The Plane: 787-8 Dreamliner
Loyalty: Qantas Club and Frequent Flyer Bronze. This ticket is a 140,000 point, 5 stopover itinerary. No entry to the Qantas Club at NRT as flyers must be on a QF designated flight.
Flight time: Scheduled for 9 hours 45 minutes. We depart on time with typical Japanese efficiency and with favourable weather land 50 minutes early.
Seats: 47A, 47C in economy. These seats are side-by-side despite the letter assignment. Legroom and width are adequate and similar to other airline economy seats. JAL supplies a moulded cushion for the small of your back and this significantly improves comfort. Seat configuration is 2-4-2 in economy, 2-3-2 in premium economy and 1-2-1 in business. Windows are larger than on other planes and can be tinted individually via a switch to suit your light requirement. They do take about 10 - 15 seconds to adjust which is a bit disconcerting at first.
Entertainment: The increasingly familiar iPad sized touchscreen is mounted in the headrest of the seat in front and includes the USB port for charging devices. The headphone socket is in the armrest. As is now becoming the norm there is more than enough content. All movies are either subtitled in Japanese or in English. There is a Manga e-book section, games and the now obligatory interactive flight map. As most of our flight is over Siberia there aren't many points of interest!
Food: Lunch was served about 90 minutes into the flight and comprised a choice of grilled chicken, salmon and rice or beef and pork with Hamburg sauce and rice (which was in fact just a hamburger patty). We chose one of each. There was also a green salad, fruit salad and pickled julienned carrots. Each tray was beautifully presented with exquisitely shaped bowls and metal cutlery. Qantas could take a lesson from JAL on their food quantity and presentation. A snack of noodles and miso soup was served about 90 minutes before landing. Between meals attention flight attendants constantly patrolled the aisles serving either water, juice or cold green tea. The cabin crew's attention to detail and caring attitude to individual passengers was very much appreciated.
The flight: Despite warnings of turbulent weather the flight was smooth. We were treated to yet another view of Mt Fuji as we climbed out of NRT. Midway through the flight we crossed into Arctic circle and were treated to the extraordinary sight of the sun setting, rising and then setting again. For some of the trip the sun stayed just out of sight, bathing the horizon with a warm red glow. From a balmy 10 degrees Celsius and partly cloudy skies in NRT, we landed in a snow shower at Helsinki with cloud down to 100 meters and the temperature at -7 degrees. Quite a change!
Overnight here and then onto Oslo and then Bergen.