Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. There are two factors that emerge to cause me wanderlust and prompt me to start mulling around award availability: A small window of free time and/or a points balance that reached the amount needed for a preferred redemption. Both of these circumstances converged in early October of 2018. Circumstances at home and work were such that being away for a few days would be acceptable and my United Mileageplus balance hit the magical mark where I could book what I call the "LH F Double-dip" where one can route to Asia via Europe. My criteria for executing this trip was simple: I'm only going if I can find LH F from LAX (either MUC or FRA would be excellent). I really wanted to enjoy LH from my home airport for the first time and also have a longer transatlantic sector to both enjoy LH and have better sleep. To this point I have flown mostly short ORD or JFK routes (with SEA and IAH as exceptions). I was successful, for the most part, and off we go.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Transit from Tokyo to Narita Airport and Narita T1 Observation Deck
I stayed in Ueno so the easiest way to NRT on this sunny day was the Keisei Skyliner. I was flying out of T2 but decided to visit the T1 observation deck before going to T2. There are two stops before arriving at T1, Nippori and T2.
Seeing as the weather was mild I made my usual trek to the observation deck.
My av-geek needs have been met so I head downstairs to arrivals and board the bus to T2.
It's still very early in the flight day for JAL so check in was empty.
I opted to visit the T2 observation deck but once I arrived there I remembered why i go to T1, there really isn't anything to observe.
I reversed course and went air side for some lounge hopping.
JAL First Class Lounges and AA Admirals Club
The JAL First Lounge and Sakura Lounge complex is right after Immigration so I started there. I've been lucky enough to spend a good bit of time here lately so I won't go into too much detail as I have several reports that cover the space. On this visit I took the time to look around the Sakura Lounge as well. Also, in the evening rush they opened the upstairs portion of the lounge so I checked that out too. I'll present these in chronological order for lack of a better idea.
It's rather quiet at this hour. I was offered a drink and my Perrier was served with an oshibori.
I appreciate the luggage storage area so i can lounge hop with a lighter load.
Food is self serve with good variety.
The Sakura lounge is interesting in that you have to go downstairs (an escalator really) to enter but then back up stairs if you want to use the dining area. Here's a look around the ground floor.
Up the grand staircase to the dining level.
Off on walk about to the Satellite gates I spied this beauty and went off on a tangent of getting better look for a picture. This involved walking all the way down to the gate.
The Admirals Club is in the connector between the main terminal and the Satellite so I pop in there for a look. I can't recall If I've visited before but something seemed familiar about the space. I am sure it was a grand space at one time but it hasn't aged that well. It's a massive lounge and well appointed.
I make the walk out to the satellite gates and visit the JAL lounge. For some reason they pour LP here but not in the other lounges. I have the place entirely to myself so I enjoy a glass of Champagne and a snack.
I'm fortified for the walk back to collect my luggage and board the flight. I have allowed for ample time for one tradition that I prefer not to miss: the sushi bar at the main First Class Lounge.
JA737J being prepped for JL62 to LAX.
The evening hub is in full swing and the lounge is quite crowded. An announcement is made reminding guests that there is another First Class Lounge upstairs. I decide to go up and take a look. It has been some time since I have been in that space. It's more compact than the other two F lounges and has a more limited food offering. It was far less crowded and a good option to retire to after you've had your sushi downstairs.
Boarding was well under way when I arrived at the gate so I was able to walk straight on board. I was welcomed at the door by Shibuya, the purser. I was shown to my seat by Nagasaki and offered something to drink. Champagne and water were requested and served with oshibori. Seat 2A is fantastic and well equipped with amenities.
The lounge wear is donned before takeoff.
I review the wine and meal options and they are quite similar to last month. It's a massive selection and tastefully curated.
We push back as daylight wanes and make our way to 34L.
I take a look at entertainment options for dinner time. I watched Oceans 8 and it was a perfect low mental commitment film. Fun even if predictable.
Pleased to have access to the map on the handset or on the main screen.
Service starts with…drum roll…an oshibori. And an offer of a beverage.
I select the Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 and some water. Canapes are served with the beverages. None of these bites stand out as being particularly first class. The wine on the other hand is very full and rich.
The table is precisely laid out by Kakimoto the third FA in F and a delightful woman.
The amuse is the fantastic Pacific Saury Riettes. I learned last month that Saury, or sanma, is one of the most prominent seasonal foods representing autumn in Japanese cuisine. I appreciate how they took this traditional Japanese ingredient and expressed it using French technique.
I can't seem to order away from the caviar when it's hors d'oeuvre time. The whipped egg yolk and caviar with the Roederer is so decadent and sensational. It could never become mundane.
It was always going to be the Wagyu. The 2012 Chateau Roc de Cambes, Cotes de Bourg is the selection again this month. This is a savory and classic combination for a reason. Yes, it's the exact same meal as last month and it was every bit as special on this flight. The texture and cookery is impeccable and make for an elevated dining experience.
The very herbaceous salad served along side is really an excellent foil for the richness of the meat and wine.
A well composed cheese feast rounded out a very lovely meal. The service is astonishing in that the pace of clearing dishes and presenting the next course is perfectly timed for each passenger. I know that's what flying First should be but I'm still rather impressed, especially when I am the beneficiary. The cabin was 5/8 as an aside.
I wander up the lav/galley area while the luxurious 2A is transformed to an opulent sleeping environment.
I request the Hibiki 17 as a nightcap. I try to express a desire for one ice cube but it's lost in translation, or lack there of.
I enjoy a nice sleep and find myself among the last in the cabin to awaken prior to arrival. My bed is quickly stowed and an offer of a morning meal and beverage is extended. I request Queen of Blue to begin. I ask if it's possible to enjoy some of the snack items rather than a set breakfast and permission is granted.
I request the "Assorted Japanese Brochettes" which consist of chicken and beef. They're a little flat and lacking texture this time. I request some togarashi to awaken the skewers.
I also enjoy the "Sangenton" pork cutlet sandwich and it's as satisfying as ever.
A cup of coffee to finish is an elaborate and endearing affair.
I enjoy the coffee over the San Francisco Bay Area and am treated to some excellent views including San Francisco and SFO.
Our approach is rather standard after passing Malibu the turn downwind is made and we overfly West LA, Wilshire, Downtown and then turn for the upwind approach to 24R.
JAL First Lounge
Tokyo - NRT
Los Angeles - LAX
The Ground Service: There is an expedited security screening location for first and business.
The Lounge: JAL F lounges are adequate but somewhat lacking when compared to Oneworld peers Cathay Pacific and Qantas, for example. There are no spa services or a la carte dining options, for example, save the sushi bar, which is quite good.
The Cabin: The seat is spacious and comfortable with excellent storage. The entertainment screen is large with good resolution. Programming selection is a bit lacking for an English speaking guest when compared to regional peers. The bed is fantastic with space to achieve almost any sleeping position.
The Crew: I'm running our of unique ways to express the breadth and depth of Japanese hospitality. It's a very unique experience and exceptional at every turn. From placing the napkin on your lap at meal time to arranging the seat belt or bedding when you make a trip to the lav the attention to detail is unparalleled.
The Food and Beverage: Dining with JAL, and ANA for that matter, is a special experience quality and selection as the hallmarks.
Overall: Japan Airlines is very consistent in offering a high quality experience in their premium cabins. It's an absolute joy and privilege to fly with them in First Class.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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