Flight Review: Japan Airlines Business Class B787 MNL - NRT (JL746)

Flight review: Japan Airlines Business Class MNL - NRT (JL746)

  • Step inside the Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class on the B787 Dreamliner
  • Visual tour of JAL Sky Suite window and aisle seats
  • Find out how to book this non-stop regional JAL flight on points

A group of five from Credit Card Compare put the Japanese flag carrier (Japan Airlines) to the test on the short hop from Manila to Tokyo. We had aisle seats and window seats dotted throughout the cabin so pictures and a 360 VR image were taken around the cabin. Discover just how good it was and decide if you should you spend your valuable credit card rewards points on regional short-haul flights with JAL.

My Rating

4.75 out of 5
  • Amenities & IFE
  • Cabin & seat
  • Food & drink
  • Service
Welcome aboard Japan Airlines: super comfortable seats, the tastiest food and origami lessons
Welcome aboard Japan Airlines: super comfortable seats, the tastiest food and origami lessons

Flight Details

  • Airline: Japan Airlines (JAL)
  • Flight number: JL746
  • Route: Manila (MNL) - Tokyo (NRT)
  • Duration: Four hours
  • Cabin: Business Class
  • When: March 2019
  • Cost: 38,000 Qantas Points plus approx $70 AUD in taxes per person
  • Aircraft: B787 Dreamliner
  • Seat numbers: 3D, 8A, 8D, 8H, 8K
  • Overnight flight: No 
  • Meal included: Yes 
  • Amenity kit provided: No
  • Pyjamas provided: No
  • In-flight Wi-Fi: Yes, but didn't use it
  • Baggage: Carry on and checked luggage. 

How to book this flight

JAL ranks very highly compared to other Asia Pacific airlines who fly in and out of the region including ANA, EVA, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and all of the Chinese airlines.

The cost to buy JL746 Business Class on Google Flights
The cost to buy JL746 Business Class on Google Flights

Our flights were booked separately on three different occasions, all at different times and yet we all managed to book points seats. Points seat availability was wide open, so getting five out of 38 Business Class seats on one flight can be done.

Manila to Tokyo: look at that availability
Manila to Tokyo: look at that availability

Qantas does not operate this route between Manila and Tokyo but Japan Airlines do. While you can book JL746 (operated by Japan Airlines) on Qantas.com as a Classic Rewards booking, consider other airline loyalty programs for the exact same flight. 

Here is a summary of how much it costs in points from Manila to Tokyo:

  • 20,000 Avios Miles plus taxes
  • 24,000 JAL Mileage Bank Miles plus taxes
  • 30,000 American Airlines Advantage Miles plus taxes
  • 38,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer Points plus taxes

With the right credit card, Qantas points may be some of the easiest points to come by in Australia. So don't feel too bad about shelling out 38,000 Qantas Points. It is a good trade off. 

In Australia, there is no direct or indirect way to earn Avios Miles, JAL Mileage Bank Miles or AA Advantage Miles from your credit card spending. You can compare frequent flyer credit cards to find your new points card.

Airport Lounge in Manila

The Japan Airlines check in desks at Manila
The Japan Airlines check in desks at Manila

JAL have a dedicated small airport lounge in Manila Airport to compliment the two daily flights from Manila to Tokyo. Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport is simple and dated. After check-in, immigration and security, the lounge is the perfect place to unwind before the flight.

Look for the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge at Manila
Look for the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge at Manila
The Sakura Lounge Manila wasn't busy
The Sakura Lounge Manila wasn't busy
The Sakura Lounge Manila food bar and drinks selection
The Sakura Lounge Manila food bar and drinks selection
Airport lounges can be funny places. When else would you have a Japanese beef curry and a Danish at 8 in the morning?
The Sakura Lounge Manila Magazine and Newspaper Rack
The Sakura Lounge Manila magazine and newspaper rack
Ready to board on the JAL Dreamliner to Tokyo
Ready to board on the JAL Dreamliner to Tokyo
One last snap before boarding JL746 to Tokyo
One last snap before boarding JL746 to Tokyo
Waiting our turn on the runway at Manila while this Cathay Pacific arrives
Waiting our turn on the runway at Manila while this Cathay Pacific B777 arrives
JAL vs PAL
The view left over Manila's sprawling metropolis
The view left over Manila's sprawling metropolis

Inside the JAL Business Class cabin

Business Class on this JAL flight are fitted out with the new Sky Suites.

The Business Class cabin is configured as the 2-2-2 staggered layout that means forward facing seats and direct aisle access for everyone.

The front Business Class cabin on the Japan Airlines B787 Dreamliner
The front Business Class cabin on the Japan Airlines B787 Dreamliner

The feel of the Japan Airlines cabin is similar to the Cathay Pacific Business Class cabin in that the aesthetics border on the bland. To say it in a more sympathetic way, the style is simple and understated. But that criticism should be easily disregarded. Japan Airlines Sky Suites are very, very good seats. 

The back half of the Business Class cabin on the Japan Airlines B787 Dreamliner
The back half of the Business Class cabin on the Japan Airlines B787 Dreamliner

The Business Class seats may not be the widest amongst its rank, but what lacked aesthetically was well made up in comfort. These are very comfortable seats, soft and well-padded with plenty of room in the footwell for bigger passengers.

The lie-flat Sky Suite seats

Shimmy around into the window Sky Suite at 8K
Shimmy around into the window Sky Suite at 8K

I can see how valuable the Sky Suites would be for long haul flights. If you want to be sure you will get Sky Suites, check the aircraft allocated for your flight on JAL's website before booking. However, be aware that it could change on the day if for some reason the airline needs to move a scheduled aircraft onto another route.

Check your flight number or route with the JAL website to confirm if you'll have the Sky Suites.

No amenity kit was provided for this short trip, only slippers and a blanket and a Japan Airlines headset all individually plastic wrapped for cleanliness.

This is how you'll find your seat when you board the aircraft
This is how you'll find your seat when you board the aircraft
JAL Sky Suite Aisle seat directly infront of the galley
JAL Sky Suite Aisle seat directly infront of the galley
Japan Airlines standard issue headphones
Japan Airlines standard issue headphones
Have a full stretch out on JAL Sky Suites flat bed
Have a full stretch out on JAL Sky Suites flat bed

Sky Suites are especially private if you're on the window. The aisle is much more exposed to, well, the aisle. Your seat reclines all the way back to lay completely flat. And if you've got an overnight flight you can turn your seat into a bed at any time with a seat topper and a pillow. 

This thick blanket was very comfortable
This thick blanket was very comfortable

Each seat has its own personal reading lights, USB sockets, international power outlet and plenty of storage. Wifi service was available on this flight, but given the fact that it was a relatively short four hour long flight and there were plenty of Western movies to choose from, none of our group used it.

In Flight Entertainments controls
In Flight Entertainments controls

The view

Meanwhile outside we're somewhere above the clouds.
Meanwhile outside we're somewhere above the clouds.

The food

Every snack, meal, and drink on our JAL flight was high quality. In short, the food on JAL is amazing. 

Lunch from the Japanese Menu
Lunch from the Japanese Menu
The food on JAL is amazing

The sake and wine lists go great with lunch at 30,000ft en route to Japan.

Plum rice wine and a snack
Plum rice wine and a snack
Sake with lunch
Sake with lunch
Dessert is served
Dessert is served
The menu on our regional JAL flight
The menu on our regional JAL flight
Menu: Sake and wine List
Menu: Sake and wine List
Choose from the Japanese or Western menu
Choose from the Japanese or Western menu

The all Japanese cabin crew

The all female Japanese cabin crew were elegant, professional and friendly. 

In fact, half way through the flight I had a fun chat and a free origami lesson with one of the cabin crew. 

This sort of genuine personal interaction is rare on a lot of airlines.
This sort of genuine personal interaction is rare on a lot of airlines.
I discovered that every young Japanese girl learns origami
I discovered that every young Japanese girl learns origami

Clean aircraft

The last thing you want is a dirty, grubby cabin, right? Aircraft cleanliness is taken for granted but you'll notice it as soon as you step on board. We're happy to report that this JAL flight was as clean as a whistle. In fact, Japan Airlines is the 5th most clean airline in the world in 2018. For context, Qantas was 22nd and Virgin Australia 27th.

JAL know how to run a clean aircraft
JAL know how to run a clean aircraft
A Japanese aircraft just wouldn't be Japanese without a Japanese toilet
A Japanese aircraft just wouldn't be Japanese without a Japanese toilet

Arriving into Tokyo (NRT)

JAL operate out of both Tokyo airports: Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND). Our flight flew into Narita (NRT) which is 67km away from the city. Next time I'd prefer to fly to Haneda because it's only 17km from the centre of Tokyo.

Arriving into Tokyo Japan on a gloomy day
Arriving into Tokyo Japan on a gloomy day
Arriving into Narita Airport, Tokyo
Arriving into Narita Airport, Tokyo
Narita Airport looking very dull
Narita Airport looking very dull
Inside Narita Airport, where many Japanese adventures begin
Inside Narita Airport, where many Japanese adventures begin

Overall impression

Flying JAL is a great foretaste of what Japan is like and the airline does a great service to Japan. 

Flying JAL Business Class on a relatively short four-hour flight was a really delightful experience. JAL operates many routes across Asia and as such, you may not be flying from Manila to Tokyo so this trip could be indicative of the experience you'll get on other flights. Before booking check that your JAL aircraft has the Sky Suites and not the older shell format in Business Class.

We booked using Qantas Points and it proved to be good value and was worth the redemption.

If you're pumped for a trip to Japan and need to boost your points total for an amazing Business Class Sky Suite seat then consider signing up for a new points credit card.

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