Don’t Miss JAL’s Haneda Aviation Museum

Visitors will get to tour an active airport hangar and take in exhibits that chronicle the airline’s evolution.

All photos courtesy of JAL

Tokyo-bound avgeeks wanting to take a closer look at both the history and inner workings of Japan’s flag carrier can now look forward to a unique experience at Haneda Airport. Japan Airlines has recently reopened its “factory tours” to the general public after a two-year hiatus; limited numbers of people will be let into a dedicated exhibition space dubbed the JAL Sky Museum, where you’ll learn what it takes to a pilot, flight attendant, or ground handling staff, and sit in a full-scale mockup of a Boeing 737 cockpit and cabin (complete with JAL Sky Suite and JAL Sky Premium seats). Visitors have an hour to freely explore the museum, before going on a 50-minute guided tour of a maintenance and inspection hangar. It’s a behind-the-scenes experience that will enthrall any aviation enthusiast, offering the chance to watch mechanics servicing airplanes and admire the beautiful metal birds at close range.

Another highlight may well be the museum’s Archives Zone. This section has a digital timeline charting the history of JAL’s aviation culture from the 1950s to the 2020s, alongside real-life uniforms from different periods to show their evolution through the decades. Models of 12 past and present aircraft created at the same scale illustrate how JAL has grown with the times, and artifacts here range from old-school flight bags and polar survival kits to specially commissioned memorabilia. Complementing all this is the Future Zone, where a U-shaped wraparound display with interactive touchscreens allows ordinary people to see how the airline is innovating when it comes to inflight services, technology, or protecting the environment. And there’s also a museum shop stocked with original merchandise, including JAL souvenirs that aren’t sold anywhere else.

The free tour and museum experience must be pre-booked online. JAL Sky Museum and the maintenance hangar are open five days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday), with visits scheduled for two time slots: the morning session lasts from 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m., while the afternoon session takes place from 2:30–4:20 p.m. More details here.

An exhibition area with “job booths” at the JAL Sky Museum.

Left to right: JAL uniforms on display; decades-old artifacts here include old-school flight bags.

The wraparound display screen at the museum’s Future Zone.

Inside the JAL maintenance and inspection hangar at Haneda.

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