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JAL 777-300ER SFO to Narita

JAL 777-300ER SFO to Narita

Old Jun 20, 09, 5:33 pm
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JAL 777-300ER SFO to Narita

Recently took JAL across the Pacific for the first time. Previously had only been on their subsidiary JAA from Taipei to/from Hong Kong and Okinawa on their DC-10-40s. Was interesting to note that Flight number 1 from SFO to Japan was the first international route for Japan Airlines way back when. I wonder why they dont call the outbound from Japan the number one and the return the number two though instead of the reverse.

Also it was my first time on the 777-300ER, with the largest commercial aviation engines. And yes those engines do mooo while starting up and rumble the cabin. Awesome power makes for quick and fast take-offs though.

While I am happy that I shopped around for the best prices and noted that JAL came in cheapest (a surprise the Japanese airlines JAL and ANA were both cheaper then anything else on the route) I do wish I had been able to get on the Premium Economy instead with 2-4-2 seating and a 38 degree pitch rather then Economy with its 3-3-3 seating and 31 degree pitch. JAL and ANA both used 777-300ER to Narita and then had connecting flights onwards to TPE my final destination. Next cheapest was EVA with a nice daytime triple 7 flight leaving around 6pm and arriving around 1030pm in TPE nonstop with about 13 hours in the air scheduled. ANA had a triple 7 leaving around noon from SFO and arriving in TPE around 840pm. While JAL had a triple 7 leaving around 1:40pm and arriving in TPE around 9:30pm changing planes in Narita as per ANA.

Now I much prefer daytime flights. I basically hate night time flights because I like to see whats happening out there weather wise. There isnt much scenery to see on these across the Pacific flights because minutes after leaving SFO you are over the water and the land is receding behind you, soon to be out of sight. The next sighting of land will be Japan and then its only minutes before you land in Narita. HOwever, especially in turbulence (what I really hate about flying) I like to see that we are at least above the cloud mass rather then flying in it. Yes nervous flyer I am indeed.

The next thing I really hate are long flights, especially the long ones across the Pacific. I remember my first time going back to Asia was with Northwest with a 747-200 (and that was my first 747 ride) stopping first in Hawaii, then Narita, then Osaka and then finally at the old airport in Taipei. So no flight was over 8 hours. IF memory serves it was about 5 to Hawaii, then 7 to Tokyo, then an hour to Osaka and then about 2 hours to Sungshan in Taipei. Nowadays most flights to Taipei are nonstop and entail around 13 hours in the air. Iv done it before and its not fun to be that long in the air in one stretch. I'd much rather break it up so I can take a breather on the ground.

So I was really happy to see that the Japanese airlines ANA and JAL offered daytime flights (except the sector from Narita to TPE was at night but that was only 2 and a half hours) and the longest flight would be the 10 and a half hour one from San Francisco to Narita (which would only be 8 and a half hours back because of tail winds). Now buying a ticket at the best price was another challenge as pricing seems to change by the hour almost. None-the-less a purchase was finally made on Japan Airlines own website for a hair less then 700 roundtrip. But many restrictions. Had to purchase 2 weeks in advance, no refunds, re-routable for 100 bucks, stopovers permitted with 100 bucks each. But heres the bad part, besides that you only get half the mileage on your credit, there is no chance to prebook a seat. This I will find later to be a real dis-advantage. I found that both ways the only seats that were available , even though I checked in hours early was the middle of 3. And on the way over I got to sit between two big guys like myself and that my friends was not a pleasure (even though both persons were good company). Luckily on the way back I was between two older ladies who were a lot less large and so I had a lot more room.

Now this is my first trip report so forgive me if its kind of wandering around and not to a set format.

I found it odd that on Japan Airlines website you could not actually book the Premium Economy cabin (or perhaps I was not looking the right way). ONe could book the Economy with prices from 700 up to over 3000 depending on the day of the flight roundtrip or Business Class with pricing around 6000 dollars roundtrip or First Class with pricing around 10,000 dollars roundtrip. But I didn't see anywhere where one could book the Premium Economy section. Both the flight over to Tokyo and the flight back to SFO saw an almost completely empty First Class and a virtually deserted Business Class while both Premium Economy and Economy was fully booked. Not a single seat not taken. And yet JAL in their wise ways would not upgrade anyone forward to thin out the herd in the back. I would imagine they must have put quite some cargo forward downstairs to balance out the weight. Now most other Asian airlines and American airlines wouldnt put up with such a situation. They would fill those seats. A premium seat flying empty earns no revenue at all. EVA for example dropped First Class entirely on its triple 7s and heavily discounts Business Class in order to fill those seats. Therefore freeing up more revenue earnings from their Premium Economy as well as Economy classes. But not Japan Airlines. You sir get to fly the class you paid for, thank you very much.

Happily the actual flights themselves saw good service with busy and pleasant stewardesses. Fair enough food, good wines (french) and good scotch (Chivas no less). Some of the stewardesses dis-appeared for awhile in their custom made crew rest quarters aft of the cabin belowdecks but they left one or two of their number out on deck. They also put up a small box of goodies near the back for you to rummage through . And in fact to escape the crush of two large male bodies I personally stood in the aft cabin for about 3 hours , next to the box of goodies and I even had a scotch and coke (yes kind of a disgrace to Chivas to have it with coke I know , but it was good and a good chaser for the two glasses of French wine I had earlier). So I was reasonably content, the weather was very good, no bumps and I could even see all the way to the ocean in the small window there on the door while I stood listening to my Mp3. I also managed to have a chat with a few denizens who also came round to use the loo as well as avail themselves to the box of goodies or simply to while away some boredom with some conversation. Came across a young lady making a visit back home from her studies in the States, a whole family returning for a visit to India and a young man travelling for free to Japan to use up air miles.

Each seat had the Magic 3 display with movies and what not. I only put it on the air display the entire time. This gave me a countdown of the miles to destination. A bit over 5000 miles it was. Most of it spent around 30,000 feet. No weather to fly over , otherwise they would likely fly up to 38,000 feet. Apparently no gain to fly that high beyond 30,000 fuel wise. It was a very long long long ten hours and a half. Not fun in the least bit. Scrunched between two burly men with the seat back of the person in front not too far from your nose. Yes cattle class is for us cattle. How one wishes for the good life up front in First Class or at least Business class. After arrival in Japan I went up front to briefly sample the Business Class seats as well as the First Class seats. And yessir I can say that those seats where the high and mighty travel are definitely better!! I can say a flight might actually even be considered enjoyable in those circumstances!!

But to be like on a rickshaw in the middle of Calcutta with its teeming masses as the cattle class is for ten hours and 30 minutes leaves one actually counting the minutes....and seconds to arrival and virtually wanting to kiss the ground like the Pope does when the doors open.

I took a few pics. Notice the stewardesses all look rather alike (more so then usual) with their masks on. The meal that I took a pic of was the one prior to arrival and was very good. Salmon on pasta. Much better then the curry rice with bits of meat I had earlier. Lets just say that Economy Class meals are best when one is VERY hungry as I was for this Salmon special.

At the gate, with my plane in plain sight. It was one of the newest in JAL's fleet , number 738. Only 739 is newer. Next to a Northwest Airbus 332 heading off to Narita about 30 minutes ahead of us. I had wished I was on that plane as they have seating of 2-4-2 instead of the 3-3-3 I was sandwiched in.

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0855.jpg



An Asiana triple 7 300ER ready for pushback to Seoul. She will be leading the way in our pack of three big twins, ahead of the Northwest 332 across the Pacific , while following behind a Cathay Pacific 747 on its way to Hong Kong non-stop.

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0856.jpg





CX at its best

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0859.jpg






Our stewardesses with lovely smiles behind their masks

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0873.jpg




http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0866.jpg







The best meal of the trip

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0870.jpg





Air France 747 coming in from Paris stopping next to us before we take off for Japan

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0865.jpg






And we park next to a JAL 747 upon arrival at Narita. The triple 7 has started to take over from its bigger brother the 747 worldwide.

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0874.jpg




The Premium Economy section looks better and better the longer I am in the Economy section. And I wish I had taken pics of the Biz and First Class sections. They are indeed very awesome .

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0868.jpg





Narita, home of JAL

http://i588.photobucket.com/albums/s...i/DSCN0876.jpg






Would I do this JAL trip again? Yes but I hope I can at least afford the Premium Economy though. The thought of repeating being sandwiched between two burly men for some ten hours or so distresses me no end.

Last edited by tommy525; Jul 7, 10 at 6:15 pm Reason: new pics
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Old Jun 20, 09, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by tommy525 View Post
Now most other Asian airlines and American airlines wouldnt put up with such a situation. They would fill those seats. A premium seat flying empty earns no revenue at all. EVA for example dropped First Class entirely on its triple 7s and heavily discounts Business Class in order to fill those seats. Therefore freeing up more revenue earnings from their Premium Economy as well as Economy classes. But not Japan Airlines. You sir get to fly the class you paid for, thank you very much.
You bring up some interesting points. Not to sound like a grinch, but.........

Most Asian airlines would NOT move people up just because seats are available. That would be called "diluting the product", which American-based carriers do, but their "products" are not in the same league. This is why premium cabins in Asian carriers are just that, "premium".

Of course you fly in the cabin you paid for. You're not one of their frequent fliers, so they owe you nothing else. Why would they move a bunch of people up just because there is space? How would the paying customers in those classes like that? Would you then refund their fare since everyone else in the cabin got the product for free?
You don't go to a BMW dealership and pay for a 3-series and walk out with a 7-series, right?
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Old Jun 20, 09, 8:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Flyingfox View Post
You bring up some interesting points. Not to sound like a grinch, but.........

Most Asian airlines would NOT move people up just because seats are available. That would be called "diluting the product", which American-based carriers do, but their "products" are not in the same league. This is why premium cabins in Asian carriers are just that, "premium".

Of course you fly in the cabin you paid for. You're not one of their frequent fliers, so they owe you nothing else. Why would they move a bunch of people up just because there is space? How would the paying customers in those classes like that? Would you then refund their fare since everyone else in the cabin got the product for free?
You don't go to a BMW dealership and pay for a 3-series and walk out with a 7-series, right?
Totally agree, I have never seen asian carriers like SQ, CX, OZ would move people up or order to free up spaces, even UA wouldn't do that. There are times C and E+ are half full, and E- 100% full, only when it is overbooked then it will move up status pax to C, nonstatus pax to E+.
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Old Jun 20, 09, 9:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Flyingfox View Post
You bring up some interesting points. Not to sound like a grinch, but.........

Most Asian airlines would NOT move people up just because seats are available. That would be called "diluting the product", which American-based carriers do, but their "products" are not in the same league. This is why premium cabins in Asian carriers are just that, "premium".
That's not quite right: CO, NW/DL, and US have upgrades to domestic(US) first free of charge, not long-haul international flights. I don't think there is a carrier in the world that gives away their long-haul business for free. (IF there please tell me so I can sign up for that program)

Unless there is an overbooking situation and op-ups are called for, you get what you book on long-hauls no matter the carrier.
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Old Jun 20, 09, 9:10 pm
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Originally Posted by tommy525 View Post

The next thing I really hate are long flights, especially the long ones across the Pacific. I remember my first time going back to Asia was with Northwest with a 747-200 (and that was my first 747 ride) stopping first in Hawaii, then Narita, then Osaka and then finally at the old airport in Taipei. So no flight was over 8 hours. IF memory serves it was about 5 to Hawaii, then 7 to Tokyo, then an hour to Osaka and then about 2 hours to Sungshan in Taipei. Nowadays most flights to Taipei are nonstop and entail around 13 hours in the air. Iv done it before and its not fun to be that long in the air in one stretch. I'd much rather break it up so I can take a breather on the ground.
I don't quite understand why you would have a routing from US to NRT going through Hawaii on NW, you must be talking early 70s before 747 comes ?

When NW was using shorter range 747-100, it use Anchorage as refuel stop from US to NRT, rather than Hawaii, that is in the late 70s and early 80s. After that, they no longer need to refuel when the 747-200B comes, they can do ORD-NRT and JFK-NRT nonstop.

Originally Posted by tommy525 View Post
An Asiana triple 7 300ER ready for pushback to Seoul. She will be leading the way in our pack of three big twins, ahead of the Northwest 332 across the Pacific , while following behind a Cathay Pacific 747 on its way to Hong Kong non-stop.
Btw, asiana does not have 777-300ER, it is 200ER.


Originally Posted by tommy525 View Post
Would I do this JAL trip again? Yes but I hope I can at least afford the Premium Economy though. The thought of repeating being sandwiched between two burly men for some ten hours or so distresses me no end.
Paying for premium economy is hardly worth it, as it is close to the price for business, you have to buy full fare Y in order to sit in premium economy. It is basically for those people who work in a company, and they won't pay their employees in business class, only economy. Basically almost every airline has premium economy have the same rule except on UA, you only need to pay $100 more in order to sit in E+, but of course, you get what you pay for, you only get several extra inches of legroom on UA.

Last edited by ORDnHKG; Jun 20, 09 at 9:17 pm
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Old Jun 20, 09, 9:29 pm
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Originally Posted by ORDnHKG View Post
I don't quite understand why you would have a routing from US to NRT going through Hawaii on NW, you must be talking early 70s before 747 comes ?

When NW was using shorter range 747-100, it use Anchorage as refuel stop from US to NRT, rather than Hawaii, that is in the late 70s and early 80s. After that, they no longer need to refuel when the 747-200B comes, they can do ORD-NRT and JFK-NRT nonstop.
NW/DL currently have a HNL-NRT flight on a 744, 2x during the summer. Japanese tourists love HNL.
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Old Jun 20, 09, 9:56 pm
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Thanks for your comments:

Ok you smart brainy types. So the Asiana is a 777 200ER. In the meantime, yes we are talking 1979 when I took the Northwest Orient (yes it was called that then) 747 from SFO to Narita and Osaka and Taipei by way of Honolulu. Why they routed it that way, I have no clue but I was on the plane and it was a 747 and it flew that way. Thats all I can say.

Now I dont expect premium airlines like JAL to be upgrading people willy nilly and dilute the product. IF , and this is an IF, SFO to and from Narita consistently shows near empty First Class and Business Class an airline (now being state owned JAL is not as exposed to profit/loss as others are) who wants to maximize its profits would look at that situation and say hmmmm. They would likely do what EVA does and drop First Class entirely and sell Business for half price or less to fill it. Obviously there still is a fat profit margin, otherwise they can drop Business Class altogether as well. Fact is flying a seat empty is revenue gone forever, just like an empty hotel room is. And theres little value for that. I dont imagine CX would do that for long, flying a bunch of empty seats around. I mean the JAL 777-300ER has about 9 First Class cubicles and about 62 Biz seats. WAy too many for the demand it would appear.

Granted maybe my two flights were a fluke and not representative of the actual annual demand.

The BMW 3 and 7 analogy is kinda cute but to be truer to the situation it would have to be that the 7 series is going to be sent to the crusher if they dont sell it that day (a seat unsold is lost revenue forever) so why not sell it for whatever they can get for it or sell it to the 3 series buyer and get another person to buy the 3 series. Granted an airline has to maintain some sort of order and image but long term flying of empty seats leads to RED INK on the bottom line and a good manager would rectify that situation.

Last edited by tommy525; Jun 21, 09 at 2:55 am
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Old Jun 22, 09, 10:36 am
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http://news.airwise.com/story/view/1245659374.html

JAL wants 2 billion USD in loans, Japan's govt plans 1 billion in emergency loans. And JAL reports a 500 million USD loss. One of my friends wanted to fly JAL econ to Taiwan recently but couldnt get a seat. I do think they need to re-assess how to make money system wide. For example the 777-300ER to Asia flying empty in First and Biz. Time to reduce the number of those seats drastically to fit the actual demand and increase the econ seats if those are the ones selling. Granted getting 350 bucks to transport someone to Taiwan in econ versus 5000 in First or 3000 in Biz is a huge difference (all one way approx) but flying those premium seats empty means ZERO dollars. EVA does everything it can to make money and still lost 300 million USD last year but its a move in the right direction.

Could be in the current biz climate JAL willl still lose money even if it did everything right to make it, but the loss will be substantially less and more "affordable" until the world airline climate improves.
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Old Jun 28, 09, 6:45 am
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[QUOTE=ORDnHKG;11942280]
When NW was using shorter range 747-100, it use Anchorage as refuel stop from US to NRT, rather than Hawaii, that is in the late 70s and early 80s. After that, they no longer need to refuel when the 747-200B comes, they can do ORD-NRT and JFK-NRT nonstop.

For a long time, NW LAX-TYO and NW SFO-TYO were routed through HNL because NW did NOT have non-stop authorityonb this route. Northwest's advertising at the time confirms this: "Mid-Pacific flights" were routed throught HNL from both LAX and SFO. The "North Pacific flights" were from SEA and "Polar Express Flights" were through ANC originating in IAD, CLE (for a time) and ORD.

Pan Am had exclusive Great Circle flights from SFO-TYO (yes, TYO, prior to Narita) which occasionaly touched down in ANC for refuling. Op is correct. It wasn't until NW acquired longer range 747s that NW operated SFO-NRT non-stop.
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Old Jun 28, 09, 6:27 pm
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Thanks Clipperjon

I am pretty sure I was on a 747 200 as NW started using them in 1975 , according to this news item:

http://www.redorbit.com/news/busines...ith/index.html
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Old Jul 2, 09, 4:00 pm
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Yes you can book Premium economy directly

Both ANA and JAL allow you to book these directly. ANA is a bit more difficult as you have to select the correct ticket type/fare under Economy and look for "Premium" in the ticket description. On JAL, there is a drop down to select "Premium Economy".

Premium economy is not worth it at the standard price. However, as you mentioned Tommy it will give you an nicer experience from standard economy as you saw the seats. But there are frequent sales and promotional offers where Premium Economy is discounted to somewhere about 1/3 to 1/2 higher than standard economy. Examples, SFO-NRT for two weeks with a mid-week late September departure is about $950 on JAL (ANA is about the same), and premium economy is about $1500.

IMO that $550 premium is worth it when you add it up:

20 hours of 38" pitch and a wider seat (19" vs. 17"), Business Class lounge access, a shell seat where the person in front of me CANNOT recline into my seat table (on JAL not ANA), a wide armrest that BOTH people can use and dedicated check-in. (Premium Economy in NRT or Business Class check-in ex-NRT), foot rests and a power port.

What really bites is that you cannot redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles for a premium economy ticket on JAL, even though it is a One World member. The award just doesn't exist to AA.
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Old Jul 6, 09, 3:19 am
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Originally Posted by Flyingfox View Post
Most Asian airlines would NOT move people up just because seats are available. That would be called "diluting the product", which American-based carriers do, but their "products" are not in the same league. This is why premium cabins in Asian carriers are just that, "premium".

Of course you fly in the cabin you paid for. You're not one of their frequent fliers, so they owe you nothing else. Why would they move a bunch of people up just because there is space? How would the paying customers in those classes like that? Would you then refund their fare since everyone else in the cabin got the product for free?
I was once op-upped on JAL from J to F class (on a JFK-NRT flight). J was overbooked and F had a few seats left, so they paged me in the lounge and gave me a new F boarding pass.
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Old Aug 12, 09, 4:00 am
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Originally Posted by Unimatrix One View Post
I was once op-upped on JAL from J to F class (on a JFK-NRT flight). J was overbooked and F had a few seats left, so they paged me in the lounge and gave me a new F boarding pass.
But you are also JGC, so that's why they did it.
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Old Aug 18, 09, 7:37 am
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After the economic crisis, First & business passengers have become scarce resourses. The distribution is always a hard job It's time for carriers to fight! A~ha
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Old Apr 2, 10, 10:18 pm
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Theres talk of JAL dropping USA routes entirely and selling its fairly new 777 fleet. Hope that doesnt happen. They do need to re-assess need for First Class though and revise plans to fill up the seats !!
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