Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) First Class San Francisco (SFO) – Haneda (HND)

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Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) First Class San Francisco (SFO) – Haneda (HND)

After our amazing time at the closet known as the JAL First Class Lounge, it was time to head to the gate for what would turn out to be the best flight that Joe and I have ever taken! The flight was the last to leave out of SFO I believe as its departure time was 1:45am. As we waited at gate A5 for our flight to board we noticed something that would become very common place once we arrived in Tokyo, medical masks. It seemed that at least 1 out of 4 people had masks on similar to the ones we use in the OR. We didn’t ask any of them the reason for wearing them, although I assume it is because they are sick or they are afraid of becoming sick but once we arrived in Tokyo that number went closer to 1 out of 3 people!

jal first class japan

One of our masked co-passengers

Our Trip so far!

When First class was called we boarded through the door behind row 2 and were directed left to our new home for the next 11 hours! (AS ALWAYS CLICK ON ANY PICTURES TO ENLARGE)

Airline: Japan Airlines
Route: JL001 SFO-HND
Cabin: F
Plane: 777-300ER
Seats: 1D and 1G
Flight time: 11 hours

JAL Japan airlines first class F

My seat for the flight to Tokyo!

After snapping a few pictures of the cabin we took our seats. Joe and I were seated in the first row and were 2 of only 4 people in the cabin which held 8 seats. The cabin is set up in 2 rows of 1-2-1 configuration so Joe and I each had an aisle and then 1 window seat next to us. The other passengers were seated in the windows seats at A and K in the second row.

Japan airlines first class f jal

Seats behind us

jal japan airlines first class f

Yep, these will work

Immediately upon sitting we were given a glass of champagne and a warm refreshing towel (we found out later that the departure champagne although good was not the excellent and expensive Salon 2002 that we would have the rest of the flight). Following this initial refresher we were given our Pajama’s (or lounge wear) as well as an amenity kit, a container of premier lotions, slippers, Bose headphone (just for the flight) and a menu. After taking off we changed into our PJ’s and were ready to enjoy the flight! I found the JAL pajama’s extremely comfortable as they are loose fitting with a very soft material and a half zip shirt. I actually found them more comfortable than the PJ’s on our Singapore flight home, mostly because those had elastic at the ankle that I did not care for.

Japan airlines first class f JAL

Pre-departure drink

japan airlines first class f jal

Ready for the flight!

Japan airlines first class f JAL Pajama's

Pj’s for the flight!

Japan airlines first class f JAL Amenity kit

Amenity kit, lotion set and Bose Headphones

Japan airlines first class f JAL Amenity kit

Inside the amenity kit

Japan airlines first class f JAL Slippers

Slippers

Japan airlines first class f JAL Menu

Menu

Once comfortable, it was time to explore the seat. As you can see from the pictures the JAL first class seat is very wide and has many functions including a lounging recline, a full 180 degree recline into a bed and a massage function. The small suite also includes a very large screen measuring 23 inches that can be easily controlled by the touch screen controller in the one of the many compartments in the cabin. There was a collection of current movies, shows and music which was more than enough for our flight. The tray table is also very large, covering the width of the suite and is able to be pushed all the way back against the screen or slide the length of the suite to your seat. Finally, there is an ottoman under the screen which is the perfect height for placing carry-ons underneath and can be used as a footrest or a seat for a companion (there is even a seat belt on it).

Japan airlines first class f JAL

Huge 23 inch screen, tray table and ottoman

japan airlines first class f jal

Compartment next to screen

japan airlines first class f jal

Compartment next to seat

japan airlines first class f jal

Second compartment next to seat with tv controls

japan airlines first class f jal

Seat controls

japan airlines jal first class f

Inside large pocket next to seat

japan airlines jal first class f

Screens

japan airlines jal first class f

Tray table pulled out

japan airlines jal first class f

With divider up

japan airlines jal first class f

Screen Control

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After exploring our seat it was time to peruse the menu to order our meals. As this was a flight which was not taking place at the conventional time of most meals, there was not a full meal service in the traditional sense but a “snack” and then an a la carte menu. Between the 2 of us we were able to try most of the things on the menu as well as some of the beverages!

The champagne served on board JAL First Class is Salon 2002. I am not someone who has ever tried expensive champagnes but from what I had read I knew this was suppose to be excellent and it was! Although not as well known as Dom or Krug, it is very pricey, usually going for well over $400 a bottle (look it up). Needless to say they stock 2 of these bottle per flight and Joe and I ended up taking care of 1 1/2 of them 😉 . The other alcoholic beverage we were able to try during our flight was Chivas Royal 21 Year Salute which has a pretty damn cool looking bottle. Now again, I am not someone who usually drinks Scotch, but this was easily the smoothest I have ever had and at over $300 a bottle I would hope so!

japan airlines jal first class f

Time to eat dinner!

japan airlines jal first class f champagne

Salon 2002…AWESOME

japan airlines jal first class f scotch

Chivas Royal 21 Year Salute

japan airlines jal first class f scotch

Chivas Royal 21 Year Salute

For our late night snack we both selected the Nigiri Sushi which consisted of salmon, squid and shrimp and the caviar from the a la carte menu which was served with a mother of pearl spoon. This was first time (second time would be on the way back) tasting caviar and I really enjoyed it and thought that the small pancakes were superior to the cracker served on the Singapore flight on the way back. We enjoyed everything we ate and there are pictures with comments on each below.

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japan airlines jal first class f caviar

Caviar

japan airlines jal first class f sushi

Sushi

japan airlines jal first class f

Caviar and sushi

japan airlines jal first class f

Salmon Roe, Squid and Sea Urchin

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Salmon Sandwich and Salad with shrimp and crab

Salmon Sandwich and Salad with shrimp and crab

Shrimp and Crab Salad

Shrimp and Crab Salad

japan airlines jal first class f

Delicious Noodles!

japan airlines jal first class f

Snacks near the bathroom

japan airlines jal first class f

Dessert!!

japan airlines jal first class f

Our flight route

After having our fill of expensive alcohol and Japanese food it was time to lay down for a nap. Since there was no one sitting by the window seats on either side of us we asked the flight attendants to turn those seats down into our beds. As I mentioned before, the seats fully recline 180 degrees into a bed and then a mattress is placed on top as well as a comforter and 2 pillows. You can choose soft or firm for your mattress. Before laying down we asked to be woken up about a hour and 45 min before arrival so we could wake up a bit and have breakfast. Both of us ended up sleeping for right around 5 hours and I were very comfortable for the most part but did find the cabin to be a bit warm at times and had to remove my comforter to cool off.

jal japan airlines first class f

Open seat next to me that would become my bed

jal japan airlines first class f

My bed

jal japan airlines first class f

I went with the soft mattress

jal japan airlines first class f

Apparently that is me sleeping, at least that is what Joe said

Upon waking it was time for breakfast which was a Simmered Sablefish in soy sauce and several sides as well as a banana and strawberry smoothie (there is a western menu too with an omelet). I had never actually had fish for breakfast other then lox on my bagel but it was outstanding, I was really surprised. Along with our breakfast we were served coffee in special JAL First Class mugs which I LOVED! I thought they were so cool I had to tell the flight attendant.

jal japan airlines first class f

Sablefish with rice and crab for breakfast!

jal japan airlines first class f

Smoothie

jal japan airlines first class f coffee

Coffee with my new favorite mug I got to take home!

jal japan airlines first class f

A little FROZEN with my morning coffee

Up until now I haven’t mentioned anything about the service on this flight but it was EXCELLENT! It was easily the best service Joe or I have ever had and it is what really separated it from the Singapore flight we took on the way back. Banno was the pursuer who ran the team and she was just awesome. Our champagne glasses were never empty, we never had to wait more then 2 seconds to get anything we wanted and they just seemed to be generally nice, caring people.

Case in point, I had told them when we first boarded that this was kind of the beginning of my bachelor party trip and when I returned from changing back into my regular clothes at then end of the flight there was a note with my name on it and 2 special chop stick holders for me! When they saw me sit back down the just kept bowing and saying “for you and your new wife.” Not only that, when I told them how much I loved the coffee mugs they came back and said “You want clean mug to take home?!” Ummmm, YES!…and Joe needs one too 😉

jal japan airlines first class f chopstick holders

My special gift of JAL chopstick holders!

jal japan airlines first class f

Joe in the empty seat next to him watching our landing

So bottomline, this was an outstanding flight and the best crew I have ever experienced. I am happy to report that I have already book another flight in this cabin for Katie and I in February of next year and can’t wait for her to experience it!

Still to come, Tokyo, JAL Tokyo Narita First Class Lounge, Seoul and more!

2 Comments on “Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) First Class San Francisco (SFO) – Haneda (HND)

  1. Jason,
    Hope you enjoy your flight. It was absolutely fantastic for us so I’m sure you will!

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