After another wonderful stay at the Tokyo Hilton, our trip home had to commence.
@Macpsych and I had said our goodbyes at the hotel, as he was flying home via Seoul Icheon and Helsinki, as part of his mileage run to collect enough BA tier points to remain gold. (I have done a spreadsheet 😉). His flight departed Tokyo Haneda at 01:55 AM!
As I did not need the tier points, we were again traveling separately, and I had opted for the civilised option: a Japan Airlines flight 43, leaving at 11:45 AM, also from Haneda. As I was using points, I decided to treat myself to First Class, a cabin I had not flown on JAL before on a long haul flight.
Check in was pretty unremarkable, and after a swift security and customers check, I found myself in the Sakura First Class lounge at the Haneda International Terminal. Having been here before, I selected a seat in the quiet library area of the lounge, where they have lovely vintage photos of JAL planes.
After I had some light nibbles and resisted ordering pancakes with ice-cream, I proceeded to the gate, which was just across the entrance to the lounge. Very convenient.
Not that many people where at the gate yet, but it looked like boarding was about to commence.
In line with Japanese customs, these friendly ladies bowed at the boarding passengers. Japan is so civilised and polite.
Boarding was swift and a separate jetty was used for the only three First Class passengers, including myself. The First Class cabin is only 8 seats with JAL, which is served by 3 cabin attendants. This included the purser, who was the primary person looking after me, as I was in seat 1A.
I took some quick pictures of the very wide JAL First Class seat before more passengers boarded. The seat is wide and very comfortable and had a massage feature too. Compared to the BA seat, it is another class. The seat is wider and more like a proper arm chair. This was gonna be a very comfortable flight home.
Upon settling in, the cabin attendant all come to introduce themselves, and after the usual struggle with my rather long surname, we settled on calling me Mr Frank. I was swiftly offered a drink, and unlike my usual habit, I started with water.
Following this I was offered a leisure suit to be more comfortable on the journey. I ended up setting on a small, as the medium was rather larger. The suit was very comfortable jersey material and a perfect fit, so I took it home to use on future flight where no PJs are offered,
As this was JAL, the bathroom was prepared, so I could comfortably change, a very nice touch and a perfect sign of the amazing service on this entire flight. I also received a small amenity kit, with the usual socks, earplugs, moisturisers and eye-mask.
After a smooth take off with some wonderful views of Tokyo on this clear beautiful February day, we settled into our cruising altitude. Let the inflight service commence!
After take-off, I selected my meal from a very elaborate menu offering both Japanese and Western options. I was also offered drinks from the extensive wine list, which included 4 kinds of Champagne, including Chrystal and Bollinger. I settled on a Rose Bollinger, which was very nice and not to sweet.
The food was amazing, one of the best meals I have ever had a on a flight. My meal started with an Amuse Bouche, followed by some Japanese appetisers. For a starter I had selected the King Crab salad, which was very taste, with a light Japanese dressing. For the main, when offered, I always select lobster. This was served as a little parcel, which the purser expertly opened for me. I rounded off the meal with a lovely fruit desert. The meal was accompanied by plenty of fresh bread and my glass continued to be refilled.
Following the meal, I settled into watch a film, from an okay selection of movies. I watched Ocean’s 8, which was very good. Throughout the flight the crew discreetly checked if I wanted anything else to drink or eat. A lovely touch, as with BA, you tend not to see the crew again, unless you use the call button, or go looking for them.
After about four hours of flight, I decided to use the rather slow inflight wi-fi, which was free, to check how @macpsych was progressing on his journey. He should have been mid-flight too, somewhere over Russia. Luckily the Flight Radar 24 worked, despite the poor Wi-Fi speed, and I found him on the map. I was on JL43, whilst @macpsych was on AY42, heading for Helsinki.
We later managed to connect mid-flight using iMessage and had a chat about our journeys. Got to love technology!
After completing my second movie, “The Wife” with Glenn Close, I was a bit peckish. Where is the menu….?
From the A La Carte menu, I selected one of my favourites: a Pork Cutlet sandwich, which I followed with some JAL Curry, a dish they also serve in their lounge.
I finished my meal with a small fruit salad and some delicious macaroons. Yummy.
I thought it might be time for a snooze. As it was a daylight flight, I requested just a blanket and managed to get a couple of hours of sleep.
Following my snooze, I was asked if I would like anything else, as it was 2 hours before landing… Well it was lunch time in London, so why not. As I enjoyed the pork cutlet sandwich so much, I had another one, followed by some more macaroons. Again yummy!
The remainder of the flight passed quickly, as I was binging on a HBO show called “Barry”, which I had found on the in-flight entertainment. I was determined to get through the 8 episodes before landing and I managed with 10 min to spare.
Before landing, the three cabin crew serving us came to say good bye and provided me with a small box of macaroons to take home. What a lovely touch. They also gave me another leisure suit, as I liked it so much.
Service on JAL was simply amazing and very impressive. This is what first class experience should be like. I could not fault it. BA take note!
I look forward to booking another trip to Japan using Avios in First Class on JAL – maybe next time together with @macpsych!