Flying First class is an experience not to be missed. Japan Airlines First Class is rated 5 stars by Skytrax, actually all of Japan Airline is, and their first class is no exception. JALs First Class is only offered on select flights between Japan and North America and Japan and Europe. I was able to fly Japan Airlines First Class on JL1, between San Francisco and Haneda in December 2018, and it was a real treat. The airline has cut some costs, but the service and offering is still luxurious and worth every penny, or in my case mile.
Japan Airlines Boarding and Pre-flight
After a very short stay in the Japan Airlines Sakura lounge, and a longer stay at the Cathay Pacific lounge the JAL flight boarded exactly on time. One thing I love about Japanese transportation, is it is always prompt. During the boarding process, First Class and OneWorld Emerald Elite board simultaneously. This means the first class boarding line does get very crowded. Regardless, I was still the 10th or 11th person to board, and I was in the lounge until 3 minute before boarding.
The First class cabin is in the forward part of the Boeing 777-300ER and consists of just 8 seats across two rows. First Class also has a dedicated jetbridge. This is fantastic because business, premium economy, and economy class board through door 2L. There is no additional foot traffic in the First Class cabin, providing sanctuary for passengers.
Awaiting for me in my suite was everything I would need to be comfortable for my flight: Bose Noise canceling headphones, an amenity kit, the Shiseido men face care kit, slippers, a small pillow and an light throw-blanket. Crew members came around with reading materials and pajamas.
Once onboard a very friendly flight attendant walked me to my seat, helped me store my bags and quickly offered me a pre-departure beverage of my choice. Flying in style, I opted for champagne. It was served with a hot towel and refills were plentiful while the rest of the plane boarded.
Once boarding was complete we were greeted by the purser and captains and we took off over San Francisco. It was a beautiful day and views of the California coastline were superb!
Japan First Class Dinner – Inflight Service
Shortly after takeoff the three flight attendants working First class went to work to ensure every need was met for every passenger. First, drinks and a light snack while another took meal orders. Dinner on JAL is a feast and no detail is left out. Since JAL is a Japanese carrier I opted for the Japanese inspired meal, but started with caviar from the western menu. It was all delicious and a party on my pallet! I honestly think JAL has the best inflight food.
Korzara is the most elaborate start of any meal. Offering five small dishes bursting with flavors. From bottom left to right: Roasted Chestnut Candied Dried Anchovies, “Fu” (Wheat Gluten Cake) with Crabmeat Sauce, Crabmeat rolled with Sweet-vinegared Radish, Poached Potherb Mustard with Sliced Abalone, and Steamed Sea-bass & Grated Turnip.
The Mukozuke was my favorite part of the meal. The shrimp and tuna melted in my mouth! By this point I also switched to Juyondai. A very expensive ($330/bottle) and flavorful sake.
I was feelin like a fatty so I also asked for the western dessert. It was also delicious.
Dinner service took approximately 90 minutes. Not everyone was eating at the same time nor choosing to eat all courses. Japan Airlines will serve anything from their menu at any time. After all, first class is all about the passenger experience.
JAL First Class Snacks & More
After dinner, I slipped into my Pajamas and a flight attendant made my bed. My clothes were nicely hung by a Flight attendant in a closet. Turndown service includes a mattress pad that can be firm or soft, a heavy down duvet and a larger pillow. I asked for a nightcap of Hibiki Japanese whisky and I drifted asleep for a short 2 hours.
When I woke up, I wasn’t really hungry, but since I was flying First Class I was going to over indulge. It was time for more food and coffee! Black coffee is available in individual french presses with trendy glassware. Espresso is also available.
Since this was a long day-time flight, I didn’t sleep much. Instead I watched several movies on the 24 inch TV and ate and drank until I was ready to explode! My plan was to adjust to Singapore time by sleeping my entire next flight, afterall I was landing in Singapore at 7am.
Here are just a few other food items I was able to enjoy inflight.
Before landing, a full breakfast is available. I had a long 4 hour layover in Tokyo before my redeye in business to Singapore, so my gluttony continued in the first class lounge. Yet before leaving the plane, a little breakfast. I skipped the yogurt and breads. The eggs benedict was ok, the bottom bread was hard and flavorless, but the poached egg was perfect! I had this with some more Cristal.
Japan Airlines first class is amazing. The hard product is starting to be considered dated, but the seat offers enough privacy and the staff are friendly and attentive. The food is second to none and the selection is plentiful. I probably ate 20,000 calories inflight, whoops! Sorry, not sorry. Although there’s been a downgrade in champagne from Salon, everything else is still top notch. Honestly, not a lot has changed since i flew JAL First Class from LAX a couple years ago. I loved them then, and I still love their inflight offering.
To fly Japan Airline first Class I used 75,000 Alaska Airlines miles. To fly between the USA and Japan, First class is only 70,000 miles. As I was continuing to Singapore in Business class, an additional 5,000 miles is charged. JAL does not currently offer first class on intra-Asia flights.