Reviews

Review: Japan Airlines Boeing 737 'Class J' business class: Osaka-Tokyo

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, June 18 2015
Japan Airlines Boeing 737 'Class J' business class: Osaka-Tokyo
Route

Osaka (Itami) - Tokyo (Narita)

Aircraft Type

Boeing 737-800

Airline

Japan Airlines

Flight

JL3006

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

4A

Notes
The Good
  • Wide seats with extra legroom
  • English-speaking staff at every interaction point
The Bad
  • No priority check-in, boarding, security screening or lounge access
  • Limited choice of refreshments
X-Factor
  • Upgrade to Class J for only Â¥1,000
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

After flying to Tokyo with Qantas or its partner Japan Airlines, you'll want to book a seat in 'Class J' for any onward connection – JAL's take on business class for domestic flights within Japan.

Why? It costs just ¥1,000 (~A$10) more than a regular economy ticket to snag a larger seat with extra legroom, a cocktail table and a leg rest, which is an absolute steal.

Here's what $10 bought us on a recent Japan Airlines flight from Osaka to Tokyo's Narita Airport.

Check-in

  • Priority check-in: No, except for Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire (Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Platinum One, Platinum and Gold), or when connecting to JAL international business or first class.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 20kg, plus an additional 15kg for Oneworld Sapphire members and 20kg for Oneworld Emerald cardholders
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x115cm, 10kg bag.
  • Priority security screening: No, except for Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire.
  • Priority boarding: No, except for Oneworld Emerald.

Lounge

As Class J doesn't provide any VIP perks on the ground, you'll need a Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire frequent flyer card, or an onward international flight in JAL business or first class, to visit the lounge.

Assuming you're covered, Japan Airlines operates two Sakura Lounges in Osaka: one immediately to your left after clearing security, and the other to the right and opposite from Gate 18.

Both offer similar seating with power points aplenty, free alcoholic beverages and also snacks (although not hot food), so choose the one that's nearest your departure gate.

Japan Airlines' Sakura Lounge at Osaka Itami Airport
Japan Airlines' Sakura Lounge at Osaka Itami Airport

The Wi-Fi is both fast and free, and for getting any serious work done, we'd suggest visiting the lounge opposite from Gate 18 which has a work-inducing annex that boasts a similar feel to the Boston Public Library, albeit with a lower ceiling.

Seat

The main attraction of JAL's Class J is the extra space that you enjoy on board, with roughly 38 inches from headrest to headrest – up to 7 inches more than you'd get in economy.

Business travellers will find a coat hook on the seat in front...

... with an elastic jacket holder that keeps your coat in place to preserve that all-important legroom:

Between each 47cm-wide seat is a spacious armrest that also sports a cocktail table...

... or you can keep your beverage on the meal tray instead, which folds in half to act as a second cocktail table or as an iPad stand if you've brought your own entertainment.

There's also an extendable leg rest, however it appears most useful to shorter-legged travellers than those pushing six feet who often prefer to stretch out.

Class J seats are configured in a 2-3 layout on JAL's Boeing 737s – that is, two seats on one side of the aisle but three seats on the other side – so snap up a seat in the twosome for a more comfortable ride.

Absent were AC (and USB) power outlets for charging phones, laptops and the like, which you'd find on most Shinkansen high-speed train services between the same cities.

Meal

Japan Airlines doesn't serve meals on domestic flights, instead providing a light refreshment service.

With tea, coffee and the usual consommé soup unavailable on today's flight due to frequent turbulence, the remaining choices were apple juice, Coca-Cola, green iced tea, water and JAL's signature 'Sky Time' drink:

It's currently flavoured with kiwifruit, which I'd highly recommend and was quite refreshing – although it's nothing more than you'd get in economy.

Oddly, basic snacks such as pretzels, cheese and crackers and peanuts weren't offered or even available for purchase, so if you're peckish, you'll need to bring your own nibbles.

Entertainment & Service

JAL offers video-based inflight entertainment on domestic services via fold-down screens.

But while the programming was in Japanese (as you'd expect on Japan's national airline on a Japanese domestic flight), there weren't any English subtitles for Western travellers, nor was there an English-language audio channel to match up with the video.

Instead, a small number of radio channels are available to pass the time and pleasingly included both Western classical and chart music in addition to the local selections.

The cabin crew could speak and understand more than enough English to put Aussie travellers at ease, as could the check-in, security and boarding gate staff, which helped to make the overall experience quite pleasant.

All up, it's certainly not your typical business class – rather, more closely resembling premium economy – but when Class J costs just $10 more than a regular economy ticket, I'll happily pay the premium for the legroom alone.

Also reviewed: Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Sky Suite business class

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

RaptorNation158

RaptorNation158

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

I guess the Class J is just there so they could compete with the bullet train seats which offer more legroom.

Yohy

Yohy

20 Apr 2014

Total posts 94

The ability to earn status at business class levels in oneworld programs is probably the best feature, there are urban myths of folk doing half a dozen sectors in Class J domestic between ports like Itami and Haneda

madge

madge

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 197

The best feature of "Class J" is the business class status credits.

Serg

Serg

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

I wish we have such "business more like PE" in Australia for mere $10 - for such money you cannot go wrong.

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

No, just QF had the old "Business Class" (until recently/being removed) on their A330s which was barely Premium Economy and had the audacity to charge full whack for it haha.

watson374

watson374

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

They also had the convertible-type "J" on the 734s.

Renato

Renato

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Nov 2014

Total posts 7

Living in Japan right now and I fly JAL on Class J often since I am a QFF. Its very basic, but I like flying in it, mostly for the generous Status Credits I get from it (which is how I went from Bronze to Gold in a short time!)

Propofol88

Propofol88

QF Platinum

24 Jan 2013

Total posts 141

What about domestic first class? I've never flown JAL domestically before - is it much better than Class J? I am booked first class from Tokyo to Sapporo - I hope it has lounge access, priority checkin/boarding and food/drinks on board! 

GLAaussie

GLAaussie

British Airways Executive Club Gold

25 Jun 2015

Total posts 22

¥1000 extra for business class mileage/status accrual is an absolute steal. Crediting to BAEC will net you up to 8 times the amount of TPs than economy.


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