The Japanese (non) LCCs: Japan Air Lines

Japan Air Lines (JAL) is not an LCC, of course, but even I occasionally break the rules I create for my travel adventures. In this case I was in the north and needed to be back in Haneda early afternoon to catch my onward Delta flight back to the United States. Booking an Avios award was a cheap and easy way to make sure I was covered. Also, JAL flies the CTS-HND route hourly on a twin-aisle aircraft, meaning lots of options in case something went awry.

So long, Hokkaido!
So long, Hokkaido!

After arriving on my Air Asia Japan flight I was outside security so I wandered through the mall attached to the airport for a bit, grabbing a delicious cheese custard tart. There was a line at the shop; that seemed as good an indicator as any that it would be tasty. It was.

From there it was off to the JAL check-in counter nearly 2 hours prior to scheduled departure. No problem checking in that early nor with requesting a window seat without a fee. Both were in start contrast to prior the LCC flights on this trip. Once through security I went in to the lounge to charge my batteries and realized that I was still ridiculously early for my flight.


Reasonable legroom on this JAL Domestic 767
Reasonable legroom on this JAL Domestic 767

I asked at the counter about switching to the hour earlier departure and was able to do so without issue. Even managed to still get a window seat. Given the need to switch from domestic to international terminals at Haneda the extra buffer time was useful, though not entirely necessary.

The earlier flight time meant a 767-300 rather than the 777-200 I originally booked. That’s good news from a coach passenger comfort perspective, though a slight downgrade on the AvGeek ridiculousness of wide-body short-haul flying. I was also amused that the 11a departure had a 10:45a posted boarding time. In the US market that would be when boarding ends, not begins. In Japan, however, it works just fine. Mostly due to fewer bags in the overheads and people just working together to get where they need to be.

The entire JAL domestic fleet has Gogo‘s Ku-band inflight connectivity solution on board and the service is free for passengers. Yeah, it was a short flight and I didn’t really need the wifi. But it was free so why not. Overall performace was pretty good, though I only used my mobile device, not my laptop, during the trip.

After landing I chose the monorail option between terminals (200 yen versus the free bus, but I liked the ride).


Scoring the JAL Domestic experience:

Buying tickets: 5/5

Super easy on Avios or direct.

Check-in/preflight: 5/5

Easy to check in at the counter. Having some flexibility with the flight times and schedules without any additional charges was a big win.

On-board: 5/5

The 767 is one of my favorite planes as a passenger. Plus wifi worked well.

Overall: 5/5

Does it really count since it isn’t an LCC? Maybe not, but the price (in points) was right and the entire experience was smooth from start to finish.

More from my Japanese LCC Adventure

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. the boarding efficiency in Japan was scary. When i flew CTS-HND on ANA 773 last year, they managed to board 500 passengers in 20 minutes in a very orderly fashion with no gate lice issue either.

  2. For the Youtube video, which camera did you use for the time lapse and also which video editing software?

    1. A GoPro Silver 3+ (or something like that) and the GoPro software. Very basic stuff that works great for my needs.

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