Japan Airlines Boeing 787-9, Helsinki – Tokyo Narita


After arrival from Oslo, I had a six hour wait until heading on to Tokyo with Japan Airlines.

During online check in, I was able to select a seat in the Premium Economy section of the cabin. Whether this was an official upgrade, or Premium Economy isn’t offered on this flight and they open up the cabin for all, I had no idea.

Usually, any operational upgrades take place a lot later in the proceedings. Either way, I selected seat 20K and hoped it stuck. The only other available seat in the economy section by this point was one right in the middle in the very last row. And I didn’t much fancy being dumped in that one if this was some sort of error.

Japan airlines seat map

After arrival, I did consider heading into Helsinki for a couple of hours as the weather looked good. But clear skies in Finland usually means very low temperatures. I had also seen Helsinki not so long ago, so decided against it. I took a brief walk of the terminal before paying a visit to the Schengen lounge.

This Trip:

Japan Airlines
Helsinki – Tokyo Narita
Boeing 787-9 JA864J
Seat 20K
December 2019

After around an hour in the lounge, I moved on through passport control. As the Non-Schengen Business Lounge had only opened its doors a week previously, I paid a visit there first. The review can be seen here:

After this, I moved on to the Platinum Wing. I provided a full review of this lounge in my last series. As that only took place two weeks prior to this trip, nothing had changed in the meantime, so I won’t say too much about it here!

With around 10 minutes to go until boarding, I headed for the gate.


Boarding began pretty much as advertised.

Japan airlines 787

Upon having my boarding pass scanned, I was more than a little relieved that no errors were thrown up – meaning that I would be heading over to Japan this evening in a little more comfort than originally envisaged.

The priority groups were directed into the private holding pen, but we weren’t held there for too long.

Sure enough, this was a Premium Economy seat. Along with all the usual amenities.

Once boarding was complete, landing documentation was handed out.


Departure from the gate came a minute or two behind schedule – which in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t too bad.

On the way over to the active, we had to stop to be de-iced. Which came as no surprise going by the amount of ice on the wing. And the fact it was -8 outside.

Takeoff came around 30 minutes after leaving stand.

Onboard Service

The service got started with a round of hot towels. These were cloth towels as opposed to the paper towels that are given out on other airlines in economy – maybe this was a full blown upgrade?

Next up was the bar service.

A short while later, the main meal service began. The choice was either beef or pork. I opted for the pork, and it wasn’t too bad. Far from the best meal I’ve had on a plane but it filled a hole.

Japan airlines meal
Japan airlines meal

The side dishes weren’t to my liking however. Luckily I’d eaten in the lounge beforehand.

Japan airlines meal

Not too long later, tubs of Häagen-Dazs ice cream tubs were handed out.


When looking through the IFE, I found that there was very little of interest in English at least. In fact, the couple of things that I did find, I’d already seen on previous flights!

Japan airlines IFE

There were a pair of Sony noise cancelling headphones provided, although as usual, I had my own to rely on so I have no idea whether they were any good or not.

Japan airlines headphones

Luckily I keep my iPad well stocked up with videos.

The screen was of a fairly decent size though, and the quality was pretty decent.

This aircraft was fitted with WiFi, but much like my flight on Norwegian, I wasn’t able to connect. Maybe I need to take a look at my devices…

After restarting my iPad, the WiFi fired into life. Pricing was in line with other carriers.

Just over 2.5 hours after departure, the lights were dimmed for the evening.

Japan airlines cabin
Japan airlines cabin

Second Service

The second service started just like the first – with a round of hot towels.

Japan airlines hot towel

I’m amazed how many airlines offer a hot towel at the beginning of the flight, but not the end when it’s needed more.

When it was time to serve up breakfast, I was thrown a little. Rather than being served from the cart, I was handed a tray with not much explanation. As it turned up almost straight after my seat mates special meal, I was wondering if they’d got things a bit mixed up – especially as they then rolled the carts forward, and served everyone else shortly after. It appeared that everyone else got the same as me though, so maybe it was a status benefit to be served first.

Japan airlines breakfast
Japan airlines breakfast

This was followed with a round of drinks.

Japan airlines drinks


With around 40 minutes to go, our initial descent started. Then we seemed to just hang around for quite a while, until the spoilers came out and we appeared to descend pretty rapidly.

After a few turns, we were on to finals. Touchdown came into a bright and sunny Tokyo Narita a couple of minutes adrift of schedule. And as such, we arrived on to stand around 5 minutes late. Hardly a big deal really.

Japan airlines 787

After this, it was through to passport control. This was a breeze and within 20 minutes I was waiting for the Keisei Skyliner into central Tokyo.


In conclusion, a generally good flight with Japan Airlines. Although not knowing whether I was given an upgrade or not makes it a little difficult summarise things. It was either a very good economy service, or a very basic premium economy service!

One thing that did stick out however was the seat comfort. And not in a good way. After the first couple of hours, it became somewhat uncomfortable. This meant I barely got any sleep on the flight. Not what I wanted when spending the day wandering around Tokyo.


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