10 Apr oneworld First Class Battle Royale – Cathay vs. JAL
This past March I had the pleasure of experiencing both Cathay Pacific First Class and Japan Airlines First Class on each airline’s Boeing 777-300ER! They were both wonderful and you can read all about them in my previous reviews, but today I am here to provide a side-by-side comparison for those that may be choosing between the two oneworld carriers for their next award redemption!
The Mileage Cost –
Cathay Pacific JFK – HKG: Continental US to Asia – Booked with 70k Alaska Mileage Plan miles (or 110k AAdvantage miles)
Japan Airlimes (JAL) NRT-ORD: Asia 1 to Contiguous 48 U.S. states – Booked with 80k AAdvantage miles (or 70k Alaska Mileage Plan miles)
Note: The routes are not completely comparable considering American Airlines separates Asia into two regions – Asia 1 & Asia 2 – where Japan fits into Asia 1 at 80k AAdvantage miles and Hong Kong fits into Asia 2 at 110k AAdvantage miles.
The Mileage Cost Winner – For the purposes of this comparison I will consider the mileage cost a non-factor, though I would advise against the 110k AAdvantage miles required for a US to Asia 2 redemption.
Mileage Cost Winner – Tie
The First Class Cabin –
Cathay Pacific: The 777-300ER features a 6 seat First Class Cabin in a two row 1-1-1 configuration. While the 6 suites are open, the cabin feels private and closed off. What made my experience even better was the fact that only 4 of the 6 seats were occupied!
JAL: The 777-300ER features an 8 seat First Class Cabin in a two row 1-2-1 configuration. This configuration is nice if you are traveling with a companion since you can travel in close proximity in the two middle seats, and it was perfect for me and my wife! Of the 8 seats, 7 were occupied on our flight and while the cabin was nearly full, there was still an element of privacy.
Cabin Winner – Cathay Pacific – More privacy!
The Seat/Suite –
Awake Time – Cathay vs. JAL
Cathay: Comfortable cloth seats and overall spacious – plenty of room to store carry-on luggage.
JAL: The 777 Sky Suite – Also quite comfortable with plenty of room and storage space. The seat is leather, which I prefer…
Sleepy Time – Cathay vs JAL
Cathay: Fully lie-flat, and a nice fluffy mattress pad down comforter for extra cushion. I was able to catch about 4 hours of sleep… not a ton, but enough!
JAL: Similar to CX, fully lie-flat, with the option of firm or soft mattress padding! I chose soft, but didn’t actually fall asleep, but am sure I could if I wanted to!
Seat Winner – JAL – I love the leather!
The Entertainment –
JAL: Complimentary throughout the flight! It wasn’t blazing fast, but it did the trick!
IFE Monitor & Bose Headphones – Very comparable between the two, no clear advantage here…
Entertainment Winner – JAL! Free wifi… nuff said!
The Food and Drank –
Champagne – Comparable! Cathay serves Krug, while JAL serves Salon. They are both amazing and delicious and make you feel like a real baller!
Meals – Comparable for the most part! Caviar and multiple dishes/snacks to follow… but I’ll note that my best meal during the two flights was the Beef Fillet with green Asparagus accompanied by Egg Yolk Soy Sauce on JAL!
Food & Drank Winner – Tie!
The Amenities –
Amenity Kit –
Cathay: The First amenity kits are gender specific, featuring Aesop products – lip cream and face moisturizing lotion – both of which came in handy as my lips typically dry out so bad on long-haul flights that I have trouble sleeping! The rest of the kit was pretty standard with the essentials – toothbrush, comb, mouthwash, and earplugs.
JAL: The JAL First amenity kits just underwent a change, moving from Lowes to Porsche design. Despite the change, the gender specific Shiseido product offering remained constant in a separate container – and came in especially handy during the long flight!
I’ll start by saying I am not a pajama guy and typically just bring my own shirt and shorts to change into. However, I had to test out the First pajamas on each of the flights!
Cathay: The PYE pajamas were super soft, though didn’t fit me very well as they were 2 inches short in both the legs and the arms! that said, they were super soft and I actually still wear the high-water pants around the house! The top was the most awkward sized and didn’t last long as I ditched it within a few minutes.
JAL: The tops and bottoms were Porsche design and fit quite nice/awkward all at the same time. Again, I ditched the top shortly after trying it on in favor of my own t-shirt.
Amenity Winner – Cathay! Aesop and PYE victory over Porsche Design… love the cars, but the amenities are meh…
The Overall Service –
Cathay: The little things made all the difference here. From the personalized welcome note, to the flight attendants helping my wife move her things up to First Class so we would be able to depart together – First Class service all around!
JAL: Accommodating and attentive! Between the standard meal service and my snack requests my total meal course count came to 9! That’s a high number of meal requests and the JAL staff put them on one after the other without a hitch!
Overall Service Winner – Tie! The Cathay & JAL services were top notch!
The Mileage Cost – Tie
The First Class Cabin – Cathay
The Seat/Suite – JAL
The Entertainment – JAL
The Food & Drank – Tie
The Amenities – Cathay
The Overall Service – Tie
That brings the final tally to 3 ties and 2 wines apiece! Ties are boring… so I will make a quick tiebreaker judgement and give the crown to Cathay Pacific First Class! The overall experience felt a bit more exclusive and luxurious with excellent attention to detail!
So, there you have it! While you really cannot go wrong with either First Class product, in the head to head match-up, I give the nod to Cathay Pacific! Hopefully this little side-by-side makes your next redemption decision a bit easier to make!
Have you experienced either (or both) of these First Class products? What are your thoughts!?
Thanks for tuning in and make sure to check out the rest of the trip report!
- Cathay First Class JFK-NRT Review
- JW Marriott Hong Kong – Highs and Lows
- Cathay Business Class HKG-NRT Review
- Andaz Tokyo Toronoman Hills – Highs and Lows
- Conrad Tokyo – Highs and Lows
- Ritz Carlton Kyoto – Highs and Lows
- World OF Hyatt Confuses Explorist Club Upgrade Policy
- JAL First Class NRT-ORD Review
- JAL’s Brand New First Class Amenity Kit
- oneworld First Class Battle Royal – Cathay vs. JAL