Review of Japan Airlines flight Tokyo San Francisco in First

Airline Japan Airlines
Flight JL2
Class First
Seat 2K
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 09:20
Take-off 14 Dec 15, 00:05
Arrival at 14 Dec 15, 16:25
JL   #13 out of 142 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 143 reviews
By GOLD 3661
Published on 12th February 2016
Hello Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by this review, the final installment in the series.

This report series is book-ended by flying the two Japanese carriers in the USA-HND market, ANA and JAL. I have always been keen to try the Thai 747 in first so long story short I managed to add ANA HND-PEK in J on the 787-9 (new type for me) and PEK-BKK on TG in the 747 in F(or so I thought, the Thai operations folks had other ideas). For the return I pulled off a fantastic (for an airline nerd) routing of CX BKK-HKG in F(overnight at HKG), CX HKG-HND in F and JL HND-SFO in F.

The reports will be broken down as follows:

LAX Star Alliance First Class Lounge and ANA LAX-HND (First)
ANA Haneda First Class Lounges and ANA HND-PEK (Business)
Getting TG'd by Thai Airways PEK-BKK (Business)
Cathay Pacific Bangkok Lounge and CX BKK-HKG (First)
Cathay Pacific The Wing and The Pier and CX HKG-HND (First)
JAL Haneda First Class Lounge and JL HND-SFO (First) (This Report)

Night had fallen on Tokyo and after my visit to the Tokyo Tower I walked back to Hamamatsucho station to pick up the monorail to Haneda. The rain had subsided so my first order of business was the observation deck.

I retreated from the cold night air to go back downstairs and check in for my flight. Much to the lament of KevinDC there is no "lounge" to check in for First Class on JAL. ;) Still, the affair was handled very quickly and I was escorted to the premium security lane and through in very quick fashion.

I was excited for my first visit to the JAL First Class Lounge at Haneda. I was greeted with the utmost of warmth and deference.

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The lounge is quite spacious and is partitioned between seating, dining, relaxation, and the RED SUITE. First I'll just give a brief tour of the seating areas. There is a variety of seating with some breaks in the rows but for the most part privacy is not possible. I find the clean lines and soft palate to be very relaxing and classy.

The dining space is central to the lounge.

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Love the sakura lattice.

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At the back of the lounge is the RED Suite and I was totally unprepared for how awesome this space is. The detail and design are so elegant, fun, and practical. I must have looked quite the fool walking around with mouth agape taking everything in.

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Upon entry you're greeted with a room that has a library type feel and displays artifacts from JAL's past. At the far end of the room beneath the map is the station for the shoe shine. It was manned by a very sweet man in a leather apron. He was very proud of the space and he smiled a lot at my reactions to the area as I encountered new features. Alas, I was wearing cloth shoes.

To the left of the shoe shine room was another lounging space that continued the world exploration theme and added some aviation touches as well.

JA8464 was an Airbus A300B2K-3C, in case you were curious.

Next up is the game room adorned with maps and whimsical light fixtures.

Totally impressed with the design and thoughtfulness of this space I was on my way out when I noticed an anteroom near the entrance. It contained champagne and sake along with the proper stemware for each. It was my pleasure to pour the first of several glasses.

I enjoyed a great complementary 15 minute foot massage during my visit and then decided to sample some of the food offerings. I didn't capture all of the offerings but took photos of what I could around the other guests.

I enjoyed some of the small plate items first.

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Then I paid a visit to the chef in the central island of the kitchen to order the "Hamburg steak with JAL original sauce." He presented me with an alarm that would ring when my order was ready. The dish was very savory, perfectly cooked and I enjoyed a few bites.

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Finally a look at some of the beverage options in the lounge. I returned to the LP room in the RED Suite to refill my beverage, as needed.

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Eventually it was time to meander down to the gate. There was a dedicated lane for first, pay attention Cathay Pacific.

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I so very excited to be on board with JAL again and to asume 2K the same seat I selected on my last, and only other, journey with this great airline.

Waiting at the spacious seat were the amenity kit and bose headset.

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Soon the first oshibori and the Salon arrived. I noted it was the 2004 where the month prior was 2002. Did I drink all of the 2002??

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I was offered pajamas and escorted to the lavatory to change where my clothes were hung for me upon exit.

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Back at the seat the service manager presented me with the menu for this overnight flight. I seem to have only taken pictures of the portions of the menu I ordered from.

Doors closed, seat belts fastened and we're off into the Tokyo night.

The crew quickly sprung to action resuming the flow of 2004 Salon and presenting another oshibori. I opted to stay awake and enjoy some of the spectacular food and wine on offer.

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First came the "Late Night Snack". A beautiful presentation of pate, spring roll and soup. All of the flavors here were excellent. The spring roll had a slightly compromised texture, I suppose from not being fresh out of the fryer.

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I requested the caviar next and it was stunning. The eggs were firm and crisp with the beautiful briny flavor of the sea. I loved it.

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I continued my tour of the menu with the beef pastrami sandwich if only to have something to pair with the luscious 2012 rindo. I was quite taken by this Bordeaux style wine from Napa on my last flight with JAL. The sandwich turned out ot be very good wi layers of pink meat and caramelized onions.

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I asked for the cheese next and I was presented with this beautiful arrangement of cheese, chutney, and lavender honey.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything I sampled and the service was impeccable throughout. A trip to the lav to freshen up while my bed was made in the seat across the aisle. I selected the firm mattress. The note on the mirror in the lav was very sweet. I also took a picture of the aircraft information placard on the bulkhead.

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I was slept like a baby for about 5 hours. I would wake up and drink a bottle of water and then wake up again and it would be replaced with a full bottle.

Upon regaining consciousness I was immediately greeted and offered a beverage. I was keen to try the Seto no Harehime citrus juice.

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I indicated hat I would like to have a meal prior to arrival so the table was set.

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I ordered the fruit and pot-au-feu from the western menu. I really enjoyed the option of something lighter than the typical egg fare you see on western breakfast menus.

A coffee in the grand JAL mug.

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Almost to our destination I took a few pictures of the sights outside as we made the approach.

A 777 holds as we proceed to the gate.

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See more


Japan Airlines

Cabin crew9.0

JAL First Class Lounge


Tokyo - HND


San Francisco - SFO



Another fantastic JAL experience. I realize a data set of 2 is not conclusive!

The lounge is everything I could want from a first class lounge. Quality food, interesting and comfortable spaces, plentiful champagne, and a fantastic foot massage.

On board I was treated to kind and detailed service as well as exquisite food and beverage options. Even though this was a midnight departure it still had a premium feel to the service.

The seat/bed on JAL is spacious and private enough for a good night's sleep. Having an empty seat adjacent is an added luxury to be able to enjoy both a seat and bed without having to convert.

It's at this point that I return to the original premise of this series of reports: to try the US-HND flights offered by the major Japanese carriers. Having done that in a relatively short time frame I can say that both are exceptional. If I had to choose between the two I would opt for JAL. I find their lounges on both ends to be superior (Oneworld F at LAX vs. Star at LAX as well as the lounges in this series of reports). The food and beverage on board favors JAL as well. The hard product and service are both fantastic and I have no preference in those metrics.

Thank you for reading and happy flying.

Information on the route Tokyo (HND) San Francisco (SFO)


  • Comment 157311 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    The RED Suite is absolutely stunning.

  • Comment 157312 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thank you Christian for sharing this comprehensive and exquisitely photographed FR.

    The F Sakura lounge looks fabulous. The drawback that I see - and this is a minor one, is as you said the lack of privacy. Then again, Japanese culture does not place too much emphasis on individualism and places more value on the collective group as a whole, so it shouldn't be surprising to see more open spaces where there is a definite communal atmosphere.

    The RED suite is a charming corner that is sure to please any aviation geek. Going through the historical displays of JAL is a fascinating trip through memory lane.

    The catering is beautifully presented and tempting. The round sushi seems to be a contemporary way to present it and not just a passing fad. I remember coming across those on my previous trip to Tokyo a few years ago.

    Great inflight experience as expected. Too bad that this was not a daytime flight in order to enjoy more of it.

    Congratulation on achieving this milestone. ;)

    • Comment 334618 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 980 Comments

      Greetings Jetsetpanda and thank you for the kind comments.

      I also appreciate the insight into the lounge design and how it relates to the Japanese culture. That is something I would not have considered but makes perfect sense.

      Too bad that this was not a daytime flight in order to enjoy more of it.
      -So true!

      Thanks again and happy flying.

  • Comment 157459 by
    indianocean GOLD 6818 Comments

    The Red Suite is really amazing.
    I like the way hats are used as lamps in the game room.
    It seems that Oneworld First Lounges are getting high quality now (along with CX The Pier First)

    Very nice caviar plate. But I wish JAL can serve more of this delight.

    I honestly don't know what to think about the pastrami sandwich as the main meal. I don't doubt that it was delicious and I love sandwichs but I'm quite confused about serving this in First Class.
    However, pot-au-feu for breakfast instead of eggs, what a good an original idea.

    Thank you for this nice report.

    • Comment 334619 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 980 Comments

      Thank for the comments Indianocean.

      It seems that Oneworld First Lounges are getting high quality now (along with CX The Pier First)
      -Indeed. I would add to the list QF in SYD and LAX as well as QR in DOH.

      Very nice caviar plate. But I wish JAL can serve more of this delight.
      -It is a small portion, but very good quality.

      I honestly don't know what to think about the pastrami sandwich as the main meal.
      -I don't think of it as an entree, per se. It was just one of many items on the a la carte list.

      However, pot-au-feu for breakfast instead of eggs, what a good an original idea.
      -I thought so too, and it was very nicely done.

      Thanks again and happy flying.

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