Friday, September 30, 2016

Lounge Destinations: The Red Suite....


One of the best parts of a Mileage Run, or any well planned trip, can be free access to some of the impressive and luxurious Oneworld lounges.  In terms of lounge quality, Oneworld is king amongst the airline alliances.  From the Qantas offerings in SYD, to Galleries in LHR, to Cathay's spread of lounges in HKG, it really pays to be a Oneworld elite when traveling abroad.  I've been known to book 6 hour layovers, just to enjoy the lounges. 

For reference, the basic Oneworld lounge access policies are:

Further, you can generally have access to an airline's lounge when flying same day with them in a premium cabin.  Logic dictates here, so a business class ticket = business lounge access, and a first class ticket = first class lounge access.

There are also certain lounge pass memberships, and credit cards with lounges as a benefit, like Priority Pass, and Lounge Club, but neither of these apply to the JAL lounges, and I'll cover them in other posts.

This summer, I got the chance to try a new OW First Class lounge, courtesy of a run to Hong Kong and AA's new Tokyo Haenda to LAX nonstop flight.  My return ticket took me from HKG, to HND, and then back to LAX on the new 787 Dreamliner.  All my upgrades cleared, so I was already having a great trip. 
My ride for the journey home

Seat 6L- Very quiet and private

It was my first stop in HND, which is the smaller of the two main Tokyo airports.  I didn't have time to go into the city this time, even though it's closer than when you fly into Narita.  I was fine with this, because my layover turned out to be even better than expected.

I should say at the start that the lounges in Tokyo generally are right up there with the best in the world.  JAL's customer service and attention to detail make a layover at one of their lounges worth the wait.  Both of their lounges in Tokyo offer full buffet spreads, beer, wine, sake, and a full self-serve bar, as well as relaxing extras like nice shower rooms, complimentary massage service, and massage chairs.  Plus, the made to order sushi bar in NRT is worth a visit.

There are both First and Business class lounges at HND, and the First Class lounge recently underwent a stunning renovation.  Most importantly, as well as providing ample seating in the main parts of the lounge, space for work, and views of airport ops, they've gone above and beyond in adding a more intimate set of rooms to explore called "The Red Suite." 

The Red Suite is every aviation enthusiast's dream, and takes you back to the days of elegant travel.  At every angle, the décor and mood is impeccable.  From the vintage desk, complete with typewriter and model aircraft, to the complimentary shoe shine service, it makes every layover seem too short. 

Feel free to settle into one of the silky leather chairs in the suite, and reflect on the journey so far.

Hours were from 7:00 to about 23:00, I believe.  
You can pour yourself a crystal glass of chilled sake or champagne from the minimalist bar inside the Suite, and spend some time taking in the historical photos of JAL's past, peruse the walls of charts, or even challenge a travel companion to a round of chess in the game room before heading out to your flight. 
Get there with enough time for a game, maybe two.

Loser has to forfeit the aisle seat on the next flight.

If you look long enough, you just might be able to chart your way home....or to Sydney and back.

No detail has been overlooked, and with this re-vamp, JAL has set a new standard in lounge décor, not just for its own service, but for any airline offering a premium experience.  While it is not the biggest lounge in the system, any true travel lover won't be in a hurry to get to their next jet bridge too quickly.

Travel Well,



  1. Simply amazing! I haven't had the opportunity to visit one of these lounges but they look fabulous. Made to order sushi? I am in! #TPThursday

    1. They are a major draw in my flight planning, honestly. Worth getting there early!

  2. Wow, so interesting. So that is what is behind those elegant doors at Haneda!

    1. Both of the Tokyo JAL hubs have beautiful lounges, and the level of customer service is equally amazing. I've been known to schedule 6 hour layovers on purpose. :)