Archives: Japan Airlines First Class HND-SFO review

Back in December of 2014, I was able to book Japan Airlines first class from Tokyo Haneda Int'l Airport (HND) to San Francisco Int'l Airport (SFO) for just 62,500 American Airlines miles each way (currently 80k each way).  Japan Airlines had just recently upgraded their HND-SFO route to the 4-class B773, which was previously operated by 3-class B772 without first class.  Thus, there were actually many first class awards available.

At the Airport

I had access to Japan Airlines First Class Lounge at HND, which is accessible to all OneWorld int'l first class passengers as well as OneWorld Emerald members.  The lounge had a decent food and alcohol spread, with everything being self-serve.

Entrance to the common area




For an int'l first class lounge, it lacked a la carte dining and sleeper rooms, which has become more common among mainline carriers across Asia, Europe, and even North America.

Complimentary shoeshine service; too bad I didn't bring my dress shoes.





The Narita lounge has free massages, which they have since discontinued.  The Haneda lounge tries to make up the difference with freeshoe shine service.  The lounge had plenty of seating, and was mostly empty as this was for a midnight flight departure.


In-flight hard product

JAL has 8 total first class seats on their B773, with 2 rows of 4-across seating.  The center seats work better for companions, so I chose a window seat.





The seats were very spacious with tons of storage space, though they lacked doors for privacy.  The in-flight entertainment system was oversized in a good way, with your standard noise-canceling headphones.



In lieflat mode with 78.5 inches of pitch space and 33 inches of width, you have the option of sleeping directly on the cushion or on an airweave futon, which the flight attendant sets up for you.



In-flight food and beverages

This is where JAL really hit the mark.  JAL serves Salon champagne in first class, which averages $400 a bottle and puts Krug to shame (J/K!).


I chose the lobster ravioli main dish, which had sushi, marinated sashimi, lobster salad, and caviar as appetizers.

Shrimp, squid, and snow crab sushi

Smoked salmon and shrimp

Caviar


Uni sea urchin, ikura salmon roe, and squid

Lobster salad

Lobster ravioli

The appetizers and snack items were all-you-can eat, so I downed several cans of protein and sodium rich caviar along with lobster salad and lobster sandwiches.  You know the food is great when you'll take the "snacks" over the main course.



Lobster sandwich as a snack


Service

Aside from the endless supply of food and fattening, I can't even begin to give enough credit to JAL's phenomal in-flight service.  JAL has two flight attendants and a first class purser serving a cabin that was only occupied by 3 passengers, so we basically got our own personal flight attendants.  Needless to say, my cup never reached half empty, and the food service and presentation was absolutely spot on.



JAL First Class bottom line

JAL has an incredible first class product.  The food and service are absolutely amazing as they go far and beyond the call of duty.  The ground product does leave much to be desired, but if there's anything to learn here it's to save your stomach for your flight.  Not to take anything away from business class, but I have flown JAL biz for several years, and I was surprised that the experience between first and biz is almost night and day when it comes to the quality of the food and service as well as the hard product.  In the case, it was definitely worth the extra 12.5k AA miles as biz was 50k miles.  The challenge now is going back to biz... #extremefirstworldproblems


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