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Old Oct 31, 12, 6:29 am   #1
 
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Experience on JAL 787 BOS-NRT?

I'm planning a trip to Japan and China early next year and am curious to hear of experiences on the 787. How long did it take each way? Any particular positive or negative surprises? Would it be worth going or coming back via NRT so as to take this flight?
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Old Nov 5, 12, 6:43 pm   #2
 
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Flew today NRT-BOS

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Originally Posted by lhl12 View Post
I'm planning a trip to Japan and China early next year and am curious to hear of experiences on the 787. How long did it take each way? Any particular positive or negative surprises? Would it be worth going or coming back via NRT so as to take this flight?
Came back on NRT-BOS today on the 787 in C class (flight was just over 12 hours). Here are my impressions:

- Aircraft is of course beautiful. Plane is noticeably smaller than a 777 or 747 which you'd normally fly on for a flight this long
- Cabin lighting is subtle and nice but not all that impressive after you get over the initial impression of it
- Bathrooms seem larger than a normal airplane bathroom. They are pretty cool - in addition to the washlet, there is this electronic arm that pushes the seat down when you flush so it's won't be left up, and the door swings in such a way that it doesn't go into the cabin much
- Windows are amazing, and probably the best feature of the new aircraft. It's just really amazing to be able to block out direct sunlight somewhat but still be able to see outside. Equivalent of putting on sunglasses.
- The air vents can be operated with one finger. Kinda hard to explain but they look like a little fan and because they're pretty high up you get enough reach to use one finger without having to stretch so you can twist the nozzel
- It could just be my imagination but I did actually feel pretty good after the flight - not quite as bloated and dried out as I usually would.

Now for the TERRIBLY disappointing experience on today's particular flight. About an hour into the flight, the entire IFE system completely froze up. This affected the overhead lights, the flight attendant call button, and of course the screen - everyone's picture was stuck on whatever they were watching. They made an announcement about it and for about an hour they claimed they were working on it. Eventually they managed to shut off all the displays and they made an announcement saying it would be UNAVAILABLE for the entire flight. It also took the seat power outlets with it, which means even if you had an iPad you were stuck with whatever battery you had left. Main screen was down too so no moving map.

Even worse, anyone who had turned on their overhead light before the crash had it stuck ON the entire flight. Luckily there was only one of them on in our section of the cabin (I was in row 3) so it didn't cause too much extra light, but if it had frozen up after it got dark it could have been worse.

Since the flight attendent call button was also disabled it was a bit of a chore to get attention - you pretty much had to go find someone in the middle of the flight when they weren't walking up and down as much. And for the midflight meal when the cabin was dark you had to use your reading light to see what you were eating (can't imagine what they did in economy).

This was my first time on JL but I have to say it was a pretty poor experience with service in general. Service got almost non-existent after main dinner was done, and the aforementioned call button issue made it worse. The in-flight bar ran out about soon after they set it up (there were only 2 bottles of wine) and they didn't refill it until I asked - I waited quite a while before doing so. My companion ordered a drink and it took over 45 minutes before they finally brought it. I was impressed with the food though - a ton of choices for the midflight meal (when I finally got them to take an order) and the wagyu steak was probably the best steak I've had on a plane.

On this trip I flew over to NRT on UA in F and their service was light years beyond. I have also flown in C on OZ and F in CX so was expecting a little closer to the famous asian carrier service - this was probably the worst C class service I've had on any carrier. It was very polite but just not attentive at all.

At the end, as an apology for the IFE debacle, they did give us vouchers good toward $300 each or 15,000 miles on JL but as this was my first (and possibly the last) time on JL I'm not sure how useful this will be. I just can't believe there isn't a way they could have reset the system - I wonder if it must have had some sort of hardware failure.

Last edited by villox; Nov 5, 12 at 6:53 pm..
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Old Nov 8, 12, 2:42 pm   #3
 
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I'm planning a trip to Japan and China early next year and am curious to hear of experiences on the 787. How long did it take each way? Any particular positive or negative surprises? Would it be worth going or coming back via NRT so as to take this flight?
If you fly C, get the Kobe beef steak if they still have it. That was awesome.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 10:31 am   #4
 
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Some thoughts after yesterday's BOS-NRT flight:

First and foremost, I was glad not to deal with worries about missed connections or 7:30am flights to JFK or Chicago. The plane is *small* - about as wide as a 777 but way, way shorter. Other most noticeable feature are the windows: they’re much bigger (esp top-to-bottom) than on other a/c, and instead of window shades you press a button to darken them. The 787 is said to have better air flow and pressurization than other a/c … I dunno. You get off a plane after a 13.5 hour flight and you feel gruesome, no matter what.

The bus. class seats in JAL’s configuration are the old-fashioned angled-flat things, but they are substantially wider than most other bus. class seats. (Which matters to me, as I am substantially wider than most other passengers.) A particularly useful feature to me was the “seat upright” button in the back of the seat -- once you’re in the reclined/flat/relaxed position, this button made it enormously easier to return the seat position to where you could stand up. Overhead bins are huge -- you could stick a large French poodle in them, were you so inclined.

The BA lounge was fine, and JAL passengers may use both the business and first sides of the lounge. A decent assortment of both Western and Japanese breakfast items, plus BA’s full stock of booze. The flight was 100% full in J. My mid-week return flight next week also shows 0 availability in J, though other flights during this period do have availability. The demographics surprised me a bit: I’d estimate that 75% of the J customers were American/European and the remainder east Asian (presumably Japanese). Very much the reverse of my experiences in the past flying JAL and ANA, as opposed to AA and UA flights to Japan (where overwhelming majority of C passengers have been Western. Not sure if this [very much anecdotal] datum is because the JL flight is the only one from Boston, because it was the Monday after Thanksgiving and it was mostly Americans heading back to Japan, or just an anomaly.

Meal service on this flight was pretty good, though the full flight taxed the crew’s resources for the first meal. The main meal was served soon after the 11:50am departure, and as you’d expect there’s a choice of a Japanese set meal or a couple of Western choices. Japanese meal was extremely good, with nine mini-courses to start the meal followed by a big hunk of fish plus rice/miso/pickles -- twice as much food as you’d need. After the main meal, you can order what you want, when you want it from a decent list of main dishes, sandwiches, appetizers, desserts, etc. Service for these orders was fast and efficient.

Everything on the plane seemed to work, though there was an announcement that one of the toilets in the back was out of service. The toilets in business, on this a/c at least, did not have a washlet, though they did have an automatic flush/fold the seat down feature.

Overall, certainly the best way to get from Boston to Tokyo for most people.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 11:45 am   #5
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Are you sure you are using the business class lavatory? Washlets should be installed for C lavs
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Old Nov 27, 12, 3:07 pm   #6
 
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Are you sure you are using the business class lavatory? Washlets should be installed for C lavs
That's what I'd thought and expected, too. I looked for any controls (and I have a Toto washlet at home so am well familiar with them), but found none. Only "control" was a small sign with instruction on how to flush (you pass your hand in front of a specific area, which causes the toilet to flush and the seat cover to go down.

I was of course using the bus class lav, the ones that are between the two business class mini-sections. I did not see any lavs in the front of the bus class section, as the curtain was drawn. Seatguru shows two additional lavs between the 1st row of C and the cockpit. I'll look for those on my return flight end of next week.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 7:55 pm   #7
 
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A friend took the JAL BOS-NRT nonstop recently. Plane was lovely, clean, and 3+ hours late -- completely destroying the time savings of the nonstop. What a shame to pay quite a bit extra for the nonstop, then not get the expected time savings. JAL staff at BOS was unhelpful, lounge was unavailable, really second-rate.

Also, no IFE was available and JAL's compensation offer to my friend was even less than what villox received (7500 JL JMB miles).

Seems to me JAL needs to improve reliability, of dispatch and IFE, in order to satisfy baseline passenger expectations. Would be interesting to look at on-time arrival stats for JAL 787's -- my sense is they may be worse than normal, surely problems that can be fixed, but very annoying in the short run.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 8:40 pm   #8
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That's what I'd thought and expected, too. I looked for any controls (and I have a Toto washlet at home so am well familiar with them), but found none. Only "control" was a small sign with instruction on how to flush (you pass your hand in front of a specific area, which causes the toilet to flush and the seat cover to go down.

I was of course using the bus class lav, the ones that are between the two business class mini-sections. I did not see any lavs in the front of the bus class section, as the curtain was drawn. Seatguru shows two additional lavs between the 1st row of C and the cockpit. I'll look for those on my return flight end of next week.
That's weird. Did you check underneath the garbage disposal? The buttons should be there.

http://www.ausbt.com.au/photos/view/...al-787-loo.jpg
http://www.coolhunting.com/travel/787-washlets.php
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Old Nov 27, 12, 8:52 pm   #9
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Originally Posted by bedelman View Post
A friend took the JAL BOS-NRT nonstop recently. Plane was lovely, clean, and 3+ hours late -- completely destroying the time savings of the nonstop. What a shame to pay quite a bit extra for the nonstop, then not get the expected time savings. JAL staff at BOS was unhelpful, lounge was unavailable, really second-rate.

Also, no IFE was available and JAL's compensation offer to my friend was even less than what villox received (7500 JL JMB miles).

Seems to me JAL needs to improve reliability, of dispatch and IFE, in order to satisfy baseline passenger expectations. Would be interesting to look at on-time arrival stats for JAL 787's -- my sense is they may be worse than normal, surely problems that can be fixed, but very annoying in the short run.
I assume this is the same pissed off friend of yours who demanded a free one-way business class ticket as the compensation for a 3+ hours delay. 7500 miles is pretty standard and you can actually redeem a short-haul roundtrip economy class ticket with at least one partner right now. There should also be an option for JAL coupon instead of JMB miles as the compensation of IFE malfunction.

As I pointed out in the other thread, new aircraft types are expected to have problems that needed to be worked out at the beginning. That's the risk people have to take when flying new planes like 787.

And I found it hard to believe lounge was unavailable during the delay. Can you elaborate on that and the unhelpful ground staffs part please? Thank you.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 9:28 pm   #10
 
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That's weird. Did you check underneath the garbage disposal? The buttons should be there.
99.9% certain that no buttons were as they are in the photo -- I definitely was on the lookout for them. And 100% certain that there was no window in the lav.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 9:33 pm   #11
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99.9% certain that no buttons were as they are in the photo -- I definitely was on the lookout for them. And 100% certain that there was no window in the lav.
The one with window is ANA's. The 2nd photo on that page is JAL's. Do you happen to know the registration number of the 787 you were on?
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Old Nov 27, 12, 11:46 pm   #12
 
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I assume this is the same pissed off friend of yours who demanded a free one-way business class ticket as the compensation for a 3+ hours delay. 7500 miles is pretty standard and you can actually redeem a short-haul roundtrip economy class ticket with at least one partner right now. There should also be an option for JAL coupon instead of JMB miles as the compensation of IFE malfunction.
Indeed, same person. Person has the view that on a full-fare ticket, a carrier should expect to deliver a higher standard of service -- including substantial compensation for failure to operate on schedule for reasons within the carrier's control (which, as a matter of law, includes mechanical problems). For whatever it's worth, 50k AAdvantage miles is not "a free one-way business class ticket" -- it's a highly encumbered award, booking into an award booking class, the very opposite of my friend's full J ticket. If one values AA miles at $0.02 each, a pretty reasonable baseline, then 50k miles equals $1000, about 10% of the cost of the ticket JAL sold to my friend. I don't think a 10% refund is out of the question when a carrier deviates so far from published schedule on a point-to-point flight for which nonstop service was the whole reason for the high fare. So I think my friend makes a pretty good point.

A couple years back, United diverted my nonstop due to mechanical problems. I had paid a premium for a nonstop. I sought and received a refund in the amount of the price premium of nonstop over connecting flight. Was United required to provide such a refund? No, but it was (IMO) smart business to do so. And that was a mid-fare economy ticket. My friend, on a $10k full-fare ticket, expects a higher level of service and was surprised not to receive it.

Quote:
As I pointed out in the other thread, new aircraft types are expected to have problems that needed to be worked out at the beginning. That's the risk people have to take when flying new planes like 787.
I don't think it's easy to find anything like this in JAL's marketing materials. In fact I doubt it's there at all. Certainly the $10000 price tag didn't suggest any known defect in the plane or schedule. In fact my friend bought the ticket happily oblivious to the new aircraft in use. Folks like us think about that, but regular folks just expect timely service.

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And I found it hard to believe lounge was unavailable during the delay.
My friend returned to the BA lounge, and found it closed. Not sure if any other options were available or if ground staff were consulted.

I'm still looking for a way to compare JAL 787 dispatch reliability to other carriers with 787 and to other JAL flights. Comparing JL7 and 8 to JL 5 and 6 using last-60-day data in ExpertFlyer, I see that 7 and 8 have higher max delays (227 and 248 minutes, respectively, versus 112 and 105) and also higher averages (32 and 27 versus 23 and 22). The maxes certainly paint a stark picture. The averages less so. In principle it would be nice to look at the SIN and other flights where JAL is using 787 data. I don't have this data at my fingertips. Anyone else?
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Old Nov 28, 12, 2:47 am   #13
 
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Do you happen to know the registration number of the 787 you were on?
Sorry, no. I'll ask the cabin crew about it when I return next week.
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Old Nov 28, 12, 2:49 am   #14
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Indeed, same person. Person has the view that on a full-fare ticket, a carrier should expect to deliver a higher standard of service -- including substantial compensation for failure to operate on schedule for reasons within the carrier's control (which, as a matter of law, includes mechanical problems). For whatever it's worth, 50k AAdvantage miles is not "a free one-way business class ticket" -- it's a highly encumbered award, booking into an award booking class, the very opposite of my friend's full J ticket. If one values AA miles at $0.02 each, a pretty reasonable baseline, then 50k miles equals $1000, about 10% of the cost of the ticket JAL sold to my friend. I don't think a 10% refund is out of the question when a carrier deviates so far from published schedule on a point-to-point flight for which nonstop service was the whole reason for the high fare. So I think my friend makes a pretty good point.

A couple years back, United diverted my nonstop due to mechanical problems. I had paid a premium for a nonstop. I sought and received a refund in the amount of the price premium of nonstop over connecting flight. Was United required to provide such a refund? No, but it was (IMO) smart business to do so. And that was a mid-fare economy ticket. My friend, on a $10k full-fare ticket, expects a higher level of service and was surprised not to receive it.
Unfortunately you and your friend are the minority as others have expressed their opinions on the other thread and I wouldn't repeat the arguments here. A quick check on JAL website actually shows the direct and non-direct option on JAL actually carries the same or very similar price tag depending on your transit point. So based on your way of calculating compensation for a 3+ hours delay (not that I am saying I agree with it), JAL is doing the right thing for providing nothing to your friend. If you want to continue this discussion, I would suggest we do so in the other thread so we don't hijack this thread.

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I don't think it's easy to find anything like this in JAL's marketing materials. In fact I doubt it's there at all. Certainly the $10000 price tag didn't suggest any known defect in the plane or schedule. In fact my friend bought the ticket happily oblivious to the new aircraft in use. Folks like us think about that, but regular folks just expect timely service.
There's something called common sense. You don't see car manufacturers put "expect recalls on this newly redesigned models" nor Microsoft puts "expect bugs in this newly released Windows 8" on their marketing materials. Customers who bought these may or may not know it is new either but it is up to the buyers to do their own research.

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My friend returned to the BA lounge, and found it closed. Not sure if any other options were available or if ground staff were consulted.
In other words, you have no ideas what happened other than the fact that he wasn't able to get back into the lounge when he walked back because the doors were closed. Pretty premature to say staffs were unhelpful base on just that IMHO.

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I'm still looking for a way to compare JAL 787 dispatch reliability to other carriers with 787 and to other JAL flights. Comparing JL7 and 8 to JL 5 and 6 using last-60-day data in ExpertFlyer, I see that 7 and 8 have higher max delays (227 and 248 minutes, respectively, versus 112 and 105) and also higher averages (32 and 27 versus 23 and 22). The maxes certainly paint a stark picture. The averages less so. In principle it would be nice to look at the SIN and other flights where JAL is using 787 data. I don't have this data at my fingertips. Anyone else?
You know what, JL005 was cancelled yesterday due to aircraft maintenance. You can add that to your data point. http://www.ar.jal.com/arl/cms/conten...ws_002970.html
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Last edited by JALPak; Nov 28, 12 at 3:33 am..
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Old Nov 28, 12, 2:52 am   #15
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Sorry, no. I'll ask the cabin crew about it when I return next week.
And don't forget to take a picture of the lav if you couldn't find the buttons
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