Review: JAL First Class 777-300ER Tokyo to Sydney
When I flew to New Zealand earlier this year, I deliberately made a detour and routed through Tokyo just so that I could experience JAL First Class (and visit Tokyo for 20h). I simply love Japan: the food, culture, … and even the trendy nightclubs. So flying Japan Airlines was something I was really looking forward to.
The previous day I flew Cathay Pacific from Milan to Hong Kong to Tokyo Haneda Airport. After spending half the day in Tokyo, I went to Narita Airport and visited the Japan Airlines First Class lounge but I wasn’t able to take any decent pictures, photography isn’t allowed. Although it’s a nice lounge, it’s not the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney. But, they do have a sushi bar, offer 10 minute complimentary massages and even have a shoe-shine service! Just my luck to be wearing sneakers that day, shame on me…
For just this once, I’m going to spoil the surprise and say upfront that this was the best First Class flight I’ve ever had. Overall, it was even more perfect than showering on Etihad’s A380.
Japan Airlines – JAL First Class review
Japan Airlines’ 777-300ER has only 8 seats in the First Class cabin which are in 1-2-1 configuration. I had selected seat 2A because the galley is located in the front so there is zero foot traffic in the 2nd row. When I boarded the aircraft I was greeted by the cabin crew and accompanied to my seat. First thing I noticed was the cabin was absolutely spotless, unfortunately not something that can be said about all First Class cabins on other airlines (e.g. Malaysia Airlines).
JAL First Class seats are “JAL Suites” and although there’s no “door” to close the suite, it’s still very private and no one is able to peek in while seated. Second thing that stands out is the 23″ television.
There was plenty of storage space: overhead lockers, under the ottoman and in the storage compartments next to the seat. Also present was a small mirror shown below and a remote control for the Inflight Entertainment system.
Theoretically I could have ordered my meals & drinks using the remote control, however the option was unavailable during my flight. But I probably wouldn’t have used it anyway given that it was extremely pleasant having a conversation with the crew and when I used the ‘service button’ (once) the FA was standing next to my seat in less than 5 seconds…
I also received a complimentary voucher to use the JAL Sky Wi-Fi (T-Mobile) which worked perfectly well. Otherwise one hour surfing the internet would have been $11,95 and a flight plan (up to 24h) is $21,95 so nice of them to offer it for free.
First Class passengers also receive Bose Noise Cancelling headphones to use during the flight.
The JAL First Class amenity kit had some great products such as Shiseido (brand which I use at home) hydrating lotion, total revitalizer and cleansing foam. From Agua de Loewe there was a Lip Balm & Revitalizing towel and furthermore there were Japan Airlines branded items suchs as tissues, comb, shoehorn, moisture mask and dental kit making it the most complete amenity kit I’ve ever received on a flight.
Japan Airlines First Class Pyjamas and slippers were of great quality as well and fitted perfectly (unlike Qatar Airways Business Class PJs…).
The seat was very spacious and comfortable with soft brown leather finishing and reclined 180° to fully flat mode for sleeping. Here are some pictures of different seat modes (which you can adjust to your liking of course).
Japan Airlines First Class Wining & Dining
Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo Narita to Sydney was a night-time flight, departure at 7:35 PM & arriving at 7:20AM the next day so giving me 9h45 minutes to enjoy JAL First Class. The dinner menu had a Japanese & Western option and also à la carte dishes for later on during the flight.
The Japanese menu looked sublime, however the Western had caviar… I mentioned my indecisiveness to the flight attendant when she came to my seat to take my meal order. We went through the different options and afterwards she returned to the galley for a minute or so and when she came back to my seat, she said I didn’t have to choose… I could have the Japanese menu and the caviar.
Well. Don’t mind if I do.
Seasonal five colorful delicacies:
Braised ‘Kuroge Wagyu beef with soy sauce’
Squid ‘sashimi’ style with sea cucumber roe
Seared scallop with egg yolk vinegar sauce
Steamed savory egg custard with cod soft roe
vinegard porgy ‘sushi’ style
“Caviar Hors d’oeuvre”
Jerusalem artichoke velouté, crabmeat & caviar
Simmered Hairy Stingfish
Brown sugar flavored japanese sweets
Apple compote with tea jelly
Shochu is a distilled vodka-like spirit, Hyakunen no Kodoku pictured above is could very well be one of the nicest alcoholic beverages I’ve ever tasted. The Champagne Salon 2002 was wonderful as well. Excellent selection of premium beverages.
After dinner I relaxed a bit and watched the beginning of a movie before going to bed. When the flight attendant came by, I switched of the TV and she proactively offered to do the turndown service and make the bed. The mattress has a “hard” and “soft” side, so you can choose which you prefer, I tried the former which was excellent. I slept like a baby for the next 4h30 until we encountered severe turbulence, nothing to worry about but it did wake me up. So I continued watching the movie until it was time for breakfast, no pictures of that but I had the omelette with chicken sausage. Prior to landing macarons were handed to all First Class passengers.
JAL First Class verdict
From the beginning of the flight, the service was impeccable. The FA was kind, friendly, caring, non intrusive, but attentive and she always found the right words to say and it was very pleasant to have a conversation with her. In the beginning I mentioned that I went out of my way to experience JAL First Class and that I had flown Cathay Pacific the previous day and was curious to see how Japan Airlines compared to it, something which she was really ‘flattered’ by.
It’s not often I describe something as ‘perfect’ but I was literally blown away by the service, seat, meals … etc. Every dish I ate wish delicious, every wine I tried paired perfectly.
I could use more superlatives to describe this flight, but I’m going to keep it at: it was the best I ever had.
How to book Japan Airlines First Class?
A one-way ticket from Tokyo to Sydney is approximately 7.000 EUR, but if you’re using miles, Japan Airlines is a partner of the Oneworld Alliance, you can redeem American Airlines AAmiles for JAL First Class. (You can often buy these miles with a bonus or with a discount)
- Tokyo (Asia 1) to Sydney (Oceania ) = 60.000 miles
- Tokyo (Asia 1) to Europe = 70.000 miles
- Tokyo (Asia 1) to United States = 62.500 miles
- Note that the new American Airlines Award Chart will go in effect on March 22 2016 and it will require more miles to Europe & United States (Oceania remains the same)
or you can redeem Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles:
- Japan to Sydney (Oceania ) = 50.000 miles
- Japan to Europe = 80.000 miles
- Japan to U.S. = 70.000 miles