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Review: Japan Airlines First Class 777-300ER Tokyo to Los Angeles

a desk with chairs and a computer screen

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Japan Airlines First Class is one of the best ways to cross the Pacific

I’d planned a surprise weekend trip to Tokyo for my girlfriend last fall and wanted each part to be outstanding. The flight over? Two seats on AA’s retrofit 772 featuring their brand new Super Diamond seats. It was an excellent use of two SWUs that were confirmable at the time of booking, and ended up being a great flight. The hotel? The Grand Hyatt Tokyo where I used points for the entire stay, added an Explorist club level upgrade, and we loved every minute. Now the return flight home…I wanted to finish the trip with a bang, and found 1 single seat on JL62 returning on September 9th on Japan Airlines First Class and booked it with 70k Alaska miles.  Even better, a second seat opened up roughly 10 days prior to departure which I locked down by using 80k AA miles.

a table and chairs in an airplane

The Deets

  • When: September 2017
  • Where: Tokyo to LA – NRT to LAX
  • Cabin: First
  • Points used:
    • 70k Alaska +$54
    • 80k AA +$54
  • Seat: 2 D and G

How I found the seats.

You can easily search award avail bookable by Alaska on their website. It’s worth noting that the space you may see on BA or JAL may not be available to book with Alaska miles, and the Alaska site is just super easy to use so I’d suggest starting there, and then digging in deeper if needed.

a screenshot of a computer

If you don’t see the seats on Alaska’s site you can also search using JAL’s website, which is slightly more complex and I’d recommend you using this article as a reference point. Additionally, you can use BA or Qantas to search as well.

The Lounge:

Japan Airlines First Class lounge is one of my favorites for two reasons: it offers spa treatments and incredible sushi. What’s more relaxing or luxurious than sitting in an intimate lounge after a massage, having some great sake, and absolutely stuffing your face with OUTSTANDING nigiri prior to your flight.

Boarding could be improved.

This is the 2nd time I’ve flown JAL First out of Narita and knew what an absolute cluster boarding would be. Each class has it’s own line, but people starting lining up well in advance of their cabin being called. In addition, once people have started to queue, it’s very wishy washy as to where anyone is actually lined up. In order to avoid this confusion and have a relaxed boarding experience I made sure we arrived at the gate in time to get in the front of the queue. Big lesson learned from last time.

The Cabin. 2 rows. 1-2-1.

The cabin was full by the time we left, and I’d selected the middle seats in the 2nd row. I think these are the two seats are the most ideal for couples as no one will walk past you, and you can put the middle partition down to open it up.

As soon as you sit down they offer you some bubbly. For our flight they served Salon. This has since been replaced with Cristal on flights to Japan, and still served on flights from Japan.

a bottle of champagne next to a glass of wine

The Seat

There is TONS of storage intra-pod. In terms of in-seat storage I think it provides the most of almost any First Class I’ve reviewed. Yes, there are cabins that provide small closets, or drawers, but in terms of direct access to your things – JAL does an impeccable job. a stuffed animal in a chair

Here you can see the immense storage: The first pic on the left has enough space to put your carry on underneath while the middle picture is a cubby large enough to hold not only my laptop, but my amenity kit, wallet, glasses, and gopro. Wonderfuly amount of storage. The final picture has a hidden power port where I left my iphone to charge during the flight.

The amenity kit is now provided by Porsche. Very stylish with all of the necessary amenities.

Pajamas are provided and they are one of my favorite airline pjs – right up there with Cathay and Lufthansa. In fact, JAL’s pjs are the ones I use the most at home.

a tv on a table

The Food:

The menu along with the wine list is presented in a large portfolio. Very professional with a rich feel to it. There are two separate styles of food you can order. Both times I’ve flown JAL First I’ve gone with the Western meal.

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I had the Lobster and specially ordered the Roppongi pudding which is made especially for JAL.

The Bed: cabin temp is a big factor. They keep it hot.

The bed is very spacious, fully flat, with a mattress pad ( firm or soft). I’ve tried both firm and soft, and despite looking very comfortable, I’ve found the bed to be quite hard. IMO, the best beds are found on Lufthansa and Cathay, but I seem to be the only one that doesn’t sleep well. My buddy slept well when I flew it with him last year, and my girlfriend slept really well too.  Take it for what it’s worth.

Overall:

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Japan Airlines First Class to anyone, and especially seeing as tho you can lock it down with just 70k Alaska miles or 80k AA it’s a great use of points. Avail can be a little tricky, but JAL is fairly consistent on releasing seats within roughly 10 days of departure, and if you’re flexible on your city of departure, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding a seat. You’ll eat good food, have a comfy bed ( hopefully I’ll sleep in it one day ), great champagne + scotch, and a wonderful lounge to spend time in while you’re waiting to take off.

A very nice touch…

They overheard that we were celebrating my girlfriend’s birthday and shortly before arrival we were both given a small little gift.

a red bag with a gold ribbon and a black box on a table

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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19 Comments

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  • Mikki O April 28, 2018

    So hot n these oriental flights. Please speak to cabine manager for why the heat is so much,
    Thank you!!

  • Dotti Cahill February 21, 2018

    I’ve heard about the hot temp on the flights! Virgin also hot vent or lack of them. Thx for the review what were the gifts??

  • Kate February 21, 2018

    Is there anything to be done about the heat? Will they make it cooler if you ask? I’ve read so many comments about the heat I’m hesitant to fly JAL. I had no trouble on Cathay.

    • Miles February 21, 2018

      Kate – can definitely ask, and it wasn’t so hot that I wouldn’t fly them again, I would in a heartbeat, it’s just something to note and plan for. I typically need a very cool environment, and the pjs they give you are quite heavy…

  • Theodore Smith February 20, 2018

    Thanks for the review. Cant wait for oir flight in Mar. Used 75k AS miles for SFO-HND, NRT-CGK. The 1st leg is in 1st and the second in business. What was in the gift for the birthday??

    • Miles February 20, 2018

      Theodore – You’ll love it. Great ride. What aircraft are you flying to Jakarta? Gift had a coffee cup and some candy, thanks for reading

  • mojo February 20, 2018

    If you’re sitting in First, why bother standing in line?

    Wait for after all those other suckers have already boarded – spend more time in the Lounge instead.

    • Scott February 20, 2018

      I agree – what is the rush to board?

      • Miles February 20, 2018

        Change into Pjs, sip champagne and get comfy. I always like settling in, and knowing I’ll review, I try to be on board early to get as clean a cabin photo as I can get…

  • Carl R February 20, 2018

    Sounds like from my two JAL F experiences (SFO-HND, NRT-ORD) a few years back, not much has changed. On both flights the boarding was a scrum. Cabin was hot. The seat, PJs, amenities great. Food was OK. Service prompt and attentive as one would expect. I think ANA and JAL F are close to equal, with ANA having a better organized boarding. F check-in at NRT was terrific, with a F only security screening room. Although there was another screening for U.S. flights before getting to the gate.

  • Jeff February 20, 2018

    Surprised by the boarding, it’s been my experience that the Japanese are almost frighteningly efficient when it comes to standing in line.

  • Matt February 20, 2018

    Isn’t the AA redemption 110k t-pac First?

    • Miles February 20, 2018

      Yep to Asia 2 it’s 110k, but Japan is Asia 1.

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