by Matthew Carriuolo (Philippines) 29th December 2019
Manila to Boston via Tokyo-Narita. The flight from Manila to Tokyo was operated on a B787-8, and the flight from Tokyo to Boston was operated on a B787-9. The infamously horrible traffic in Manila made me arrive at the airport only 57 minutes prior to my departure time. I panicked! Upon arrival at check-in, though, a lady at the business class check-in desk checked me in and assured me that I would make my flight. Indeed, because Japan Airlines boarded the aircraft beginning only 30 minutes before departure and did not close the gate until 10 minutes before departure, things went just fine. I know that many airlines would not be so forgiving of a late arrival. Many airlines also would probably have lost my luggage when I checked it in so late. Not Japan Airlines! It made it all the way to Boston. As for the inflight experience, the flight attendants were polite, friendly, and accommodating. I was seated in a bulkhead seat for the first time in many years, and one of the flight attendants helped me to open up the TV monitor for that seat. The seats were very comfortable. Blankets and pillows were available on both flights. Toothbrushes and toothpaste were available in the lavatories during the flight from Tokyo to Boston. Too bad that there were no amenity kits, but it’s always the toothbrushes and toothpaste that I most desire during such flights, so they just barely met my expectations there. Perhaps the least impressive part of the experience was the inflight entertainment. While I appreciated that they offered manga for people to read if they so desired, the selection of movies and TV seemed somewhat lackluster, and it was disappointing that many items were not available with English subtitles. Finally, there was the food. I was served one full meal on the flight from Manila to Tokyo and one full meal and a sort of “light meal” on the flight from Tokyo to Boston. We were also served packaged snacks about 35 minutes prior to landing in Boston, which seemed kind of last-minute to me and a little awkward. The full meals were truly enormous-by far the largest meals I have ever had on a flight. The one served from Manila to Tokyo was perhaps the largest of all. The entree was a sort of chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce, served with sliced carrots, sliced zucchini, and fried rice with egg and vegetables. It also came with a vegetable salad with dressing, a fruit salad, a noodle salad, a potato salad with ham and cheese, miso soup, Haagen-Daaz vanilla ice cream, a chocolate chip cookie, a bottle of water, and your choice of beverage. I found it particularly stunning that Japan Airlines has their own kiwi-apple juice blend which they call “Sky Time Kiwi.” Wow! All of the foods I was served were delicious. One criticism I can make of the food is that with the exception of the full meal from Tokyo to Boston, there was no choice for the meal options. That is, you got what you were served. Overall, though, it was a truly Japanese experience, and it was truly excellent. I would gladly fly with them again in the future if they offer tickets at competitive prices like they did this time.