Review: Japan Airlines First Class lounge, Tokyo Narita

Spanning two levels at Narita Terminal 2, this exclusive lounge takes pre-flight dining to delicious heights.

Overall Rating

By Sid Raja , March 14 2024
Japan Airlines First Class lounge, Tokyo Narita
Country

Japan

City

Tokyo

Airport

Tokyo Narita

Alliance

Oneworld

Airline

Japan Airlines

Cabin-class

First Class

Notes
The Good
  • Varied dining and drinks
  • Massage chairs
The Bad
  • Some low-grade drink options
X-Factor
  • Sushi counter
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

Japanese design is a masterclass in the elegance of simplicity – a style often characterised by clean lines and natural tones. Japan Airlines’ First Class Lounge at Tokyo-Narita is no exception, yet there are some noteworthy deviations from tradition.

Whether sipping sake, whisky or Champagne, watching expert chefs prepare made-to-order sushi, or settling into a massage chair for some pre-flight R&R, this is a lounge you won’t want to leave in a hurry.

Location & Impressions

Spanning levels three and four at Tokyo-Narita Airport Terminal 2, the JAL first class lounge is vast, featuring distinct zones for relaxation, conversation and some truly delectable dining – not to mention soaking in the view. 

The downstairs lounge is well suited to business and solo travellers.
The downstairs lounge is well suited to business and solo travellers.

You’ll find the main entrance on the third floor. Look for signage pointing to ‘Sakura Lounge’ and once inside veer to your left, where there’s a dedicated First Class reception. (Don’t make the common mistake of heading into the Sakura Lounge, which is for business class and JAL frequent flyers.)

Directly beyond reception are a couple shower rooms – an attendant is on hand for bookings and to supply toiletries. A bank of lockers and private telephone booths are right next door, followed by a self-serve bar and lounge.

Semi-private nooks are ideal as de fecto meeting spaces.
Semi-private nooks are ideal as de fecto meeting spaces.

Subdued lighting and a dark chocolate and caramel palette give the lounge a high-end feel; high-backed horseshoe booths, cream armchairs and footrests divided by vertical slats, and work desks looking out to aircraft round out your seating options.

Alternatively, make your way upstairs, where there’s an additional ‘Salon’ lounge, self-serve drink counter and staffed bar plus three dining areas (each one with its own personality) and, the signature of the lounge, a sushi counter.

Sushi Tsurutei - the lounge's signature dining offering.
Sushi Tsurutei - the lounge's signature dining offering.

While here, you can also get your shoes shined at a staffed polishing counter, through a collaboration with British shoemaster John Lobb.

Access

Narita First Class Lounge welcomes the following guests:

The lounge opens between 7:30am and 10pm.

Dining

Japan’s culinary excellence is firmly on show here. This is most evident at the Sushi Tsurutei counter, where expert chefs hand roll three bitesize morsels between the hours of 7:30am and 11:30am and again from 3pm to 8pm.

An artfully-plated assortment of the day's sushi specials.
An artfully-plated assortment of the day's sushi specials.

More than just somewhere to grab a bite and go, it’s like watching a choreographed dance – the rhythmic hand movements of chefs as they form each dish by hand is mesmerising.

Menus rotate weekly and include tuna belly, conger eel, spear squid, flounder, prawn, and futomaki (sushi wrapped in nori seaweed). Vegetarian options are also available.

If you’re looking for something a little heartier, head around the corner to JAL’s Table, where you can order a wide array of dishes from ramen to Japanese curry, salads and pasta.

Pre-plated sample dishes at JAL's Table.
Pre-plated sample dishes at JAL's Table.

I used this as a chance to enjoy one last authentic Japanese curry, followed by a delicious tiramisu.

A hearty beef curry with a side of pickled vegetables.
A hearty beef curry with a side of pickled vegetables.
Tiramisu is just one of several dessert options available.
Tiramisu is just one of several dessert options available.

Paired premium sake, fine wines and whiskies are of course a key part of the first class experience too, with staff more than happy to guide you through the selection.

Telmont and Joseph Perrier were the two Champagne on ice.
Telmont and Joseph Perrier were the two Champagne on ice.

That said, a few of the spirit selections are a little more low end than you might expect.

Self-serve teas, coffee and soft drinks round out the available drink options. 

Work

Business travellers and those seeking a larger space to spread out can take their pick of the dining tables, or sidle up to the window-side desks in the level three lounge area.

Decor in the upstairs dining room puts a nice modern twist on tradition.
Decor in the upstairs dining room puts a nice modern twist on tradition.

Many seats have AC and USB power outlets within reach – you’ll find these lining the walls, under your seat or along the edge of the lengthy counter-style dining tables.

Power outlets are within reach of most seats.
Power outlets are within reach of most seats.

WiFi is fast and free throughout.

Relax

Besides its great food and drink selections, my personal highlight of the JAL lounge was the relaxation area, where there were two massage chairs available first come, first serve.

Ideal for a quick pre-flight recharge.
Ideal for a quick pre-flight recharge.

(Having spent hours exploring the ins and outs of the city on foot during my visit – soaking up the buzzing energy of Shibuya and Shinjuku – the chance to help my weary muscles recover was one I couldn’t pass up.)

Verdict

The JAL first class lounge at Narita is a perfectly serviceable space where you can relax, have a good meal and enjoy some quality drinks.

Aside from the sushi counter there's not much unique about this lounge, but in true Japanese tradition everything is high quality.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 58

"Perfectly serviceable" is an excellent description of this lounge - impressive sushi, decent selection of other a la carte options, reasonable drinks, attentive staff, functional bathrooms . . . but it all feels oddly sterile and somewhat 'awkward', for want of a better term. In contrast (and I think this is a fair comparison with another Oneworld airline's FC lounge at its home port), Cathay's The Pier first class lounge is effortlessly warm, relaxing and inviting, with the difference explained in part by the physical design and in part by the staff, who tend to be much more engaging and affable in HK. These are, of course, first world issues, and it remains a privilege to have access to any of these lounges, which really do make frequent international travel much more bearable.  

Japan Airlines - JAL Mileage Bank

15 Mar 2024

Total posts 1

your comment about the alcohol selection is simplistic: it is correct that western alcohol choice are limited but for japanese sake and shochu 日本酒 焼酎 very good selection!

as for the curry, which is tasty, it is the same curry in the business class lounge as in the first class lounge..just the sushi quality changes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 53

Totally agree with DrSK. Finding this lounge extremely sterile. Most times visiting as a solo traveller, get a feeling that I am not particularly welcome and once my meal is finished I tend to move away from the near empty dining room rather than settling in. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 32

I have used the first class lounge for JAL at both Narita and Haneda probably 10 times in the last few years post Covid, and at least 40 times before Covid. Whereas there used to be good quality genuine champagne there is now quite often only sparkling blanc du blanc, whereas the wines used to be premium they are now roughly $30 worth and, as noted, the spirits are lesser as well. The sushi has always been marvellous but the other dishes now have to be ordered on an app, the range is ridiculously small and on one occasion recently I simply wandered out of the lounge and found a new soba/udon place and had a much more satisfying meal. The cost-cutting is ridiculous, and reduces an otherwise beautiful space to being no better than "perfectly serviceable". Of course, as you would expect in Japan, the toilets, showers and bathrooms in general are spotless and perfectly clean.


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