Early May this year, I flew to Tokyo to escape Bali. That very well may sound strange to some. Believe it or not, but drinking coconut water under swaying palm trees or “coworking in paradise” can get a bit too monotonous after awhile. While I love creating experiences at Hubud, I do occasionally miss the big city vibe and Tokyo was calling my name.

After spending a week in Japan, I flew back to Bali via Jakarta as Japan Airlines doesn’t offer direct service to Bali. If you’re looking for a direct flight between Tokyo and Bali, Garuda Indonesia is your only option. Because I’ve often flown with Garuda Indonesia, I decided to try Japan Airlines, then continue my journey to Bali with Garuda Indonesia.


Japan Airlines operates in Terminal 2 of Tokyo Narita International, together with American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Qantas and other OneWorld alliance partners. 

Japan Airlines dominates Terminal 2, so finding the check-in counter was effortless. It was 4 pm and surprisingly there was no queue. Dropping off my bag was also pretty quick and straightforward. Economy class passengers can check two 50 lb bags for free. I happened to have done quite some shopping in Japan, so this was a great deal.

Before I left, the ground staff reminded me that I would board from Gate 99, the last gate in the south wing, and it would take approximately 25 minutes to reach the gate. Luckily I was early, so I had some time to do a bit more shopping at duty free before hopping on my 8 hours journey to Jakarta.

Boarding JAL 729 & Flying an Old 767

I learned that the aircraft that would bring me to Jakarta was a 15 year old Boeing 767-300. I was expecting to fly in their newer Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (and this was actually the main reason why I booked Japan Airlines). Apparently their 787s are assigned for the daily 11 am flight to Jakarta, not the 6 pm flight that I had booked. Well, next time then.

Both Japan Airlines’ Business and Economy cabin are dominated by red-wine and white color. Not many airlines use red as the color of their seats; many prefer blue because it is believed to evoke the feeling of calm and trust. My experience already with Japan Airlines told me otherwise. I felt very welcomed by the friendly flight attendants and Japan Airlines’ neatly designed interior.

Our flight that day was a second leg flight for many passengers who were traveling from United States. I saw many passengers carrying a hand luggage with American Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines tags.

Seating & Amenities in Coach

Service and comfort is what I am always looking for in a medium long-haul flight. I definitely wanted to sleep, so I was glad to see a pillow and a blanket on every economy seat. The legroom was also spacious. It had some room for my feet to wiggle. But to be fair, I am 5 ft 8, so most legroom options are usually perfect.

Passengers in Economy have a seatback screen and a usb port, with a universal power socket under each seat. While they provided headphones, I prefer to use my own for ear-comfort. The entertainment selection was up-to-date, offering Western & Asian selections. I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t English subtitles for an anime title I was interested in watching.

20 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants handed out a hot towel and followed by rice crackers and beverage services. I ordered a glass of whisky, because we were flying after sunset. (Though I could easily list plenty of good reasons for a glass of whisky).

Meals & Service

An hour into the flight, hot meals were served. Japan Airlines partnered with two chefs who were competing in the RED-U35, a culinary contest for young Japanese chefs. Options available were chicken rice or beef pasta. I’m Asian, so I always go for rice.

My meal of choice was created by Chef Kazutoyo Inoue from Szechwan Restaurant Chen in Tokyo. It was very delicious. The passenger next to me ordered the beef pasta by Chef Kenji Akai from AKAI French Cuisine Restaurant in Hiroshima, and he said it was also beyond his expectation. We were later served a mini cup of Haagen Dazs ice cream as a dessert. Yum!

It was an 8-hour flight, so using the lavatory is unavoidable. While clean, I was hoping to see a Japanese high-tech toilet, but not on this flight. Apparently it was only available on the newer aircrafts. I didn’t see any moisturizer, eau de toilette, or other usual lavatory amenities, yet they had left (small) toothbrushes and toothpastes.

Lights were dimmed most of the journey for sleeping comfort, and throughout the entire flight, the flight attendants offered water, tea, coffee and juices. 

An hour before we landed, a refreshment were served. It was a garlic bread, which I found a unique and not optimal choice for a refreshment right before landing (but I appreciated the kind gesture).

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed my flight with Japan Airlines. The ground staff and flight attendants are very attentive. They really  show the amazing hospitality of Japanese culture. The food is excellent, and even the snacks they served are delicious. 

I rate this experience in Economy Class as five-star, and would definitely fly again with Japan Airlines.

The post Flight Review: Japan Airlines Economy Class Tokyo – Jakarta (JAL 729) was first published on Coworkaholic.