Review of Japan Airlines flight Tokyo New York in First

Airline Japan Airlines
Flight JL6
Class First
Seat 1D
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 12:55
Take-off 20 Dec 15, 11:10
Arrival at 21 Dec 15, 10:05
JL   #11 out of 95 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 174 reviews
Published on 13th April 2017
Welcome back!

This is one of the flights I was really looking forward to because I had read so many good things about Japan Airlines. This flight was memorable on many levels, I saw Aurora Borealis at 40,000 feet in the sky while drinking champagne!

Please forgive me, the pictures are not complete because most of the photos I took on my phone were deleted. I only manage to find a few photos on my Canon camera.

My itinerary:
- Manila to Hong Kong with Cathay business
- Tokyo to New York with Japan Airlines first class <<< You are here
- New York to London with British Airways first class
- London to Melbourne with Qantas first class Part 1 (London to Dubai)
- London to Melbourne with Qantas first class Part 2 (Dubai to Melbourne)

Here we go!

Tokyo to New York
December 20 2015
Japan Airlines JL 6
11:10AM - 10:05AM
777 First Class
Seat 1D

After arriving at Narita International I made my way through check-in. Japan Airlines First Class passengers has a dedicated First Class check-in, where no less than two agents welcome you into the zone before directing you to a free desk.

It was a smooth process and the agent was very friendly and polite. She instructed me to follow the sign and use the priority security for First Class passengers.

Within 2 minutes I cleared Narita security and made my through customs and immigration, which does not have a dedicated priority lane for First Class.

Airport & Lounge
I arrived around 9AM and the First Class lounge was bustling! The lounge did not feel as exclusive as other airlines but there was a comprehensive self service alcohol counter, the machine beer dispenser.

photo lounge-1photo lounge-2photo lounge-3

The lounge offers complimentary massage and shoe shine service, however when I was there, the message wait time was over 1 hour and 45 minutes and the shoe shine was not open.

photo lounge-8photo lounge-9photo lounge-10

I took pictures of the buffet but it was lost. So here are some pictures I managed to dig up. Although the lounge did not have the exclusivity of First Class lounges and felt more like a business class lounge, the sushi bar was a nice touch!

Naturally I skipped the buffet of omelettes, Tokyo curry, rice, sausages etc and headed straight to the sushi bar, I love sashimi and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it at the lounge. I went back three times!

Eventually boarding was called and I headed to the plane.

The flight
When I got onboard there were three flight attendants to welcome me. They were very formal and one showed me to my seat, 1D.

Although Japan Airlines calls this a “suite”, the seat is not as private as the “suites” you see on Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Etihad. But really I liked the seat it was really wide and comfortable.

I took a photo of the empty seat on my left, as you can see, there is plenty of room.

photo flight-1photo flight-3

Here is a photo of the private cabin with only eight seats.
photo flight-2

As soon as I settled down, I was asked if I wanted champagne, of course I did! It is Salon Champagne 2006! How can I say no?

Eventually the other passengers boarded and six seats would be occupied today, including a VIP passenger who was brought onboard by a JAL ground member. I knew he was VIP because when we landed in JFK, he was collected by JAL ground crew, and the VIP passenger was also separated from the rest of us at JFK baggage carousel. JAL agents also cordoned off a specific area at the carousel with red tape, collected the VIP passenger’s luggage and then he was taken through a fast lane. To this day, I have no idea who he is.

Anyway, despite having six passengers, the JAL crew were faultless and the service did not suffer. Menus and amenity kits were handed out. The crew asked me if I wanted to change into my pyjamas, and I said not yet, so she didn’t bring me my PJs. Later I was worried I would miss out so I had to ask for the PJs and she apologised. lol

Takeoff was on time and once we were at cruising altitude the crew sprung to action. The crew get down and speak to you at eye level, which was a nice touch. The champagne kept flowing.
photo flight-dining-1

Next a crew member came to take my order and I chose the Japanese menu but wondered if I could have the caviar from the Western menu. She said she had to check to see whether other passengers are having it and let me know. A few minutes later, she returned and confirmed I could have the caviar!

I chose the Japanese menu because when in Rome… and I thought they would excel at this considering I’m leaving from Tokyo.

Let the feast begin!

Caviar starter
photo flight-dining-2photo flight-dining-3

Five seasonal delicacies
From left to right…

Simmered Yellowtail & Radish in Soy Sauce - Egg Cake - Scallop & Sea Urchin dressed with Mustard Vinegar Miso
Simmered Conger Eel rolled with Yuba - Simmered Taro with stir fried Duck & Welsh Onion
Everything on the tasting place was delicious, even the eel which I normally don't eat. I closed my eyes and put in my mouth and pretended it wasn't eel.

photo flight-dining-4

Japanese clear soup with steamed prawn mousse & grated turnip. I like the broth and prawn mousse but bleh! i don't like turnips lol :)
photo flight-dining-5

Boiled Matsuba snow crab with citrus vinegar jelly & pickled radish
Cold steamed egg custard with smoked potato potage
Pureed welsh onion soup accompanied with caviar
You pour the caviar into the egg custard and stir it, then eat. The soft custard contrast with the caviar and it was an interesting sensation in your mouth.

photo flight-dining-6

Wagyu beef fillet sukiyaki accented with black pepper (top center)
This fillet was so tender, I didn't need a knife to cut it and it just melted in your mouth.

Steamed Koshihikari rice with Japanese (obviously bottom left) peppered flavoured young sardines see picture labelled below, which was really strange. It wasn't crunchy, it was soft and chew-ish like snake lollies but salty.

Steamed egg (center)

Miso soup (bottom right)
Japanese pickles (above the miso soup)

photo flight-dining-7

Young sardines
photo flight-dining-8

Roppongi Pudding
Dekopon Orange, yuzu & coconut sorbet
Ryugin’s specialty - Japanese style baked pistachio cake
The pistachio cake was nice, not too sweet. The coconut sorbet and yuzu was refreshing, the sweatness of the coconut was able to balance the tangyness of the yuzu.
The Roppongi pudding was very smooth, almost like a creme brulee.

photo flight-dining-9photo flight-dining-10

I was so full by the end of the feast! but I am so glad I decided to have Japanese menu. This is one of the best meals I have ever. A cabin crew came to clear my table and suggested I also have the Sugaloabo Mont blanc! She insisted I have I said “Sure!”

Sugaloabo Mont blanc
It is very very very sweet! Triple chocolate hit! wow!
photo flight-dining-11photo flight-dining-12

For those who are interested, my seat mate next door had the Western menu and these are the pictures.

After that the three crew members brought out a tray of Japanese snacks and suggest I have one of each while I watch my movie, I couldn’t say no! Lol
photo snacks

After that feast, I went for a walk and checked out the business cabin and economy. I came back and started working on my notebook. Only problem I had was charging, the JAL charge didn’t have enough power to change my Asus ROG. So every time Windows loaded, it would shut down.
This was the second time I couldn’t charge my notebook on the plane. The first time was on Virgin Australia’s 777.
The JAL crew tried to reset the system but it was no help. I have subsequently learned from a friend that when that happens, I might have to take the battery out and just run the computer on A/C.

Anyway in the middle of the flight, a cabin crew came over and said "sorry to disturb you but the captain has informed me that there will be a light show!"
I was puzzled because I thought we were going to have a disco.
She said "come with me, its outside"
I went to the empty window seat beside and pull up the slide and I watched the northern lights!
I normally don't get excited but watching the northern lights at 40,000 feet was one of the most beautiful moments. I was speechless, all i could keep saying was "wwoaaahh"
See more


Japan Airlines

Cabin crew10.0

JAL First Lounge


Tokyo - NRT


New York - JFK



The crew addressed me by as Mr. last name and were very formal, but I said just call me by my first name. We started to talk and gradually the crew became more relaxed and they were joking and laughing. They even told me I was their favourite passenger! But I bet they say that to everybody lol
Although at the baggage carousel, the three First Class crew members broke away from the JAL crew and walked over to me, I heard my name called out and turned over and saw the three lovely ladies. We exchanged goodbyes, well wishes and a few bows. I have never encountered that, normally crew members just ignore you once the flight was over.

Well there was Aki, the Cathay Pacific First Class crew who chased me down at baggage claim to give me my sunglasses that I had forgotten and left onboard. That was an amazing touch.

Anyway this JAL flight is one of the best experiences in First Class I have ever had, the catering was A+ and I am so glad I chose the Japanese menu out of Tokyo because I rate it as one of the my best onboard meals ever, and the crew were A++. I can’t wait to fly JAL again!



If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 393274 by
    757Fan 632 Comments
    JAL F looks amazing! Thank you for sharing.
  • Comment 393424 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6859 Comments
    Very nice and informative report! Despite the fact that you lost some picture you still managed a thorough report. Good job sir!

    "I saw Aurora Borealis at 40,000 feet in the sky while drinking champagne!"
    - Salon at that! What a magical experience

    You're right that the lounge doesn't feel particularly exclusive; there is something very Business class about it. Even if the buffet is nicely stocked, a true à la carte table service experience would be more First class. Nevertheless, love the fact that there is a sushi bar.

    The catering looks amazing! Yes, you made the right choice with the Japanese menu, the western options don't look nearly as exciting.

    This is exactly what a First class experience should be and a great crew to just make it perfect! Thanks for sharing!
    • Comment 393577 by
      airtraveladdict AUTHOR 117 Comments
      Thank you Kevin, it is a pity I lost over 50% of the photos I took. But I wanted to do this TR because JAL was a fantastic airline.
      It was an amazing experience to see the Northern Lights, it took my breath away, perhaps I had too much champagne too haha
      Salon is like drinking silk, now in my everyday life I find it very difficult to drink cheaper champagne :)
      Yeah I think JAL First lounge is not very exclusive, no a la carte dining, just extensive buffet. It was also very busy too, so feels like business class lounge.
      Having said that, the Japanese hostess are very efficient in the lounge, I put my empty glass on the table and it was taken away within 30 seconds. There was no empty plates or glasses on tables at all the whole time and it was a busy period.
      But having a sushi bar is fun, I learned from the Japanese men at the bar that you don't need to order the set items, sushi, shrimp and omelette at the same time, you can just choose to have only the tuna, and they make only tuna sashimi for you. Anyway!
      Yes the Japanese option was the right option onboard, like they said, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
      Also, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to try chef Seiji Yamamoto from Nihonryori RyuGin, a 3 Stars Michelin restaurant.
      It was a gastronomic experience in the sky followed by Northern Lights show! truly magical.
  • Comment 394092 by
    Durian 1171 Comments
    Thanks for sharing ! My wife and I emptied will be on a HND-LHR in 2018 in F and it seems well worth it ! We are "used" (lol) to SQ First and Suites and really look forward to this flight ! As far as you can remember, are there lots of western choices for movies in the IFE ?
    The japanese options for catering indeed seems to be the way to go.
    • Comment 394132 by
      Durian 1171 Comments
      missing a few words here... "my wife and I emptied our Avios piggy bank"
      • Comment 394134 by
        airtraveladdict AUTHOR 117 Comments
        Hi Durian, I think the western menu would be nice too but the Japanese degustation is a must if you are departing from Japan.
        I like to play to their strength and I was not disappointed with JAL F.
        I think the entertainment was decent, although I didn't spend much time watching movies because I was busy drinking Salon Champagne lol.
        I haven't tried SQ Suites and First yet, but it is on my list.
        My upcoming trip, I will be flying TG F and EY Apartment, which I am looking forward to.
  • Comment 394779 by
    Rewardflying 493 Comments
    Great report Airtraveladdict. I'm sitting behind you in 2K in a couple months and you've heightened my expectations. Doubt I'll be as lucky getting the light show but that's ok. And I agree with you, do as the Romans do when in Rome!
    • Comment 394783 by
      airtraveladdict AUTHOR 117 Comments
      Cool, you are going to have a lot of fun! JAL FA start off very formal but once they relax, they are very hospitable.
      Also JAL offers caviar as a snack if you wish to have caviar as mid-flight snack!
      Yes flying out of Tokyo, it would be a waste not to try Japanese menu on JAL.
      This flight is on top of the list of favorite flights I've had, everything was fantastic.

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