With my flight departing on a Sunday, the road to the airport was very quiet and naturally the bus ran on time. I arrived at Tokyo Haneda with plenty of time to spare as I proceed to the China Eastern check-in counters. With plenty of open counters for Sky Priority guests, it meant there was no queue and I obtained my boarding pass in no time.
Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is a pleasant space to walk around before security and I spent some time taking photos of its beautiful lighting in the departure concourse.
After spending some time snapping some photos, I went through security which was another pleasant experience in Japan. As a frequent traveller, I now mark how civilized a nation is by how well travellers are treated in the security check. Japan scores highly in this regard. Passport control was again very fast with little queues, reminding me of the scene in Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Once I pass through into the terminal, I made some more purchase of souvenirs at the duty free shops which are very nice to spend time in. Tokyo has certainly made Haneda a nicer airport to depart and arrive in as opposed to Narita. While China Eastern is part of the Sky Team alliance, there are no Sky Team lounges in Haneda and nearly all the Sky Team airlines uses the JAL Sakura Lounge which also features a First Class section.
The lounge is located opposite gate 112 in the international terminal, with escalators bringing guests to the second floor where a bright reception area awaits. A cursory check of my boarding pass and I was let into the lounge by the staff.
Since I had some shopping bags and a carry-on luggage, it was nice to store them in the lockers that had keys. This is another feature that I have seen in Japanese airport lounges and why I rate them highly.
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge in Haneda International Airport comprises of 2 storeys. The upper floor houses most of the lounge space while the main floor has the dining area. And to cater to guests that are lazy to climb the stairs, they have a partitioned area for lounging on the main floor across from the lockers. The design of the lounge has a minimalist feel but still maintains its warmth due to the use of wood all around.
Since I did not have lunch, I was feeling a bit hungry and head straight to the buffet counter to grab some food.
There was quite a bit of people when I arrived but it was a spacious buffet counter with a wide selection ranging from a nice salad bar to pastries, pastas, dumplings and rice. I started with the corn soup and had a second serving of pasta and rice that did make me adequately full before dinner later.
It was certainly a nice lounge with good quality food and drinks. Guests could also have packed wet towels to clean their hands before eating. All these details makes me enjoy visiting Japanese airport lounges. While there was a crowd, there was plenty of seating and the place never got too noisy.
After my meal in the lounge, I went up to explore the rest of the space. There was a neat lounging area that was very empty with circular loungers that provides a private space for guests.
There is also a long table with plenty of bar stools overlooking the tarmac that would be a nice place to hang out with a couple of magazines from the shelves. Japan Airlines have certainly invested in adding English language publications but majority of the stuff still caters to business passengers who can read Japanese.
While the second floor is dedicated mainly for lounging, there was a bar area with espresso machines and a fridge for guests to get some drinks. There are also snacks like packed rice crackers and chocolates near the bar area. For some reason, the lounge was really quiet when I visited and it feels empty. Most of the guests just seem to work and eat in the main floor dining space. Thus there are certainly added benefits to spreading the lounge over 2 floors as it creates a very nice relaxing space to lounge as opposed to dining.
Japan Airlines certainly has a very nice Business Class lounge in Haneda. Sky Team passengers departing from this airport certainly have it good with the nice quality of furnishings and I actually enjoyed the quality of the food in the lounge though a wider selection would certainly have been better. This was definitely a lounge that would be comfortable to spend time in and made my journey back home that much better!