We have already compared Japan Airlines Economy vs. Premium Economy and JAL First vs. Business, to find out whether it is worth paying for the upgrade. Now we review Japan Airlines Business Class vs. Premium Economy, the cost, the seat, the food, the check-in, and the airport lounge. Is it worth paying to upgrade your next flight from Premium Economy to Business Class?
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1. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Price
If the price is your biggest factor when making the decision on which class to fly in, you should probably choose to fly Premium Economy. After all, the entire plane will get to its destination, whichever class you are sitting in.
If your business is paying, then the situation is different. The Business Class on JAL is very good and will undoubtedly result in you getting to your destination more refreshed.
Japan Airlines Premium Economy does have more space and better food than Economy as well as more and better drinks. But Business Class is better. great food, great lie-flat seats. If your business is paying, book Premium, or Business, or First Class and enjoy Champagne and caviar.
2. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Why Upgrade?
Following on from my comments about the price, you may wonder whether it’s worth upgrading from Premium Economy to Business Class at all! Well, it is. The biggest reason to upgrade from Premium Economy is to get sleep. Flat seats allow you to sleep. Sleeping upright, even reclined upright, is difficult. Or impossible.
The result of these upright seats is that you can feel pretty grotty after no sleep on a Premium Economy flight arriving at your destination. You would feel much better if you flew in Business Class. This matters if you are potentially ruining the first day of your trip because you’ve not spent the extra on upgrading your flight.
Even if the price is your biggest factor when choosing between Premium Economy and Business Class, Premium Economy can mean that you avoid wasting a day of your holiday, which may ultimately be worth more than the price difference.
3. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Check-in
There is a dedicated Business Class check-in. Your bags also get priority, and you get more baggage allowance in Business Class.
4. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Baggage
You get 2 hold suitcases when traveling in Premium Economy, which is a big bonus over Economy. Premium Economy Class passengers on international flights may check two 23 kg (50 lbs) bags, free of charge compared to one in Economy. Business and First Class passengers can check three 32 kg (70 lbs) bags.
5. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Lounges
The good news is that if you fly in Business Class, you don’t have to faff around with a Priority Pass or Lounge Passes or credit cards. You just access the lounge with your Business Class ticket.
I usually book my flights for free on air miles and American Express Rewards, which convert directly to Avios (along with other airline miles). The free Amex Gold Card is an incredible deal with a huge free bonus of Membership Rewards and even more if you apply through our referral link. You can apply for the UK & US card right here.
When flying in Business Class out of Tokyo Haneda Airport, one of the lounges, you get access to the Japan Airline’s refurbished Sakura lounge, located opposite gate 112 in Henada’s international terminal. Escalators take passengers from the terminal’s ground floor to the reception area on the first floor, where the staff will guide you to either the Business or First Class section within the lounge.
Clearly, there is an advantage if you are flying First as you get access to the First Class section. if you are flying in Business, you get access to the Business Class section, which is excellent and a huge advantage over flying in Premium Economy. When flying in Premium Economy, you don’t get club lounge access at the airport at all.
The lounge is rather special and even in the Business Class section and was created by the Japanese interior designer Ruy Kosaka. The Japan Airlines Sakura (which means Cherry Blossom) Lounge spreads over two floors. The lower floor is mainly used as a dining room but also has lockers (to store carry-on luggage) and shower facilities. There is also a business center and a small self-serve bar on this floor. The upper floor is made up of a large lounge area, with plenty of seating options, including an array of armchairs and bar seats. Both floors feature contemporary décor, incorporating traditional Japanese styles such as latticework, Sakura cherry blossom motifs, and pieces of art. Both floors embrace the daylight with large windows offering excellent views of the runways, which is a huge plus of this lounge and make it a complete delight.
I visited the lounge in the early morning hours. The breakfast on offer was at the large buffet station. The food selection was extensive, with a mixture of Western and Japanese cuisine. A highlight was the tasty freshly baked bread. The buffet also featured scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausages, bacon, several types of sandwiches, corn flakes, chilled corn soup, a salad bar, rice porridge with scallops, spicy seasoned cod roe, grilled Spanish mackerel, and Japanese omelet. A filling selection. I can’t comment on the food during the rest of the day, but judging by their morning offering, it is likely to be generous with great variety. This is a great lounge, and if you fly out of London Heathrow, you will get access to the excellent British Airways lounges.
If you fly in Premium Economy you can buy or use a Priority Pass to access alternative lounges.
6. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Unlimited Airport Lounge Access
For unlimited airport lounge access, whether you are flying Economy or Premium Economy, Business or First, you will need to apply for the Platinum American Express card. You then get up to 4 unlimited free airport lounge passes. With my referral link, you will also get bonus points. Contact us via our Luxury Travel Concierge page to get a referral link and the extra 5,000 points (American Express Terms & Conditions apply).
If you have an Amex Platinum card, you have one less reason why flying in Business Class is significantly better than flying in Economy.
7. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Cabin
When flying in the Premium Economy seat, you get a wider seat with additional pitch than in Economy. For me, the extra elbow room in the Premium Economy seats enables me to work more comfortably on my laptop. This means that I can work, whether I am flying in Business Class or Premium Economy.
The major differentiator comes at night as the Premium Economy seats do not recline to a flatbed so you are unlikely to achieve any length of sleep in Premium Economy when compared to Business Class.
The flatbed in JAL Business Class is excellent. The seats are quite spacious. Around 25.5 inches by width and 74 inches by pitch. The seat can be reclined into a fully flat bed for sleeping. The seat controls, remote control, reading light, power supply, and storage space are all on the right side of the seat. There’s a large TV screen powered by the entertainment system on Japan Airlines, which is called MAGIC and is quite decent.
8. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Food
You get free drinks and free food in Japan Airlines Premium Economy. The menu offering is the same as in economy, but with three additional drink options (sparkling wine, shochu, and sparkling water).
Expect meal choices like chicken or fish and rice bowl. Reports suggest these meals are good and tasty but not high quality. You will also get a dessert. Small cartons of vanilla ice cream are served after dinner. Green tea, black tea, and coffee is served after the ice cream.
By contrast, the Business Class food is good, of high quality and filling. Our most recent Business Class experience included a Western dinner option grilled squid with couscous appetizer and a Wagyu sirloin steak as the main. The food was generally good, but I must say that Wagyu steak served in the air is probably not the best way to appreciate this fine meat. Of course, it was tasty, but I cannot help but wonder how much better it would be in the ground. See typical Business Class meal above. After the meal, you get a cup of tea and a tiramisu cake for dessert. You will not go hungry in Business Class, but if you want the WOW factor, you must surely choose First!
9. Premium Economy vs. Business Class: Conclusion
Japan Airlines Premium Economy is a very good product but is let down by having the same food as in Economy. The difference is significant when you upgrade to the next level, Business Class. Japan Airlines Business Class is significantly more expensive, but for an overnight flight, it gives you the chance to sleep as the bed goes flat. The food is also a great deal better in Business Class.
While I would not pay to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class on a daytime flight, particularly on the short ones. For overnight flights, the flatbed makes all the difference.
For me, the advantages of travelling in Business are:
- Access to the Japan Airlines airline lounges
- Better seats and exclusivity
- Seat space and lie-flat – Business seats are bigger and flatten to a bed
- Much better food and more choice
- More luggage
Below you will find my most recent flight reviews on Japan Airlines in First and Business Class. You can draw your own conclusions:
After a stop in Tokyo following my flight on Japan Airlines in their JAL Sky Suites Bangkok to Tokyo, I continued my journey on Japan Airlines to New York. Once again, my review is describing the Business Class JAL Sky… Read More.
In early August 2018, I was able to review my flight on JAL Japan Airlines in their Business Class Sky Suites, from Southeast Asia, Bangkok (BKK) to the US via Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT). I broke the trip by having… Read More.
On a recent work trip in June, I took Japan Airlines Business Class from Hong Kong to Narita International Airport at Tokyo. The short 4 hour 30 minute flight took place in the late afternoon, and Japan Airlines used a… Read More.
In December 2017, I took Japan Airlines from Tokyo Haneda to Shanghai Pudong. The flight, JL 85, was on a Boeing 777-200ER and featured Japan Airlines’ latest business class seat, the Sky Suites III. Japan Airlines is a bit peculiar… Read More.
I flew Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER on Japan Airlines (JAL) from London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) in Japan in June 2016. The airport lounge I was given access to was the British Airways Galleries… Read More.
Having just reviewed the Business Class Sky Suite on the Japan Airlines B777-300ER, I thought I would review the new business class product which you find on Japan Airlines’ 11 Boeing 777-200ERs. These planes are mainly used for mid-range flights… Read More.
When flying on Japan Airlines Airlines, which is part of the Oneworld Alliance, is it worth paying to upgrade to Premium Economy from Economy seats on long-haul flights? Read More.
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