Back in May 2019, I was in Moscow and I needed to be in Tokyo to get on the inaugural ANA A380 to Honolulu. Japan Airlines (JAL) had last minute award availability open up, so I secured a last minute ticket from Moscow Domodedovo to Tokyo Narita.
The 9 hour flight from Moscow to Tokyo cost just 40,000 JAL miles in Business Class, I considered this to be excellent value. I transferred my Marriott Bonvoy miles to JAL to generate the miles ahead of the redemption.
Moscow Domodedovo Airport
The traffic in Moscow was unbearable. It took over 1.5 hours to reach Domodedovo (DME) airport, which is in South of Moscow. There is an Airtrain between DME and Paveletsky Rail Terminal that takes 45 minutes.
The flight between Moscow and Tokyo was operated by a Boeing 787-8 with an E12 configuration. You can see the official seat map here. It has 30 Business Class seats and 156 Economy Class seats, making the total seat count just 186.
This E12 configuration JAL B787-8 is mainly deployed on JAL long haul flights such as Moscow, San Diego, Seattle, Melborune, Honolulu etc.
Moscow DME Airport Business Lounge
JAL use the DME Airport Business Lounge, which isn't bad at all. There was an ample amount of seating and food options. The food was pre-dominantly Russian foods including Borscht, salad, hot dishes, salmon and Russian sweets.
The lounge has a good view across the apron, where an ex-Transero B747, an ex Armavia IL-86 and several IL-62s, Tu-154s, B757s and B767s were all parked.
JAL B787-8 Business Class
My seat was 2A, in the first Business Class cabin; this is the APEX suite, which is excellent. All Business Class suites are forward facing and have direct aisle access, the window seats are especially private. You can find the same seat on the Korean Air B747-8/B787, the Gulf Air B787 and the Oman Air B787.
The JAL Business Class Amenity Kits are quite different from other airlines. A moisture mask, steam eye mask, medical lip balm and other items were all provided; I was also given a JAL loan cardigan to wear for additional warmth and comfort on-board. There were no pyjamas provided on this flight.
Operations were efficient and on-time, as you would expected from a Japanese airline. I found it interesting that JAL uses their own ground and tech crews, from Japan, in Moscow (instead of using the local ground and tech crew).
Our plane taxied past a few remaining ex-Transaero Boeing 747 classics before heading to the runway for departure.
JAL B787-8 Economy Class
I also managed to take a look at the Economy Class product. Japan Airlines (JAL) now is the only airline to still offer 2-4-2 (8 abreast) seating in Economy. Hence their Economy Class name is called Skywider, not only with better width but the leg room is also excellent with a 34" pitch.
Food on Japan Airlines
I chose the Western Menu (sea bass) on my flight. The starter, soup and main course were all presented together on one tray, it was also served in a timely and efficient manner. It may not be as fancy as course by course restaurant style dining, but you do save lot of time and have the option to mix up your food.
Airweave Mattress on JAL
After food, the flight attendant placed a white Airweave brand mattress on top of my seat; this provided a nice touch of additional comfort. JAL is one of the few airlines that provide a real mattress (instead of just a sheet/topper) in Business Class.
The sun almost never set on this flight (late May) as we continued to head East over Siberia towards Japan. The B787 window, despite being fully dimmed, could not block out all the sunlight completely. Furthermore, the heat coming from the sun made the cabin a little too warm to be comfortable to sleep. There were also no individual fan nozzles on the panel above the seat.
As a result, I went literally "sleepless" tossing and turning in the heat.
We took off at 17:00, with 8 hours of flying time, that meant we were flying mainly in the early evening towards midnight, so that's maybe another reason why I couldn't sleep.
Rest of the Flight
There was a bar set up in the galley between the 2 sections of Business Class. I ordered a Japanese curry and rice as a half way snack.
Before landing, a light breakfast was served; I chose the Japanese salmon with steam rice. It was excellent and the rice was moist and fresh. Overall I was impressed with JAL's catering.
The flight attendants came round to distribute eye fresher before landing. A very nice touch and I sure needed it, due to the lack of sleep during the flight.
We landed ahead of time at Narita's second runway, followed by a long taxi to Terminal 2.
Japan Airlines B787-8 E12 configuration is certainly one of the BEST B787 I have tried and flown. Their in-flight service and products were thoughtful and unique, such as the loan cardigan I was wearing, the amenity kit items and the mattress for sleeping. It was unfortunate that at that time of the year (early summer) the sun was directly over the window on my side; resulting in the uncomfortable warm cabin, as the heat came through the dimmed window. I'd certainly try JAL again.