Date: October 23, 2017
Flight No.: JL958
Route: Busan Gimhae to Tokyo Narita
Airline: JAL Japan Airlines
Type: Boeing 737-800
The last flight of my October Korea trip was from Busan to Tokyo Narita onboard Japan Airlines’ 737-800 in business class. It was also the only flight of the trip that was in line with my original plan of going to Okinawa to fly the JTA Jinbei Jet inaugural and then returning to Tokyo via Busan.
I booked the flight using 9,000 British Airways’ Avios miles that I bought through a Groupon promotion some months ago. In case it is something you might be interested in, the same offer is available now – and you can find more details about it in my article here.
Now, let’s take a look at the actual flight.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Transferring & Checking-in at Busan Airport
I arrived in Busan around 12PM on a Jeju Air flight from Jeju, and since I didn’t have any checked-in luggage, I headed directly to the international terminal which was just a three minute walk away.
That said, it took me a bit more to get there given the complete lack of signage.
Even so, however, less than twenty minutes after arriving from Jeju, I was already standing (second) in line at JAL’s check-in counter. And, in no time, I was heading towards the security check.
Before continuing, I want to mention that this year, JAL’s Tokyo-Busan route is celebrating its 50th anniversary. A fact that was easily recognizable given the commemorative signs at both the check-in counters, as well as their nearby ticket sales office.
Since there was no queue at security, I was through in a minute, and did a bit of lounge hopping. First, I went to Asiana Lounge, then to Korean’s KAL Lounge, and then to Sky Hub Lounge – all of which are part of the Priority Pass network.
While I was at Sky Hub Lounge, an announcement was made that boarding for my flight would be delayed (the flight arrived a bit late due to the typhoon) until 2PM. And so, I left the lounge around 1:55PM.
With just a dozen or so gates, the international terminal at Busan airport is very compact, and so I was at gate 5 where the flight was departing from in no time.
Boarding Japan Airlines Flight 958
When I got to the gate area, quite a few people were already lined up in the boarding queues. Around 2:05PM – a bit after the “new” boarding time” – a staff came around apologizing for the delay, and another two minutes later, boarding started.
Being the first in the business class queue, I was walking down the jetway in no time.
JAL’s internationally configured 737-800s feature twelve JAL SKYLUXE recliner seats in three “2-2” rows. While they are nothing fancy, they are more than adequate for the short regional flights they serve.
On this flight, the cabin was – with five passengers – a bit less than half-full.
Between each pair of seats, there was a small table, and on the inside of the armrests, there were seat controls, earphone plug, as well as the IFE remote control.
The IFE monitor was inside one of the armrests, but I didn’t take it out at all during the short flight. The other armrest contained a table.
There was also a reading light attached to the side of the seat, and a universal power outlet on the console between seats.
Separately, a blanket and a pillow were waiting on the seat upon boarding. Inside the seat pocket, one could find – besides the usual printed materials – a pair of slippers and a shoehorn.
A welcome drink was not offered on this flight, however, shortly after I settled down, the purser came to ask if I wanted to have my jacket stored. And, if I wanted any newspaper.
Shortly after that, she made an announcement via the PA to apologize for the delay.
With that done, she came back through the cabin – addressing each passenger by name – to take drink orders for the upcoming meal service.
Departing Busan Onboard a JAL 737-800
At 2:21PM, the cabin crew closed the doors, and just a minute later – with just a twelve minute delay – pushed started.
While we were being pushed back, the purser introduced the cockpit crew as well as herself through the PA, and then also mentioned that it was rainy due to the typhoon until about 9AM – and that it was still quite windy in Narita.
She also mentioned the flight time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.
We taxied out at 2:28PM, and the safety demonstration was made as we taxied towards the active runway.
Once we reached the end of the runway, we held short of it, as Air Busan and Korean Air aircraft were on approach. While those were landing, the purser went around the business class cabin greeting each of the passengers.
And, in the meantime, her colleague put seat belt around one of the passenger’s bag.
With the Korean Air aircraft on the ground, we entered the runway, and at 2:35PM we took off.
Right after take off, as we climbed, we made a left turn.
Japan Airlines International Short Haul Business Class Service
The seatbelt signs were switched off less than five minutes after take-off, and so the service could begin.
First, hot towel was provided.
Then, the meal was brought on the single tray.
While there were no choices, the tray contained a small card with the meal’s details.
All of the meal tasted good, however, as someone that loves yuzu, the soba noodles and dessert were my favorites.
As for drink to go with the meal, I chose Sky Time – JAL’s signature kiwi drink. And, I had a second glass of it after the meal as well.
With the meal finished, I took out my laptop and worked on some of the reviews of this trip report.
Landing at Tokyo Narita After the Flight from Busan
At 3:46PM, just as we were flying by Fukushima airport, the cockpit crew announced that we started our initial descent and that the seatbelt signs would go back on in about fifteen minutes.
However, fifteen minutes later, another announcement was made saying that Narita was congested due to strong winds – and that our new estimated time of arrival was 4:45PM.
As such, the seatbelt signs didn’t go on until 4:15PM when one of the crew members also stopped by to put a seatbelt around my camera bag.
The landing gear was lowered at 4:29PM – and around the same time, great sunset views of the ocean below as well as of Mt. Fuji could be had.
Another seven minutes later, at 4:36PM, we landed on runway 34R, and taxied to Narita’s terminal 2.
The flight – and the trip – came to an end at 4:46PM when we parked at our gate, next to a JAL 787.
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