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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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.