Trip Report: Japan 2015 (Part 2) Japan Airlines First Class Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo Narita


Japan (Part 1) Introduction- A Babymoon…….Sakura Style!?
Japan (Part 2) Japan Airlines First Class Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo Narita
Japan (Part 3) St. Regis Osaka
Japan (Part 4) Around Kyoto
Japan (Part 5) Around Nara
Japan (Part 6) Andaz Tokyo
Japan (Part 7) Around Tokyo
Japan (Part 8) Conrad Tokyo
Japan (Part 9) Fujigoko Sakura viewing (Beautiful full bloom cherry blossoms)
Japan (Part 10) Westin Tokyo
Japan (Part 11) Japan Airlines First Class Lounge
Japan (Part 12) Japan Airlines First Class Tokyo Narita to Chicago O’Hare

Japan Airlines First Class Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo Narita

We arrived at O’Hare thinking JAL checkin was at terminal five but we would be mistaken. After looking around and realizing the JAL counter was nowhere to be found.  I asked at  the information counter what terminal is Japan Airlines located in and the counter rep replied terminal three.  We quickly boarded the tram to hop over to T3.

Checkin was a bit strange as we ended up checking in at the economy class counter.  There was just one general line feeding to the different counter agents but not corresponding to the class of service it seems.  We were given our boarding passes after handing over our passports for inspection. We were invited to use AA’s Flagship Lounge prior to boarding by the checkin agent.  We then walked over to security, waited 2-3 minutes in the first class security line and were in and out with no problems.

Towards the end of the terminal is the AA Flagship lounge which was nice enough and helped pass the time for our JAL F flight. The lounge was too crowded for my liking and thus I did not snap pictures and will not review the lounge.

Bag tags locked and loaded

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All set for boarding

Our bird to Tokyo

I wanted to be first to board so we left the lounge first and I was shown over to the first class line.  Boarding began promptly and first class passengers were invited to board after families with children and disabled passengers.

Waiting to board

As we approached door 2L my wife showed her boarding pass and they advised her to turn left.  We were seated together in 2D and 2G which I would recommend for couples traveling together.  I snapped a few photos before the cabin filled up.  We would be 8/8 in the F cabin today (full capacity).

My first thought was that the cabin looked super!  I get a sort of euphoric feeling when entering a first class cabin for the first time.  Strange or what?  Kinda like when you finally got to open that toy on your birthday as a kid! LOL.    The cabin is spacious for having eight seats and our individual seat/suite was wonderfully comfortable and spacious.  Very muted and understated color tones showcase the cabin.  Large built-in flat screen TVs help accent the suites and gives the suite a modern fit and finish. Smooth cherry toned wood is slathered throughout the suite helping create the luxury atmosphere. Dark sumptuous leather seating that is comfortable yet so functional.  Not too wide or not too tight.  Plenty of storage all around me while seated.  I slipped my carryon in front of me under the footrest that can also be a guest seat if preferred. Plenty of legroom ahead of me obviously and an electric divider in between my wife and I’s suite that can be raised or lowered by the push of a button if more privacy is required or you are seated next to stranger.

Japan Airlines First Class cabin

Japan Airlines First Class cabin

Japan Airlines First Class seat 2A

Japan Airlines First Class seat 2A

Japan Airlines First Class suite 2A

My JAL suite 2D

Japan Airlines First Class TV’s 2D and 2G

My wife settled in to JAL F suite 2G

Japan Airlines First Class Bose headphones

Japan Airlines First Class seat controls

Once onboard we were greeted by head flight attendant Ohara and she promised her staff will be taking great care of us.  I was offered a glass of water, juice or champagne. I asked for the Salon but it is only served in the air so I took the defacto champers on offer. My wife took the OJ as she was officially sick with a cold as our trip kicked off.  Hot towels were also delivered to our suites to freshen up. Slippers were also in a dust bag waiting for their owners near the IFE storage area.  I must admit that the service was amazing! Wow so much bowing and what felt like genuine smiling.  I felt like I could ask for anything and my wish would be granted! I told my wife these flight attendants will break their back for us!! She didn’t like that statement but thats how I felt. I mean we haven’t even taken off yet I am getting multiple smiles and bows. It was like they actually wanted to showcase Japan Airlines and what great service means.

I am lounging in my Japan Airlines F seat

My wife and enjoying our welcome drinks onboard Japan Airlines First Class

Champagne to start, but not the Salon yet!

Notice my carryon fitting just perfectly under the foot rest

IFE remote control

Additional storage bin

The pillow and bedding was airweave branded

Touch screen IFE resting on my JAL blanket

Japan Airlines First Class cabin before take off

I thought due to the cabin being 100% full that service might slip or the flight attendants might be too busy at times but I didn’t notice this at all.  In the first row of the first class cabin were all Japanese men. The Japanese men in the windows seats were pretty much buying everything in the JAL duty free catalog! I have a feeling they were also frequent JAL F customers and got slightly better service on the flight (if thats possible).  In our row, row two, there were us and and another couple from the Atlanta area that we met shortly after boarding as they noticed my yellow flyer talk bagtag (fellow FTer’s!). They were separated though as they either requested or were assigned the window suites.

Japan Airlines slippers

Just after takeoff I changed into my pajama’s in the restroom. The restroom isn’t anything extraordinary as is usually the case in the 777’s.  The elaborate bathrooms will be typically found in the A380’s but I was happy to make due with this restroom and the other even small restroom close to the flight deck door.  I thought the Pajama’s were of good quality and thick and warm although not particularly stylish in my view. Overall very comfortable for sleeping and I kept my PJ’s.

Japan Airlines First Class bathroom

Japan Airlines First Class toilet controls

Japan Airlines First Class PJ’s bagged up

Japan Airlines First Class PJ’s revealed

Materials detailing the JAL suite

Materials detailing the JAL suite

The hot towelette is even JAL branded

Shortly after takeoff menu’s were distributed.  I found it odd no Amuse Bouche was served before we departed but it appears they included it as part of there meal service on JAL.

Japan Airlines drink menu

Japan Airlines first class drink menu

The Salon Champagne

Deutz Cuvee champagne

Liquor and spirt options

White wines

White wines

Red wines

Red wines

Sake and Shochu options

Sake and Shochu options

Other beverages

Premium tea

I thought IFE remote control was kinda cool.  You could have the flight maps and air show right on the screen of the remote.  Although it did take a bit to get the hang of the remote control.  You can actually mouse your finger around the screen which will show up on the large screen TV. So kind of a an iPad that works in conjunction with your IFE screen.  I will say the remote it is not super responsive and we needed to be very precise in our selection inputs.

IFE remote showing our flight progress

After peeking through the drink menu I chose the Salon champagne for my beverage option as I have yet to experience it and I am not going to pay the $300 that a bottle demands.  I found the Salon flavor to be very good yet a bit muted if that makes sense. It didn’t have a lot of bubbles and was smooth and very easy to drink.  I still prefer Vueve Cliqot though after having a few glasses of the Salon.

Salon champagne served on Japan Airlines First Class

My first pour of Salon Champagne

Our amuse bouche was finally served.

Amuse bouche on JAL F

Amuse bouche close up, lovely caviar eggs

I then dug into the food menu

Japan Airlines First Class menu

Japan Airlines First Class menu

Japanese set menu on Japan Airlines First Class

Western menu options on Japan Airlines First Class

A La Carte menu on Japan Airlines First Class

Japan Airlines First Class menu

Coffee of the month on JAL F

Info on Chef Naomi Uchiyama

For our dinner selections I decided to go with the western option departing Chicago and the Japanese option on our way home departing Tokyo.  I had the caviar appetizer and the veal main with my wife choosing the asparagus appetizer and beef filet for her main. I found the meal to be good overall.  The meat flavorful and moist.  Not my all time favorite airplane meal but certainly one of the best.  I thought the overall menu was well laid out and had decent variety/options.

Service was stellar! Glasses were refilled constantly and quickly. Food was presented and each dish explained.  Smiles and bows were frequent.

Packaged nuts

Mixed nuts on JAL F

Getting set to start the meal service

Some Japanese amuse bouche options

IFE remote and IFE TV screen in the background

The actual menu amuse bouche

Sea urchin, lamb, foie gras amuse bouche

JAL molded into the silver

My wife enjoying the meal service on Japan Airlines first class

Shrimp and white asparagus for my wife

Caviar presentation on Japan Airlines First Class

Caviar presentation on Japan Japan Airlines

US prime beef filet with truffle sauce on Japan Airlines

The correct amount of pink in my view

Its not a selfie although it does look like it! My wife and I enjoying our meal service on JAL

I went with the veal medallion with sea urchin wasabi

Veal on Japan Airlines First Class

After scrumptious first bite

Raspberry mousse for dessert

The raspberry mousse dessert on Japan Airlines First Class

Cappuccino to cap it off

After our meal service was completed the crew came around to distribute our Loewe branded amenity kits. I found the the kit to be OK and nice enough to keep (in fact by the end of our trip I collected seven of these puppies) but I personally prefer Aesop products.  The female version comes with a separate facial cleansing mask which my wife used later on and raved about. The male version comes with a Shiseido skincare essentials kit.

Loewe branded amenity kit on Japan Airlines First Class

Loewe branded amenity kit contents on Japan Airlines First Class

Flight route

Some flight stats

After dinner I asked the flight attendant if they would setup my bed for me to relax a bit.  She was happy to oblige and grabbed the Airweave mattress pad from the overhead bins and asked if I prefer the mattress to be firm or soft and I selected the soft side of the mattress pad.  She then added the comforter-like blanket with two additional soft pillows.

Top down view of my suite on Japan Airlines First Class

Japan Airlines First Class cabin

My bed is now ready and waiting

Another view of the bed setup on Japan Airlines First Class

All set for movie watching and bed on Japan Airlines F

I watched a few movies during the flight which was amazingly smooth until the last two hours in which the flight got somewhat turbulent.  I was able to sleep just a bit and was very comfortable for this near 12 hour flight.

Laying in bed watching a Hobbit movie on JAL first

Getting closer to Japan

Just past the curtain were some small chocolates, waters, immigration card and JAL shop

After several hours of relaxing and just a few hours before landing I decided to eat another meal.  The formal secondary meal was a Chicago style pizza which I really thought strange for some reason.  Everyone likes pizza but it didn’t seem like a dish for an F cabin. I instead went with the Baby back ribs tortilla roll which tasted good but was prepared as a cold dish which threw me off. After eating half of that dish I also had the black truffle risotto cake with cinsomme soup which was a winner! I also tried a glass of the Chivas Regal whiskey which I am not enough of a whiskey drinker to judge but found it smooth.

Scrolling through the food options on the actual IFE remote control

Baby back ribs tortilla roll

Trying the Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 year aged whiskey

Meh, whats next?

Yum- the black truffle risotto on Japan Airlines First Class

Black truffle risotto

Finally made it to Japan

My overall impression of Japan Airlines first class was extremely positive.  The service was the best of any airline I have flown so far.  The hard product and large IFE TV screen were great.  Honestly I think I prefer JAL F over CX F if crossing the pacific ocean by just a small margin. While CX has the more exclusive F cabin with only 6 passengers and a better amenity kit and champagne (debatable) the flight attendants were so amazing and the service so friendly that it would be my preferred way to fly over to Asia.

PointsPinnacle Breakdown

We redeemed American Airlines miles to fly on their One World partner Japan Airlines.  The grand total round trip per person was 125,000 AA miles + $48.60 + $35 telephone booking fee.  What a steal! $167.20 roundtrip all in for two first class tickets to Japan and back. A good deal in economy class might be $900! That Citi AA Executive card is the card that keeps on giving!  The cash price for our exact itinerary (you may want to sit down for this) was $46,000+ !!!!!!

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Our Japan Airlines receipt and itinerary

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Confirmation email of AA mileage redemption for our flights totaled 250,000 AA miles

Our exact itinerary on ITA Matrix shows $46,049.20 roundtrip

Let me know if you have any questions or your thoughts on JAL first class.




6 thoughts on “Trip Report: Japan 2015 (Part 2) Japan Airlines First Class Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo Narita

  1. For future reference, the $35 phone booking fee is now waived for tickets that cannot be booked through

  2. How much do you value an AA mile to be worth? If about 1.5c / mile, then your total cost was actually about $3750 + taxes and fees of $167.20 for your tickets.

    Which is still a phenomenal deal, especially since a large chunk of it wasn’t actual cash out of pocket.

    • @JL, 1.5c per mile is about right for AA miles. If you want to estimate my costs at that figure the thats fine. It cost me next to nothing to earn those AA miles and they have to be redeemed for something. Long haul international first class is the best redemption and we no doubt maximized our miles value.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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