Flying with a national carrier makes sense when you’ve got their Tokyo home base on your travel list, plus it starts your destination experience right from departure.

Japan Airlines (JAL) Sydney to Tokyo flight is an easy introduction into the Japanese way of doing things with charming precision and efficiency.

I travelled economy from Sydney to Tokyo (Narita) on a day flight and had an enjoyable nine hour economy flight. The food was reasonable with a choice of meals and plentiful with both lunch and dinner served.

Heading for Tokyo with JAL.

There were a couple of movies to watch and it wasn’t hard to nap. Space between the seats was limited and when the seat in front of me was reclined I did feel cramped, however an aisle seat meant I could move around. JAL’s economy seats were named the best in the world Skytrax 2015 Awards.

 

Hoy Pinoy's Filipino street food.

 

There were a couple of movies to watch and it wasn’t hard to nap. Space between the seats was limited and when the seat in front of me was reclined I did feel cramped, however an aisle seat meant I could move around. JAL’s economy seats were named the best in the world Skytrax 2015 Awards.
On the night flight on the way home, enticed by photos of more seat room and a bigger pitch, I took an optional upgrade at the airport to premium economy which cost me around $350 Australian extra.

 

Let's Do Yum Cha at Brisbane Noodle Markets.
Great selection at Let's Do Yum Cha.

The seat definitely had more leg room and there were only two in the row instead of three so the feeling was quite spacious. There was more space to move around and a nice little privacy divider between the seats.

The seat also slides down and out, rather than reclining but it didn’t really get my feet off the ground much more, which I was really hoping it would. On the plus side, the seat doesn’t recline on person behind you which can be a real advantage compared to standard economy.

Breakfast arrived when my watch, still on Tokyo time, said 3am. Not so strangely, I wasn’t at all hungry and it didn’t interest me. Also it was Asian style with no alternative – braised beef sukiyaki , seasoned egg, seaweed salad with sesame and ginger soy dressing, almond jelly. Give me some cornflakes, or even toast and jam please.

I burnt through the choice in movies on the first flight and on the way home I’m was just watching Disney movies which was a little boring.

Although the seat was good, I’m not sure I would pay for the upgrade again.
Bottom line: The lowest JAL Sydney-Tokyo fare I could find was around $1300 return. Flexibility with your dates can save you a lot of money.
Best tip: Take an aisle seat.

Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled as a guest of Japan National Tourism Organisation