Japan Airlines (JAL) is one of the two main airlines of Japan, with ANA being the other. Along with its oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines, JAL primarily operates flights throughout Asia.

This is a review of the product that flies from Sydney and Melbourne to Tokyo. Note that the Sydney flight will be upgraded to a 777-300ER from 1 September 2020.

Whilst the seat will stay the same, there will be an extra seat squeezed into the middle, creating a 2-3-2 configuration. Try to aim for an aisle or window seat to increase your feeling of space.

Qantas, also a oneworld member, operates flights to Japan from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on its Airbus A330 aircraft, which can be redeemed using Qantas Points.

Fleet & routes

Japan Airlines fleet of Boeing 787s offer includes 42 Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Japan Airlines new Sky Suite III
Japan Airlines new Sky Suite III – no available routes within Australia

The airline has begun to fit out its fleet of 787-9s with the new Business Class Sky Suite III seats. JAL’s Sky Suite III operates to the following cities:

  • Tokyo
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Nagoya
  • Honolulu
  • Jakarta
  • Delhi
  • Shanghai
  • Manila

The cabin & seats

Unlike most Dreamliner Business Class cabins, Japan Airlines’ unique Sky Suites (not to be confused with the Sky Suites III pictured above) includes provisions for two additional seats in a uniquely designed 2-2-2 configuration compared to the conventional 1-2-1 arrangement.

Despite the seemingly tight quarters of window seats (rows A and K), the Sky Suites have been cleverly designed to allow window passengers to slip in and out without impeding aisle guests. An added benefit for window passengers is greater privacy, giving a feeling of an enclosed cabin compared to those on the aisle.

JAL 787-9 Business Class | Point Hacks

Image courtesy of JAL

JAL 787-9 Business Class | Point Hacks

Image courtesy of JAL

The suite is made up of warm white accents with dark wood fixtures. Each suite is fitted with a USB port, video input and an AC power outlet.

Japan Airlines Business Class cabins look somewhat dull, outdated and lack the refined luxe aesthetics in comparison to its competitors. However, the Sky Suite makes up with its minimalistic design language, extensive menu and customer service.

JAL 787-9 Business Class | Point Hacks

A quick glance of the seats may have you thinking the cabins are narrow in length. Once settled, the observed space is comparable to the seats on Qantas’ A330. Despite seats being 3cm narrower and 10cm shy of the A330’s 2m flat-bed, space is comparably generous, providing ample leg room with sufficient space to stow your carry-on luggage beneath the footrest.

JAL 787-9 Business Class | Point Hacks

Passengers travelling together can lean over to chat with their travel partner by opening the automatic dividing panel.

Seat choice

On this particular flight, we were placed in seats 7D and 7G (due to our flight being cancelled), rows which I usually avoid due to the close proximity of the lavatory. Nevertheless, we didn’t experience any issues on the flight.

JAL 787-9 Business Class | Point Hacks

Food & drink

Personally, I prefer meals on Asian operated flights than Western airlines. Japan Airlines provides passengers with a unique dining experience, options include a Japanese, Western and a ‘Anytime you Wish’ menu. Further to this, I happily found the food on the return flight from Tokyo to Melbourne to be better.

JAL 787-9 Business Class - Japanese plum wine | Point Hacks

A glass of Japanese plum wine and soda to compliment the Japanese Kaiseki multi-course menu

JAL 787-9 Business Class Irodori Gozen | Point Hacks

Irodori Gozen – a selection of seasonal delicacies

JAL 787-9 Business Class grilled salmon | Point Hacks

Grilled salmon with Japanese style tartar sauce and simmered chicken sukiyaki style, with rice and miso soup

JAL 787-9 Business Class roasted white fish with tomato coriander seed | Point Hacks

Western menu: Roasted white fish with tomato coriander seed sauce

JAL 787-9 Business Class chocolate cream pie | Point Hacks

Chocolate cream pie for dessert

JAL 787-9 Business Class Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta | Point Hacks

Passengers can order food from the ‘Anytime you Wish’ menu up to an hour prior to landing. Featured is the JAL Original “Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta” Ramen Noodles in soy soup.

Here is the food and drinks menu for the Sydney – Tokyo route:

Here is the food and drinks menu for the Tokyo – Melbourne route:

Customer service

Overall word of mouth and online reviews of Japan Airlines have been positive. Given this was my first experience with the airline, I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism and willingness of the staff to accommodate and provide passengers with a memorable experience.

Case in point, after it was explained to JAL staff that I missed a connecting flight from Haneda to Sapporo (booked on a separate ticket) due to a cancelled flight. JAL staff personally attended the situation and successfully rescheduled the flight without additional cost, even arranging a staff member at the arrival gate in Haneda should the connecting flight be cancelled due to the snow storm.

Inflight entertainment

The cabin design provides an immersive onboard entertainment experience, especially with the large 23-inch TV. Passengers can access a diverse library of movies, audio programs, games and digital books, including Manga.

JAL 787-9 Business Class IFE | Point Hacks

The Sony noise-cancelling headphones provide are comfortable, even while sleeping.

JAL 787-9 Business Class headphone | Point Hacks

Programs selections are accessed via the LCD remote. To avoid the awkward pause mid-movie, passengers can order meals directly to their seat.

JAL 787-9 Business Class LCD remote | Point Hacks

Japan Airlines provides inflight Wi-FI services at a cost to cabin class passengers. The service is complimentary for First Class passengers.

Charge planCharges (US$)
24-hours $16.80


Japan Airlines’ amenity kits are collaboratively designed with ETRO and Tatsumura Textiles and come in two versions. One for flights arriving in Japan and another for flights departing Japan. Featured below is the amenity kit from Sydney to Japan which includes:

  • Lip balm
  • toothbrush set
  • moisture mask
  • earplugs
  • steam eye mask
  • shoehorn
  • pocket tissue
JAL 787-9 Business Class amenities | Point Hacks

Flights from Japan include an eye mask

How to redeem points for this flight

Reward booking for this Japan Airlines flight will cost you 78,000 Qantas Points + about $300 in taxes one-way per person, but will jump to 90,000 Qantas Points from 18 September 2019.

Qantas booking on JAL SYD-NRT Business Class

Qantas Frequent Flyer points can also be redeemed with other partner airlines including Cathay Pacific.

If you are booking internal flights within Japan, I recommend securing flights through JAL’s Japan Explorer Pass or the All Nippon Airways (ANA) Experience Japan Fare. These airline programs give passengers living outside Japan to fly between AU$66-133.

Alternatively, the use of British Airways Avios is another option for internal flights in Japan. However, this type of redemption doesn’t offer the best value.

To avoid disappointment, I recommend researching and booking flights well in advance. For more information about the availability of award seats read when frequent flyer programs release award space for redemptions.

Summing up: Why choose this flight?

Japan Airlines Business Class Sky Suites is comparable to a mini-experience of the country. A conservative sleeping capsule, designed to optimise the surrounding space and a decent variety of dining options ready and waiting for you.

Flying with JAL was overall a phenomenal experience. Individual cabins feel like your own private nook with a huge TV a few feet away from your sofa. Cabin staff are attentive without being too intrusive and I can not overlook the kindness and professionalism of JAL personnel from the check-in staff to the flight crew. Other than my wife’s declined request for a fourth serving of ice cream off the ‘Anytime time you Wish’, I heartily recommend flying with Japan Airlines.

Japan Airlines 787-9 Business Class overview was last modified: October 25th, 2021 by Andrew Le