Review: Japan Airlines First Class B777-300ER
On the evening I discovered that I was going to become a father (shocking twins news came later), I was discussing our flight options for our anticipated Japan trip with my wife. That trip was abruptly put on hold once we found out we were expecting TWO.
Fast forward 3 years later, I’m heavily into the points and miles hobby and now want to partake in my first ‘aspirational’ flight experience. Japan lingered on our minds since “the news” so we decided why not use our AA miles to fly to Tokyo on JAL’s beloved First Class Suite?
The total out of pocket cost for my first class flights—from MIA to JFK on American Airlines’ 767, and then onward from New York to Tokyo Narita on a Japan Airlines 777—was 62,500 American Airlines miles and $5.60 out of pocket per person, booked prior to the AA devaluation.
Here is my review:
The Japan Airlines First Class cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration with 8 totals seats in the cabin. We were in row 2, middle seats together. With only eight seats in the entire First Class cabin, the space felt very private and exclusive.
We were giddy as can be when we sat into our seats and the lead flight attendant introduced herself and her team that would be taking care of us.
We’ve traveled in Business and First Class on many international routes with domestic airlines but nothing like this hard product.
Each seat is equipped with its own personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) system with a 23-inch monitor and controller, an in-flight telephone, universal electrical outlet and USB port. WiFi was also provided free of charge for First Class passengers so it was great to be able to send a message through whatsapp to family to see how our twins were doing.
Adjustable power seat was excellent for reclining back and watching TV or laying flat to get some serious shut-eye.
Once we settled into our seat and got familiar with all our gadgets, we took off our shoes and slid on JAL slippers to get a bit more comfy for the 14+ hour flight.
I was curious about the seats behind me as prior to booking JAL First Class I was considering saving some miles and flying on JAL’s 787-8 from DFW to NRT on the JAL “Sky Suite”. The Business Class seats were directly behind us (separated by a fixed bulkhead and curtain) and were part of a mini-cabin of just seven Business Class seats that had less real estate than ours but looked very comfortable.
After exploring the Business Class cabin a bit, we went back to our seats and our flight attendant passed out pajamas and amenity kits for our cabin. I was excited to put on the pajamas but wanted to wait until I was ready for a nap to put them on. Although I didn’t take a picture of the amenity kit, it was provided by Loewe products and consisted of lip balm, a dental kit, ear plugs, sleep mask, comb, facemask and kleenex.
Once we were in the air, it was time to focus on the JAL meal service. I had done a bit of research prior to our travel and knew the menu ahead of time as JAL allows you to view their menu online. Our game plan was for one of us to order from the Japanese menu (me)and the other from the Western menu, that way we could try both. JAL flight attendants are extremely serviceable so if you want to try an item from the other menu, they’re more than happy to accommodate, if available.
JAL was celebrating the JAL NY route’s 50th anniversary so they offered a special menu only for the flights departing JFK to Narita. We chose to order from the regular menu.
During the flight and in-between meals, we would ordered items from the A La Carte menu including this caviar prior to our first meal.
I ordered the Japanese menu and got all the items listed in the photo below.
My wife ordered from the Western menu.
Nice selection of champagne, spirits, beer and wine.
Flight attendants accommodated us at one “table” and allowed us to enjoy meals together.
After our meal was done, we went back to our seats and a flight attendant asked us if we were ready for to get some rest. We were in fact excited to enjoy the IFE and get into our pajamas so we could just relax. The pajamas are soft, a little baggy and very comfortable and our flight attendant told us to leave our clothes folded in the First Class lavatory and she would bring them to me in our pajama bags.
I was then asked what type of mattress I preferred to sleep on: hard or soft. I opted for soft and so did my wife and we were off to the lavatory to change into our comfy pajamas.
When we returned, our mattress was installed along with the addition of sheets and pillows. What happened next absolutely floored me and is definitely in my top 3 things that I’ve experienced on an airplane. THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT TUCKED ME INTO BED! Yes, I got into bed and she literally put a plush blanket over me in a very mom-like way. I was very appreciative and thanked her in Japanese with the words ‘arigatou gozaimasu’.
I spent most of the flight playing with the IFE games, watching movies, enjoying meals and sleeping. For those curious minds, I slept a solid 5 hours straight as comfortable as I’ve ever slept in the air.
Before you knew it, the flight was descending into Tokyo and the 14+ hour flight in JAL First Class was all but over. We flew JAL First Class on the return flight back to New York so we got to experience the product twice which meant 4 sets of JAL pajamas for the family.
Given that it was my first ‘aspirational’ flight and I have yet had the privilege to fly some of the most renown first class products such as Cathay Pacific First Class, Etihad First Class Apartment or Singapore Suites Class, I felt JAL’s hard and soft product was exceptional and absolutely memorable in every way.