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JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:40 pm

JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT January 2013

I had two interesting trip reports to share with you all, apart from the ANA San Jose inaugural flights. Not going to say much, but let the pictures speak.

In order to get to Asia for the inaugural flights, I used my AA miles to issue a JAL first class flight, which is something that I have wanted to do, as I had not gotten the chance to fly the first suite. I wanted to do it before the new generation of suite seats making its appearance. After a few clicks, I manage to find a first class award seat from ORD to NRT, which was cool. The booking process was relatively smooth and American Airlines was able to assign me a window seat on the JAL segments.

January 8, 2013
JL 9 ORD-NRT Lv1015 Arr1430+1 Boeing 777-300ER JA741J

JAL uses American Airlines as its ground agent in Chicago O’Hare now, which is definitely a big plus given how poor the lounge facilities at Terminal Five. There are a few JAL agents, but American Airlines agents also assist in the process. JAL First and Business Class passengers use the American Airlines Flagship Lounge and Admiral Club respectively.

Here is the check-in area at ORD – very organized with separate lines for first, business, premium economy, economy, and online baggage drop line.

First Class line

Familiar JAL sign

Entrance to Flagship Lounge

I did not take any pictures of the Flagship lounge, as there are two international flights departing within the 10am hours – one to Shanghai and one is our flight to Narita, and AA has its own Narita flight departing in two hours. The lounge was packed and it was pretty plain given today’s standard and the JFK Flagship lounge. The food selection has further reduced to just a continental spread with a few sushi for the Asian flights. JFK features some hot dishes and I don’t think it is too much to ask for some scrambled eggs, hash brown, and breakfast meats. The most ridiculous part was the lack of orange juice, and they completely ran out of the most basic beverages in any airlines’ lounges.

Gate K19 – pretty standard JAL gate everyday

JAL Boeing 777-300ER JA741J being towed to gate from international terminal


Boarding began at 9:38am and priority boarding was strictly enforced. I was immediately escorted to my seat, as soon as the F/A spotted my first class boarding pass. The F/A already knew my name, as I approached my assigned seat 2K. It amazed me how they remembered before I boarded the flight. There were two other first class passengers today, but they were both at 1A and 2A. Unlike ANA, JAL has not reintroduced pre-takeoff beverages (served in plastic glasses though), but the F/A was busy passing out pajamas, newspapers, and amenity kits (I am glad that JAL now passes out the amenity kits before departure rather than after landing). And slippers are already in the seats. The purser also greeted me.

BOSE headset

We pushed back at 10:09am and we took off from R/W10 at 10:29am.

Flying time was twelve hours and thirty-two minutes, and our routing was rather typical, as we headed northwest after taking off. We stayed at 30,000feet and climbed to 32,000feet after passing Chisholm, and then heading towards Alaska. We crossed the Chugach Mountains, and then towards Anchorage, and then climbing further to 34,000feet, and then reached our final cruising attitude of 35,000feet after we enterted the Bering Sea.

Goodbye Chicago

Service began short after takeoff, with hot towel and linen service, followed by a canapé service featuring fried cheese, cheese sandwich with olives, and zucchini wrapped apple.

A glass of Champagne Salon 1999

The meals are very nice and the Japanese lunch was impressive. I personally called JAL service very functional and the meal service was not extravagant or carried in multiple courses. They are filling but the efficiency is emphasized throughout the flight.

Here is the wine list and menu:
Wine List
Champagne Salon 1999
Champagne Dom Perignon 2003

White Wines
Domaine Latour Girand Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres 2011, Bourgogne, France
Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2009, New Zealand
Weingut St. Urbans-Hof Wiltinger Alte Reben Reisling Kabinett Feinherb 2011, Germany
Arvga Branca Vinhal Issehara 2011, Katsunuma, Japan

Red Wines
Chateau Rauzan-Segla Margaux 2007, Bordeaux, France
Domaine Michel Gros Nuits Saint Georges 2007, Bourgogne, France
Kenzo Estate “rindo” 2007, California, USA (Japan-New York/Chicago/Los Angeles/Jakarta routes)
Kusuda Wines Syrah Martinborough 2009, New Zealand (Japan – London/Paris/Frankfurt routes)

Premium Japanese Sake
Sekai no Tsubana

Preamium Japanese Shochu
Mori Izo
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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:40 pm

JL 9 Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo Narita

Japanese Cuisine
Prawn & Herring Roe with Grated Radish

Japanese Appetizers

Green Vegetables, Turnip & Potato with Soybean Milk Sauce

Seared Scallop, Squid & Asparagus with Ginger Oil

“Soba Sushi”

Sweet Vinegared Vegetables

Steamed Anglerfish Liver in Japanese Jelly
Grilled Greenland Halibut Miso Flavor
Miso-marinated Mozzarella

Olive Flounder “Sashimi” with Pickled radish & Botan Shrimp

Grilled Chili Flavored Beef
Grilled Lobster with Sea Urchin

Steamed Rice with Salmon & Salmon Roe

Steamed Rice
We are pleased to offer freshly steamed Koshihikari rice

Steamed Scallop Mousse in Japanese Clear Soup

Japanese Pickles

Japanese Sweet

Chef’s Recommendation
Amuse Bouche
Blue Cheese Cream with Celery Boat
Scallop & Tuna Salsa
Caponata Mix

Hors d’Oeuvres (Choice)
Grilled Fillet of US Prime Beef with Madeira Sauce
Marinated Double Lamb Chop with Chasseur Sauce
Salmon Crusted with Scallop Mousse & Zucchini

Grand Desserts
Chocolate Bundt Cake
Vanilla Ice Cream

I had a cup of tea after lunch and was a bit disappointed that peppermint tea is not available.
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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:43 pm

After lunch, I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of the cabin, before the F/As shutting all the blinds.

Cabin picture

Seat picture

All the features

Control buttons

Seat in the recline position

Seat in the flat bed position with the tempur pedic pillow and mattresses

The bed is very comfortable and I slept till the plan approaching the Alaskan coast. Considered it was daytime, I had more sufficient amount of sleep. Of course the weakest part of this whole experience is the awkward individual entertainment system with no sitcoms, and limited movies. Both ANA and JAL have the worst inflight entertainment system among all these top airlines. They are not user friendly and other than the sky map, it has little use. JAL has recently installed wifi, in conjunction with T-mobile Germany (well the charge comes from them), and I have decided to give it a try. Here is the screen with the price.

The price is basically $11 per hour or a 24-hour pass for $21, and I decide to go with the one-hour plan, as I am really not sure on how the download speed will be. The problem with this inflight wifi is that if you have many people using the wifi, the speed will be pathetically slow. On this flight, I managed to login to flyertalk, facebook, tweeter, youtube, and a few websites. The speed is definitely slower than in ground, but at least I manage to watch a youtube clip. The only site that gives me issue is and I can’t access it at all. I have also speed issuing accessing a Hong Kong radio station page. But I have no issue tracking my own flight using flightradar24. However the speed is noticeably slower if you access multiple pages and accessing email together. So I am not sure if I will use it again, but it is not bad.

A couple pictures as we passed the Chugach Mountains –

The attentive F/A immediately offered something to drink, when she saw me waking up and working on my computer

Green Tea and some light snacks with hot towel

The Snack counter – but not much food is offered

Instead of a typical mid-flight snack menu and a proper light meal prior to arrival, JAL has introduced an “a la carte” menu for first and business class passengers. You can select from a range of light dishes and entrées as mid-flight snack, and pre-arrival set dinners. You can order any dish at anytime, and I decided to make myself a supper about two hours prior to arrival. It is a pretty interesting concept, but please note that some of the dishes are quite small. You really need to order a few dishes to make a filling dinner. I have yet to encounter a situation, when they ran out of food.

A La Carte
Japanese Delicacies
Vinegared “Mozuku” Seaweed
Simmered Angler Liver
Wasabi Flavored Octopus

“Yakitori” – Skewered Grilled Chicken & Chicken Ball

Assorted American Artisan Cheeses

Japanese A La Carte
Tokyo Curry Lab X Japan Airlines
Japanese Vegetable Keema Curry with Steamed Rice
Tenderly stewed new feeling keema curry

Oshi Sushi
Japanese Pickles

Western A La Carte
New England Clam Chowder
Hamburger & Potato Chips
Penne Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Japanese Hot “Udon” Noodles with Seaweed

Healthy menu selection
Miso Soup with Pork & Vegetables

Fresh Salad

Prepared Fresh Fruits

Japanese Tray
“Natto” – Fermented Soybeans
Grilled Sablefish “Saikyo Miso” Flavor
Steamed Rice
Miso Soup
Japanese Pickles

Western Tray
Artic Char with Coconut Curry Sauce
Assorted Rolls
Mocha Mousse

Vanilla Ice Cream


Descent soon began at 1:32pm local time, and thankfully, there was not too much ATC holding this afternoon. We landed on R/W34R at 1:59pm, and here were a couple pictures, as we taxied towards gate 61.

We parked at gate 61 at 2:10pm, and a Paris flight arrived just a few minutes prior to our flight. Immigration was busy but not too bad.

In conclusion, I was happy to be able to finally experience the JAL Suite and the Tempur Medic mattresses. The lunch service was very nice and the a la carte service worked very well on this flight. The F/As were excellent, as they paid attention to details and were always ready to serve. I made a few requests and they are all honored with a smile. The only complaint was that there were not much improvement in the amenity kit offering, as it was the same one I received two years ago, and the pajama design remained the same. I am sure there will be changes coming soon with the new product launching with the Heathrow flights beginning later this month. I guess it would be nice if JAL could introduce some variety of amenity kit, amenities, and pajamas annually.

I hope you enjoy the report and will work out the next trip report about an European regional airline later.

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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:17 am

Thanks for posting! Your reports are some of my favorites to read!
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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:04 am

Wow, Carfield! What a good read.

JL looks incredible in F; food looks delicious, and what a ton of dishes! I bet you were stuffed. I'd say JAL has one of the better F class cabins and service around - at least that is what it seems like from the photos.

I did not know that JL flies their NRT flights out of the AA terminal. I thought both departure and arrival was at T5.

Thanks for sharing!

I love to fly!
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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:10 am

Quoting 767747 (Reply 4):
I did not know that JL flies their NRT flights out of the AA terminal. I thought both departure and arrival was at T5

I flew AA ORD-NRT 2 years ago and JAL was departing out of T3. You can tell with the distinct sounds of the GE engines on start up. All international flights arrive at T5 for immigration and customs.
I remember flying ORD-LHR-ORD on BA in 1987. At that time international check in was in the location of T1 and we were bused out to the planes. They were parked on the ramp near T3 L concourse.

I have not flown JAL on the trans Pacific flights so I enjoyed your trip report (as well as your others). I have flown AA on this route several times, so it was nice to compare. The flight attendants on AA are very senior, but the service from the Chicago crews is great. It seems, however, that there is a noticeable difference between the US and Asian carriers in service.

Was your award ticket a one way ticket? We didn't have those when I worked at AA.

Thank you again for an excellent trip report.
Have you kissed a 777 today?
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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:40 pm

The Keema Curry looks very Indian, how is it Japanese? and Keema means minced meat be it from any animal in my part of the world, very nice report and photos.
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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:27 pm

Thanks for all your kind comments.

Yes it is an oneway award ticket. American and United both allowed one way award tickets and it has already been implemented for more than a year for both airlines. But with one way award, they eliminate the stopover rules on most international cities with few exceptions. There are things to gain and things to lose.

The Keema Curry has no meat in it at all... so I guess it is just a translation problem. It is actually a vegetarian curry dish in reality.

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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:23 pm

Great trip report mate!

Lovely photos and the JAL I must say does impress.
The food presentation looks good to me and seats look incredibly comfortable..
How was the load factor on this flight on the other classes?
If AA and JAL both do this flight I am sure JAL would be kicking AA's ass (   )

Sorry to here about the disappointing IFE....
Internet is a nice touch though , but you expect much more on such a long flight even in Y class..not too mention this is F.....

I find most american lounges to be a big disappointment... They need to learn this from other carriers..
The US Airways lounge at CLT is all though a pleasant change..

great photos and great report

Well done!

Be the change you want to see in the world- M.K.Gandhi
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RE: JAL “Old” First Suite Trip Report – JL 9 ORD-NRT

Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:47 pm

You have to hand it to the Japanese - they sure know how to make food look fantastic. All the little dishes and intricate preparations make it a joy to see. Thanks for sharing!
More than a decade flying in and around Asia...

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