1st October 2014 at 08:50 #579011
Anonymous1st October 2014 at 08:50 #579012
LAX NRT Japan Airlines Four class B777-300ER 30 Sep
This was the home stretch of a ten day round the world trip taking in 12 airports: SYD HKG DXB CDG BOD BCN MAD FRA LHR YVR PHX LAX NRT SYD! Had to do the Paris Bordeaux leg by train as my flight was cancelled due to the AF strike and I only found out the morning I left Sydney and my first main stop was Bordeaux, the intermediate ports being only transits. After Bordeaux I was on a plane every day for six days.
For this flight I stayed overnight at a hotel near LAX and got the courtesy shuttle in the morning, arriving just as check-in opened 3.5hrs before departure. Dedicated check-in lanes for all four cabins. Short wait to be checked in but queue attendant apologised profusely. Check-in agent was very courteous and also apologised for the slight delay in the departure of my flight due to late incoming flight but that I had enough time to make my connection. She asked whether I had anything fragile in my bag. I said yes and she tagged it accordingly. I can’t ever recall being asked that by another airline. Superb service. I asked to change my seat to 1K. She also gave me a map to the new Oneworld lounge and talked me through how to get there.
Dedicated security queue for first and business class passengers at TBIT “just under the Rolex” I was directed by the security agents. Very swift passage through security and a short walk to the lounge.
The new business lounge (first class lounge under construction) is large and airy with a lovely fireplace feature but not as jaw-dropping as I expected, this being my first visit (I saw into a bit of the Star Alliance lounge and it looked way better). I was there at breakfast time but by the time I left lunch was being served. Good selection of food and drinks. Nice bathrooms and showers. The lounge was empty when I arrived though many more people arrived later but it wasn’t full as the only other Oneworld flights leaving mid afternoon were Cathay Pacific and LAN.
Boarding was perfect. Dedicated queue and boarding ramp for first class. From entry into the aircraft the service was faultless! The crew were unfailingly polite and bow deeply every time they finish addressing you. The crew engaged very well and were exceedingly professional.
I was escorted to my seat and offered a welcome drink of Piper Heidsieck champagne or orange juice and newspapers. This was their new 77W and the F seat looks and feels wonderful. Very wide and comfortable though at 1.93m tall I fit in with little room to spare when in bed mode. Not an enclosed suite but very private nonetheless. Lovely cream and tan leather decor. Seven out of eight seats occupied today. The seat controls were explained to me and then I was asked if I’d like to change into pyjamas. I said yes and a bathroom was prepared for me. They have those delightful toto commodes with various buttons that keep you amused. Upon exiting the bathroom they rushed to relieve me of my clothes so they could hang them up for me. The bathrooms were kept spotless throughout the flight.
The amenity kit was by Loewe and we were also given a Shiseido set containing lotions and potions. To complete the gifts we were given a print artwork hanky sized napkin from the JAL Tohoku Support Project.
After take-off warm scented towels were handed out in individual trays (none of this shaking it out and waving it at you commonness!) The wine list was presented and an aperitif and amuse bouche were offered. I selected the Champagne SALON 2002. The canapés were exquisite.
The other champagne on offer was Philipponat Clos des Goisses 2004. Four white wines: Puligny-Montrachet 2007, Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Rüdesheimer Rheingau Riesling Trocken 2012 and Toriivilla Kamihisidaira Blanc 2008. Four red wines: Domaine de Chevalier Grand Cru Pessac-Léognan 2007, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Borniques 2010, Kenzo Estate “rindo” 2010 and Kusuda Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011. There were also two each of premium sake and shochu and Queen of Blue Japanese tea (served cold from a wine bottle in a wine glass) and a sea of other spirits and soft drinks.
The food menu was handed and I’m glad I didn’t eat much in the lounge! Wow! An absolutely delightful assortment of delectable goodies if I ever saw one. I could have anything I wanted but opted for the Japanese menu plus the caviar from the western menu.
The cutlery (which was really for the western menu but I can only use chopsticks for so long) was presented wrapped in the napkin with a beautifully hand-tied bow.
I started off with the caviar and Japanese appetisers (Kozara). The attention to detail was exceptional. The five appetisers were presented in the diagrammatic order shown in the menu and included two types of tofu plus conger eel, prawn and abalone.
Second course (Owan) was a clear soup with lobster and mushrooms.
Course 3 (Shiizakana): tasting menu sized fish and beef tongue.
Course 4 (Mukouzuke): 3 pieces of excellent sashimi
Course 5&6 (Dainomono & Hanmono): braised “Sukiyaki” beef and miso-grilled duck accompanied by prawn tempura rice bowl.
Course 7 (Tomewan) miso soup and Japanese pickles
Course 8 (Sweets): tiny but delectable dessert which was all I could manage by then!
The western choices looked excellent too, judging by what the passenger next to me was eating. Choices of main from that menu were 21 days aged beef tenderloin, lamb chop with truffle sauce and halibut with fennel sauce.
There were also oodles of other light options to eat when you wanted including noodles, dim sum, soups, cheese, ice cream, chocolate… Interestingly these options formed the second meal if you wanted as the only formal meal was the first service.
I had to press the call button once and an crew member appeared in literally one second!
A slight disappointment was the inflight entertainment which was rather limited though the theatre of food and exceptional service left me quite entertained.
I had a longer sleep than intended given it was an 11hr daytime flight and I had an overnight flight to connect to. The bed was very comfortable. When I changed back into my clothes the pyjamas were wrapped up in their presentation bag and offered to me to take home if I wanted.
I thoroughly enjoyed this flight so much so I was sad when we landed. The whole experience was wonderful!1st October 2014 at 08:59 #579013
“I thoroughly enjoyed this flight so much so I was sad when we landed. The whole experience was wonderful”
a great review for an airline that has had its fair share of challenges over the past few years. I especially like the last 2 sentences…. its a pity that there are not more reviews where the author is able to end on such a positive note about the experience…1st October 2014 at 10:57 #579014
Good review. Thanks for sharing.1st October 2014 at 11:26 #579015
What a great review, I hadn’t considered JAL before but if this experience is anything to go by, they are definitely worth a go.
Shaw + Smith Sauv Blanc – yum yum! The JAL sommelier has taste…1st October 2014 at 14:34 #579016
Had the pleasure of the J class experience on JAL’s 77W from HND-LHR earlier this year; can confirm that all of the high quality (if not the breadth of menu/spirits/clothing) filters down into that cabin. Heartily recommend … if only they did an overnight flight back from Japan, it would be perfect!1st October 2014 at 20:47 #579017
The last flight of this marathon trip was Narita to Sydney on a three class B772. The four class 77W will be coming to Sydney in December.
Lounge: As I was connecting from a first class flight, even though my onward flight was in business I could use the first class lounge at Narita. The lounge is not opulent but has all the basics…great showers, comfortable seats, good selection of food and drink including a made to order sushi bar and sake bar. The staff were extremely courteous and helpful. The lounge was pretty empty at that time of the evening before my 8pm flight.
Boarding: Mild scrum at the gate as Oneworld status passengers boarded with those in business class but not a long wait and I was on board in a few minutes.
Cabin: I was in row 1 and business class was over two cabins and completely full. Seven across seating and the seats were the old style angled flat. They were quite uncomfortable for sleeping but I managed to get a few hours. The cabin was spotless however and so were the three bathrooms.
Service: Faultless! I will even say I couldn’t tell any difference between the first class service and this business class service. The cabin crew were gracious to a fault. Again the attention to detail and service level was exemplary. Nothing was too much for them. Simply asking for headphones will have them unpack it for you and unwind the cord.
Food and drink: Amazing! There was an enormous amount of food for an overnight flight though the flight time of 9hrs 20mins was only slightly shorter than my previous flight. Champagne was Delamotte NV and there were two whites and three red wines on offer plus the usual other spirits and soft drinks. The western food option was a four course French menu. The Japanese option was a “bento box” style assortment of nine delicacies plus a main and dessert. There was also a casual dining menu of an eight option bento box (with foie gras!) plus a chicken dish and salads as well as Japanese options of various noodles. Breakfast was served on this flight 2hrs before landing and there was also the option of western or Japanese menus.
Summary: adding to my previous review, the whole experience from LAX to SYD can be described as akin to a night at the opera!
Note: I haven’t flown Cathay, Singapore or Qatar in first class (and many others!) but if they’re better than JAL then I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!2nd October 2014 at 04:25 #579018
Great reviews FiveStar, thanks. Coincidentally I read another review about JAL which was also very positive and with your rebiew this has whetted my appetite to try them.
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