After the outstanding flight in first class from Chicago to Tokyo, I looked forward to spending a couple of hours in the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge at Narita International Airport (NRT). The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes in the way airport lounges operate. It would be interesting to see how Covid affected the Japan Airlines First class Lounge.
Before Covid, Japan Airlines had two first class lounges at NRT — one in the Main Building and one in the Satellite Building that I’ve reviewed previously. This review covers the first class lounge in the Main building. The Satellite lounge is closed until air travel resumes normally.
Japan Airlines always ensures that passengers in first class are the first to disembark. I was the second one off the plane.
I was connecting to an international flight to Thailand and technically not entering Japan. Passengers connecting to an international flight only had to go through a standard security check in the Satellite Building and show a boarding pass for the next flight and passport. We were then allowed to proceed upstairs to the connector to the Main Building and its airside lounges and shops. Those planning to stay in Japan took a separate path and had a few hoops to jump through before being allowed to proceed to customs and immigration.
Lounge Location and Hours of Operation
Japan Airlines (JAL) is taking the current period of light travel to remodel its two-level First Class Lounge in the NRT Terminal 2 Main Building. The portion of the Main Building First Class Lounge located on 4F has been remodeled and serves as a temporary First Class lounge while the major portion of the lounge on 3F is being renovated.
The part that serves as the temporary First Class Lounge is accessed from an escalator on 3F next to the Sakura Lounge on the corridor near Gate 61. The temporary lounge is at the top of the escalator.
The hours of operation for this lounge are 07:30 – 22:00 daily. Sushi Tsurutei sushi bar operates from 07:30 -11:30 and 15:00 – 20:00 daily.
Access was straightforward on this flight because I arrived as a passenger in first class on Japan Airlines. In addition to the passengers who fall into that limited category, JAL first class lounges are open to passengers who have oneworld Emerald status. For American Airlines that equates to members who are Executive Platinum or Platinum Pro. Oneworld Emeralds can access the first class lounge regardless of the class of service they are flying. When flying coach with Emerald status and connecting in Japan, I always feel fortunate to spend time in a JAL First Class Lounge.
Certain members of the Japan Airlines frequent flyer program and certain holders of JAL credit cards also have access to JAL first class lounges. This is the chart that is intended to explain it. It is a little confusing to me.
The agents at the reception desk sort out all of the access rules. I just had to present my boarding pass from the last flight. As is typical with airline lounges, access to this first class lounge is complimentary for those who qualify and their guests, and there is no charge for any food, beverages or any other service.
To get your bearings, there is a lounge diagram conveniently located in the hall next to the reception area.
The primary dinning areas are on the right and at the back of the lounge. The Sushi Tsurutei sushi bar is to the left of the entrance, and the lounge area for sitting is on the front right.
Food And Beverages
Covid has caused big changes in the food and beverage service in airline lounges worldwide, and this lounge is the same. Gone are the lavish buffets guests used to help themselves to. In this case, the buffets were not missed.
Menus are downloaded via the QR code at each table. There are many options including specialty ramen dishes, Japanese-style set plates, salads, sandwiches, JAL’s signature beef curry and sushi from Sushi Tsurutei. I kept it simple and had the curry and some sushi. Like I really needed to eat again.
Guests order food and drinks on their phones and the wait staff delivers it to your table.
Staff also serve beverages at the counter.
The beer pouring machines that I love weren’t operating. Staff delivered beer to the table.
Unlike many airline lounges currently, the showers here were available for use. Like food service, guests used their phones to reserve showers and received notifications on the phone when a shower was ready. I don’t understand why other lounges close their showers. Shower rooms are always cleaned between each use. Showers and the shoe-shine service are available in the Sakura Lounge on 3F.
Japan Airlines First Class lounges used to offer 10-minute private massages. The massage rooms and services were replaced before Covid by massage chairs. I didn’t use them on this trip, but they’re not bad – for robots. A real massage, of course, is better.
.Last but not least, this lounge has six private phone booths for cell phone calls! Japan has a complicated culture, and I’m no expert on it. However from personal observation, it seems that Japanese people do not like carrying on loud phone conversations in public.
I so appreciate not having to listen to loudmouth people forcing others to listen to their phone conversations as often happens in the U.S.. The lounge diagram in the 5th photo specifically requests using these booths. Some Americans in Japan haven’t gotten the message.
There is one other minor item I noticed about that diagram. Any guess about what I’m referring to? Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope you found it interesting. The next post in this series will cover the business class flight from Tokyo to Bangkok.