Another flight in First Class on a top flight Asian carrier, what a nice way to finish up our trip and head home. This time Japan Airlines First Class. Better yet, it was an easy nonstop flight between Narita and Chicago on. We took a train from Tokyo to Narita, and then would drive home from O’Hare.
After enjoying our time at the JAL First Class Lounge, by the time we made it to the gate, we were among the last 1/4 or so of the plane to board. Another example of the efficient Japanese boarding process! Once on board, we were warmly welcomed on board, and shown to our seats. We were seated on the left side of the cabin, in seats 1A and 2A. The cabin was fully booked, but the service remained excellent throughout the flight. James has already reviewed JAL First Class on an flight to the US, but I’ll cover my experience in this post.
Once we were seated, we were offered a glass of champagne and the first of many hot towels. They were pouring Salon 2004 Champagne on this flight, which retails for around $300 per bottle.
Salon 2004 Champagne on JAL in First Class
Japan Airlines First Class Seat
Here is a quick photo tour of the First Class Seat:
Already at our seat were Bose headphones and slippers.
The seat itself is very comfortable for lounging, and great for sleeping once in bed mode. The seat is not very private, with a low wall and no door. Compared with ANA, as a fan of window seats, this seat is much better, with 4 windows, although really only 2 of them are accessible. The high walls of the ANA First Class seat are much more private. On this flight, I did get some great views out the window which I will discuss later.
game remote and phone
The tray table is an intuitive design, sliding on a track along the window, and stows below the TV monitor, above the ottoman. This allows for a large and sturdy tray. It is possible to dine with a friend with someone sitting on the ottoman. We didn’t partake since we ate at different times.
Tray table, ottoman and day blanket
JAL 777-300ER First Class Cabin view
Flight details on the bulkhead wall
Since we were departing Japan, I opted for the Japanese meal, and while some courses were a bit outside my comfort zone, in all it was excellent. I also was highly recommend to drink the Royal Blue. Hard to imagine a tea that is as exclusive as some high end liquor, but that is exactly what is is. I’m very much a tea drinker, and it was great. Not great enough that I would seek it out for daily drinking, even if I could, but it certainly added to the experience in First on JAL.
Japan Airlines First Class “BEDD” meal service
(Apparently BEDD is somewhat of an acronym, here is a description from the JAL website:
The menu is created by prominent Chef Seiji Yamamoto of “Nihon-ryori RyuGin Roppongi Tokyo.
Seasonal five colorful delicacies
Simmered Yellowtail and Radish in Soy Sauce
Scallop & Sea Urchin dressed with Mustard Vinegar Miso
Simmered Conger Eel rolled with “Yuba”
Simmered Taro with Stir-fried Duck & Welsh Onion
Japanese Clear Soup with Steamed Prawn Mousse & Grated Turnip
Boiled “Matsuba” Snow Crab with Citrus Vinegar Jelly & Pickled Radish
Cold Steamed Egg Custard with Smoked Potato Potage & Puréed Welsh Onion Soup accompanied by caviar
“Waygu” Beef Fillet Sukiyaki accented with Black Pepper
Steamed Rice (Japanese Pepper Flavored Young Sardines)
We are pleased to offer freshly steamed Koshihikari rice.
Dekopon Orange, Yuzu & Coconut Sorbet ~please add grand marnier to your taste~
Ryugin’s Speciality – Japanese Style Baked Pistachio Cake
This menu is created by Chef Yosuke Suga of “SUGALABO” Kamiya-cho, Tokyo
Rice wafers filled with Foie Gras Mousse & Raw Peppers
Caviar accompanied by Smoked Salmon & Potato Herb Caper Sauce
Warm Lobster Bisque with Winter Vegetables
Grilled Scallop with Turnip Purée in Salad Style
Main Dish (choice)
Braised Japanese Beef Cheek in Red Wine with deep flavor
Roasted Quail stuffed with Mushroom Rice
Miso-grilled Black Cod with Warm Velouté of Winter Radish
Assortment of Artisanal breads
Pain de Champagne
Soy Milk Butter Roll
Special Bread from MAISON KAYSER – Petit Ekmek & Sweet Potato Petit Bread
SUGALABO Mont Blanc
“Dainagon” Adzuki Bean Pound Cake “S”
Chef Yosuke of SUBALABO and Mr. Syoji Yamaguchi of SUETOMI launched a brand “S”, collaboration between France and Japan. Please enjoy flavorful pound cake with dough made from plenty of butter, kneaded with “Tanba-dainagon” adzuki beans and “Daitokuji-natto” beans.
A La Carte
“Otoriyose” in the Sky
Salmon & Salmon Roe on Steamed Rice
Soy-marinated Herring Roe & Kelp
Chicken Meatballs with Egg Yolk
Japanese Brochettes “Yakitori”
Chicken & Welsh Onion with Pickled Plum Paste
Chicken Thigh seasoned with “Tare” Sauce
Cream Soup with Lobster, Truffle & Mushrooms accompanied by Leaf Pie
Beef Pastrami Sandwich
“Sangenton” Pork Cutlet Sandwich
Kitchen Hida “JAL Original Beef Black Curry”
Fresh Salad with Seafood & Mushrooms, Orange Flavored Dressing
“Ramen Noodles in Soy Sauce Flavored Soup
Japanese Hot “Udon” Noodles with Edible Wild Plants
Assorted Seasonal Fresh Fruits
Petit Dessert Tray Choice
Pumpkin & Chestnut Cake
Gâteau au Chocolat
Jean-Paul Hévin “Songe”
Jean-Paul Hévin “Amer”
This menu is created by renowned fine cuisine producer and chef – her home ground is Paris – Fumiko Kono.
“FUMIKO’s Japanese Set Plate”
Seared Alfonsino “Sashimi” Style with Shallot Soy Dressing
Poached Chrysanthemum Flowers & Leaves
Radish with Dried Mullet Roe
Japanese Clear Soup with Root Vegetables & Japanese Parsley
“FUMIKO’s Western Set Plate”
Brandade of Cod & Celeriac with Truffle Dressing
Strawberry & Chervil Salad
Special Bread from MAISON KAYSER
Spinach & Yuzu Petit Bread, Petit Croissant
You can enjoy your breads with butter & cherry jam.
JAL Café Lines
Coffee of the Month
“Gran Cru Café – Tipica Supreme
LIQUOR & SPIRIT
Tio Pepe Dry Sherry
Martini Extra Dry Dry Vermouth
Lejay Crème de Cassis
Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Years
Suntory Hibiki 17 Years old
L&G Woodford Reserve
Bombay Sapphire Gin
Rémy Martin V.S.O.P
Baileys Irish Cream
Graham’s Tawny Port 30 Years
Drinking and Driving : Passengers who need to drive after disembarking are requested to refrain from drinking during the flight.
We apologize if occasionally your choice is not available due to limited storage space.
Champagne SALON 2004
Bollinger La Grande Aneée 2005
Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru “Sous le Puits” 2010
CLOS FLORIDENE blanc, Graves Aoc 2013
Bründlmayer Riesling Steinmassel 2013
SUNTORY Tomi non Oka Winery Kosnu 2013
Ch.igai Takaha “SAMURAI” Chardonnay 2013
Château Langoa Barton, St-Julien Aoc 2011
Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot 1er Cru
Kusuda Martinborough Syrah 2013
PREMIUM JAPANESE SAKE
“The Passion of Japan”
We apologize if occasionally your choice is not available due to limited storage space.
PREMIUM JAPANESE SHOCHU
Hyakunen no Kodoku
PREMIUM JAPANESE TEA
ROYAL BLUE TEA® “Queen of Blue®”
JAL Original Drink “SKY TIME Kiwi”
Cold Green Tea
Still Mineral Water
Sparkling Mineral Water
Japanese Green Tea “Sen-cha”
Roasted Japanese Tea “Houji-cha”
Selection of Tea
Orange Pekoe Ceylon
Earl Grey Impérial
“Marco Polo” Flavory Tea
“Bourbon” Herbal Tea Non-Caffeine
We proudly serve you “Mariage Frères” Tea of France
Japan Airlines First Class Japanese Meal
As I mentioned, I opted for the Japanese meal. Despite living in the Midwest US most of my life, I’ve really come to love Japanese food. My frequent business travel to LA has given me many opportunities to really become a fan of this cuisine.
The service was very well polished, and the flight attendant seemed quite excited to serve me the Japanese meal. I can’t imagine it is that rare for a westerner to eat the Japanese food, but I think it made the experience even better given her excitement to serve me this meal.
The meal was excellent. After eating sushi and other items in the lounge, I preferred waiting to eat a bit longer, so my wife and I did not dine together. She had western items, and gave it a high recommendation. Still, I was happy to have one last Japanese meal to end this trip.
Japan Airlines First Class Bedding
In order to get back on US Central time, I knew i needed to sleep soon after the meal was completed. I wasn’t particularly tired, but I did my best. We were provided a nice JAL First Class Amenity kit and pajamas (reviewed by James). Strangely it was after the meal before the the amenity kit was provided. The pajamas were offered just before departure. Even though we weren’t connecting beyond Chicago, a baggie was provided for amenity kit liquids to clear US security procedures.
The bathrooms were well equipped as well. There was toothbrushes and mouthwash available there. Being a Japanese carrier, there was also a Toto toilet with various wash functions. In addition, there was a foldable tray so one could avoid standing on the dirty floor while changing in the lavatory .
The bedding was excellent, and although the cabin was a comfortable temperature, the heavy duvet was a bit too much for me to not get too hot while sleeping.
I slept very well, and probably longer than I wanted to to enjoy the service, but it helped me adapt to the time change well. There were several great views out the window in flight. I saw the sunset as we were leaving Japan. Our polar routing allowed me to see the Northern Lights for a time. Unfortunately I couldn’t manage a photo to do it justice.
Beyond the main meal service, and the A la carte service, there are snacks available.
After the large main meal, rather than the set meals, I opted just for some beef curry before we landed.
Japan Airlines First Class Final Thoughts
Our trip to Japan was nearly over. On this trip we fulfilled a few travel goals, to bring my wife to Japan as well as visiting Kyoto. I think we book ended it with excellent in flight experiences. I’m glad we experienced both ANA and JAL in First Class. So, on this trip I think I preferred JAL, but that may be more due to the weather delays on the outbound caused the ANA crew to get out of their comfort zone. The rigid service structure didn’t lend itself as well to the randomness of weather issues. Both are excellent way to fly. Still, I think I preferred the JAL seat, mostly for better views, but both were quite good for both lounging and sleeping.
I was fortunate to book this leg using AA miles before the devaluation. Hopefully JAL First Class will still be relatively attainable, but it will be much more costly to be able to experience it.
Have you flown JAL First Class? What did you think of the experience? What did I miss?
Thanks for following along this trip report. Next up will be from our trip around the world including Virgin Atlantic, Etihad and Cathay.
For an introduction and index of posts for this series, please click here.