Sydney to Tokyo (Narita)
Boeing 777-300; JAL has 17 of this aircraft model, 13 of them the ER or extended range version.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Mileage Bank Frequent Flyer Programme. Passengers can also earn points towards other Oneworld membership programs.
Premium economy, seat 18A
9 hours 45 minutes
JAL772 operates daily
The premium economy cabin is equipped with JAL's Sky Premium seats. Pitch is 107cm, which is 7-10cm more than in most premium economy seats, width is a more standard 48cm (42in x 19in). There's a USB port and 110V AC power supply and a reading light on a flexy stalk. Since it's a shell-type seat there is no issue with seat recline. The tray table is large enough to work comfortably on a laptop, with plenty of elbow room. It's a day flight and I'm not inclined to sleep but the recline is good enough to get decent rest on an overnighter.
Checked luggage is two pieces with a maximum of 23kg each. Carry on allowance is one bag with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 25cm (22in x 16in x 10in), maximum weight 10kg, plus one small item that can fit under the seat in front.
Seat 18A is one seat back from the front of the premium economy cabin. Configuration is 2-4-2 and there are 40 seats in the cabin, which is larger than most airlines' PE cabins. There are two toilets at the front of the cabin which are curtained off and meant to be used by business passengers, in the cabin in front, however all the passengers in PE use this toilet regardless and crew don't intervene.
The video screen is 30.7cm (12.1in). The new Jason Bourne movie features on the cover of the entertainment guide and another three Bourne movies feature among the selections. Other choices include The Light Between Oceans, The BFG, The Infiltrator, The Intern, Silver Linings Playbook, The Legend of Tarzan, Skyfall plus other Craig-as-Bond movies and a healthy line of sci-fi, including the Godzilla remake. Nothing too radical or cutting edge but something for just about everyone. Wi-Fi costs $US18.80 for 24 hours. While Sony claims the headphones are noise cancelling there's enough leakage around the ear cup for that not to work effectively. Apart from that quibble sound quality is good.
Cabin crew are almost exclusively women of a certain age. The service is polite in the Japanese manner, attentive and professional.
Drinks come around 45 minutes after takeoff, with a choice of beer, wines and soft drinks. I'm having a Sky Time Kiwi, a non-alcoholic JAL concoction. It comes with natto, fermented soybeans which are crunchy and lightly salted and more than acceptable, unlike the evil natto breakfast dish. Lunch is a choice of honey mustard chicken or beef teriyaki on steamed rice, with a salad and Japanese noodles and mango cheesecake. Two hours before arrival a chicken and mushroom pie is served with potato salad and it's not half bad. Snacks and drinks are available on demand.
ONE MORE THING
Shortly after takeoff the crew comes around with a basket of goodies, a mouth mask among them so you can start your Japan journey looking just a little more Japanese.
Finally, a premium economy that stands head and shoulders above economy. JAL has got a winner on its hands with the extra roomy seat with huge legroom, well worth the extra cost for anyone looking for a little more inflight comfort without the price tag of a business seat.
Tested by Michael Gebicki, who flew courtesy of Japan Airlines
See also: Is premium economy worth it?