeing 787-8


Identical to our flight to Tokyo, there were already a bunch of amenities waiting for us at our seat, including: a pair of slippers, headphones, a blanket, JAL’s AirWeave pillow, a bottle of water, a disinfectant wipe, and JAL’s regional amenity kit. Definitely a lot of things for a seat without much storage!

Bulkhead legroom

As expected, the contents of the amenity kit were identical to the flight to Tokyo. To rehash, the kit included a toothbrush, a moisture face mask, ear plugs, and a poor-quality eye mask. Do bear in mind that this kit differs from the kits distributed on flights to the US, Australia, and Europe.

Amenity kit content and headphones (photo from previous flight)

Departure from Tokyo

The doors closed a short while after we were seated, and the flight attendants soon came by with high-quality disposable oshibori. We pushed back at 18.05, five minutes past our scheduled departure time. As we pushed back, the purser announced our flight time of six hours and fifty minutes, followed by the safety video.

Japan Airlines Boeing 787-9 at Narita Airport

As we taxied to our runway at the other end of the airport, we past by several interesting traffic like an Emirates A380 and a LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787-9. We also passed by a China Airlines A350, which I reviewed back in April. In addition, there was also a Flying Honu ANA A380, which I really hope to fly someday!

Emirates A380
China Airlines A350-900
ANA Flying Honu A380
LOT Boeing 787-9 and several United Boeing 737s.
LOT Boeing 787-9

We finally reached runway 16R and took off at 18.22, 22 minutes after our scheduled departure time. Well, goodbye Tokyo and see you soon Jakarta!

View of the wing inflight

Dinner Service

Dinner Menu

Around 10 minutes after takeoff, the captain switched off the seatbelt signs, prompting the cabin crew to prepare for the dinner service. 10 minutes later, the cabin crew passed through the cabin to take meal and drink orders. JAL calls its meal service BEDD Sky Auberge and as you’d expect, there was a choice of Japanese or Western food. The Japanese meal has only one option, whereas the Western menu has a choice of Wagyu Sirloin or Sea Bream Bouillabaisse. For reference, the inflight food and beverage menu read as the following.

Inflight Menu

I decided to partake in the Japanese meal, which I often find to be superior quality compared to the Western meals on JAL. I also ordered a glass of cold green tea, which was cheerfully acknowledged by the flight attendant on our aisle.

Japanese Meal

Fifteen minutes after the orders were taken, the crew passed through the cabin to distribute and place the tablecloths. This was followed by a second pass, in which our choice of drinks was distributed alongside Kameda Seika rice crackers.

Cold green tea and rice crackers

Eight minutes after the rice crackers were distributed, the starter was served. The cold Japanese starter came in a box of small dishes. Among the selection were Saikyo miso marinated gindara, a duck meat dumpling, simmered abalone and sea urchin, a simmered dish of prawns and vegetables, a crabmeat omelette and a prawn cake. And like that, JAL. manages to pull off an delicious cold platter of seasonal dishes.

Japanese meal starter
Japanese meal starter

14 minutes after the appetiser was distributed, the main course was served with rice, as well as a side of pickles and miso soup. The main dish on this flight consisted of braised beef, curry, and deep-fried salmon. Although I found the combination of dishes to be relatively odd, it curiously paired very well. Definitely easy to enjoy!

Braised Beef, Ren’s Curry, and Deep-fried Salmon
Braised Beef, Ren’s Curry, and Deep-fried Salmon

Shortly after I finished the main course, the crew brought out the dessert of matcha pudding. Despite this safe combination, I wasn’t fond of the dish; in fact, based on my experience, I feel that the dessert tends to be the weakest offering of any JAL’s Business Class meal.

Chocolate Mousse with Strawberry Sauce

After finishing my drink and part of the pudding, my tray was finally cleared. As such, the meal service was wrapped 50 minutes after it started and 1 hour 25 minutes after takeoff.

Western Meal

During the meal service, I also managed to get a look at the Western meal and the Sea Bream Bouillabaisse main dish. Whilst not as nice looking as the Japanese meal, it still looks relatively okay.

Western starter
Sea Bream Bouillabaisse
Western dessert – Berry Savarin

Inflight Entertainment

To rehash from my previous review, the JAL Shell Flat Neo seat is equipped with a personal 15.4-inch monitor in the back of each seat. In the case of our bulkhead seats, the monitor popped out from the centre armrest. JAL’s Magic V entertainment system is installed on this aircraft, which is one generation behind the airline’s most recent system interface, Magic VI.

Magic V Inflight Entertainment

Loaded onto the Magic V entertainment system were some 69 movies, spread across multiple genres and origins. Of those, 44 are Hollywood movies, including some relatively new releases. JAL’s latest movie selection can be browsed here. This selection is by no means extensive and is definitely inferior to the offerings on other oneworld airlines like Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways. As such, inflight entertainment is definitely something JAL could improve on. Since I had watched all the films I was interested in on the flight to Tokyo, I spent the rest of the flight working on my laptop.

Seat literature pocket contents (photo from previous flight)

Again as always, provided was also the airline’s inflight magazine, Skyward, and a shopping catalogue. A paid WiFi service was also available on this flight.


As was the case on the outbound flight, the crew on this flight was very warm and friendly. For one, I appreciated the personalised service offered, where I was always referred to by name in every interaction. The crew also proactively passed through the cabin the clear up any empty plates or trash. This, in particular, was much appreciated given the lack of any meaningful storage receptacles in the bulkhead seats. Additionally, the crew were also proficient in speaking English and switched to Japanese very easily.

Snack presentation in the galley

Similar to the flight to Tokyo, a small snack bar was set up in the galley between the cabins. Curiously, the selection on this flight had a bit more variation, featuring terrifyingly addictive Jean-Paul Hevin chocolate in addition to the regular Kameda Seika rice crackers and JAL Dry Natto. In any case, I’m almost sad I found out about this since I just might have over-indulged in chocolates after the meal service. 😛

Pre-arrival Refreshments

One and a half hours before our estimated landing time, the crew once again passed through the cabin to offer pre-arrival refreshments. On this flight, the selection was between inarizushi (sushi rice-filled fried tofu pockets) or ice cream, in addition to the various JAL instant noodles. Since I was neither hungry at this point nor interested in the selection, I opted to pass this service.

Arrival in Jakarta

20 minutes before our landing time, the seat belt signs were turned on and the cabin was prepared for landing. As the crew did their final safety checks, we were all buckled up and ready to be back home. We had a smooth landing at 23:15, 35 minutes before our scheduled time of arrival. As we taxied to our gate, the crew welcomed us to Jakarta and thanked us for flying JAL.

JA831J in Soekarno-Hatta Airport

We arrived at our gate ten minutes after landing, after which disembarkation was done through Door 2L. I thanked the crew and bid them farewell as soon as I left the aircraft.


Overall, the service aspect of this flight was completely flawless. Between the great food and the excellent service, I had nothing to complain about. Again, however, I was not pleased with the outdated Shell Flat Neo seat, which I hope JAL will retire very soon. Frankly speaking, I didn’t have much to say about this flight, given how repetitive the experience is with my outbound flight to Tokyo. For one, I do hope that JAL could improve on their inflight entertainment offering, which I think lags far behind the likes of other world-class airlines like Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways.

Read more from this trip!

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