Flying Internationally on Japan Airlines + Why They Are My Favorite Airline

Planning an upcoming trip to Tokyo, Bangkok, anywhere in SE Asia or maybe even Europe ? See if you can snag a flight on Japan Airlines. I had nothing short of a world class experience flying with JAL and I couldn’t recommend them enough to friends, family and now to you !

My first flight ever on JAL was from NYC to Bangkok with a layover in Tokyo. I found my flight via Google Flights, and to be honest, I was just trying to find a cheap round trip flight at the time, and wasn’t paying much attention to any particular airline.  I also wanted to find a sweet layover somewhere that didn’t require a visa. I noticed Japan Airlines had a Tokyo layover, and then decided, why not ! A layover in Tokyo sounded awesome.

Once the decision was made and the tickets were booked.. the countdown began. I had no idea what to expect during my first international flight experience. No idea at all. So, I started looking up reviews about Japan Airlines, but decided to just wait and see what happens !

Pre-Flight:

Once the tickets were purchased, I received a confirmation email that directed me to the next steps.

24 hours before departure you will need to check into your flight via the JAL website or JAL app. Checking in assures everything is in order, secures your seat, print your boarding pass if desired and all that good stuff. Now, I booked my flight through a third party website, American Airlines, so with that said I wasn’t able to pick my seats during the initial purchase and had to wait for the 24 hour timeframe to do so. When the time came to check in, I just punched in my information and I was able to pick my seat. I was traveling with my boyfriend and of course we wanted to sit next to each other. We were worried there wouldn’t be many options left, but to our surprise there were many ! We had no trouble getting a seat next to each other.

If you purchase your ticket directly on the JAL website, you should be able to pick your seat during the payment process. Since I didn’t, I’m not too sure how it works. Sorry !

Tip – Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to check into the flight ! 

If you need to request a specific speciality meal, like vegetarian/vegan, allergen friendly, hindu meal, diabetic meal, etc. You will just have to call the airline to request it within the 24-72 hour window before departure. Click here to view the special meals they offer. Each meal request has a specific time deadline before your flight, so make sure you check out this link to see those deadlines. I made a mistake of not requesting my veggie meal in time on my first flight and just had to make due with what I could get on the flight. I did not make that mistake on my return trip !

If you need assistance or have medical needs, here’s a link to the JAL Guest Support that covers everything.

Personally, I was and still am so amazed with the amount of services that Japan Airlines offers. They try and accommodate everyone. That alone makes them one of my favorite Airlines.

Luggage and Carry-on:

I didn’t check a bag for any of my flights. When traveling I normally try and bring a carry-on only. I like having peace of mind that all my stuff is with me, and it won’t get lost or stuck in another country for a week.

I know someone who went to Costa Rica, and the airline she was on lost her bag for the entire time she was there. Within the last few days of her trip, the finally found it. Of course during her vacation she had to buy everything, from clothes to toiletries. I can’t imagine that happening to me !

I brought a backpack and a medium sized purse. My purse went underneath the seat in front of me and my backpack went in the overhead. Near the end of our trip we purchase a small suitcase, and that went in the overhead perfectly. Here’s information on the carry-on sizes.

And here’s a link to checked luggage.

Boarding:

Boarding was probably one of my favorites, after they boarded first class passengers and passengers with special needs, they boarded regular economy passengers from the back to front. This was just so genius and I don’t understand why other airlines don’t do this ! Our seats were located in the 50s range (which is pretty much the last section in back), so we boarded first.

Upon boarding, staff was extremely friendly and helpful. Every staff member along the way greeted us from the ticket counter, to all the way to the back of the huge 777 with 9 seats across ! They even helped put our carry-on luggage in the overhead. When I arrived at our seats I noticed we had a pillow, blanket and headphones sitting on top. That made my day, I thought that was only offered to premium economy members and above.

Inflight Entertainment:

Each passenger had their own tv which included movies, games and tv shows. Wifi is available, but it isn’t free. There is also a power outlet underneath the seat which came in handy for charging my laptop during flight. I’m sure all flights are different when it comes to wifi and power, so I would just check your specific aircraft for those specifications.

Inflight Meals & Drinks:

The amount of meals and snacks you get on a specific flight depend on how long the flight is. My flight from NYC to Tokyo was about 14 hours, roughly. So with that said, there were two meals served, plus snacks. Drink service occurred every couple of hours and usually before meals. From Tokyo to Bangkok, it was about 5 hours, so only one meal and one snack were served.

Within the first hour of the flight, we were handed warm towels to clean our hands and then we had our first snack and drink. Within in the next couple of hours, the first meal was served. If you didn’t request a special meal, you had an option to pick between two different meals. The staff shows you a card with those options, and you just let them know which one you want. I noticed it’s usually a seafood meal or a chicken meal. You can see what meals will be served on the JAL website. It seems like they change often and are different for every flight depending on where you are flying from and to. If you DID request a special meal, they are handed out first before the rest of the cabin.

Drink service continued every couple of hours during the flight, totally to 7 different occasions. I loved that they were consistent with the drinks. Some people might find this annoying, but I loved it. If you were sleeping they didn’t bother you. Drinks included water, wine, beer, tea (cold & hot), juices, coffee, and coca-cola products. And of course, my favorite, SKY TIME KIWI DRINK ! I wish I could buy a bunch of Sky Time and take it home. It was a fave.

“One Sky Time please!”

The second meal is served about 3-4 hours or so before landing.

Oh! Oh! I forgot, you also get ice cream after your meals !

Other Interesting Inflight Info:
  • The bathrooms are your standard airline bathrooms BUT there are pre wrapped toothbrush sets in there! There are also multiple bathrooms in one area. The back of the airline had 3. How convenient.
  • I was also just browsing on the JAL website and they offer medicines and other healthcare items ! Looks like you can also request some slippers and earplugs too.
  • In the back of the airline, almost by the bathrooms, I found a little self-serve snack box that had all sorts of crackers and what not. Great for snacking in between meals.

I was blown away by the costumer service I received on Japan Airlines. Even though I was no where near first class or business class or even premium economy, it felt like I was. To me, it’s the little things. I liked having the toothbrush in the bathroom. I liked that I was greeted by the staff when I was boarding. I liked that the food was actually delicious and filling. I felt that my money was well spent, and that’s a good feeling. If I can, I will always try and fly JAL, especially for international flights.

…I also want to try business class or first class sometime and get those fancy seats with the leg rests that lay all the way back and all the other fancy stuff they get up there, like PJs and cute toiletry bags.

Haha.

Talk to guys in my next post !

-Alicia