Flight report: Japan Airlines business class, Los Angeles to Osaka (JL69)

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When I was planning my summer trip to Asia, I knew that I wanted to try long-haul business class, and that I definitely wanted to fly on an Asian airline. I feel that flying on a foreign airline gets me ready for my destination on the way in and a last taste of the country on my way out.

I ended up booking myself on Japan Airlines flights JL69 and JL60 between Los Angeles and Kansai International Airport (serving the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe region). As I mentioned in a previous post, this cost me 100,000 American AAdvantage miles plus $48.50 in taxes and fees.

My flight reports are going to focus on the things that matter to me the most: food, entertainment, and cabin comfort. As a low-budget gourmand, a high-end meal in-flight is one of the main reasons why I would choose to fly business or first class over economy. The selection of films on demand is important because I don’t subscribe to Netflix and don’t go to the movies that often–flying lets me catch up on pop culture. Cabin comfort is a third consideration because sitting around for hours can be incredibly uncomfortable. I will consider service, but it isn’t a main consideration for me. I’m used to rude and inconsiderate treatment in coach on domestic USA flights, so any glimpse of humanity from a flight attendant is already a huge step up.

Departure airport and lounge

Japan Airlines business class passengers have access to the Oneworld lounge in LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal. The lounge is right after security and is upstairs, overlooking the shopping area. There’s a wide selection of hot and cold food and beverage and plenty of seating.

Boarding was called on time, at the far end of the terminal. JL 61 to Tokyo Narita was departing from the next gate over.

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There are separate lines for economy and business class. A Tumi amenity kit was waiting on each seat. The kit was green on the westbound and black on the eastbound.

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Seat and cabin comfort

The Boeing 787s used on these flights have Japan Airlines’ Shell Flat Neo seats in business class. The name is misleading because the seat does not go fully flat–they’re actually angled towards the ground, which creates some potential for sliding downwards. In any case, I managed to get plenty of sleep on them. Since I’m used to coach, I did not mind that the seats were not angled away from each other. This would be great for people who are traveling with others.

My main issue with the cabin was that it was way too hot. I did not see the point of having blankets, because I could barely use it. This must be a cultural difference, since all the Japanese people in the cabin had blankets and even borrowed cardigans (an unusual business class amenity).

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5 tips for saving money on weekday lunches

You might not have the time, skill, or inclination to pack a lunch as pretty as this one. But you should be packing your lunch, regardless! Photo and bento by Amorette Dye (Flickr/Creative Commons).
You might not have the time, skill, or inclination to pack a lunch as pretty as this one. But you should be packing your lunch, regardless! Photo and bento by Amorette Dye (Flickr/Creative Commons).

I have a confession to make. I broke my rule of not buying food on campus (an extension of the no campus coffee rule). On Friday I paid $3.99 for some bland turkey breast, tough brussels sprouts, and so-so sweet potato mash from an eatery run by the university. It tasted okay.

I didn’t even break the rule for a good reason. Sure, I had to eat my lunch during a meeting, and most of the time I pack pretty pungent lunches. But I certainly could have spent some time Thursday night making a non-smelly lunch for the next day.

I broke the rule because of a coupon. The normal price would have been $6.99, but I happened to have a coupon for $3 off.

Here’s the thing with coupons: they’re sneaky. If I had thought about it carefully, I would have realized that I wasn’t saving $3. I was spending $3.99. If I tallied up the cost of packing my own lunch, it would have come up to way less than $3.99, and I would have been able to control the portions, flavoring, and nutritional content.

Most lunch options on my campus cost around $7. Assuming that a term is 16 weeks, and that I buy lunch on campus Monday-Friday for the entire term, that is $35/week or $560/month on lunch. A generous estimate of what the average PhD student on my campus makes after tax is $1,800 a month. That is 31% of take-home pay going to weekday lunches!

And yet I see other graduate students buying lunch all the time. Some might buy coffee on campus, as well. They’re spending way more of their money on mediocre food than they should be. Often, they don’t even know how much money it is. It’s just an automatic decision. When I talk to them about bringing lunch, they all seem to be on board with the idea, but claim that they’re too busy to pack their lunch, or that they don’t know how to cook, et cetera, et cetera. The litany of excuses is never ending.

Just think about what you could do with an extra $500 or so a month. (I’m arbitrarily subtracting $60 to account for the cost of groceries that turn into packed lunches.) You could save it for retirement (Emily at EvolvingPF has a great overview of how and why to do this), pay down your student loans, or save it for a memorable trip. You could use it for a purpose that really matters to you.

With that said, here are some tips for saving money on lunch. Students, underpaid entry level workers, and everyone else, take note:

Continue reading “5 tips for saving money on weekday lunches”

Quick tip: grow scallions in water

Photo: Janet Lackey (Flickr/Creative Commons).
Photo: Janet Lackey (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Several of my local grocery stores had scallions on sale this week, $0.99 for 3 bunches (or $0.33 a bunch). I bought one bunch at a local Korean market and promptly cut them in half: one half was all green, and the other half was both white and green. I chopped up the all-green half and put it in Tupperware for later use. Then I put the white parts (with the roots intact) in a mason jar with a bit of water and stuck the jar near the window. Why? Because scallions will keep growing in water!

As a single person cooking for one, it’s pretty hard for me to finish a whole bunch of scallions. I usually just need one or two sprigs, but they’re always sold in bunches. They seem to wilt in the refrigerator very quickly, too. I used to think it was a waste to even buy scallions until I discovered this water-growing trick on the internet.

You may be able to do this even if you don’t have a sunny window for  your jar of scallions. It has worked for me it in the middle of winter in southern Norway, where there is just a few hours of sunlight a day.