Review of Japan Airlines flight Chicago Tokyo in First

Airline Japan Airlines
Flight JL9
Class First
Seat 1K
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 13:00
Take-off 26 Dec 17, 11:00
Arrival at 26 Dec 17, 15:00
JL   #3 out of 117 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 115 reviews
Rewardflying
By GOLD 1683
Published on 8th January 2018
photo jl9 cover

Hello Flight-Report #avgeeks. Rewardflying returns traveling across the pacific and back. This trip will start with a favorite and end with Garuda Indonesia's A330 (newest seat) and the highly anticipated Delta A350.

I hope you enjoy the trip!

Flight Segments
Japan Airlines ORD-NRT First Class 777-300ER - This report
Japan Airlines NRT-SIN New Business Class 777-200
KLM SIN-DPS Business Class 777-300
Garuda Indonesia DPS-ICN Business Class A330
Delta ICN-DTW Business Class A350
Delta DTW-ORD - No report

Japan Airlines B777-300 First Class

It's all Delta's fault. So thanks Delta for a reason to fly Japan Airlines first class again.

A year ago Delta was planning on retiring their 747 aircraft. I made an attempt to get a seat on the last scheduled 747 flight. That didn't work out but luck turned it into a flight on their new A350. The whole story is coming soon in the Delta flight. However that was getting back from Asia. Of course I had to get to Asia first. Did you expect there not to be any drama with that? I'd hate to disappoint.

The destination was Bali because the Delta trip had a leg with Garuda Indonesia which was a bucket list airline. Given many months to book tickets only to have schedule changes, in the end I wound up on this Japan Airlines flight. The original choice used UA points. It was a new technology series of flights; Air Canada 787 to Frankfurt, Thai Airlines A350 to Bangkok and then TG B787 to Bali. I ticketed this back in February.

photo jl9 ticket ua 1

Then sometime in June Air Canada changed their schedule and moved the 9:40PM departure to 6:30PM creating a dreaded 14 hour layover in Frankfurt as well as moving the positioning flight from ORD up to 10AM, a 5 hour layover in YYZ. Also the 787 got swapped for a 777. Later in August I flew the TG A350 and wasn't enamoured with that experience. A final nail was typical Thai as they swapped the 787 to Bali for a 777. The appeal was long gone so I canceled it at no cost, which you can when a schedule change, not aircraft change, like this happens.

Next I booked Qatar Airways. At the time this route had the potential to be on the new Q-Suites as the rumor was JFK was getting them albeit on the 777 and I was on an A350. But I had a plan to fly standby for the 777, not knowing if would work. The drawback was this route was 2 reward tickets because American AAvantage won't allow Asia travel across the Atlantic, which is silly. But it's their program and not mine. So it was expensive, over 100,000 points but promised to be a good trip on Qatar A350 and B787.

photo jl9 ticket aa 1

There was also the possibility of taking Hainan Airlines to PEK and Singapore Airlines to Bali. I had that on hold as well but decided against it. I even considered Air China in first class instead of Hainan. Then one day searching on KVS Tool I saw a business class ticket with AA points from Chicago to Singapore via Tokyo on Japan Airlines. Qatar had a schedule change that allowed cancellation at no cost so I dumped that and held the JAL award. But after I hit the hold button it dawned on me, the ticket would have been significantly less expensive using Alaska points, like 15,000 less. What did I do!

So the question became, if I released the reward hold would it return to inventory so I could book it with Alaska points? I gambled it would.

I lost. It didn't. Now I had nothing.

A few days or maybe a week later, as now I was checking daily, out of the blue Japan Airlines appeared again, only not a business class reward but a first class reward!

Ticketed.

photo jl9 checkin 1

The extent of First Class services on JAL at Chicago's O'hare. No red first class carry-on bag tag. No map to the lounge. They don't even have TSA Pre.

photo jl9 checkin 2

Not even a boarding pass jacket.

photo jl9 boarding pass

I was granted access to American's Flagship lounge. You can read about that visit here at rewardflying.com

photo jl9 checkin 3

Today's flight was on the JetKei themed 777. Apparently this branding is meant to honor the professional tennis player Kei Nishikor's aggressive playing style. Hello Kitty, Star Wars, JetKei….

photo jl9 plane 1

JetKei is JA733.

photo jl9 plane 2

In the driver's seat is Captain T. Ueno. 

photo jl9 cabin ship

When I had placed on hold the JAL flight in business with American they reserved some seats for me as well. The primo seats are 5A and 5K, window seats in the one row business class mini-cabin between first class and door two. If I have a single complaint with JAL it's that they block a significant number of seats for pre-assignment. These two windows seats fall into their blocking craze. But I'd read somewhere that 5E was the most private on the plane. While having no window, which is typically a prerequisite for me, this seat did seem rather intriguing.  So I reserved 5E.

photo jl9 bc 5e seatguru

Entering through door 2 gave me an opportunity to view this seat for future reference. 

photo jl9 bc mini cabin 1

There's no question, it's private, even with privacy partitions down.

photo jl9 bc mini cabin 2photo jl9 bc 5e 1

I've read a lot of flyers love the Apex seat. In my opinion is it's a good seat, just too narrow. 
photo jl9 bc 5e 2

If the opportunity would present itself, 5A or 5K would be my choice. Whether I could get one is another matter. But this mini-cabin has to be one of the best on any 777.

photo jl9 bc mini cabin 3

Today's attendance in first class would be five. Four people in row two and me in row one. 

photo jl9 cabin 1photo jl9 cabin 2

JAL remains as one of my favorite first class cabins. 

photo jl9 cabin 3

Welcome, my choice.

photo jl9 welcome

Each seat had the JAL amenities placed in succession, slippers, kit, headphones and Shiseido skin care products.

photo jl9 amenities 1

Earlier this year JAL offered a Porsche Design sleepsuit which was incredible quality, to the point you could wear it going out. Today's flight was back to the standard JAL offering which I found to be excellent as well, although not quite as good as the Porsche suit. 

photo jl9 amenities 2 2

Nevertheless when landing in Tokyo I didn't even bother changing out of the top and could have easily kept the pants on as well.

photo jl9 amenities 3

Time to go.

photo jl9 scenic dep 1

A beautiful view of Chicago on a VERY cold winter day.

photo jl9 scenic dep 2

But for those that have flown out of Denver this might look familiar where the city's flat lands edge against the snow capped mountains, or in this case the clouds over Lake Michigan.

photo jl9 scenic dep 3

The last time for Salon on JAL as they are switching to Cristal by the time this is written. Still quality but still less expensive. 

photo jl9 bev cham 1

As you can see once past Appleton service commenced. 

photo jl9 bev cham 2

Unfortunately this would be my only glass as only one bottle of Salon was boarded and apparently it was very popular in row two. 

photo jl9 bev cham 3

The Amuse Bouche as explained in the menu was a smoked sea scallop and portobello mushroom along with marinated king crab with yuzu chili and turnip veloute. What I tasted was more like a  mushroom with cream cheese and ham with citrus fruit. And I didn't care for either of them, whatever they were.

photo jl9 fooc can 1

But no worry as a JAL favorite was to follow. 

photo jl9 food cav 2

It was served with an egg yolk mascarpone cream cheese which was quite good, and different as well. However I'm not sure what the smoked sturgeon did for this dish.

photo jl9 food cav 1photo jl9 food cav 3

Since there was no more Salon, it was back to my old standby. 

photo jl9 bev wine 5

This version of my old standby was a useful Bordeaux and especially nice for the reasonable price of $35USD.

photo jl9 bev wine 4

Today's first class cabin was attended to by 3 very nice Japanese women, Yamamuchi, Urano and Sakaguchi as well as the Senior cabin attendant M. Wantanabe. All were extremely nice, friendly along with holding a constant smile. Yamamuchi placed the bottle on the tray for a more formal picture. 

photo jl9 bev wine 3

Heading up to the flight I was leaning towards trying the western option hoping for a Wagyu steak. Not today. Probably that is served out of Japan only.

photo jl9 menu food main western

But with multiple successes from the Japan side of the menu there was little hesitation. 

photo jl9 menu food main jap

Lunch is served. 

photo jl9 food pres 1

Kozara was first. This is always my favorite when flying JAL as it has yet to disappoint.

photo jl9 food kozara pres 1

A closer look.

photo jl9 food kozara menu

Clockwise from the top left, Carrot and Abalone.

photo jl9 food kozara 1 car 2

Egg cake and Caviar.

photo jl9 food kozara 2 egg

Sea-bream.

photo jl9 food kozara 3 seabream 1

Chestnut ball.

photo jl9 food kozara 4 chestnut

Halibut and Taro.

photo jl9 food kozara 5 halibut

I wouldn't say any were to die for, but the carrot and abalone was probably the most memorable for me. 

Next was Owan, a clear broth soup with a chicken meatball. It was pretty bland.

photo jl9 food owan soup 1

Following soup was the serving of Mukozuke and Azukebach together. 

photo jl9 food muk-azu pres

The Mukozuke was uninspiring, on all counts. 

photo jl9 food mukozuke 1

Nor did I care for the Azukebachi of Egg Tofu and Salmon Roe.

photo jl9 food azukebachi  2

Maybe it was because this would be the third serving of fish eggs. One can't argue with it's presentation.

photo jl9 food azekebacki 1

So far we aren't doing too well. The Dainomono main course was next. It was served with either rice or chirashi which was a combination of sushi and rice.

photo jl9 food dainomono pres

The best way to explain the beef in this dish would be plain boiled beef, which isn't very good. It's why beef is served with sauces or grilled to caramelize the surface, hey even ketchup or mustard. This simply tasted like plain boiled beef, and not a prime cut either. It was well done too.

photo jl9 food dainomono beef 1

However the chirazi was excellent. 

photo jl9 food dainomono chirasi 1

And finally the Japanese pickles, I'll spare you the miso soup.

photo jl9 food dainomono tofu 1

I finished off the rather disappointing meal with Kanmi, or dessert. 



I have no idea of what it was. But I was instructed to sprinkle the salt on top. 

photo jl9 food des 4

The candy ducks however prompted this in flight tweet. No response…

photo jl9 tweet

JAL does serve some good coffee on board.



Needless to say, it wasn't long before the menu was opened again. 

photo jl9 menu food mid flight

I selected the rice bowl with fermented soybeans. After a few minute Urano, who spoke excellent English returned to make sure I knew what fermented soybeans were. Actually I like natto. She was surprised. You're probably thinking, no wonder he didn't like the food, he likes natto. You might have a point.

photo jl9 food rice bowl 2

The seafood was tuna and the dish was fresh and tasty, just be careful of that dab of wasabi!

photo jl9 food rice bowl 3

On a couple other JAL flights I've found the mid flight sandwich to be very tasty. So I tried the ham and cheese.

photo jl9 food croque 3

Today it was mostly bread.

photo jl9 food croque 2

Arrival meant one last chance for a culinary delight on this JAL flight. 

photo jl9 menu food arrival

So I switched cuisines and went Western. 

photo jl9 food 3 pres 1

Oh if I could only learn how to make that baked tomato with cheese! It was better than good. 

photo jl9 food 3 main 3

A nicely arranged condiment presentation.



Lastly the Panna Cotta was strawberry in flavor.

photo jl9 food 3 des 1

And very tasty.

photo jl9 food 3 des 2

The arrival meal was the best offering on this flight. Too bad it was so small. 

Along the way I enjoyed some of this JAL exclusive, Royal Blue Tea. It is delicious.



The balance of the Wine List as well as other beverages available.


Other amenities on this flight included the amenity kit as well as headphones and Shiseido skin care products.



Japan Airlines offers free Wi-Fi for first class passengers upto 24 hours on the same flight. It worked well with the exception when flying in the northern regions of Alaska as forewarned. 

photo jl9 ife wifi pass

Leading the pack to NRT.

photo jl9 ife wifi 2

At the door one entrance JAL has this self-serve bar. 

photo jl9 cabin self serve 1

The mid-flight presentation offered a small selection of items which became even smaller once the photo was taken. 

photo jl9 cabin self serve 2

The lavatory on this Boeing 777 was a little larger than standard size and stocked with toothbrush and mouthwash. 



Before arrival one last look at the JAL first class seat, 1K.
photo jl9 seat 1
.
photo jl9 seat 6
.
photo jl9 seat 10

Here is a proper two person dining experience AA.

photo jl9 seat 11

Across the aisle is 1G that remained unoccupied, for now.

photo jl9 seat 3photo jl9 seat 2

A full season one of House of Cards was consumed on this flight. 

photo jl9 seat 5photo jl9 ife monitor

With an occasional glimpse of the airshow.

photo jl9 ife airshow 2

When it was time to sleep Urano offered 1G for the bed. The airweave mattress is very comfortable but sleep was not on the agenda for me. I find it difficult to sleep going west during the body clock's daytime hours.

photo jl9 seat sleep 1photo jl9 seat sleep 2

The JAL first class seat has plenty of storage.

photo jl9 seat store 3

Would like to see the USB port closer to the seat itself. 



And dual reading lights with a built in headphone hook.



Along the way…

Oh Canada, does it look COLD down there.

photo jl9 scenic oh canada

On approach, no it's not LAX.

photo jl9 scenic not la - nrt

Landing at Narita, too bad just a transit as it looks like a beautiful winter day in Japan. 

photo jl9 scenic approach 1photo jl9 scenic approach 2

Reassurances for a proper landing.

photo jl9 scenic landing gear down

For a full review and what it cost to fly first class click this link.

photo jl9 flight path
See more

Verdict

Japan Airlines

8.0/10
Cabin9.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment8.5
Meal/catering5.5

American Airlines Flagship Lounge

8.1/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment8.5
Services8.0

Chicago - ORD

6.0/10
Efficiency6.0
Access6.0
Services5.5
Cleanliness6.5

Tokyo - NRT

7.6/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Yes the food was a disappointment, but maybe it was my choices. The seat remains a favorite, the price can't be beat and the amenities are top notch. I'll be back for the Cristal, maybe they will load more than 1 bottle.

Informations on the route Chicago (ORD) Tokyo (NRT)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Chicago (ORD) → Tokyo (NRT).


Useful

The airline with the best average grade is Japan Airlines with 8.3/10.

The average flight time is 13 hours and 26 minutes.

  More informations

19 Comments

  • Comment 426649 by
    socalnow GOLD 590 Comments

    Greetings Mark, and thak you for this detailed look at a delightful way to travel.

    "Nevertheless when landing in Tokyo I didn't even bother changing out of the top and could have easily kept the pants on as well."
    -Yes!

    "Unfortunately this would be my only glass as only one bottle of Salon was boarded and apparently it was very popular in row two."
    -Uh-oh. Even LH boards two of the good stuff. That Bollinger 2006 Rose looks interesting. Did you try it? JAL does a pretty good job of having two prestige labels in the Champagne selection.

    "It was served with an egg yolk mascarpone cream cheese which was quite good, and different as well. "
    -The presentation is so well done. If the flop of an amuse was nice looking.

    "But with multiple successes from the Japan side of the menu there was little hesitation. "
    -You brave soul. I know for me there would be too many items I didn't love.

    "The best way to explain the beef in this dish would be plain boiled beef, which isn't very good."
    -It has the appearance of having been browned. You know it's hard to find good beef int he midwest so we can give them a pass... :P

    "JAL does serve some good coffee on board."
    -French press? Timer? Nice mug.

    "Needless to say, it wasn't long before the menu was opened again. "
    -So many choices!

    "On a couple other JAL flights I've found the mid flight sandwich to be very tasty. So I tried the ham and cheese.
    -It doesn't really look like a croque monsieur...

    "The arrival meal was the best offering on this flight. Too bad it was so small."
    -indeed. lovely plating again too.

    "When it was time to sleep Urano offered 1G for the bed."
    -What luxury, separate bed from seat. I know what you mean about the sleeping difficulties on the daytime flights. I usually just toil for a while and give up.

    "I'll be back for the Cristal, maybe they will load more than 1 bottle."
    -I'll do some research on Friday ;)

    Thanks again Mark for a very informative and fun read. Looking forward to the JAL Skysuite III as I am also on that seat HND-SIN. Happy flying.

  • Comment 426674 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

    Greeting Christian, glad I could provide some anticipation material!

    "Nevertheless when landing in Tokyo I didn't even bother changing out of the top and could have easily kept the pants on as well."
    >Yes!
    -I expect the same from you!

    >Uh-oh. Even LH boards two of the good stuff. That Bollinger 2006 Rose looks interesting. Did you try it? JAL does a pretty good job of having two prestige labels in the Champagne selection.
    -No I didn't, but another ORD miss with a single bottle. I'm sure they will have a case out of JFK

    >French press? Timer? Nice mug.
    -I forgot, not french press and timer! I'd love to have that mug too.

    >I'll do some research on Friday ;)
    Looking forward to your report, I know you will get more out of it than I did.

    >Looking forward to the JAL Skysuite III as I am also on that seat HND-SIN
    -Interested on your take of this new BC seat. There is no movable foot rest, you use a shelf in the cubby hole. It was fine for sleeping but somewhat uncomfortable for sitting as the weight of your legs is on the back of your heals. But I laid down as I was tired by this point. Are you transiting straight through or stopping in your 2nd favorite Asian city?

    Have a GREAT trip.

    • Comment 426709 by
      socalnow GOLD 590 Comments

      Hey Mark, it is fun to have a preview.

      "No I didn't, but another ORD miss with a single bottle. I'm sure they will have a case out of JFK."
      You got the last of the Salon. I have to suffer through that new swill. ;)

      "I forgot, not french press and timer! I'd love to have that mug too."
      -Sorry to add to your list of grievances.

      "Are you transiting straight through or stopping in your 2nd favorite Asian city?"
      -JL delivers me at 06:45 and MH whisks me onward at 13:40 so there is a window of time to enjoy some local flavors. Some Laksa and Murtabak are on my to-do list! I am assuming we will learn in the next installment if you stayed in SIN for any amount of time...

      "Have a GREAT trip."
      -Thanks Mark, I'm certainly well positioned to do so.

  • Comment 426713 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

    FYI: Not sure if you are aware but there is a new faster way to get to Chinatown if that is where you are headed. Get off the train at Expo, its the first stop. Connect to Downtown line and it's direct. I think they just opened this station with an Expo/Downtown line change. One less change than going to Tahan and changing to the EW line. Got to Chinatown in about 30M. This is assuming you are taking the train.

  • Comment 426767 by
    indianocean SILVER 5362 Comments

    How lucky you are to have a reward ticket on JAL First. I was told it's not easy to use mileage on JAL First. And the fares are usually horribly unaffordable as well.
    So, you think it's better to fly out from Japan to have a better catering?

    Only one bottle of champagne or only one bottle of Salon onboard?

    Thank you Mark.

  • Comment 426803 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

    Hi Bernard, and thanks for reading.

    >How lucky you are to have a reward ticket on JAL First. I was told it's not easy to use mileage on JAL First. And the fares are usually horribly unaffordable as well.
    -Yes lucky indeed. JL first isn't as difficult as you might think. They are similar to Cathay. Usually they open 1 seat middle week then closer to the departure date maybe another 1 or 2. Check it out!

    >So, you think it's better to fly out from Japan to have a better catering?
    -Maybe, but then again my business class flight from Dallas was outstanding. I was mostly referring to the type of beef available from Japan.

    >Only one bottle of champagne or only one bottle of Salon onboard?
    -Pour me :(

    Thanks again!

  • Comment 426811 by
    Durian 1184 Comments

    Hi, thanks for sharing this report and happy new year ! After reading it, I felt the urge to comment lol
    Mrs. Durian and I flew HND-LHR in JAL F last Sunday.
    As far as redemption is concerned, we booked this ticket in March 2017 (with Avios). As far as I remember, it was not particularly difficult... Now, about the catering, I trully believe the ex-Japan catering is better (for japanese food that is), for the simple reasons that the catering firm is from the same country but also the raw ingredients are sourced locally. Depending on which catering firm JAL uses out of ORD, they might have a Japanese chef (that's common if the kitchen is big enough and the caterer has other Japanese customers), but the sourcing will always be local... My point is, our food experience has been fantastic. After a week of Japanese food in Tokyo, we chose the western option which did not disappoint, everything was delicate, starters, fantastic meat (all tasty wagyu) and sophisticated dessert with a Japanese touch. Our feeling was that we had eaten at a Michelin-star restaurant. Being used (lol) to SQ First (6-7 times), this is way way superior (not to mention out-of-this-world service from the entire F crew). I can share pics in private (I stopped writing FRs).
    As far as bubbly is concerned, we were highly anticipating tasting Salon, for the 1st time. We were disappointed to see Cristal 2009. Price-wise, in Europe, there is 2-to-1 ratio between these 2... I personally found Cristal 2009 to be a good premium champagne, but I prefer the cheaper Krug. The very interesting discovery and good surprise was the 2006 Bollinger Rose. Whilst not a big Rose fan, this one is very winey (not sure the translation is correct, we say "vineux" in french) and very good - so good we have already ordered some for home drinking (and it's a reasonable 70 pounds, vs 180 for the Cristal and 350-400 for Salon).
    Once can tell there is clearly a cost-cutting effort in the wine list when we compare with earlier FR (probably yours BTW lol): beside the champagne, the French red wine went from a Pauillac to a Medoc "grand vin". Same for the French white wine, down from a Gevrey Chambertin to a Savigny les Beaunes. Whilst this is matter of personal taste (and the Medoc was OK), the pricetag comparison shows obviously a downward trend.
    Despite this, bottom line is, we can't wait to fly JAL F again, ex-Japan !

  • Comment 426894 by
    Razza_Pr 203 Comments

    Happy new year, Rewardflying!

    “Little Kitty, Star Wars, JetKei….”
    - What’s the theme here? Special liveries donned by different carriers..? Is Little Kitty one of Kei-sama’s nicknames?

    “I've read a lot of flyers love the Apex seat. In my opinion is it's a good seat, just too narrow.”
    - JL installed a 7-abreast layout in the same space KE uses to install 6. Go figure. Is it narrower than you’d find on the Asiana Smartium?

    “However I'm not sure what the smoked sturgeon did for this dish.”
    - Heh. You can have the flesh & the roes, to show ‘em (the fish) who’s boss, of course!

    “I have no idea of what it was. But I was instructed to sprinkle the salt on top.”
    - Interesting. The menu says “MORIHACHI”, which could mean that the dessert was designed by THE Morihachi Honten (Kanazawa). I’ve heard great things about it, so I thought at least the dessert would be good?

    “Reassurances for a proper landing.”
    - Yikes. Talk about runway maintenance! And NRT already charges one of the highest landing fees in the world!

    Also, yikes @ the Japanese serving on board. It was boarded from ORD, though, right? I hope to see some improvements on the NRT-SIN sector..

    Thank you for this lovely read. I’m sad to say it’s not as mouth-watering as FRs covering Japanese carriers tend to be.. oh well. Cheers!

  • Comment 427089 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

    Hi Durian,

    Thanks for reading and your comments. Sounds like you had a fantastic trip out of Tokyo on JAL. Sounds like you flew to Europe, there was a report on F/R awhile back that was a Europe FC flight and they weren't impressed. Good to know you had a great trip.

    "My point is, our food experience has been fantastic. After a week of Japanese food in Tokyo, we chose the western option which did not disappoint, everything was delicate, starters, fantastic meat (all tasty wagyu) and sophisticated dessert with a Japanese touch. Our feeling was that we had eaten at a Michelin-star restaurant. Being used (lol) to SQ First (6-7 times), this is way way superior (not to mention out-of-this-world service from the entire F crew)."
    -Quite an endorsement. Better than SQ!

    I will make sure next time I fly out of Tokyo, preferably Haneda as that lounge has to be better than NRT.

    Hope to see you on board my next JL flight!

  • Comment 427092 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

    Hello Razza_PR, and happy new you to you and yours as well.

    >“Little Kitty, Star Wars, JetKei….”
    What’s the theme here? Special liveries donned by different carriers..? Is Little Kitty one of Kei-sama’s nicknames?
    -HaHa, you pointed out a typo, Hello Kitty, not Little Kitty. Anyway, no theme just a penchant for Asian airlines to paint their planes with something.

    > JL installed a 7-abreast layout in the same space KE uses to install 6. Go figure. Is it narrower than you’d find on the Asiana Smartium?
    -Wow, you are correct. I didn't know that about KE. They fly that aircraft out of ORD, might have to try it. And yes, much narrower than Smartium.

    - Interesting. The menu says “MORIHACHI”, which could mean that the dessert was designed by THE Morihachi Honten (Kanazawa). I’ve heard great things about it, so I thought at least the dessert would be good?
    -Yes it was good. But you know Japanese sweets aren't really sweet. (Which overall is a good thing for the body:)

    >Also, yikes @ the Japanese serving on board. It was boarded from ORD, though, right? I hope to see some improvements on the NRT-SIN sector..
    -I'm beginning to think it is a symptom of flying out of Chicago.

    NRT-SIN Coming up maybe later today along with SkySuite III

    Thanks again Razza_PR!

  • Comment 427149 by
    arturo1989 83 Comments

    Hello nice trip report
    I collect all kinds of transport tickets and boardingpasses without private details so i ask you if you like scan your boardingpass, delete the barcode and the private details and send me the picture as a image . Thanks and apologize

  • Comment 427257 by
    Andyw 14 Comments

    Some good photo's of the food Mark. It would be good for the top posters on here to perhaps do a post on doing good photography for plane flights considering the problems you can face (low lighting, turbulence etc).

    • Comment 427318 by
      KévinDC TEAM 4154 Comments

      Everyone has their own style and ways of doing their trip report photography. Many use higher end phones (iPhone 7, X, etc), while others, like myself use DSLRs and a mix of phone and small point-and-shoot camera.

      Like RewardFlying says, it's always a good idea to take multiple pics of the same thing and hope one is good. When using an iPhone, live mode is probably the best to make sure you get a crisp shot and the newer iPhones have decent low-light settings, but real digital cameras tend to be better with low-light. Like I said, I use a DSLR, which makes for generally better quality pics than phone cameras, but it can be very awkward and difficult to be discrete. You just get used to the awkwardness.

      One big tip I have is never use the flash...if you need to take food pics in low light, just use the reading lights, that's usually a good enough amount of light for decent pictures. And pics during turbulence? Forget about it...there's no point...

      Also, I think it's always a good idea to edit your photos (especially since you need to blur out faces, pllus make sure all pics are under 2MB, etc anyway). Editing for color, lighting, and sharpness can turn a mediocre pic into a decent one.

  • Comment 427275 by
    KévinDC TEAM 4154 Comments

    It's a shame that there's essentially no special ground service for First, but the onboard experience is truly First class. Too bad you had a disappointing culinary experience--from your pics, everything looks really good (of course that doesn't mean it actually was good). But they make a nice effort on presentation.

    *Gasp* I can't believe they ran out of Salon so soon!? I hope this was an oversight on this flight and now a permanent cost-cutting measure. HIgh-end champagne is what makes a First class experience. I'm confused by your statement about Cristal...I see you said they are switching from Salon to Cristal, and that they ran our of Salon, but then you say they only loaded one bottle of Crital. Does this mean they were in a transition period with both Salon and Cristal?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 427298 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

    Hi Kévin, thanks for stopping by. I'm beginning to think the symptoms of subpar first class experiences are born in Chicago. In fact the best lounge at O'Hare is a business class lounge, UA's Polaris.

    Yes the food presentations were lovely. But the flavor wasn't there this time around. Maybe it was just me.

    Cristal was to be introduced in JAL first class beginning 1/1/18 according to reports (Socalnow was on JL FC yesterday so we'll get another look soon). My flight had 1 bottle of Salon and then they had the Bollinger Rose as well which I didn't request. So yes, 1 premium bottle, 5 F passengers. Now whether it's standard to only load 1 bottle of the good stuff, I can't answer that. But it's a far cry from SQ where they will open a bottle of Dom and Krug just for you to try!

    Thanks for you comments, happy reward flying!

    • Comment 427320 by
      KévinDC TEAM 4154 Comments

      You may be right! It is ironic that the best lounge in Chicago is a United lounge...man things have changed. Granted, it's their only Polaris lounge so they are still as mediocre as ever in all other hubs, haha. AA's recently re-opened Flagship lounge looks really good, though I haven't experienced it yet. And AA has opened multiple Flagship lounges in a much shorter timeframe than UA's one.

      • Comment 427326 by
        Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

        Yes, United has bungled the Polaris lounge rollout similar to the whole Polaris seat rollout. I was in ORD's new AA Flagship lounge. Nice but a few failures. Again ORD didn't get the full experience. Have a look. http://www.rewardflying.com/lounge-reports/2018/1/4/ord-american-airlines-flagship-lounge

        • Comment 427330 by
          KévinDC TEAM 4154 Comments

          Yes, seems like ORD gets the shorter end of the stick as an AA hub as usual. The Flagship lounge does not look quite as nice as the JFK and LAX Flagship lounges, but it's definitely much nicer than the old Flagship lounge. I imagine that they revamped the Admirals clubs as well at ORD. I was on a domestic itinerary last time I flew through ORD a few weeks ago, so I didn't get to check out either lounges, though I had a short connection anyway. I kind of don't get having Flagship lounges with Admirals clubs in the same airport now that Flagship lounges are no longer restricted to Intl First pax and OW Emeralds. Considering that pax in Intl First and Intl Business class, along with oneworld Sapphire and Emeralds in any cabin have access to the Flagship lounges, that doesn't really leave anyone left over with access just to the Admirals club. I guess Admirals clubs are just for people getting in with credit cards flying in Y and those with Admirals club memberships on domestic itineraries anymore. I'm not sure what proportion of lounge visitors these people represent, but I guess if there are enough of them it makes sense to have a separate club to ease crowding in either one.

  • Comment 427307 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 351 Comments

    Hi AndyW. Thanks for your comments, and compliments.

    Sometimes I look at my pictures and am discouraged that I missed an opportunity to really get the full story so to speak. It can be hard, especially with cabin pictures because you don't want to interfere with people boarding or invade their privacy. So your compliments are appreciated.

    This trip was the first to use the iPhone X. Previously I used an iPhone 6 and a simple point and shoot Lumix. The iPhone is sufficient for these close up shots. I've had may fair share of outstanding photos (see my website rewardflying.com top page banner, those are iPhone photos untouched of ORD, somewhere over Russia at 3AM and a full moon in United's 787 during the day) as well as horrible photos like the recent first class report in Lufthansa where everything was dark and blurry.

    What I do, an others do it far better, is take multiple shots of the same thing. Then I choose the best photo and run it through a photo editor where I typically lighten it and often crop it to create a close up. This takes a lot of time but it's worth it. I did notice that with the iPhone X I did very little lightening of the photo. Apple claimed this phone would take better photos in dimly lit conditions, and for the most part they are correct.

    Hope this helps, happy reward flying!

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