Both of Japan’s major airlines are fantastic and industry-leading, so comparing JAL vs ANA is necessarily pedantic. Rather than one being good and the other bad, it’s about identifying and appreciating the different and complementary ways that each carrier excels—and excel they do.
To be sure, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to say definitively, and objective, which is the best Japanese airline within the confines of this post. But I will provide you with specific information by which you can make your own comparisons and draw your own conclusions.
Regardless of whether you choose ANA or JAL, and irrespective of the class of service you choose, you’re in for the flight of your life. It’s time for take-off now, however, so buckle your belt and face forward!
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1 Why Should You Fly a Japanese Airline to Japan?
2 ANA vs JAL Business Class
2.1 JAL vs ANA Business Class Seat
2.2 ANA vs JAL Business Class Food and Drink
2.3 Service in JAL vs ANA Business Class
2.4 Business Class Lounges for ANA and JAL
3 ANA vs JAL Economy
3.1 JAL vs ANA Economy Class Seat
3.2 Food in ANA vs JAL Economy Class
3.3 JAL vs ANA Economy Class Service
4 JAL vs. ANA: Other Classes of Service
5 Fleets of JAL and ANA
6 ANA vs. JAL for Japan Domestic Flights
7 Best Deals on ANA and JAL Flights
8 Should You Fly JAL or ANA to Haneda or Narita?
9 Other FAQ About JAL vs. ANA
9.1 Which is better JAL or ANA?
9.2 What is the difference between JAL and ANA?
9.3 Why is JAL so expensive?
10 The Bottom Line
Why Should You Fly a Japanese Airline to Japan?
Outside of the ANA vs JAL debate (which I’ll get to in just a moment—patience!), there’s simply no comparison between Japan’s airlines and non-Japanese airlines that fly to Japan. From the hospitality on the ground and in the air, to the food at the lounge and on-board and even the seemingly inconspicuous design details of the livery, cabin and crew uniforms, your trip to Japan begins the moment you board a Japanese airline.
To help you choose whether JAL or ANA is right for your trip, I’ll be comparing the onboard product for both airlines in business and economy classes, and also explaining some general contrasts between JAL and ANA first class and premium economy. After pointing out some key differences between ANA’s and JAL’s fleets (and the fact that domestically, both provide a near-identical experience) I’ll explain ways to fly ANA and JAL at a discount and finally, compare and contrast Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita Airports.
ANA vs JAL Business Class
JAL vs ANA Business Class Seat
Up until very recently, comparing business class seats for Japan Airlines vs ANA was rather straightforward, with most international ANA aircraft featuring lie-flat beds in a 1-2-1 configuration, and most JAL passengers enjoying the popular APEX Suite seat, which is in a 2-2-2 or 2-3-2 configuration, but still remarkably private. (NOTE: So long as you get a window seat! On a recent JAL business class flight from JFK-NRT, I said on the aisle—and I felt like the whole plane could see me!) However, ANA has recently announced “The Suite,” a business class product many bloggers are describing as revolutionary—stay tuned!
ANA vs JAL Business Class Food and Drink
As I mentioned in my Japan Airlines review, I do give JAL the slight edge when it comes to business class dining—which other airline adds colorful, edible flowers to its salad of lush greens and tender roast beef? On the other hand, ANA’s food is nothing to sneeze at (especially its Japanese offerings); both airlines offer business class passengers a full bar, including Japanese spirits like a variety of sakes and even plum-flavored umeshu.
Service in JAL vs ANA Business Class
Service and hospitality are possibility the most futile means of comparing ANA vs Japan Airlines—they’re both fantastic! In the business class cabins of both Japan’s major airlines, you’ll enjoy attentive and personalized service, with friendly flight attendants serving your every need with a smile. On a personal note, ANA’s crew did once write me a sweet birthday card on a flight from Houston to Tokyo, even though my birthday wasn’t for several days, and that stands out over anything JAL did for me.
Business Class Lounges for ANA and JAL
Deciding between Japan Airlines or ANA business class isn’t just about the experience in the air. The on-the-ground experience, especially at the airlines’ hubs at Tokyo’s airports, is just as important. In addition to offering fabulous lounges at both Haneda and Narita (Sakura Lounge and ANA Lounge, respectively), both carriers offer expedited security screening at Narita, though not at Haneda. Inside the lounges, I’d say JAL’s Sakura lounge is both more stylish and offers better food, though I’m sentimental about ANA’s satellite lounge at Narita, since it’s one of the first international business class lounges I ever visited.
ANA vs JAL Economy
JAL vs ANA Economy Class Seat
ANA and JAL are both these best Japanese airlines in their own ways, but JAL’s “Sky Wider” seat wins out when it comes to the economy class experience, hands down. This is especially the case if you can fly on JAL’s internationally-configured 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft, which are among the only Dreamliners in the world to feature the roomy 2-4-2 economy class seating arrangement Boeing had when it designed the plane.
Food in ANA vs JAL Economy Class
Generally speaking, economy class passengers on both airlines can choose between Japanese and Western dishes, as well as specialty meals (diabetic, vegetarian and Halal, as a few examples), plus free beer and wine and limited spirits as well. It’s difficult for me to choose a winner between All Nippon Airways vs JAL in this category—the food in both economy cabins is better than average, though unspectacular on the whole.
JAL vs ANA Economy Class Service
Whether you choose ANA or Japan Airlines, and regardless of your booking class, you’re going to enjoy friendly service and great hospitality. Whether flying ANA from Tokyo to Los Angeles or JAL from Bangkok to Osaka, it never ceases to amaze me how warm and friendly Japanese cabin crew are, even when each is responsible for dozens of economy class passengers. Plus, I’ve never had to wait more than a minute for any call to be answered!
JAL vs. ANA: Other Classes of Service
In my opinion, the best Japan Airlines class of service (or the one on ANA, for that matters) is business class. I don’t eat caviar, and the other enhancements of first vs. business—slightly larger seat, somewhat better food, more attentive service—don’t justify the huge increase in cost. However, ANA’s new premium cabins I mentioned above feature a first class that’s so beautiful I might just have to suspend this perspective for 10-12 hours.
When it comes to ANA or JAL premium economy, I feel like there is even less of a distinctions. Seat-wise, both of these cabins are very similar to what you’d find in first class on domestic flights in the US (or Japan, for that matter); the food is better than what you get in economy but not as impeccable as what business class passengers enjoy.
Fleets of JAL and ANA
Another way to compare JAL vs ANA is in terms of their fleets. For this, however, I’m going to be looking at the international fleets, since Japanese domestic aircraft…well, I’ll talk more about those in a second. In terms of long haul aircraft, JAL and ANA both operate all-Boeing fleets for now, although JAL will be taking delivery of internationally-configured A350-1000 aircraft in the coming years. Choosing the best Japanese airline based on this metric, however, is also something of a fool’s errand.
In recent years, Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft have become the backbone of both airlines’ international fleets, while 777-300ER planes (with first class cabins) serve high-yielding destinations like London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Both airlines operate a certain number of Dreamliners within Asia (with ANA having taken delivery of some 787-10 for flights to Bangkok and Singapore); though 777-200ER and 767-300ER aircraft also serve certain destinations. As of 2019, ANA operates a small fleet of A380s for flights to Hawaii.
ANA vs. JAL for Japan Domestic Flights
Speaking of domestic flights in Japan, this is another area where I find ANA and JAL to be pretty much equal. Japanese domestic aircraft feature extremely tight configurations and minimal service due to short stage lengths, but effortless hospitality and grace dominate the onboard environment no less. Prices are also relatively standard between airlines, so that doesn’t tend to be a factor.
Personally, the way I between between JAL vs. ANA when flying domestically in Japan is availability. For instance, Japan Airlines is the only airline of the two that flies to Aomori, while only ANA flies to Tottori. Likewise, JAL’s various regional subsidiaries (JTA or Japan Transocean Air in Okinawa; JAC or Japan Air Commuter in other regions) mean that it’s often the only choice to smaller Japanese markets.
Best Deals on ANA and JAL Flights
Whether you’ve been more enticed by my JAL review or end up choosing ANA, one thing you’ll notice is that Japanese airlines aren’t cheap. There are ways around this, however, including:
- Booking flights via Tokyo to Southeast Asia
- Using miles for ANA and JAL, especially in first and business class
- Subscribing to email updates to receive news of deals
- Willingness to fly from multiple North American and European origins
No matter if you like JAL or ANA better, consider hiring me to help you get the best deal on flights to Japan, including using your miles and points to hack a great fare.
Should You Fly JAL or ANA to Haneda or Narita?
I hope I’ve assuaged the concerns you might be having, whether you’re wondering “is Japan Airlines good?” or you have some pressing anxiety about ANA. Another important factor to consider, especially as Japan authorizes more international flights into Haneda Airport ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is which airport to fly into.
Now obviously, there’s less flexibility in choosing between Haneda vs Narita than there is when it comes to All Nippon Airways vs Japan Airlines—both airlines serve significantly more international destinations from Narita, which is likely where you’ll fly to. If you are taking a route where there’s an option, however (JAL flies both HND-JFK and NRT-JFK; ANA flies from both Haneda and Narita to Chicago O’Hare), I would generally choose Haneda, which is closer to Tokyo and (the international terminal, anyway) a much nicer facility.
Other FAQ About JAL vs. ANA
Which is better JAL or ANA?
The Japan Airlines vs ANA debate is largely subjective, but I find that ANA offers a more consistently excellent product and more exquisite online service. With this being said, JAL is a materially better airline than almost any global carrier outside Japan.
What is the difference between JAL and ANA?
In addition to the differences between JAL vs ANA business class I highlighted earlier, I would say ANA tends to be more innovative with its seats and cuisine, while JAL take a more traditional, time-tested approach. As Japan begins to recover from Covid-19, I expect ANA to remain on the cutting edge, given its superior financial position before the pandemic.
Why is JAL so expensive?
Regardless of whether you consider it to be the best Japanese airline or not, JAL is definitely not cheap. As to why it’s expensive, this is primarily because JAL is a premium airline, especially long haul. Its huge 777-300ER aircraft are configured in a way that they only hold a couple of hundred passengers, for example, which naturally means that each will have to pay more.
The Bottom Line
Which is the best airline in Japan? Unfortunately, comparing JAL vs ANA isn’t a battle with a definitive victor. Both of Japan’s major global carriers feature delicious food, comfortable and stylish cabins, outstanding service and an enjoyable ground experience as well. Both are also uniformly expensive, though some ways around their high prices do exist. At the end of the day, you should aim to fly both ANA and JAL if you can, and keep in mind what I said at the beginning: Your trip to Japan starts the moment you step on-board either of these exceptional carriers.
Which airline is better Nippon or Japan Airlines? ›
According to data from Flight Connections, as of May 2022, Japan Airlines serves 52 domestic destinations and 39 international destinations in 21 countries. Meanwhile, ANA also serves 53 domestic destinations, but has a stronger international footprint.Which first class is better ANA or JAL? ›
Conclusion. Despite the fact that both are world-class experiences with top-notch service, I'd give the edge to ANA First Class over Japan Airlines First Class because of the substantial differences in the hard product.Is ANA bigger than JAL? ›
ANA is now the largest airline company in Japan; it operates a total of 82 international routes and 118 domestic routes. ANA also flies in and out of Tokyo's two major airports: Narita and Haneda. Ranked in sixth place is Japan Airlines, following Qantas Airways in fifth.Is JAL the same as ANA? ›
ANA and JAL are both these best Japanese airlines in their own ways, but JAL's “Sky Wider” seat wins out when it comes to the economy class experience, hands down.Which airline is best in Japan? ›
1. ANA (All Nippon Airlines) ANA is one of Japan's largest airlines and our family favorite for flying from the US to Japan.What is the most popular airline in Japan? ›
In fiscal year 2021, All Nippon Airways (ANA) earned approximately 275.31 billion Japanese yen of passenger revenue on domestic flights in Japan, more than any other airline. All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines dominate the aviation industry in Japan and are principal shareholders of several other domestic airlines.Is JAL the best airline? ›
JAL's superb experience has been voted the World's Best Economy Class,the Best Economy Class Airline Seat and COVID-19 Airline Excellence Award at the SKYTRAX 2021 World Airline Awards.Is JAL a good airline? ›
As confirmed by the Skytrax 2021 World Airline Awards – the world's largest airline passenger satisfaction survey, featuring 13.4 million voters from over 100 countries – Japan Airlines has the World's Best Economy Class with the Best Economy Class Airline Seat.Is ANA premium economy worth it? ›
A wider seat, extra legroom and lounge access make ANA's premium economy fare a good value for long-haul flights.Why is Japan Airlines so good? ›
Whether you're flying domestic or catching an international long-haul flight, you want to have the most satisfying experience possible. Japan Airlines offers wider legroom than our competitors, alongside superior cuisine, in-flight entertainment, and amenities.
What is JAL known for? ›
Japan Airlines (JAL), (Japanese: Nihon Kōkū) in fullJapan Airlines International Co., Ltd., Japanese airline that became one of the largest air carriers in the world. Founded in 1951, it was originally a private company. It was reorganized in 1953 as a semigovernmental public corporation and was privatized in 1987.Who is the best airline in the world 2022? ›
1 airline of 2022: Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways ranked at the top of Skytrax's list. The carrier's chief executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, stated in a press release that Qatar Airways' goal when it was created in 1993 was always to be named the best airline.Did JAL have an abortion? ›
Jal discovers she's pregnant, and when she tells her parents, they encourage her to get an abortion. When she's going to tell her boyfriend, Chris, she discovers that he's been rushed to the hospital with a blood clot in his brain. In the season finale, she shares that she had an abortion.Who gets JAL pregnant? ›
Jal learns that she is pregnant by Chris, whom her parents want her to dump so she can concentrate on her schoolwork.Is JAL a part of the Star Alliance? ›
Established in 1951, it is one of the world's premier carriers and joined the oneworld Alliance in 2007.Is JAL a 5 star airline? ›
The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). This is when Japan is at its most vibrant, with delicate cherry blossom or bright red leaves adding contrast to the scenery. Remember, it can also be very crowded at this time.What is the cheapest time of year to fly to Japan? ›
Book at least 4 weeks before departure in order to get a below-average price. High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly to Japan is February. Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest Japan flight deals.What is the most beautiful airline? ›
- BRUSSELS AIRLINES.
- ETIHAD AIRWAYS.
- HAWAIIAN AIRLINES.
- FIJI AIRWAYS.
- AIR NEW ZEALAND.
- AIR TAHITI NUI.
Established in 1951, Japan Airlines is one of the world's premier carriers. It joined the oneworld® alliance in 2007. The airline has major hubs at Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Okinawa, and serves almost 80 destinations across 20 countries and regions.
Is Haneda or Narita bigger? ›
Narita Airport is the second-busiest airport in the country (after Haneda) and also serves as a hub for Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. By number of passengers, it is the world's 49th busiest airport, handling over 40 million passengers a year.Does JAL require Covid test transit? ›
All passengers entering Japan from overseas are required to submit a certificate of testing for COVID-19. Learn more about the testing information. VeriFLY is introduced on selected routes. You can quickly check the entry requirements with the app.Does JAL require Covid test for boarding? ›
If you are transferring to a JAL international flight from another flight, your test must be taken within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of that first connecting flight.Can JAL economy get lounge access? ›
Lounge access may not be available on Premium Economy Class depending on the Operating carrier's service policy. No lounge service for Economy class passengers on codeshare flights operated by partner carrier. Lounge access is subject to availability.Does JAL require mask? ›
Requests to our customers at boarding gates
Passengers are required to wear a face mask. In case it is difficult to wear a mask, please wear face shields or mouth cover in lieu of a mask.
You get free drinks and free food in Japan Airlines Premium Economy. The menu offering is the same as in economy, but with three additional drink options (sparkling wine, shochu, and sparkling water). Expect meal choices like chicken or fish and rice bowl.Can you sleep in premium economy? ›
Even though you won't be reclining in a flat bed in any premium-economy cabin, a combination of larger seat dimensions, wider armrests, adjustable leg rests and extra features, like upgraded bedding and noise-canceling headphones, almost guarantee you'll feel more rested upon arrival.Can you lie flat in premium economy? ›
They're stacked in a double-decker layout to maximize the number of seats within the cabin while providing direct access to the aisle. Passengers can lie flat for rest or sit up with ample space to work or relax.Which international airline has the most comfortable economy seats? ›
Emirates wins award as the World's Best Economy Class with Qatar Airways in second place and Singapore Airlines in third position. Scroll down to see all of the economy class airline category ratings.What is the #1 airline in the world? ›
Which premium economy is best? ›
Virgin Atlantic wins award for the World's Best Premium Economy Class, with Singapore Airlines in second place and Qantas in third position.Does Japan Airlines provide hotel for long layover? ›
and have an “extremely long international layover” in Japan you are entitled to get free accommodation and another service.Why is Japan's water so clean? ›
Japan's tap water is drinkable and safe. The national water infrastructure is reliable, and purification facilities are well-maintained, so the tap water is good quality and easy on the stomach. Most of the water supply in Tokyo and major cities comes from dams, reservoirs, or comes from rivers.Is JAL part of Qantas? ›
Partner airline - Japan Airlines.
|Airline codes||JL, NU|
|Earn Qantas Points*||Yes|
|Earn Status Credits*||Yes|
|Classic Flight Rewards^||Yes|
Japan AirlinesIs Ana a safe airline? ›
ANA All Nippon Airways is certified with the highest 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating for the safety measures and improved hygiene processes introduced by ANA All Nippon Airways under the ANA Care Promise to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus.What is the best day of the week to buy airline tickets 2022? ›
Expedia points out that purchasing tickets on a Sunday saved 5% more in 2022 than in 2021. The company teamed up with Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which looked at data for average round-trip ticket prices from January through August of this year for flights originating in the U.S.What is a 5 star airline? ›
A five-star airline is one that delivers the highest level of service and the best in-flight experience. One of the companies that rates airlines is the UK-based research company, Skytrax, which has been awarding individual airlines with between one and five stars.What does Jal do with the baby? ›
In episode nine, Jal appears at Sid's dinner party, and reveals that she is pregnant, and plans to have an abortion. Jal got two As and a C in her A-levels. In the series 2 finale, Jal reveals that she had an abortion.What caused the crash of Jal 123? ›
The crash was attributed to a missing tail fin that was likely structurally weakened because of frequent landings and takeoffs. Many aviation experts credited the pilot for keeping the damaged plane in the air for almost a half hour after reporting difficulty.
Was Jal 123 shot down? ›
Japan Air Lines Flight 123.
As pregnancy is not an illness, air travel does not usually present health concerns for pregnant women. However, we recommend careful planning in consideration of your destination and schedule. Consult your physician in advance to see if it is safe for you to fly.Is Jal in Skins color blind? ›
Did you know. It is implied that Jal is colourblind. This is demonstrated when on two separate occasions she refers to a brown dress as being green.Why was Chris in the hospital Skins? ›
In episode eight, Jal returns from her audition to find Chris has been taken to hospital because he has suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a result of the hereditary condition that his brother died of previously.What is the difference between ANA and Air Japan? ›
The Air Japan brand dates back 20 years. In 2000, the ANA-owned charter airline World Air Network rebranded to Air Japan. It began operating scheduled international services to South Korea in 2001 and has operated flights under ANA branding since then.Does JAL have a frequent flyer program? ›
The FLY ON Program is designed for our most frequent flyers. For every eligible flight you take, you will be awarded FLY ON Points automatically in addition to flight miles.What are the 3 major airline alliance brands? ›
There are three major airline alliances: SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld. Each has different partner airlines.Why Japan instead of Nippon? ›
The simple answer is that Nippon is the typical name in Japanese, but there are other names in other languages. It appears that the name "Japan" was derived from the Mandarin or Wu name for the country, which was usually transcribed as "Cipan".Is ANA a good airline? ›
All Nippon Airways (ANA) is Japan's biggest airline. Although the service and standards are rivaled by its counterpart – Japan Airlines – it's the only airline in Japan to hold Skytrax 5-star status.What is the best quality airline to fly with? ›
The Best Airlines in the U.S.: 2022 Readers' Choice Awards
- Delta Air Lines.
- JetBlue Airways. ...
- Hawaiian Airlines. ...
- Tradewind Aviation. ...
- Alaska Airlines. ...
- Southwest Airlines. ...
- United Airlines. ...
Which is the No 1 airline in India? ›
Which is the number 1 airline in India? Indigo is currently ranked as the best performing airline in India with the highest share of domestic flights. Due to being a low-cost carrier, it is highly preferred among frequent flyers and commands the highest fleet size of any airline in India.When did Japan stop using Nippon? ›
The Japanese used "Nippon," which was the English equivalent of the Japanese word for Japan. It was not until 1921 that the United States changed the law so that pieces had to be marked "Japan," not "Nippon." These laws make it easy for today's collectors to identify Nippon china.What is the difference between Japan and Nippon? ›
No difference, Japan is the name in English and Nippon or more commonly Nihon is the name of the country in Japanese.Do Japanese call it Nippon? ›
While Japanese people usually refer to their country as Nihon or Nippon these days, in early texts, the names Oyashima (mother island) or Yamato (which was written with the Chinese characters for great and wa, see below) were used.Is ANA a 5-star airline? ›
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Japan's largest airline, has been awarded the highest 5-Star Airline Rating by the international air transport rating organisation SKYTRAX for the tenth consecutive year since 2013.Do ANA economy seats recline? ›
ANA ECONOMY CLASS SEAT. These newly designed seats were slimmed down to achieve a spacious seat pitch of 34 inches (approx. 86 cm) yet remain just as comfortable as our previous model. The slim design of these reclining seats enables you to make the most of your legroom.What airline has the most cancellations? ›
American Airlines has canceled the most flights among major U.S. carriers with more than 19,000 cancellations, according to Reuters, followed by Southwest Airlines with more than 17,000 cancellations. Delta Air Lines had the fewest cancellations with only about 10,000 canceled flights.What is the most reliable airline 2022? ›
The most reliable airline of 2022
Hawaiian Airlines performed the best in every metric we checked — from on-time percentage to involuntary denied boardings. That makes Hawaiian Airlines our most reliable airline for 2022 in a landslide. Delta takes second place overall with a No.
Emirates wins award as the World's Best Economy Class with Qatar Airways in second place and Singapore Airlines in third position. Scroll down to see all of the economy class airline category ratings.Which is the No 1 flight in the world? ›
Qatar Airways was named the No. 1 airline in the world again in 2022.