Review: Japan Airlines Business Class HND To TSA

Review: Japan Airlines Business Class HND To TSA

Flight Info

  • Flight Number: JL 99
  • Seat: 1A
  • Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
  • Scheduled Departure Time: October 28, 2023 6:20 PM
  • Arrival Time: October 28, 2023 8:41 PM
  • Flight Time: 2 hours 59 minutes
  • How I Booked: 5,000 Alaska miles + $2 added as a stopover to Japan Airlines LAX-HND itinerary (unfortunately Alaska got rid of these cheap stopover bookings for Japan Airlines itineraries)

Check In And Arrival Process

The check in process actually gave me a scare this time. My brother was also flying out on Japan Airlines from HND-LAX and the counter agent said that he was unable to find his reservation. I gave the agent the partner confirmation code as well as the Alaska confirmation code but he was still unable to locate it. Thankfully after making a few phone calls, the agent was eventually able to find the reservation and print out my brother’s boarding pass.

This was strange since I remember pulling up his reservation on Japan Airlines’ website and seeing “ticketed”. I guess something got messed up in the backend system but I’m glad that they eventually got it sorted out.

For my own check-in, the counter agent said that for flights into Taiwan, we have to provide the return flight information as well. This was strange to me since I’d never been told this before but after showing him my Cathay Pacific itinerary, he was able to get my boarding pass printed for me.

One of the most underrated perks of flying business/first class is that you can use an expedited security line so we were able to go directly to the luggage scanner section. This ended up saving us a bunch of time since we skipped a ton of people.


Since my brother was flying in Japan Airlines First Class, he had access to the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge and was able to bring me in as a guest. The lounge was terrific and definitely did not disappoint. It boasts a large space with great views of the runway and delicious food. After spending a couple of hours in the lounge enjoying the food and drinks, it was time to head over to my gate.

The Japan Airlines First Class Lounge at Haneda International Airport is great
Japan Airlines First Class Lounge At HND


The boarding process was smooth and efficient. They had staff walking around ensuring people were in the right lines and checking that people had the necessary documents. This time around we had to scan our boarding passes since there was no face scan like there was back in LAX.


The business class cabin of the 787-8 features a total of 30 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. These 30 seats are distributed across two sections that are divided by a pair of restrooms and the galley. The larger section has 18 seats across 3 rows and can be found after turning left upon entering the aircraft while the second smaller section featuring 12 seats across 2 rows is found turning right.

The Japan Airlines Business Class Cabin on their Boeing 787-8 aircraft is split into two sections
Japan Airlines 787-8 Business Class Cabin Seat Map

I preferred the larger cabin near the nose of the plane because that area is separated from the rest of the seats in the aircraft. This was nice because it greatly reduced the amount of foot traffic through this part of the cabin. If you sat in the other smaller business class section, the rest of the passengers would still walk by you during boarding and if they wanted to use the bathrooms in the front. The other big benefit of this section is that you have another bathroom in the front of the plane as another option in addition to the 2 bathrooms conveniently located behind the cabin.

Unfortunately, the seats themselves are nothing to get excited about. The first thing you will notice is how the seats are oriented in a 2-2-2 configuration. This isn’t as great as a 1-2-1 configuration since not every passenger gets direct aisle access but this kind of orientation is common on regional short haul routes.

The Japan Airlines Business Class Cabin on their Boeing 787-8 aircraft has 30 total business class seats
Business Class Cabin

This seat type is called Shell Flat Neo and was spacious but honestly reminded me of an international premium economy seat or a slightly better US domestic first class seat. There is a pocket at the front of the seat attached to the wall which holds the slippers, documents about the plane, and seat instructions. Each seat also comes with an individual reading light that you can twist to turn on or off.

Japan Airlines uses shell flat neo sheets in their business class for the HND to TSA route
Business Class Seat

I actually messed up by choosing a seat in row 1. Normally, row 1 is a safe choice since it’s usually a bulkhead seat and comes with perks like a bigger footwell or more space. So for this flight, I thought this would be the case as well but boy was I wrong.

In this aircraft, row 1 does have more space, but at the expense of having no TV….

At the front of the cabin of Japan Airlines business class on the 787-8 is a small TV displaying information and a document holder
Front of Cabin and Document Holder

or so I thought. There is a TV but it’s a stowaway TV hidden in the armrest that you have to pull out. This retractable TV is 10.5″ and is actually quite a bit smaller than the TVs of the other seats which are 15.4″ in size.

Seats in row 1 have a smaller retractable TV
Retractable TV

The thing that really sucked about this retractable TV is that when we were beginning our descent into Taipei, passengers in row 1 were asked to stow away these TVs. This meant that we had no entertainment for the last 20 minutes of the flight while the rest of the passengers in business class still did.

What I should have done instead, is first check, which is a website that shows and describes the seat maps of almost all the aircraft types of all major airlines. If I had done this, I would have seen this note in Aerolopa calling out how the front row seats have smaller retractable displays, no bottle holder, and reduced storage space…. but oh well, it really wasn’t that big of a deal for this short of a flight.

Aerolopa is a website that details airline seat maps and gives specific seat details
Aerolopa gives detailed seat information

So if I had to recommend seats in this aircraft, I would say that 2A, 2B, 2E, and 2F are the best seats since they’re next to a window, have the larger TV, and are not directly next to a bathroom.

All of the seats in business class feature a control panel on one armrest to adjust the seat position. The controls are pretty self explanatory with 3 main seat positions and additional buttons to adjust specific sections of the seat. I didn’t expect these Shell Flat Neo seats to also feature the same lumbar support that the 777-300 first class seats had.

The seat controls for the shell flat neo seats were intuitive
Seat Controls

As mentioned earlier, the seats in row 1 have reduced storage space but I still found it to be good enough. On one side of the seat is a concave section that features the remote control holder and a little storage cubby.

The side of the seat has a storage cubby and holds the TV remote
Storage Cubby and TV Remote

The seat also features charging and USB ports at the bottom of the armrest.

Each seat features a charging port and USB port
Charging Ports

In Flight Entertainment

The in flight entertainment system is standard across the Japan Airlines fleet and similar to my experience in JAL First Class, is not great. The system is old and outdated and offers a pretty limited selection of movies, TV shows, and games.

I’m not sure if this was unique to the retractable TVs, but my TV was touch screen. The touch screen along with the ability to fold the TV screen to the desired position made it convenient to interact with the entertainment system.

The in flight entertainment system for Japan Airlines is outdated
In Flight Entertainment System

The remote itself was straightforward with the standard video playback options and also features the call attendant button.

The TV remote is old
TV Remote

Each seat also comes with a simple pair of Japan Airlines headphones. It looked and felt cheap and I was pretty surprised that this is what they used in business class.

The provided headphones were cheap and low quality

Amenity Kit and Pajamas

There was no amenity kit or pajamas for this flight. Japan Airlines only provides amenity kits in first class and business class on their long haul international flights and only gives pajamas in long haul international first class. However, there were slippers in a plastic bag provided in the pocket at the front of each business class seat.

Business class passengers enjoy free slippers
Business Class Slippers


There is no free wifi on this flight but it can be purchased at the following rates. I didn’t end up purchasing wifi on this flight so I can’t speak to the speeds of it. However, if it’s anything like the wifi aboard the 777, then it’s quite good and will handle any of your needs.

Japan Airlines doesn't offer complementary wifi to business class passengers but it can be purchased
Japan Airlines Onboard Wifi Prices

Pre Departure

Upon boarding, you’ll notice that each seat in business class already has a menu and a cleaning wipe laid out at the seat.

Each business class seat comes with a cleansing wipe
Cleansing Wipe

Before takeoff, a flight attendant came around giving each one of the business class passengers a wet towel. I was pretty surprised to see that this towel came wrapped in a plastic bag instead of being served unwrapped like my other flights.

Business class passengers are given a hand towel
Hand Towel

Shortly after take off, the flight attendant once again came around to clear away the towels and after that, we transitioned into the dinner service.

Dinner Service

This was probably my favorite part of the whole flight. The catering on Japan Airlines rarely disappoints and this flight was no exception. It’s honestly such a luxury being able to enjoy a tasty meal on such a short flight.

You can browse the dining options from the paper menu conveniently located at your seat.

Japan Airlines gives their business class passengers a paper menu to order from
Business Class Menu

For this flight, you had the option of a Japanese style meal or a Western style meal. I ended up ordering the Japanese option as well as their non alcoholic signature drink, Japan Airlines Skytime. This drink has peach and grape flavors and although it is very sweet, it’s really refreshing.

The business class meal on Japan Airlines has a western or Japanese option
Business Class Dining Options

Soon after ordering, the flight attendant came back to set my table for me with a navy Japan Airlines branded tablecloth as well as serve me my drink and a dried crackers snack.

Business class passengers get rice crackers and their choice of drink
JAL Skytime and Rice Crackers

About 15 minutes later, the meal was served and it was delicious! I feel that the presentation of Japan Airlines meals is always top notch and this meal was beautifully plated as well.

Japan Airlines changes what the main item of the meal each month is so for my flight, the main item was a deep-fried mackerel and braised pork belly. The mackerel was a little overdone in my opinion but the pork belly was great. The small dishes were tasty too but I particularly enjoyed the smoked salmon and the prawn. The little cube package you see in the bottom left contains a block of rice.

This Japanese style meal offered lots of interesting dishes and flavors that highlight the country’s unique culture. I would highly recommend going with the Japanese meal option for any JAL flight you take.

Japan Airlines Japanese style meal in business class is excellent
Japanese Style Business Class Meal

After finishing dinner, a flight attendant came to clear away the meal and asked me if I would like ice cream for dessert. JAL serves Haagen-Dazs ice cream on board and I ended up getting the vanilla flavor and a glass of champagne. The ice cream was standard but the thing that stood out was that the container had JAL wording on it which is pretty neat.

Dessert in business class is a Haagen-Dazs ice cream


There is a single bathroom located at the front of the cabin and 2 bathrooms behind row 3 which are part of the dividing section that splits the business class section into 2. The bathrooms themselves are pretty ordinary. They feature a few nice amenities like toothbrushes and mouthwash but other than that, are just standard airplane bathrooms.

Japan Airlines business class bathrooms have toothbrushes, mouthwash, and other small amenities
Business Class Bathroom Amenities

However, the coolest part about this bathroom is that the toilet has a bidet!

Japan Airlines business class bathrooms have a bidet
Bidet in Japan Airlines Aircraft Bathroom


Although the seat itself is pretty unexciting, the one redeeming grace is that this seat can actually fully recline into a lie flat bed. However, instead of being completely flat, the bed has a slight incline that makes it about 170 degrees instead of the normal 180 degrees that true lie flat beds have. It honestly wasn’t that big of a deal though and I barely felt the incline when lying down.

The shell flat neo seats can turn into a life flat bed
Lie “Flat” Bed

The bed was comfy and it’s always nice to just stretch out your legs fully. At the end of the seat/bed is a small footrest that you can lift up or fold down to your liking.

The one (and probably only) benefit of sitting in row 1 is that in bed mode, there was still ample space in between the end of the bed and the front wall. This let me walk around my neighbor without having to step over him. I believe that this wouldn’t be true for the rest of the seats in business class since their beds will fully extend into the front seat and not give any walkable space to their neighbor.

Refreshment Service

Since this was such a short flight, there was only one meal served and no anytime menu was offered.

Landing In Taipei

Before I knew it, 2.5 hours had passed and we were already preparing for our descent into Taipei. I thought it was really strange that none of the flight attendants came by to offer immigration cards to business class passengers. Maybe there was an immigration card in the front seat pocket but I don’t recall seeing one.

View of Taipei during the descent
Descent into Taipei

Overall Service

For a relatively short flight, the service was as good as it can get. The flight attendants were all attentive and quick to come whenever assistance was requested via the remote. The interaction with attendants was minimal but still warm and professional. I appreciated that they occasionally walked up and down the cabin asking if there were any drinks we would like.


Japan Airlines Shell Flat Neo Business Class product on their 787-8 plane is solid. Although the hard product is not competitive by international standards, the food and service are excellent and help to make up for that. Receiving this kind of experience makes it hard to go back to the lackluster experience that US flights of the same length have.

My mistake of choosing the inferior seats in row 1 unfortunately degraded my experience but overall I still found it to be a very pleasant flight. As long as you avoid row 1, this business class product is a good way to travel within Asia in comfort.

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