Osaka (Itami) - Tokyo (Narita)
- Wide seats with extra legroom
- English-speaking staff at every interaction point
- No priority check-in, boarding, security screening or lounge access
- Limited choice of refreshments
- Upgrade to Class J for only Â¥1,000
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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