Flying from Narita to Jakarta a week and a half earlier, I had the chance to experience Japan Airlines (JAL) long haul first class. It was quite the special treat, and I wanted to use miles to do the same for the return. Space never opened up, and at some point I quit looking- the return to Narita is an overnight flight on a Boeing 777, and as long as I have enough space to stretch out in I should be fine. Indeed, JAL calls this their “good sleep service,” and they did a nice job pulling it off.
There are some differences between this flight and most long haul business class flights. One, the return is blocked at about 7 hours– that makes it a little bit shorter than a lot of long hail flights. Second, it is scheduled from roughly 9:30 p.m. Jakarta time to roughly 6:30 a.m. Japan time (there is a two hour time change). That means that if you are going to get to sleep, you need to do so as quickly as possible. Fortunately, I had the window seat. There was direct access to the aisle through a narrow passageway, and that meant I had a huge amount of privacy to get to sleep quickly.
Here is the problem, though- I elected not to get to sleep quickly. I let myself get caught up into a movie, and they also offered a snack service of some pretty good sushi:
Fortunately, I combined the sushi with a couple of cocktails and was able to get to sleep quickly after the movie. There was an eyeshade and earplugs provided in the amenity kit. However, there were two problems. One was that this flight didn’t feature– at least not that I could find– the mattresses they have on some flights. Indeed, those mattresses were available in a business class flight I took later on JAL. That wasn’t a big deal, though, since the seat was comfortable and they provided a nice pillow and blanket. The larger problem was that window seats don’t really provide much storage space. This meant I still had stuff in my pockets, which was uncomfortable. Other seats in business class did appear to have a small storage cubby, although mine did not. However, I ultimate slept fairly well for a few hours. I asked to be woken up before landing and selected the Japanese breakfast. It was lovely.
So would I take this flight again? Absolutely. It cost me 30,000 American Airlines miles and about $14 in fees, which made the deal all the sweeter. It didn’t feature exceptional service, but that wasn’t the goal. I had a good night’s sleep, a cocktail and a reasonable meal, and got there on time. That was perfect for the time this flight was set for.