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JAL Boeing Dreamliner being serviced at Narita Airport

JAL Boeing Dreamliner being serviced at Narita Airport (Skyforger Images Copyright 2013)

So, I deliberately chose a flight to try out the new Boeing Dreamliner and see if it’s worth making a fuss over this.  It has some stiff competition, I’ve already taken the Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800 and was dead impressed.  Part of it, of course, is how good the staff are and the level of service that you get.  Boarding was a snap, no long delays waiting for different sections to be boarded.  There is more aisle room and definitely more overhead storage, so you don’t face a massive combat to get your carry-on into a location near your seat.  You also notice that the bulkhead is nowhere near your head, and a lot of effort has gone into the lighting.  From outside the plane isn’t overly impressive, a clean design with two rather large engines.  During the flight a number of things made for a more comfortable flight.  Every now and then then air is injected with some humidity which is mildly scented.  This is an enormous plus if like me you have a seat-mate who simply cannot stop shitting himself.  The windows don’t have covers, but rather tint themselves according to your wishes.  I imagine this is good for the aircrew as well since they have one less thing to do when landing (asking passengers to open or close the covers).  The entertainment system was solid, but a bit lacking in selection (that’s JAL, not Boeing’s fault) and definitely the seats were a bit on the tight side.  Again, you can’t blame the manufacturer for seat pitch and leg room.  One of the things you don’t really notice until you get off is how well isolated the cabin is from engine noise.  I normally get some serious hours out of my noise-cancelling earphones (PSB M4U-2s, get ’em they’re fantastic) but I didn’t use them much this time round.  After a 13 hour flight, it makes a huge difference to how tired you are.  A point on audio-jacks, I don’t know why everyone uses those horrible two prong connectors, but stop it.  I would dearly love to be able to use my own headphones to watch movies without sound coming out of only one earphone.  Overall, if it doesn’t take you considerably out of your way, I would definitely change flight plans to get on a Dreamliner, even if it cost a little bit more.  The likes of Air Canada and United have a lot of work to do on new fleets as I for one will go to considerable pains to get a more comfortable flight even if it means more cash and a longer flight route.
A few points on JAL service – although you can see the edge on the more experienced staff, generally speaking they are polite and don’t hide in the galleys during the flight as North American airlines do.  Service continues throughout the entire flight, and it is nice not to have to leave your seat to get orange juice or water.  Also, they made a point of offering plenty of alcohol which other airlines sometimes “forget.”  I don’t normally drink during flights, but thanks for the offer.

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