If you are traveling to Tokyo from YVR – Vancouver International Airport, you have 3 non-stop options:
- Japan Airlines (JAL) to NRT – Narita International Airport departing at 14:15 and arriving at 16:25+1
- All Nippon Airways (ANA) to HND – Haneda International Airport departing at 16:25 and arriving at 18:30+1
- Air Canada (AC) to NRT – Narita International Airport departing at 13:50 and arriving at 15:50+1
Currently, all 3 airlines operate the flight with a 787 aircraft but offer very different products and the difference is most noticed in the business class cabin. Of all 3, the JAL product is by far the weakest. In this post, we share information about Japan Airlines aircraft swap and the Sky Suite II business class product that will now be available on flights between Vancouver and Tokyo.
In 2014, Japan Airlines starting using a 787-800 between YVR – Vancouver International Airport and NRT – Tokyo Narita Airport instead of the 767-300. While everyone was excited about YVR’s first 787 service, some of us were disappointed because JAL’s 787-800’s business product on this aircraft was a disappointment; it’s an angle –flat seat, not a full lie flat, which means you’re in a slanted bed for an 11-13 hour flight. Beginning June 1 2019, JAL will begin using a 767-300 with a full-lie flat seat configured as a JAL Sky Suite II (Business Class seat), which is quite the improvement.
Using Miles – Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan:
If you earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles, there has usually been a lot of availability to book business class tickets between Vancouver and Tokyo on JAL due to the usage of the 787-800, which is perceived to be an inferior product.
The good news is, if you’ve booked a business class reward ticket on JL018 or JL017, beginning June 1, 2019 you will get to fly in a Sky Suite. If you haven’t, you may want to consider redeeming miles sooner than later if you’ve been hesitant due to the fact they operate a 787-800. Had we known, we may have booked out of YVR for our upcoming flight to Tokyo but we were very lucky to find 2 First Class tickets out of SFO – San Francisco so we will keep those (stay tuned for our review).
The JAL Business Class Experience:
We have never flown Japan Airlines in any class of service so far but we do hear very positive things about their economy, business class, and first class service and especially the food. My friend purchased a ticket in JAL business class and while she enjoyed the experience, the 2-2-2 configuration and lack of full-lie flat seat did affect her enjoyment of the flight. The Sky Suite II configuration is 1-2-1 for more privacy and comfort. For anyone traveling alone, the best seats are: 2A, 2K, 4A and 4K because they offer the most privacy due to having the arm rest by the aisle vs the window.
As for meals, you can search the inflight meal and beverage menu on the Japan Airlines website here: http://www.jal.co.jp/en/inter/service/business/meal/. You can also make advanced reservations for Business Class Meals; the options are either a Japanese meal or Western meal (beef). Advanced reservations are accepted up to 25 hours (local time) before the flight departure. More information is available here: http://www.jal.co.jp/en/inter/service/business/meal/meal_yoyaku/.
Tips for Flying JAL:
Here are few other tips if you are flying on Japan Airlines (JAL) from YVR – Vancouver International Airport:
- Lounges: As a JAL Business Class passenger, you have access to up to 3 lounges: the Plaza Premium International Lounge, the Cathay Pacific Lounge if it is open or the SkyTeam Lounge with a Priority Pass membership.
- Plaza Premium Lounge: This lounge is accessible to Priority Pass, American Express, and other airlines to it can get very busy. read our full review here.
- Cathay Pacific Lounge: The lounge is open 3.5 hours before flight departure and adjacent to gate 67. On some days, Cathay Pacific operates 3 flights daily: 09:40, 15:05 and 02:20 (15:05 and 02:20 are the daily flights). Unless the flights are cancelled, the lounge usually operates 10:30-15:00 and 20:00-02:00.
- SkyTeam Lounge: As an alternative, if you have Priority Pass, you can also visit the SkyTeam Lounge which is our favorite lounger at YVR; you can read our review here.
- Eating at YVR: If you’re a foodie, you may want to get to the airport earlier or leave the secure side if you are connecting to visit JapaDog for a famous Japanese style hot dog. There is a location a free train ride away at the McArthur Glen Outlets that also has other food items and it is open between 11:00-21:00 (the trains run every 6 minutes and it takes about 10 minutes to get to Japadog as you have to walk as well). There is also a stand outside by International arrivals.
- Airport Security: We don’t have Pre-Check in Canada and the JAL flight leaves during a very busy time. If you are taking a taxi to the airport, it can take a little longer as the traffic can get backed up at times, especially in the summer. We recommend arriving by train and have info about this here.
Have you ever flown JAL? Does having a full lie flat seat matter to you or would you be happy in an angled seat?
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