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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

[Updated] Updates on JAL domestic lounges refurbishment status

Newly opened Sakura Lounge at Sapporo New Chitose
Newly opened Sakura Lounge at Sapporo New Chitose. Image from Japan Airlines

A while back, Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced that it will start refurbishing some of its lounges in the current fiscal year end in March 2013. Finally JAL has provided with some updates on the refurbishment status of its domestic lounges, which includes expansion of the Sakura Lounge at Sapporo New Chitose (CTS), re-opening of the Sakura Lounges at Osaka Kansai (KIX), Hiroshima (HIJ), Komatsu (KMQ), Matsuyama (MYJ), Kumamoto (KMJ), and Kagoshima (KOJ), and renovations of the Sakura Lounges at Osaka Itami (ITM) and CTS

Sapporo Lounge Expansion

Location of the expanded Sakura Lounge
Location of the expanded Sakura Lounge. Image from Japan Airlines

JAL has opened an expanded Sakura Lounge at CTS on March 8 2013. The new lounge is designed by award-winning designer Yuji Hirata from NOMURA. Hirata san is the recipient of Grand Award and Gold Award of the Design for Asia Award 2012.

As you can see from the map above, the new lounge (the red box) is located next to the new JAL Global Club Entrance, the express security lane, near Gate 12 on the departure level. So you just need go through security and then turn left to get to the lounge. (The pink box in the map is the existing Sakura Lounge)

The lounge will open from 7:00 till the last flight of the day. It is equipped with the standard Wi-Fi, WC, and the new charging stations for phones and tablets from DoCoMo, au, Softbank, Apple and Android devices. Although the announcement doesn't specifically call out iPhone 5, the new charging station might not support that because the ITM announcement (see below) specifically mentions that.

Special snacks from Hokkaido available at JAL Sakura Lounge at CTS
Special snacks from Hokkaido available at JAL Sakura Lounge at CTS. Image from Japan Airlines

Other services include newspapers, magazines, snacks, soft drinks, and alcohol. For the snacks, JAL has specifically prepared some Hokkaido products for its passengers to enjoy. JAL will be serving Haskapp Jewelry from morimoto in March and milk cookies from Sapporo Agricultural College in April. As usual, these items are only available until they run out for the day. Also JAL will provide bowls made from Otaru at the CTS lounges.

For more details on the expanded Sakura Lounge at CTS, you can refer to JAL website (Japanese only)

Re-opening of Sakura Lounges

Refurbished Sakura Lounge
Refurbished Sakura Lounge. Image from Japan Airlines

JAL has completed the renovation of the lounges at KIX, HIJ, KMQ, MYJ, KMJ and KOJ. JAL has put on new wallpaper and carpet. The carpets now match with the rest of the Sakura Lounges in the system so it provides a consistent design. 

These lounges will also fitted with newly designed JAL original sofas to improve customers' comfort. This will be sequentially rolled out to these lounges from the end of March. So that's why the sofas on the top left pictures look exactly the same as current/old sofas. But it's unclear to me whether the one on the top right is the newly designed sofas though as the ITM lounge rendering (see below) has sofas that look completely different. Also, JAL has increased the number of power outlet significantly in response to business travelers' comments. 

For more details on these re-opened lounges, you can refer to JAL website (Japanese only)

Update
JAL has issued a press release (Japanese only) regarding the lounge refurbishments. It contains specific dates on when new furnitures will be rolled out to these lounges.

Kumamoto (KMJ) - March 28 2013
Matsuyama (MYJ) - March 28 2013
Hiroshima (HIJ) - March 29 2013
Kagoshima (KOJ) - March 29 2013
Osaka Kansai (KIX) - April 1 2013

Not sure if it's an oversight, there's no mention of KMQ in the press release.

Lounge Refurbishments


Sapporo Sakura Lounge
Even though there's a new expanded lounge opened at CTS, JAL hasn't forgotten about the old Sakura Lounge there. JAL has planned to refurbish the old Sakura Lounge on March 29 2013. Similar to those who have gone through the process, new wallpaper and carpet will be installed, as well as new power outlets and new JAL original sofas. More details can be found on JAL website (Japanese only)

Osaka Itami Sakura Lounge

Rendered images of the renovated Sakura Lounge at Osaka Itami
Rendered image of the renovated Sakura Lounge at Osaka Itami. Image from Japan Airlines
The Sakura Lounge at ITM will be refurbished on March 31 2013. The new lounge is designed by Japanese design firm Mitsukoshi Kankyo Design Ltd and will open from 6:10 am till the last flight of the day.

The renovated lounge will be equipped with telephones, fax machine (for sending), WC, Wi-Fi, charging stations for phones and tablets from DoCoMo, au, Softbank, Apple (iPhone 5 is NOT supported) and Android devices. Newspapers, magazines, snacks, soft drinks, and alcohol will also be provided although unlike the CTS Sakura Lounge, there's no mention of special snacks from Osaka. However, new massage chair will be installed on the 3rd floor. New wallpaper, carpet and JAL original sofas will be installed as well as power outlets will be available throughout the lounge.

For more details on the renovated ITM lounge, you can refer to JAL website (Japanese only)

It is nice that JAL is investing in its domestic lounges and try to provide a consistent design. But install the same carpet isn't enough. It is so strange that they would hire two different designers to design the ITM and CTS lounge. Personally I prefer the look of the CTS lounge (not that because he's an award-winning designer :P). It seems more modern, elegant and clean. And it kind of matches the designs of the Haneda lounges. The ITM one on the other hand, it still has that 80s look of the old school Sakura Lounge LOL. Maybe it's the crowded layout :P

One thing that wasn't completely clear to me is whether the March 29 and 31 dates are the start of the renovation or the completion of that. I haven't been to those lounges recently. Last time when I was at CTS in December, the lounge was open as usual and I haven't heard any partial closure of these lounges either. So anyone knows?

Also JAL is supposed to refurbish the international lounges at Tokyo Narita (NRT), Fukuoka (FUK), Honolulu (HNL), Frankfurt (FRA), and Manila (MNL). So far no news on those yet (although I vaguely remember reading something about the HNL lounge but I am not 100% sure).

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