01. Introduction: 13,733 amazing miles in Japan Airlines business class
02. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Shell Flat Neo) San Diego to Tokyo (Narita)
03. Japan Airlines 737-800 business class Tokyo (Narita) to Beijing
04. St Regis Hotel, Beijing
05. 3 ways this trip to Beijing was exactly like the Apollo 13 mission to the moon
06. BGS Premiere Lounge, PEK
07. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Sky Suite) Beijing to Tokyo (Haneda)
08. Royal Park Hotel THE Haneda
09. Haneda to Narita transfer bus
10. JAL Sakura Lounge, NRT
11. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Shell Flat Neo) Tokyo (Narita) to San Diego
It occurred to me as I was walking to the gate that I probably could have eaten a lot more during my visit to the BGS Premier lounge. I mean, the gate for this flight to Haneda was literally at the bottom of the stairs, so it wouldn’t have been too far fetched of an idea to just roll myself right onto the plane from the lounge if I was feeling too fat to walk. Talk about a major missed opportunity!
Beijing, China (PEK) – Tokyo, Japan (HND)
Sunday, January 28, 2018
Duration: 2 hours 18 minutes
Seat: 2A (Sky Suite / business class)
Thankfully I wasn’t feeling too fat to walk, because even though the gate for my flight was right there in front of me, I couldn’t help but to wander around the terminal for a while and do a bit of plane spotting and people watching. PEK is an amazing airport with an incredible variety of interesting airline traffic, and I would go as far as to say that only HKG is better. There’s just something about these big Asian airports which makes me walk around in a daze losing all sense of time, and it’s kind of a miracle that I didn’t miss my flight to HND.
But then again, this was a flight I was very much looking forward to and there was no way in the world that I was going to risk missing it. Why was I looking forward to it so much? Two words: Sky Suite. The Sky Suite is the best business class product offering from Japan Airlines at the moment, and while I was bummed out that it’s not currently offered on flights between San Diego and Narita, there are several flights a day between Beijing and Haneda featuring this premium business class product. I’ll get to those pics in the moment, but first a few pics and words about the pre-flight stuff.
It’s not like I was hovering around the gate area and feeling overly anxious to board the airplane, but I ended up being the first business class passenger today so it was nice to get a pretty good look at the sky suite cabin in its entirety before it filled up with other passengers.
Lucky for me, I was able to switch to seat 2A today, which is a window seat and a hell of a lot better than the aisle seat (3C) that I had reserved. JAL Sky Suite window seats are very private compared to their aisle counterparts, very similar to the configuration in British Airways Club World (with the only difference being that all seats face forward). If you’re looking for maximum privacy, make sure you reserve a window seat.
A flight attendant noticed me taking pics, and asked me if this was the first time that I had been in the JAL Sky Suite. She seemed very eager to give me a tour of the seat and all of its features, and I was very thankful for the detailed demonstration. The seats are much better than the Shell Flat Neo seats that I experienced from San Diego to Narita!
Hot towels and entry forms for Japan were distributed just moments before pushback from the gate, and from there it was a beautiful taxi out to the runway just as the sun was setting over Beijing. This is the first time that I’ve ever seen clear blue skies and sun in Beijing before, and it was a little bit weird if I’m being honest. Of course blue skies and sunshine is really nice, but Beijing just isn’t Beijing without the haze. Am I right or am I right?
I was very thankful of the clear skies as we lifted off the runway, as it was turning into an amazing evening out there with incredible views of the Chinese landscape below. It made me start thinking how I really enjoyed my first ever visit to mainland China, and I hoped to be back again someday soon.
Menus and dinner orders came as we were climbing to cruising altitude, and do I really have to tell you which meal option I chose? I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “Japan” and ends with “ese”. You know that I immensely enjoyed my last two meals on Japan Airlines (SAN-NRT and NRT-PEK), so I wasn’t about to break tradition for this flight. I had absolutely no idea what the Japanese meal consisted of, but I knew I couldn’t go wrong and it would be delicious no matter what.
There was no snack service on this evenings flight to Tokyo, but I found it interesting that it was included as part of the meal service. Yep, that’s right – a little snack bag came with the meal right there on the tray.
Rock hard vanilla ice cream was the dessert option this evening, just as it was on the flight from Narita to Beijing two days ago. Apparently 787 freezers are just as cold as 737 freezers, because I couldn’t even penetrate fhe outer layer of that ice cream for at least five minutes after it was put down in front of me.
Unfortunately, the rest of this flight went by complete flash and I remember feeling highly disappointed as we started the descent into Tokyo. I had hardly any time at all to nap or take a look around, as it seems like we went from take off to the meal service to landing with hardly any gaps in between. The seats of the Sky Suite are amazingly comfortable, so I was totally bummed that my time with them was running out a lot quicker than I was satisfied with.
JAL doesn’t fly Sky Suite equipped aircraft to San Diego as of yet, so my flight home the next day was going to be in the older Shell Flat Neo business class product and that meant one thing: this is it! I had less than 30 minutes to enjoy the heck out of this seat! Unfortunately, trying really hard to enjoy something never really increases enjoyment in my experience, and I found myself only getting more frustrated that the minutes were ticking away and my time was about up. Life is so unfair sometimes…
The cabin lights were turned off for the first time of the entire flight as we were on final approach into HND, which made for a really nice viewing of the landing. I had only flown into Haneda one other time in my life before this, and I remember it being a super dense airport with a heck of a lot of interesting activity. This time was no different, and it was really fun to see it hustling and bustling just as I remember.
In conclusion, the JAL Sky Suite business class product is amazing. What was not so amazing was my painfully short time to experience it all, and it left me feeling that I need to get another ride on a Sky Suite equipped bird that is a lot longer than 2 1/2 hours. This cabin is beautiful, very private if you have a window seat, and extremely comfortable. It also pairs very well with a delicious Japanese style in-flight meal, and when you mix all of that together with some of that amazing JAL hospitality from the cabin crew, it’s an experience that can’t be beat.
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