Japan Airlines – Fly For the Food?

By Mark Wiens 24 Comments
California
Redondo Beach, California

I was in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, and I was on my way to Singapore.

At this point, we had no plans to fly Japan Airlines.

My first flight, just a short one hour flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, was delayed… which caused me to miss my connecting flight from LA to Hong Kong and the next flight from Hong Kong to Singapore.

As frustrating as flights can sometimes be, I try to do my best to think of it always in a positive way: After all, being safely on the ground, no mater the circumstances, isn’t so bad.

I’ve already written about, and made a video about the food on Korean Air, which I think is very good for being airline food, but after I wrote that, some people commented telling me Japan Airlines also had very good food.

Our flight left from Phoenix about 2 hours late, but we eventually made it to LA, although we weren’t sure how to were going to proceed.

Japan Airlines review
Flying from Tokyo to Singapore

After waiting in customer service lines and talking with the Oneworld Alliance, they were finally able to reschedule our trip, and we caught a flight with American Airlines from LA to Tokyo, and from Tokyo to Singapore they scheduled my wife to connect in Tokyo and fly with Japan Airlines to Singapore.

The American Airlines flight got us where we needed to go, although I think most airlines from the US could do with some serious improvements.

Nevertheless we made it safely to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

Japan Airlines lounge
Japan Airlines Sakura first class lounge

As soon as we got off the plane in Tokyo, we were greeted by a Japan Airlines employee who had my name written on it.

“Follow me,” she kindly said.

She took us to a Japan Airlines counter where we were issued our ticket from Tokyo to Singapore, and upon giving us our ticket they said:

“You can also use the Japan Airlines Sakura first class lounge.”

Japanese curry
Great plate of Japanese curry

I took a look at the time, and our departure time, just 1.5 hours away, and my wife and I rushed as fast as we could to the Japan Airlines lounge to try and eat and drink, and enjoy the first class lounge, for as much time as we could.

When we arrived, the lounge was pretty busy, and a few of the foods were finished, but they did have some delicious Japanese curry.

I made sure to have a couple of plates. The curry was salty and rich, filled with chunks of tender beef. Along with a scoop of fresh hot steamed Japanese rice, it was pure comfort.

Japan Airlines
Flying with Japan Airlines

I drank a couple cups of coffee and a had a cool Asahi on tap, and then unfortunately we had to run to catch our flight… or risk missing another flight… this time our fault.

Although I wish we could have had another couple of hours to relax in the Japan Airlines first class lounge, my wife and I both enjoyed it while it lasted.

On the airplane, the flight attendants were extremely kind and helpful, perhaps some of the kindest employees on any flight I’ve been on.

Japan Airlines review
Food on Japan Airlines

Our flight from Tokyo to Singapore was about a seven hour flight, and about an hour after take-off we were served dinner.

The flight attendants came around with a menu, that included two different items. I chose the grilled pork with miso sauce on steamed rice.

I didn’t take any pictures of the actual food (as we filmed a video instead), but just as Japanese food always is, everything on the tray was neat and tidy and there were a number of different dishes included.

On the top was a bamboo shoot and shrimp salad, a fried piece of fish, and a fruit cup. Then on the bottom was a lettuce salad and the hot dish.

The grilled pork was pretty good, covered in a thick creamy miso sauce, and paired with shitake mushrooms.

Of course the meal wouldn’t compare to a Japanese meal on ground, but for being 12,000 meters in the sky, it was very good, one of the best meals I’ve had on an airplane.

Japan Airlines review
Japan Airlines – fantastic service and great food

Conclusion

My wife and I were scheduled to fly from Phoenix in the USA, to LA, to Hong Kong, to Singapore, but our first flight to LA was delayed, causing us to miss our onwards flights.

After a lot of flight re-arrangement, we were re-routed through Tokyo and were able to catch a flight with Japan Airlines (nor our scheduled airline) from Tokyo to Singapore, which got us into Singapore just an hour later than our previous schedule.

Although we didn’t have any extra time to go into Tokyo to eat this time, we did get to enjoy the Japan Airlines first class lounge while we were in Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

I was very impressed with our Japan Airlines flight – the service was extremely good, and the food was impressive too. If you ever get a chance to fly with Japan Airlines, go for it!

Have you flown with Japan Airlines? What’s your favorite airline?

24 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Leslie

    5 years ago

    I’ve never flew on Japan airlines before, but my favorite has always been Singapore Airlines! We are taking Singapore Air to Tokyo next year and have came across your videos during our research! Good work Mark and we just love your food videos!

  • John H.

    6 years ago

    Can’t go wrong with most of the Asian airlines. Recently, I’ve flown EVA Airlines, Japan Airlines and ANA….all 3 had good food and most importantly, excellent service. The flight attendants just know how to treat you well.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey John, thank you for sharing, and glad you had such good experiences on all airlines.

  • Roland

    6 years ago

    First of all thanks Mark for all your wonderful videos (on youtube)! I have not yet flown with JAL but will surely consider this airline on my next flights to the far east. Airline food is something I actually mostly avoid. Exceptions are the asian airlines. Dont forget Cathay.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thank you Roland, hope you can fly JAL in the future. I’ve got to try Cathay too!

  • Drew

    6 years ago

    We flew JAL Business Class a few years back from Tokyo to Chicago and I had some of the best airline food I’ve ever had. It was served bento box style, but nothing but small boxes, 12 in all if I remember correctly. Each box had a bite size canapé, including some delicious sushi. The dessert was an apple crumble of sorts with apple gelee served in a stemless wine glass. Still the best dessert I’ve ever had on a plane. I think the JAL catering is pretty solid to say the least.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Drew, thanks for sharing your experience with JAL, that meal sounds fantastic!

  • Nancy

    6 years ago

    I recently flew Etihad and have to say it was really impressive! We were lucky enough to fly business and so it was ala carte, as and when we felt like eating. Felt very spoilt! Agree that Emirates, Etihad and Singapore Airlines have their service and food standards right up there and they’re quite hard to compete with.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Nancy, thank you very much for sharing. I haven’t had the chance to fly Etihad yet, but I really hope to. I did fly Emirates a few years ago and it was very nice as well.

  • Yew Wei Hong

    6 years ago

    Welcome to Singapore! Will you make a post about singapore? Hahaha I know many great eats here and I am sure you will love what Singapore has to offer!!! =)

    • Yew Wei Hong

      6 years ago

      *correction I did not see the earlier post!
      I hoped you enjoyed the food here! Do ask me if you every need help in Singapore! My greatest pleasure to help my favorite blogger coming to my country!! =)

      • Mark Wiens

        6 years ago

        No problem, thank you Yew, next time I come back I’ll ask for some suggestions!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Yew, thank you very much. I was in Singapore just for a few days, but did get some amazing food. I’ll be coming back again hopefully soon!

  • Bruno Gambini

    6 years ago

    Great to hear about your experience with JAL. It seems that Eastern countries Airlines, specially from the Middle East and the Far East, are the ones nowadays to provide best experience onboard, which includes a great food. Once I traveled with Emirates Airlines, from Dubai to Cairo, and the food was DELICIOUS! And in Economy Class! And in a less than 4 hour flight!They served speacialties from the Egyptian cuisine, very spicy and juicy, one of the best dishes I have ever eaten! You should try get an Emirates flight, Mark! You would love it!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hi Bruno, thank you very much for sharing. Yah, that’s very true, I did fly Emirates about 10 years ago, and I remember it being very nice as well… but that was before I was taking photos – so I can’t remember the food. I’ve heard amazing things about Etihad as well.

  • Jeruen

    6 years ago

    I can’t help but wonder whether there is a slight confound in your experience. Upon reading this article, I think I can conclude that you had a favorable experience with Japan Airlines. I also flew Japan Airlines quite a few times when I was flying back and forth from the USA and the Philippines. While I found their service quite good, the food wasn’t too amazing in my opinion. Of course, I flew economy and therefore didn’t have access to their lounges in Tokyo.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that if you would fly for the food as your title asks, I would especially pick Japan Airlines, if, like the majority of fliers out there, I fly in economy. But if I have a higher-value ticket and have lounge access, I might fly Japan Airlines for that.

    Now, if you want to fly in economy for the food, then I’d suggest Turkish Airlines. Their hub experience in Istanbul needs improvement, but the in-flight food options beat the other European (let alone American) airlines’ offerings, even in economy.

    • Jeruen

      6 years ago

      Correction, in second paragraph:

      I guess what I am trying to say is that if you would fly for the food as your title asks, I WOULDN’T especially pick Japan Airlines, if, like the majority of fliers out there, I fly in economy.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Jeruen, great to hear from you, thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. I guess it’s all kind of relative, of course plane food, unless you fly first class, probably won’t be as good as food at a restaurant on ground. And also, in airlines I try to choose a local option if available – like bibimbap on Korean Air or miso grilled pork on Japan Airlines, so it depends also on your own personal preference of country food. Thanks for the suggestion about Turkish Airlines, I look forward to flying them if I have a chance in the future!

  • De’Jav

    6 years ago

    If I have the opportunity to fly Japan Airlines, I’ll be sure to do so. Sounds like an airline that has good customer service and food.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey De’Jav, yah it was my first time, and so far one of the best airlines I’ve been on. Hope you get a chance to fly with them in the future.

  • Sacha – Beautiful Travel Hangover

    6 years ago

    Hmmm, that curry though.
    I never flew with Japan Airlines, but it seems like a good airline. I did fly within Japan a few times as well from and to Japan from abroad. I am generally positive about my flights. Peach Airlines is super cheap but we had to wait in what was basically a big container. Very weird, but at least it was cheap right?

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hi Sacha, good to hear form you, that curry was pretty good. Thanks for sharing about Peach Airlines.

  • Sunson

    6 years ago

    Hi! Mark This blog was amazing! This brings me back to when you were in Japan last year! Also can’t wait for Hong Kong Blogs!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thank you very much Sunson, Hong Kong posts coming soon!