Tokyo-Boston Via JAL 787 In Y-class (pics+vid)
Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:39 am
Hi everyone, it has been a few years I have posted a trip report so I might be a little rusty.
Here is a trip from Tokyo to Boston on the 787. It was actually the end of a round-the-world trip where I flew the 787 a total of four times, but if I included all segments of the trip in this report, the damn thing would never end.
At the checkin counter I requested a window seat, but because I had checked in fairly late, the only window that was left was an actual window seat, but the area of the aft fuselage where the window does not exist. Why do you do this Boeing? Oh well... I still preferred this over sitting in a middle or aisle seat, as I thought I could still lean forward or aft and get steal the view temporarily for the passenger sitting in front, or behind. So that ended up working fine, although it limited the amount of window shots I could take. The checkin agent was very apologetic about the lack of window in that row.
Over at the gate, I was wondering around Terminal 2 taking photos of various British Airways, American, JAL, Scoot, and FInnair photos parked at the gate... and actually made it to the Boston gate fairly late -- during final boarding stages. So I grabbed some photos of the plane at the gate, and on the jetway, and boarded at last minute.
The JAL 787 actually looks horrible from an exterior perspective. It really has zero design cues on it, from a paint perspective. Just the JAL crane and some boring black titles. So the plane really doesn't do anything for me from the outside.
Inside, it was kind of shocking to see that Business Class did *NOT* have a lie-flat product. This is becoming the norm among well-respected international carriers, and you'd think JAL would fit the mould and install such seats, but no. The seats looked comfortable, however... and the JAL onboard service makes up for the inferior seat. The load factor was roughly 80%, with only 1 or 2 empty Business Class seats.
We pushed back ontime, taxied over to runway 34L and were ontime in taking to the skies. This day was actually the inaugural trip to San Diego for JAL, and I'm pretty sure we taxied past that aircraft as it sat remote until the afternoon.
Onboard, the service was fantastic (typical of a Japanese carrier). The first Economy meal served was one of the best I've ever had. The variety, the flavour of the food, the service -- all impeccable. A few examples of how good the service is:
- Haagen Daas ice cream is served for dessert in Economy
- they separate portions of the meal from one another, even in the entree dish the saucy portions are physically separated from the rice using a small paper tray under the meat portion
- chopsticks, and toothpick are given. 2 spoons are given (1 for the ice cream)
- they give you a dip for the veggies
- the napkin is actually a full-sized heavy napkin
- individual bottled water is given for each passenger on each tray
- miso soup is served as a side dish
Some of the negative aspects of the airplane (yes, the 787 has some)
- I felt the airplane did not handle continuous light turbulence overly well. It's difficult to judge this, but I've traveled over 2 million miles, so I am actually able to compare/contrast planes quite well. I find the 777 actually handles turbulence much better. The wing on the 787 just seemed a bit stiffer, similar to the CRJ-200 and how it deals with turbulence poorly.
- the lav doors on the 787 open kind of strange, and when they close -- they slam shut very loud. If you are sitting next to, or close to a lav -- this is a major problem. And this is a problem that should have been easily identified during testing stages.
- I find there is a constant electrical-type hummmmm noise throughout the cabin constantly during flight. This can also be annoying, though earplugs will help reduce this noise.
- I also find the window seat that is missing a window to be a huge design flaw. I realize they do this for certain reasons (hiding electrical wiring or something like that), but it is a flaw.
- specific to JAL, the entertainment boxes that chew up your legroom is also a mistake. Airlines should be able to find the space under the floor to hide this stuff -- similar to what Air Canada does. Taking up my already confined legroom with an unnecessary box is a huge pain.
- also specific to JAL - the headrests are not adjustable. The simply stick out on each corner of the seat, but you can't cram it any tighter so as to avoid any head bobbing from left to right. Also the IFE content did not have many "north american" TV selections. It was mainly catered towards Japanese content, but I fully understand why. JAL caters more to its own market rather than those abroad.
- the cabin humidity is supposed to be noticeably better, but I couldn't tell a difference. I mean really, you are essentially comparing humidity levels of roughly 5% on a "traditional" airliner to roughly 15% on a 787. A 15% humidity is still extremely low if you think about it.
Overall, it was a pleasure to fly another airline's 787. I've done ANA, United, and JAL so far, and will probably do British Airways next. JAL's service level is top notch. We arrived and departed ontime. I got great photos of the flight -- what more can you ask for?
here is a video from the whole flight: