The trip home began with a flight from Bangkok to Tokyo.  It is always tough to end a delightful trip such as the one to Thailand in November 2021.  Flying business class on Japan Airlines though is always something to look forward to.

Some of the other posts from a Covid-19 Thailand trip:

Greetings From Thailand 

Thailand Trip – Part 1

Thailand Trip Part 2 – American Airlines Concourse C Admirals Club Charlotte, NC

Thailand Trip Part 3 – A Trip Down Memory Lane And A Tale Of Potential Disaster Over Lake Michigan

Thailand Trip Part 4 – Japan Airlines 777-300ER First Class Chicago, IL To Tokyo, Japan

Thailand Trip Part 5 – Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita

Thailand Trip Part 6 – Japan Airlines 787-8 Business Class Tokyo, Japan (NRT) To Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)

Thailand Trip Part 7 – The Strange No Quarantine Quarantine, A Guide For Travelers To Thailand During Covid

Thailand Trip Part 8b – Grand Hyatt Erawan Breakfast Buffet

Thailand Trip Part 8a – Grand Hyatt Erawan Grand Club Room

Thailand Trip Part 8c – Grand Hyatt Erawan Club Lounge Review

Thailand Trip Part 9 – New Miracle Lounge – Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) Concourse A’s Stealth Priority Pass Lounge

Thailand Trip Part 10 – Thai Smile-domestic-a320-and-the-post-arrival-snack/e Domestic A320 And The Post-Arrival Snack

Thailand Trip Part 11a – Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort Hotel Review

Thailand Trip Part 11b – Hyatt Regency Phuket Breakfast & Lounge Review

Japan Airlines Flight JL718 Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) to Tokyo, Japan (NRT)

Flight Date:  November 19, 2021

Equipment:  Boeing 787-8

Great Circle Distance:  2,889mi (4,649km, 2,510nm)

Scheduled Flight Time:  6 hours and 15 minutes

Scheduled Departure: 00:55

Scheduled Arrival: 09:10

Class of Service: International Business Class


I checked in at the Japan Airlines (JAL) ticket counters at Pier H. Pier H is in the middle of the large check-in area. Knowing where to check in will save steps when you are dropped off at the terminal.

There was no wait to check in which wasn’t surprising during Covid times. Check in took longer because of U.S. entry requirements. In addition to a passport, I presented electronic proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test that was taken within 72 hours of departure, my Covid vaccination document, and signed a health declaration form. The Covid test was easy to procure in Bangkok. Results were back in less than 24 hours. The cost was about $100.

I proceeded to the lane for premium passengers at security and passport control and got through without delay. The regular lanes would have been just as fast because there were few passengers.


Flight JL718 boarded at Gate F5, which is only a five-minute walk from the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge. The lounge provided a relaxing pre-flight experience with complimentary food and beverages.

Sakura Lounge
Gate F5.

The photo above testifies to the fact that the 787-8 had a very light load. Boarding began at 00:30 and completed in only 10 minutes. Pushback from the gate was one minute early.

JAL 787-8 Business Class Cabin

The Japan Airlines (JAL) fleet has three versions of the 787-8 Dreamliner. The 787 is my favorite aircraft to fly in business class. The electronically dimming windows are unique. They are the only airline windows that permit an outside view while simultaneously maintaining a dark cabin. 787s are pressurized to a lower altitude providing more oxygen and humidity than most other airliners.

JAL’s fleet has three versions of the 787-8 Dreamliner. This version is outfitted with side-by-side angle-flat business class seats. Business class on this aircraft consists of 30 seats arranged 2-2-2 in the two cabins. My seat was 2A, a window seat in the forward business cabin.

Seat 2A.

These are shell seats where the seat reclines by sliding forward in its own enclosure without impacting the space of the seat behind. 

The second business cabin.

At booking, I picked a window seat on the port (left) side hopping for a morning view of Mt. Fuji.  I had this row to myself.  To reach the aisle there was no need to climb over anyone or ask them to get up. 


Economy class is configured in a passenger-friendly 2-4-2 arrangement.

JAL 787-8 economy cabin.

JAL 787-8 Business Class Seat

Business class seats on this version of the 787-8 can be moved to three preset positions with the touch of a button. Alternatively, controls can be used to customize the position of the seat, foot rest and lumbar support that has a massage option.


The video screen is mounted on the back of the seat in front. With the shell design, reclining the seat has no effect on the video screen on the back of the seat.


The amenities were more than sufficient for a red-eye, six-hour flight.  A blanket, pillow, bottled water, noise-cancelling headphones, slippers and shoe horn and a small amenity kit were at the seat at boarding. 

Eye shades, toothbrush, ear plugs and a moisture mask.

Business class lavs are stocked with additional items for personal use.


The flight taxied to Runway 01Right and departed at 01:18.

Thai Airways parked all of its A380s due to Covid-induced demand drop.


Before pushback, a flight attendant confirmed my online choice of a Japanese breakfast and asked if I wanted to be awakened if I was sleeping.  In keeping with Covid cutbacks, there were no pre-departure beverages other than the bottled water. 

Here are the food menus:

Click to enlarge

In addition, cold assorted canapes were offered after takeoff and JAL snack noodles were available anytime during the flight.

Beverage menus:

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The attendants offered a drink service on the climb to our cruising altitude.  I requested sushi canapes and a Japanese whisky.



After the snack, I reclined the seat to its maximum angled flat position, extended the foot rest and slept for about three hours.

As requested, an attendant woke me for breakfast two hours before landing. I broke out the moisture mask and applied it to my eyes. It felt like a warm wash cloth and brought an instant soothing sensation to my tired eyes.

Breakfast was served covered.


The Japanese breakfast tasted great although I was unfamiliar with most of the dishes. (See the menu above.) I enjoyed the Japanese choice more than a traditional Western breakfast. Eggs on a plane often have little taste.

To avoid disturbing passengers who chose to sleep and skip breakfast, the attendants kept the windows dimmed to the darkest setting. After breakfast I told an attendant that I was hoping to see Mt. Fuji. She seemed pleased. The attendant consulted the captain and cheerfully informed me that we should pass Fuji at about 08:10.

As we drew abreast of the mountain the captain alerted passengers to the our position. Unfortunately it was a hazy morning. I’d hoped for a great shot of the first sun beams glinting off a snow-capped Fuji. Nice thought, but all I could see was this.

IMG_5353 (2)


The descent to NRT started shortly after we bid farewell to Mt. Fuji. Landing was on Runway 34R.

JAL Terminal 2 Gates.  It was surprisingly busy given the strict limitations on entering Japan.    

Final approach was directly over land belonging to Takao Shito, a man who tuned down $1.7 million when NRT was built in the 1970s to keep the family farm that now sits in the middle of Narita International Airport.

Takao Shito’s farm (right) Terminal 2 Satellite Concourse (left) Runway 34R (top). 

Litigation over his land is ongoing.  There was, and still is, a determined Narita Airport resistance movement.  That was evident on the taxi to Gate 74.

Sign on Shito’s airport property.

Overall Impression

I’ve never been disappointed in a flight on Japan Airlines.  Service is top notch without being intrusive.  Food and beverages are superior to the offerings on Western airlines.  This flight was no exception.

In addition to the great service and food and beverages, examples of the Omotenashi Japan Airlines strives for was the flight attendant mentioning my curiosity about Mt. Fuji to the captain, reporting back to me, and the captain making an announcement as we passed the mountain. 

How would you compare JAL or other international Asian airlines to those in the U.S. or Europe?