Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Sky Suite) Beijing to Tokyo (Haneda)

Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Sky Suite) Beijing to Tokyo (Haneda)

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
Aircraft: 787-8
Registration: JA837J
Duration: 2 hours 18 minutes
Seat: 2A (Sky Suite / business class)

JAL 787-8 side view
Japan Airlines 787-8 (JA837J) side view illustration by norebbo.com.
PEK-HND route map
Our route from PEK to HND this evening.

If you prefer your trip reports in video format, you’re in luck! The following is some footage I put together showcasing the JAL 787 Sky Suite from PEK to HND, complete with a soundtrack courtesy of Epidemic Sound:

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.

Plane spotting in Beijing
15 years ago (back when I was really into aviation photography), I would have soiled myself from the excitement of having so many great photo opportunities here at the Beijing international airport.
SANspotter selfie PEK
The windows are absolutely huge here, and on beautiful days such as this, it’s really hard not to be mesmerized by all those pretty airplanes rolling by. However, it seems that pretty red shoes are the only things that can mesmerize me from being mesmerized by pretty airplanes.  I’m complicated like that.

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.

JAL 787 Beijing airport
Hey baby…how you doin’?
SANspotter selfie JAL 787 PEK
I was originally thinking of using the “hey baby…how you doin’?” caption for this pic, but was just too creepy with me lurking in the shadows like that.
Gate E 18 Beijing international airport
It’s gate E18 today, down at the far end of terminal 3. What’s the deal with all my flights departing from the far end of really long terminals lately?
Beijing airport boarding gate
Business class will board on the left, and economy on the right (eventually). It looks as if there isn’t anybody here yet so there’s a bit of a wait still.

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.

US passport Beijing airport
A short while longer, and we were ready to board. Here I am doing my best to keep my distance, trying not to look like an over-excited AvGeek.
Beijing international airport boarding a flight
There’s going to be something really nice at the end of this tunnel!
 Beijing airport jet bridge
Thank you Mother Nature for providing some epic light for the boarding process this afternoon.
Japan Airlines flight attendant bow
I have no caption for this other than stating that Japanese culture is amazing in every way.
Japan Airlines flight attendant sky suite
Being personally escorted to seat 2A. This Sky Suite cabin looks amazing!
Japan Airlines 787 Sky Suite business class seat
Japan Airlines 787 Sky Suite business class seat. There was no amenity kit on today’s flight, but a thick blanket, pillow, slippers, and a headset were ready and waiting on the seat.
Japan Airlines 787 sky suite
Getting nestled into my little cocoon here, and feeling quite good about it thank you very much.
Japan Airlines sky suite seat partition
With the seat partition down, I felt awkwardly close to the guy sitting in the aisle seat. He could see everything that I was doing, and I could watch his video screen just as if it was my own. He was really into old Hollywood westerns by the way.
Japan Airlines Boeing 787 sky suite business class
Looking straight across the aisle through the partition to the center section.
Japan Airlines 787 sky suite privacy
Here’s what a non-wide angle view of that looks like. This is a fairly private configuration, even for those in the aisle seats.
Japan Airlines 787 sky suite business class cabin
The Sky Suite business class cabin is really sharp looking, though from certain views (such as this) I was having flashbacks of my time working in a cubicle farm in corporate America. Once you sit next to a guy who uses speakerphone for everything, you’ll never forget…
Japan Airlines 787 sky suite leg room
Happy red shoes with tons of room to spread out and get comfortable.

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!

SANspotter selfie JAL Sky Suite
Huge thanks to the flight attendant who took this pic of me happily wedged into my Sky Suite throne.
Beijing airport glass jet bridge
The expression on that guys face in the jet bridge seems to be something along the lines of “daaamn that Sky Suite looks good!” And I’d totally agree with that.
Japan Airlines 787 safety card
OK, I showed you this exact same thing a few days ago. Have you got it memorized?
Japan Airlines 787 safety card detail
Is that fat baby in the lifevest super cute or what?
JAL 787 safety video
I’m thinking they need to get the fat baby into the safety demonstration video somehow….

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?

Pushing off the gate Beijing airport
Detached from the jet bridge and pushing off the gate. Can someone please tell the pilot to go as slow as possible? I’m in no rush to get to Tokyo this evening, and I want to enjoy this Sky Suite for as long as I can!
Japan Airlines sky suite USB outlet
This USB port sure came in handy – my phone was so thirsty that I could almost hear it gulping the electricity right out of the outlet.
Beijing airport sunset
Oooooh, the sun is setting nicely for our departure, and I was giddy with anticipation about nabbing some great shots!
Taxi to runway Beijing airport
Western Texas or northern China? Looks the same to me.
Departing Beijing airport JAL 787
Turning onto the active runway and just about to let loose.

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.

787 window
Oh how I wish I could have stuck my GoPro out on the wing to get some killer departure shots! Maybe I should ask next time. I mean, what’s the worst they could say? Maybe I’ll get lucky and the pilot will be in Instagram star with over 100K followers, and he’ll high-five me as I step out on the wing to mount the camera.
Departing Beijing airport
So long Beijing! It was fun, and I’ll be back again someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later!
JAL 787 engine and wing
There we go. I was shooting directly  into the sun for nearly the entire departure process, but we eventually turned enough to be able to get a decent shot without any glare.
Japan Airlines business class slippers
My red shoes weren’t happy about this, but I had to do what I had to do.
Japan Airlines sky suite business class entertainment system remote
Guess what time it is?
Japan Airlines 787 in-flight map
If you guessed “time for the in-flight map”, you get a gold star.

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.

Japan Airlines business class menu cover
Japan Airlines business class menu. Do I even have to open it? I already know what meal option I’m choosing…
Japan Airlines business class menu
There was absolutely nothing they could have included with the western meal that would have made me choose that over the Japanese option. Bring on the Japanese food, whatever it may be!
View from 36,000 feet
A quick look outside as I wait for my meal, having not a care in the world that I just blindly ordered a meal without knowing what it consisted of. Yup, I live on the edge sometimes.
Japan Airlines 787 wing view
The longer I waited, the more time I had to think about it. But really, unless it was a Bento full of natto and umeboshi, it was sure to be good! I hoped…

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.

Japan Airlines business class dinner
The meal. Okay, like, how in the world do they manage to cook rice so perfectly on an airplane? It was cooked to perfection, and I have never in my life made rice that was half that good at home (even in a rice cooker). How??
SANspotter selfie JAL Sky Suite Business class
I never could get my mind off that rice. I mean, seriously…how do they do that?

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.

 Japan Airlines business class dessert
Vanilla ice cream for dessert. There’s no point in opening it right away since I need to give it time to thaw out a bit.
Japan Airlines business class ice cream
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to sit in front of a open container of ice cream that you can’t eat because it’s too hard?

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.

Japan Airlines 787 bathroom
I found it interesting that even though this is one of those fancy Japanese toilets with all kinds of buttons and controls that do the unthinkable, it still looks like a generic aircraft commode.

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…

Flying over Japan
Wait, we’re over Japan already? But I’m not ready to land yet!

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.

Flying over Tokyo
That’s Tokyo down there. Konnichiwa old friend!
Japan Airlines 787 Sky suite pic
In the final moments of flight now, and I was crossing my fingers that we would get lucky and have to divert to San Diego.
Tokyo Haneda arrival gate
Sorry for jumping ahead to the gate arrival pic, but my iPhone sucks at night photography and there wasn’t really all that much to see on the way in anyway. Welcome to Japan!
Tokyo Haneda Airport
Inside HND and on my way to passport control, feeling really good to be back in Japan again. It’s been a while, and I’ve really missed this place.
Tokyo Haneda passport Control line
Damn you Air France A380 that just arrived from CDG 10 minutes before us. It was a long wait to get through passport control tonight, but my feelings of being happy to be in Japan again canceled out the negativity of standing in line.

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.

Comments (2)

  1. Blake Eyer

    March 12, 2018
    • SANspotter

      March 12, 2018

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