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Which would you choose: AA or JAL flights to Tokyo?

Which would you choose: AA or JAL flights to Tokyo?

Old Sep 11, 2021, 3:52 am
  #1  
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Which would you choose: AA or JAL flights to Tokyo?

My husband and I will be flying to Tokyo (I hope) in April 2022 for a cruise that departs from Tokyo/Yokohama. We are planning to arrive a few days prior to sail date.

We need to fly American Airlines or JAL (booked through AA) in order to use funds from canceled tickets. I am trying to decide whether to fly SAN - NRT NS on AA/JAL codeshare flight operated by JAL or fly out of LAX on AA/JAL flights LAX - HND. All AA flights shown for SAN - HND require bizarre routing: SAN-PHX --> PHX-LAX --> LAX-HND (18 hr total) or SAN-DFW --> DFW-HND with only 40 min layover. Those flights don't make any sense to me.

I am not familiar with either JAL business class or AA Flagship Business. How do these choices compare to AA business class?

For those who are knowledgeable about the two airports, which is the better option for arrival in Tokyo - Haneda or Narita?
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 4:46 am
  #2  
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Originally Posted by cruise4u
My husband and I will be flying to Tokyo (I hope) in April 2022 for a cruise that departs from Tokyo/Yokohama. We are planning to arrive a few days prior to sail date.

We need to fly American Airlines or JAL (booked through AA) in order to use funds from canceled tickets. I am trying to decide whether to fly SAN - NRT NS on AA/JAL codeshare flight operated by JAL or fly out of LAX on AA/JAL flights LAX - HND. All AA flights shown for SAN - HND require bizarre routing: SAN-PHX --> PHX-LAX --> LAX-HND (18 hr total) or SAN-DFW --> DFW-HND with only 40 min layover. Those flights don't make any sense to me.

I am not familiar with either JAL business class or AA Flagship Business. How do these choices compare to AA business class?

For those who are knowledgeable about the two airports, which is the better option for arrival in Tokyo - Haneda or Narita?
I'd say JAL trumps AA in terms of service offering. Both will give you full flat beds, but the soft product on JAL wins in terms of food and beverages. FAs will be consistently perfect on JAL, but formal. FAs on AA can be a mixed bag but if you get a great crew they are equal to the best in the world. If the flight timings on JAL are better you can't really go wrong there.

In terms of arrival airports - that's tricky. Both airports are well served by public transport. Haneda is closer to the city, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be quicker to get to your accommodation... it could depend on where you are planning to stay.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 4:48 am
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Frequent Tokyo traveler here. JL is better in nearly every regard in J/F. Great hard product and exceptional soft product in J. JL's catering and service has hardly been touched by the COVID pandemic (see my recent JL F trip report for an example). HND is generally preferable to NRT, especially if you are spending a night in Tokyo/Yokohama - hard to think of too many places in Tokyo that would be quicker to get to from NRT.

-FlyerBeek
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 4:48 am
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SAN-LAX was cancelled during the pandemic, thats the reason for the routing via PHX or DFW. Id pick JAL over AA any day except I believe the SAN-NRT flight still has angled flat business class seats. Theyre not great.

HND is closer to Tokyo proper so is usually preferred. NRT isnt really bad, just a bit more inconvenient. Id say your best option is to try to get a JAL flight from a different gateway than SAN that has lay flat seats, followed by the AA options via DFW or PHX/LAX with SAN-NRT being the last choice. Youll have better lounge options at LAX or DFW as well.

For me comfort of the seat would take priority over the Tokyo airport as its a minor inconvenience to fly in/out of NRT. Id prioritize being more comfortable for the 10+ hour transpacific flight than the 45-60 minutes saved by flying into HND.

Edit: Looks like JAL is flying SAN-NRT with lie flat now, In that case Id go with that. The lounge at SAN is pretty basic but not worth going out of your way to DFW or PHX/LAX for their offerings. Unless SAN-LAX comes back and you could get into QF first lounge if it reopens. Salt and pepper squid might be worth that detour.

Last edited by IggySD; Sep 11, 2021 at 4:55 am
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 4:53 am
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Originally Posted by IggySD
SAN-LAX was cancelled during the pandemic, thats the reason for the routing via PHX or DFW. Id pick JAL over AA any day except I believe the SAN-NRT flight still has angled flat business class seats. Theyre not great.

HND is closer to Tokyo proper so is usually preferred. NRT isnt really bad, just a bit more inconvenient. Id say your best option is to try to get a JAL flight from a different gateway than SAN that has lay flat seats, followed by the AA options via DFW or PHX/LAX with SAN-NRT being the last choice. Youll have better lounge options at LAX or DFW as well.

For me comfort of the seat would take priority over the Tokyo airport as its a minor inconvenience to fly in/out of NRT. Id prioritize being more comfortable for the 10+ hour transpacific flight than the 45-60 minutes saved by flying into HND.
Agree. If the SAN flat is still angled flat, forget it.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 6:03 am
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Definitely take JL. Haven’t looked at the JL schedule, but other options should include using Alaska to SJC, SFO, or SEA and then JL onwards.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 11:10 am
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Originally Posted by FlyerBeek
Frequent Tokyo traveler here. JL is better in nearly every regard in J/F. Great hard product and exceptional soft product in J. JL's catering and service has hardly been touched by the COVID pandemic (see my recent JL F trip report for an example). HND is generally preferable to NRT, especially if you are spending a night in Tokyo/Yokohama - hard to think of too many places in Tokyo that would be quicker to get to from NRT.

-FlyerBeek
Echo the same as FlyerBeek commented. JL beats AA in all departments.
If you need to go to Yokohama immediately from airport, either NRT or HND has good train connections.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 11:11 am
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JAL food, service and whiskey.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 11:18 am
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JAL, hands down.

With regards to airports I've only flown in/out of NRT. HND is definitely closer to the city center but NRT really isn't bad, there are a few train options you can hop on. Narita Express is under an hour to Tokyo Station. I believe the Keisei Skyliner is even quicker to Nippori and Ueno.

IMO in the grand scheme of things given the transit time from the US, the extra ~hour taking a train from NRT isn't a big deal.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 12:24 pm
  #10  
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I am the outlier I guess an absolute hate the JAL soft product.

I would agree the JAL planes are cleaner and nicer... just cant stand their menu/ drinks
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 12:46 pm
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I like the Apex Suite business class on JAL more than any AA business class seat.

I did fly LAX-KIX-TPE-NRT-BOS all on JAL planes, and I was kind of tired of the food by that point -- it's decent Japanese food but it got quite repetitive.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 1:13 pm
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No contest, JL.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 1:38 pm
  #13  
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JL keeps their aircraft at an unbearably warm temperature. That's the biggest reason I avoid them.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 2:01 pm
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The business seats (Sky Suites) on JL are really great with the (almost) unrestricted room for your legs and direct access to the aisle for everyone. There's always a chance that the flight will get too warm - no individual air vents - so dress in layers, but my flights were always at a comfortable temperature. Service is usually flawless and the selection/quality of food is good. The only points I'd take away is for the weak selection of entertainment options - the only field where AA takes top marks here.
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Old Sep 11, 2021, 2:03 pm
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I don't really like the Apex Suite (nowhere to put anything) and JL does keep the cabin too warm (I bring a battery operated fan), but I'd still take JL for the spotlessly clean cabins and very consistent service. Not dealing with LAX is also a plus.

I doubt Japan will be open in April.
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