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Flight Review: Japan Airlines First Class 777-300ER NRT-ORD

This past March I had the pleasure of experiencing Japan Airlines First Class on their 777-300ER for the approximately 11-hour flight from Tokyo (NRT) to Chicago (ORD).

While this trip was originally booked in Business Class on the following itinerary: NRT-SAN-DFW-TPA. Angle-flat business class with 2 connections… NOT ideal! I kept up with award JAL trans-Pacific award availability and eventually came across 2 First Class seats for me and the wife!

This was a much needed redemption upgrade, as I was still in the miles redemption doghouse given the previous Cathay First Class/Business Class separation…

Now! Onto the flight review!

To keep this review entertaining, and still somewhat informative, I’ll allow my pictures to do the bulk of the talking, and only interject where I must provide additional detail!

Pre-Flight –

The whole pre-flight process got off to a smooth start with an easy First Class check-in process, and then we proceeded through the priority First Class security screening!

Next up – the First Class Lounge! Wait… first my wife’s favorite – spending leftover foreign currency!

JAL First Class Lounge –

This place was legit! Too legit! Too legit to quit! A complimentary 10 minute massage, bottomless champagne… oh and yes, a Sushi Bar serving some of the best sushi in Tokyo!

We came, we saw, we massaged, we ate a bunch of fresh and fatty tuna, and it was awesomesauce!

The First Class Cabin –

Of the 8 seats in the cabin, 7 of them were occupied. Within the 1-2-1 configuration, my wife and I were seated in in the 2 middle seats 1D & 1G, meaning no cool views from the wing…

But, at least we were together and could marvel at the JAL First Class product and service together!

The Seat/Suite 1D –

Awake Time – Comfortable leather seats and overall spacious – plenty of room to store carry-on luggage, gadgets, amenities and jammies! My wife and I were in seats 1D & 1G separated by an optional partition. If I didn’t know the 1G passenger, I would consider putting up the partition, but since I was married to her, I decided to leave it down…

Sleepy Time – No sleepy time for me on this flight! I had a bunch of work to catch up on, given my 2-week vacation, so I made sure to knock that out, mixing in some serious food and drank in-between. I always to prioritize food over sleep on flights like this… you can’t experience anything if you sleep through it all!

I did want to test out the bed, so requested the flight attendant to make my bed with about 5 flying hours remaining. I was presented with a firm or soft down comforter option (I chose soft), and then proceeded to write watch TV, and NOM/champagne my face off!

The bed was comfortable – maybe not as comfortable as Singapore Suites – but comfortable enough to catch some ZzZzZ’s… if I needed to!

*Update on that no sleep decision – We had a 6 hour layover in Chicago, and managed to spend a couple hours sleeping quite uncomfortably upright in a chair. Then the following night woke up at 2AM and then never went back to bed. Lesson learned… don’t try and stay awake over 24 hours straight… SLEEP on the plane!

The Entertainment –


Ok maybe a little more to say… All First Class passengers were provided a unique code for wifi capability throughout the flight. It was not the fastest wifi I have ever experienced, but it was better than the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, and certainly better than nothing!

When I wasn’t working though work emails and searching BoardingArea.com, I mixed in a few movies. Why should you care what I watched? I don’t know…

Oscar winning Moonlight, a funny little flick called Why Him? And a classic – The Hangover… and speaking of hangover, more on that later!

IFE Monitor – A good size and picture quality, plus a mostly responsive touchscreen remote, and what’s entertainment without some quality sound…

Bose Headphones – Good quality, noise cancelling headphones – a MUST during long-haul flights, and of course provided to all JAL First passengers.

The Food and Drank –

This is where ish got real… I am an unashamed and always hungry eater, and this flight was not going to change me!

Every First Class experience starts with one thing, and one thing only –  hot towel! But even more exciting than a towel at a temperature above 90 degrees… yep, you guessed it – Champagne! It started pre-flight, and just kept on flowing. If I am not drinking at least a bottle of champagne during a Frist Class long-haul flight, something is wrong…

For me consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages is always a good time, but I will admit, I hit the champagne hard.

Perhaps I over-did it?…NAH!

About 2 hours after departure, out came the meal service…

Din-Din –

To start: Scottish Smoked Salmon Gravlax… no idea what that means, but it was delicious!

Followed by: Caviar with Egg Yolk Cream & Crispy Rice Wafers – I don’t know what it is about First Class and caviar, but when the three of us are together, it’s a party!

As for the Main: Beef Fillet with green Asparagus accompanied by Egg Yolk Soy Sauce, plus a bread selection. The beef was easily the best food item I had during the entire flight and probably the best dish on the entire menu! 100% recommend!

Finished off with Dessert: “Kotoka” Strawberry & Rhubarb in Springlike Vacherin Style – the prefect ending to a magnificent First Class meal!

Since I didn’t bother to sleep, I could really focus on the food service!

Snack #1 – The Assorted Japanese Brochettes! Beef, Pork Belly, Seafood… the trifecta!

Snack #2 – The Grilled Chicken Sandwich “Yuzu” Chili Flavor was meh… scarfed it down quick so no picture :/

Snack #3 – The “Sangeton” Pork Cutlet Sandwich was better…

And finally, Snack #4 – “Ramen” Noodles in Soy Sauce Flavored Soup… just like I was still in Japan!

Did I eat more food?

Oh… I didn’t realize we were keeping track…

I also enjoyed some special request Roppongi Pudding (based on my man Monkey Miles rec), a classic Tokyo dessert for my classic Tokyo trip!

The Amenities –

Amenity Kit – The JAL First amenity kits just underwent a change, moving from Loewes to Porsche design. Despite the change, the Shiseido product offering remained constant in a separate container – and came in especially handy during the long flight! The rest of the kit was pretty standard with the essentials – toothbrush, comb, mouthwash, and earplugs.

Stay tuned for a special JAL First Amenity Kit Review (including the female specific kit) coming in the near future…

Jammies – I’ll start by saying I am not a pajama guy and typically just bring my own shirt and shorts to change into. However, the JAL First pajamas were a nice option and were also a recent change! The tops and bottoms were Porsche design and fit quite nice/awkward all at the same time… pajamas are pretty awkward in general, no!?

In addition to the jammies, slippers for walking about the plane were provided.

The Ride & Views from the Wing 

Overall smooth flight, no complaints from me!

What could I possibly have to complain about???

And while I love shots from the window seat, I was ridin’ 1D so unfortunately no views of the Pacific!

The staff was very attentive and accommodating. Since both my wife and I were awake though the entire flight, the attendants were working around the clock – and for that, we are very thankful!

This attentiveness and attention to detail is consistent with what I have read on Monkey Miles and others regarding JAL First Class, and I am very happy to report on another great JAL crew!

Arrival –

The 11+ hour flight just flew by – literally! Get it? That is a plane joke! Wow…

Before we knew it the Captain was announcing decent into Chicago O’Hare Airport and our time with the lovely JAL flight crew was over…

We arrived right on schedule around 8:30AM local Chicago time!

Final Thought

JAL First Class to the rescue! While I ditched my wife during our previous Cathay flight, I redeemed myself by getting us both up into the frot cabin on the JAL 777-300ER!

It was just a small part of a great adventure!


Japan Airlines First is a great First Class product. If you have the chance to fly it, I definitely recommend! 

Have you ever flown in JAL First? If so, what was your experience like?

Happy Travels!




  1. Compared to some of the seasoned bloggers on here, you are a breath of fresh air. I love the humor! Please keep flying and writing – you, Monkey Miles and Economy Class are my favorites 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading and for the positive feedback! I hope to keep bringing you more high quality, yet high humor content!


  2. Gravlax is a cured Scandinavian salmon, pretty much the same as smoked, often served with a strong sweet spicy mustard. How was the temperature? JAL has a reputation for having hot cabins and no personal air.

    1. Thanks, good to know! The temperature was fine for me and I definitely prefer it on the chilly side. I did not actually ever get under the covers and try to sleep, so not sure if that would make a difference in my experience.


  3. Great review. My wife and I went to Thailand a year ago to visit our son and his wife in Bangkok and flew JAL FC. We sat in the same seats as you and your wife and had the same wonderful experience. I generally cannot sleep on planes and this flight was no different. On the return flight, NRT-JFK, our flight attendant signaled for us to come to the galley seeing we were both awake. She pointed out the window. At first I didn’t know what she was wanting for us to see when the sky exploded with the Northern Lights. A memorable flight indeed.

    1. Wow!! So jealous! I have always wanted to experience that on a flight… Unfortunately for me there were no Northern Lights other than the glow of my IFE!

  4. Great review, Derek! I loved my JAL F flight from ORD – NRT last year. Though we didn’t have free wifi and it looks like they’ve upgraded the amenity kits. I guess we will have to go back!

  5. 1. How did you find out about this flight deal?
    2. How did you book the flight?
    3. What is the best way to maximize points when booking a flight like this?

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