Sunday, February 3, 2013

NRT JAL domestic Sakura lounge

One World lounge tour of Tokyo Narita
NRT-LAX AA business class
LAX AA Flagship Lounge
LAX-NRT AA business class
NRT JAL domestic Sakura lounge

As the final highlight of my CTS-SFO roundtrip itinerary, I visited the NRT Japan Airlines domestic Sakura lounge before my final trip segment from NRT-CTS.  As noted in a previous post, JAL really skimps out on their domestic lounge product, particularly when compared to their international lounges.  Typically, domestic lounges are limited to complimentary drinks and basic alcohol with the occasional crackers.  So my expectations were extremely low when visiting this domestic business class lounge.  At NRT, JAL has an astounding 6 international lounges (3 First Class and 3 Sakura business class lounges) but a meager lone domestic lounge, which all serves to prove the importance of NRT as an international hub and its insignificance as a domestic airport.  Perhaps only LHR exhibits such a drastic contrast in terms of their international and domestic operations.

Shower room
There's nothing like taking a nice warm shower after a long transpacific flight.  Because the NRT JAL domestic lounge only has 3 shower rooms, I immediately put my name on the waitlist, which took about 30 minutes.
The shower room was small, which is the norm for a Japanese carrier lounge.  There was no toilet and the amenities were limited to toothbrushes, toothpaste, a shower cap, a comb, and a hair dryer.  Basically, everything you need for a shower and nothing more.
Food and Drink selection
Since CTS, HND, and especially NGO domestic Sakura lounges' consumables sections were a complete joke, I expected nothing more from the NRT domestic lounge.  To my surprise, the lounge actually had physical food in the form of mini sandwiches, buns, muffins, and crackers.
Personal workspace featuring a view of NRT's famed Terminal 2 One World check-in counters.
The 3 sandwich choices were scrambled eggs, tuna mayonnaise, and turkey.  Since they all contained at least once slice of ham, I skipped them and opted for the buns and green tea muffins.  The lounge had two beverage counters featuring the normal soft drinks, juices, coffee machine, and basic alcohol.
The lounge had two large rooms with sofa seats, a workspace room, a smoking room, and a massage chair room.  This may seem ample, but as the only One World domestic lounge in NRT, the seats filled up pretty quickly.  In anticipation of mid-afternoon international arrivals, many of the domestic connecting flights depart in the early evening, so this is the time when the lounge can get really crowded.  The seating capacity was absolutely night and day from when I entered the lounge at 4:30 pm and left at 6 pm.
Bottom line
Unlike their NGO shared lounge with ANA, which lacks even the most basic amenity of WiFi, JAL actually gets it right when it comes to their token NRT domestic lounge.  This is their best domestic lounge in terms of food offerings, but a distant second in terms of seating and alcohol from the flagship first class HND Diamond Premier Lounge.  Since the vast majority of guests are connecting from international flights, JAL probably finds it necessary to provide at least some type of food offerings to preserve their hallowed image as Japan's flag carrier.  JAL should invest in a first class domestic lounge at NRT since all One World customers connecting to Japanese cities outside of Tokyo are basically diverted to this terminal, and a flagship Diamond Premier Lounge would help ease the crowding at this lounge while providing an ambient atmosphere for passengers getting off from legendary first class cabins on JAL, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, and British Airways.


  1. The % of OW emeralds and sapphires flying through NRT that connect to domestic flights is very low and doesn't justify investing in an international lounge, but one can always dream.

    And I would definitely take SFO T2 over that lounge. Why settle for 7-Eleven food when you can get the real thing.

  2. There is a considerable number of premium class customers connecting to major metropolitan areas in Japan like Nagoya, Sapporo, Osaka, and Fukuoka.