Review: Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport

Introduction
British Airways Galleries First Class Lounge Chicago Airport
Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER Chicago To Hong Kong
Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class A330 Hong Kong To Jakarta
Transiting Jakarta Airport
Japan Airlines First Class 777-300ER Jakarta To Tokyo Narita
Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport
Japan Airlines First Class 777-300ER Tokyo Narita To New York JFK


I arrived from Jakarta at 6:25AM, and my connecting flight to New York was at 11:10AM, so I had a sizable layover.

I cleared transit security in no time and headed to the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge located in the main concourse, only to discover that it actually opens at 7:30AM, so I had about an hour to kill before I could use the lounge.

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita entrance

Admittedly I should have researched in advance (not that it would have changed anything in practice), but I do find it a bit odd that the lounge opens so much later than the first bank of arriving flights.

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita entrance

Narita Airport only seems to “wake up” much later than many airports, as I wandered the terminal for a while and it was mostly deserted. Eventually I just sat down in a public seating area and worked on my laptop — Narita Airport has among the best free wifi of any airport I’ve been to.

Soon enough 7:30AM rolled around, and I headed to the lounge. The lounge has a large entryway, and upon showing my boarding pass I was admitted to the first class section.

The lounge itself is a good size, though it does tend to get a bit crowded during peak times, given that first class passengers as well as oneworld Emerald members have access to it.

The lounge is more or less in a rectangular shape, with one big room with a few partitions. For the most part the lounge just features comfortable sofa-style chairs, without too much variety in terms of seating options. The seats are comfortable enough, though this is one of the few lounges where I don’t actually care how comfortable the seating arrangements are (as I’ll explain below).

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita seating

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita seating

I apologize for the way my pictures turned out. This lounge doesn’t photograph well (due to the stark contrast between the amount of natural light and dark finishes) and I was tired, which is a bad combo. 😀

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita seating

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita seating

At the far left of the lounge is a small business center with a few workstations.

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita business center

Just past that is a separate room with more workstations, but most importantly, also with two massage chairs.

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita business center

I love Japanese massage chairs — they hurt so good! So as I always do, I settled down in one of them for quite a while.

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Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita massage chairs

At the opposite end of the lounge, near the windows, was the buffet. Closer to the center of the lounge was the drink spread as well as cold/packaged food spread.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

There were croissants, finger sandwiches, snack mix, etc.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita snacks

Then there was also the totally awesome beer machine (I don’t drink beer, but I love the machine), as well as the pretty cool soda machine.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita drinks

There was also a good selection of self serve liquor and wine.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita liquor selection

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita wine selection

Then further back in the lounge was the buffet with fresh food and hot items. It’s certainly a decent food spread, though nothing memorable. There were a variety of cold options including salad, several types of soup, and a few hot, more substantial items.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita buffet

My only complaint about the buffet is that they list the calories for everything, which is a surefire way to spoil an appetite. 😉

In terms of food, the highlight is the noodle bar and sushi bar. In this case I was already full so didn’t eat, but otherwise it’s totally worth a visit.

One of the other awesome things is that the lounge offers complimentary 10 minute spa treatments. You can get either an upper body, foot, or scalp massage.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita massage menu

I booked a treatment, and it was fantastic. While the massage was only 10 minutes, it was done in a partitioned off room with a proper “face down” massage table, as opposed to just a massage chair. I consistently find the pressure of the masseuses in this lounge to be incredible. So while the treatment can be borderline painful, I always feel much better afterwards.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita massage room

After the treatment it was time for a quick shower. The shower rooms themselves are reasonably nice, though the water temperature was a bit variable, unfortunately.

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita shower

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita shower

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JAL First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita shower

I spent the rest of my layover catching up on email, and at around 10:30AM headed down to my departure gate, gate 64.

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Walking to gate Tokyo Narita

The gates were located one level down from the main concourse, so I took the escalator down there.

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Departure gate Tokyo Narita

While boarding hadn’t yet commenced, they were already queuing people up for departure, as is the norm at Narita.

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Departure gate Tokyo Narita

At 10:40AM sharp boarding was announced, and I was ready for a nap!

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JAL 777 taking me to New York

JAL First Class Lounge Narita bottom line

JAL’s flagship first class lounge is solid. The seating is comfortable enough, the food spread is quite good, I love the noodle/sushi bar, the complimentary 10 minute massages are nice, and who doesn’t love massage chairs?

Is it as nice as the Air France First Class Lounge Paris, Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt, Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney, or Thai Airways First Class Lounge Bangkok? Nope. But for the non “first tier” first class lounges, I think it’s among the better ones out there.

If you’ve been to the JAL First Class Lounge Narita, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Was at that lounge 2 months ago and agree with the review, nice enough lounge but quite open and no where really to hide away quietly if you want to, unlike Haneda where there is the private lounge at the back where the shoe shine area is. Message was very good. Sushi was lovely but rest of food was only ok. A little disappointed in the quality of wines/ champagnes as they serve much better on board.

    There is an amazing little hotel round the corner from the lounge where you can rent rooms by the hour if you want to get some sleep. It was really great as it is airside so no need to go through security and price was reasonable.

  2. the fact that the only beverage that I would be interested in is $120 dollar cognac, is potentially very dangerous for my health.

  3. I actually thought the food in this lounge was pretty underwhelming, especially for an F lounge. The massage treatment was nice though.

  4. Sushi bar is pretty cool concept but offerings a bit underwhelming (small set menu selection only it seemed). Still love it!!! Other food was high quality and fresh – very good for for pre-prepared, etc. Not sitting unattended like some other lounges.

  5. Terminal 2 is kind of a dump (relatively speaking) and JAL’s lounges there are nothing special. The FC lounge at Haneda, however, is amazing. You can’t really go wrong with a Laurent Perrier champagne bar.

  6. I visited this lounge back in Sep last year, and I agree it’s not a first tier First lounge but it has a few nice touches:
    * Those massage chairs (near the mobile telephone booths which I’m surprised you didn’t comment on Lucky given it’s just the sort of thing that normally catches your interest) do indeed give a whole new meaning to running the pleasure/pain threshold in a mostly positive way;
    * Food is not fantastic but on my last visit they did have a fairly nice chicken and sauce dish in one of hot pots that went well with the cooked rice;
    * The decent bag lockers just after the shower/spa entrance, perfect for small roll-ons and bags; and
    * As you mentioned, the massage treatments – short, sharp but reinvigorating.

    Those shower cubicles mentioned also lack adequate ventilation, thus can turn into a bit of a sweat box after a shower.

  7. Bling is right, the FC lounge at Haneda — and the very secluded Red Suite — is the best thing I’ve seen on offer as a first class lounge. It was empty (save for the shoe shine attendant) when I wandered back there mid-morning. The display cases are full of AVgeek paraphernalia … even a scale model of the Concorde in JAL colors!

  8. I vote on the side of the “underwhelmed” as we, too, have spent many hours in this god-forsaken excuse for an airport. I felt trapped in the 80’s and had to say after three trips, I’ve now visited every one-world lounge at Narita.

    We certainly couldn’t figure out why the lounges weren’t open when you arrived off of overnight flights. Whatever you do, DON’T take an overnight Star Alliance flight into Terminal 1 and rely on the airport to have regular service to Terminal 2. We missed a 7 AM departure and had to cool our jets until 9 AM until the next bus – in a deserted terminal with nothing open!

    To be honest, none of the One World lounges at Narita are impressive. I’ve been to them all. Without competition, there’s no real incentive to improve – honestly, the American Admiral’s club is as comfortable, although the food and drink options at the JAL First Lounge are better.

    The entrance to the club is more impressive than the inside. The food is uninspired, and is not presented with the flair normally expected in Japan. I don’t expect white bread sandwiches wrapped in cellophane at a first class lounge. Still, it’s clear this is the way it’s always been done, and like the “Hello Kitty” theme inexplicably pervading many aspects of the country, I don’t expect it to change anytime soon. Grin and bear it!

    I WILL give points to the person who invented the automatic draft beer pouring machine, though!

  9. I’m here right now getting pounded by the massage chairs. The fact that this lounge has a sushi bar with delicious fatty tuna makes it 1st tier to me. Had to beg for sushi at the SQ lounge. I thought the check in , private security that led almost direct into the lounge and the freshness of all the food on offer makes this a lounge I will look forward to more than others. Between this and the new pier at HKG one world has some great 1st lounges. Looking forward to my first JAL 1st flight and hoping the cabin isn’t too warm and that the food is as good as CX

  10. Ben,

    I will be flying through NRT this Dec with a 12-hour layover (inbound from KUL on MH and outbound on AA to ORD). It’s an MH business class ticket; so the NRT-ORD flight is a codeshare operated by AA (on the new 788, which I quite curious about). Question is – a) do I have my pick of OneWorld lounges to use or am I limited to AA’s Admiral Club? and b) if the former, which lounge would you recommend? I’m also a BA Silver.

    Thanks,
    Arun.

  11. Hey Ben, it’s Macabus here – from “8 bottles of Dom.”

    I have been to the JL F lounge at NRT many times, and totally agree with your take on the offerings.

    However, I was there a few months ago – connecting on an F trip from LAX-NRT-BKK and experienced something quite incredible. Around 5:30 pm, two sushi chefs walked into the lounge pulling coolers filled with fresh fish, and started setting up inside the bar island. Then they started preparing several sushi plates – one of which was an outstanding Bluefin Tuna – definitely a 9.5+ for quality.

    This lasted about 90 minutes, and then then it all disappeared. BTW, I was the only Gaijin in the lounge at that time – and was watched with much curiosity.

    Cheers,
    M.

  12. Hi Ben, been an avid follower of yours since discovering this site!
    If you are ever in Tokyo, I suggest the Cathay lounge and JAL First class lounge in Haneda. Narita’s lounges are a bit underwhelming.
    Alv

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