With a dining room, business centre, day spa and private shower suites, the Japan Airlines first class lounge at Tokyo's Narita Airport is a haven for frequent flyers jetting home to Australia, or onwards across Asia or to Europe with JAL.
Better yet, Qantas Platinum and Platinum One members can also stop by before their Qantas flight home to Sydney – or to Brisbane from August – skipping the Qantas business class lounge in favour of Japan Airlines' flagship facility.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by on a recent visit to Japan: here's what we thought.
Location & Impressions
Japan Airlines has two first class lounges at Tokyo Narita – one in the satellite building, and this, the primary lounge in the main terminal – located just beyond outbound passport control on level 3.
The entryway is shared with JAL's business class Sakura Lounge, although you can skip the main reception desks and veer left towards the first class lounge, where you'll find dedicated staff waiting to greet you.
You'll then pass the relaxation area – we'd recommend stopping here first for the best chance at securing spa and shower appointments – before progressing through to the business centre, the general 'lounging' space or the dining room, which comes with great views out onto the tarmac:
- First class passengers of Japan Airlines, American Airlines and British Airways
- Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers when travelling with Qantas, JAL or any other Oneworld airline
- JMB Diamond and JGC Premier members flying onwards with JAL, Qantas and all other Oneworld airlines in any class of service
- Other Oneworld Emerald members – including AA Executive Platinum, BA Executive Club Gold and Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Diamond – when travelling with a Oneworld airline
With a great mix of Japanese and Western-friendly foods, you're certain to find something appealing at the buffet regardless of your culinary tastes.
There's everything from the obligatory salads... ... through to smoked salmon pinchos, chicken stew, Mitsuse chicken liver pâté, chicken gizzard aglio e olio, a ham side and more. The idea being that the portions are small enough for adventurous diners to try one of everything, or to fall back on a few filling favourites like noodles and rice while still branching out: All of these dishes were top notch, and although chicken liver isn't something I'd normally salivate over, the pâté was surprisingly tasty and went down a treat.
Each item at the buffet is clearly labelled, and health-conscious travellers will appreciate that the signs also display the number of calories in each serve – and with everything plated up so precisely, it's easy to keep track.
Your meal can also be complemented with both sweet and savoury pickled radish, pickled plums, boiled mountain herbs and more... ... before settling in for JAL's signature beef curry – a simple dish, but a delicious one. No visit to the Japan Airlines first class lounge is complete without stopping by the sushi bar, open from 7:30am-12:30pm and again from 3pm-8pm. On the menu during our visit was Maguro (tuna), prawns and rolled egg with soy sauce on the side – all of which were made fresh to order, were perfectly presented and tasted delightful. Over in the ice bucket you'll spot Monopole champagne and whites from Italy, with reds from Santa Barbara (USA) on the side, along with saké over by the sushi bar. Add to that a good selection of spirits and liqueurs... ... and passable espresso coffee, and you'll be set for your journey ahead.
Fast Wi-Fi blankets the lounge, and if you need to recharge your laptop while working away, set up camp at one of the desk areas... ... which come complete with charging cables for the most common types of mobile phones – great if yours is buried at the bottom of your bag or even left at your last hotel.
There are also computers for those travelling without their own kit... ... and private rooms in which to make phone calls, either on your mobile or the payphone. As the audible use of mobile phones is frowned upon in the common areas of the lounge – as it is in many public areas in Japan – set your phone to vibrate and duck in here if that phone call just can't wait.
Away from the busy dining areas you'll find plenty of comfortable lounge chairs – whether travelling with a group of colleagues, a partner or even on your lonesome. There's also a darker relaxation space in the corner of the lounge that's perfect for listening to music (with headphones, of course), or to grow weary ahead of your overnight Japan Airlines or Qantas flight home to Australia. Add to that a few massage chairs... ... along with complimentary 10-minute treatments at the in-lounge spa – open from 8:30am-12:30pm and again from 3pm-7pm – with a choice of a neck, shoulders and back massage; and both foot and scalp massages.
Private shower suites with their own attached bathrooms are also available in the first class lounge. All were in use when we attemped to use them, although the staff helped to locate an available shower suite in the adjacent (business class) Sakura Lounge to avoid waiting.
Guests can make use of the suites up until 30 minutes before their flight's departure time, which allows travellers to sit down to a nice meal, take in a massage, head to the showers and then waltz aboard ready to sleep.
That's a winning combination if there ever was one, and if your passport wallet packs that coveted Qantas Platinum card, it's all there waiting for you when you next depart from Tokyo's Narita Airport with Qantas, Japan Airlines or indeed any Oneworld airline.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Japan Airlines.
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