I don't think there is any better bargain than to have a very refined upgrade experience at a nominal cost in JAL's domestic first class.
JAL operate three classes in domestic sector on busy routes like Haneda - Sapporo/Okinawa/Fukuoka/Osaka.
-Class J: Equivalent to premium economy where passengers can enjoy spacious seat at just JPY 1,000 (or USD 9
) on top of any economy fare
-First: The seat itself is equivalent to reclining business, but the service is safe to say "first" - available at just JPY 8,000 (or USD 73
) on top of any economy fareExclusive First Class Check-in Zone at Haneda
When departing from Haneda, there is a dedicated check-in area with an automated door.
Entrance to the dedicated First check-in area at Haneda T1
The check-in area itself is quite elegant, but because there were several agents I wasn't in a mood to take out a camera to click some photos inside.
There is a dedicated security check passage, which is leading directly to Diamond Premier Lounge only available to OW Emerald status holders and first class passengers.Enjoying Super-Rare Yamazaki Whiskey in the Lounge
This report is from August 2018 - so I'm not sure if it still exists, but when I visited back then, a very rare Yamazaki 12 Year-old whiskey was placed in the lounge bar. Even back then it was extremely precious (now even more so), as currently the popularity of Japanese whiskey in the world has practically wiped out all Yamazaki ones.
The lounge is quite spacious and it wasn't crowded during my visit. It has a private relaxing area as well.
Private relaxing booth
The food selection wasn't too impressive. Some soups, rice balls, and different types of bread roll were available. Around the noon, their signature curry puff would be served, but since my flight was departing in morning it was a bit early to try that.
My lounge food plate
A small thing, there was no butter or any other spread available with the bread. I'm not used to eating bread roll by itself without any condiment.
The drinks selection was a bit more extensive, as it had three types of draft beer machine (2 types of Kirin and Asahi), several liquor bottles, and a variety of soft drinks including iced coffee served fresh from a machine.
But of course, as mentioned earlier, the highlight was enjoying the Yamazaki whiskey on rocks.
Yamazaki whiskey bottle
The view of tarmac was incredible, overlooking the international terminal.
View from lounge
Before heading off to the gate, I've decided to take a shower.
Inside shower room
Perfect water pressureAmenity Surprises Onboard
By this point I was very happy with the ground experience; what really blew me away was the onboard experience. Let me tell you that this is just a 280-mile journey, and the actual flying time in air is less than 40 minutes
. Can you expect any service in such a short flight? Well, JAL do it really well.
Departure gate information
Currently, there are two aircraft types fitted with domestic first - 767 and 777. Both fly to Osaka Itami. I chose the former since it just has one seating row in first class, which means just 5 seats. The latter has 14 seats, so I thought 767 would give a much more exclusive feeling.
JAL 767 first class
There was a very warm welcome by the cabin manager, and as soon as I started clicking photos she opened up the window blinds for better shots.
It's nothing compared to international first class or even business class, but since the longest route with F is just a mere 2.5hr ride max (Tokyo to Okinawa), there is no issue.
There were various amenities already placed on the seat.
*A back-supporting pillow (little bit on a harder side)
*Another back-supporting mattress-sort of thing (don't know what to call it)
*A pair of slippers and shorhorn
*A portable electronic charger (for onboard use only)
*Noise cancelling headphones
*Food & beverage menu
Various amenities on seat
Electronic charger, slippers, and cards
Headphones and blanket
Food & beverage menu
I apologise that the following menu is only read in Japanese (English is available, just didn't scan the pages). You may have some idea how extensive their drinks menu is.
Food menu - two courses listed, outbound/inbound from/to Haneda.
The menu is changed every 10 days.
To translate, the selection as follows:
Alcohol: 1 type each from sake, Champagne, red wine, white wine, sweet potato whiskey (shochu), 4 types of beer (all Japanese brand), Suntory whiskey.
Soft Drinks: Apple juice, orange juice, JAL's signature kiwi juice "Skytime", green vegetable juice, non-alcoholic beer, green tea (hot & cold), oolong tea (cold), iced coffee, sparkling water, JAL's original coffee (hot), and consomme soup (hot).
Soon, a hot towel was provided.Great Views and Sumptuous Food
The weather was really good on this day, and I was able to enjoy the view all the way to Osaka while also pouring in Champagne continuously. The cabin manager apologised to me that I wasn't able to get a seat by Mt. Fuji side, but it's not her fault! She tried to engage in conversation with each passenger as much as possible on such a short flight, which made the experience quite memorable.
Above Boso Peninsula
The meal service began right when the seat-belt sign was turned off, and was brought so promptly.
Incredible amount of food on a 37-minute flight. There is no meal choice, and the menu rotates on Western/Japanese/Chinese theme. One can check on JAL's website to check the actual menu for the next two months. This time it was a Japanese theme.
Braised pork belly with whole-grain mustard sauce
Plum somen noodles
Rice wrapped in bamboo skin
The main dish: grilled fish, prawn, scallop on peas sauce with side vegetables
The main is served cold only on Tokyo-Osaka route due to the short duration, but on other longer sectors it is actually heated. The menu says the dish can be enjoyed hot or cold.
For the drink, I ordered Champagne and the green vegetable juice. Surprised to see Champagne offered in a quarter-sized bottle!
Green vegetable juice - quite good stuff
Dessert: Kintsuba, a bean cake with sweet potato
When I finished the bottle of Champagne, the cabin manager asked me if I wanted another - and it was almost 15 minutes before landing! I didn't hesitate, and I think I tried to finish it fast so that she can clear it before landing.
The second Champagne bottle
Osaka cityOverall Impression
It was such a hectic flight, and I was amazed how the crew tried to make the onboard experience as pleasant as possible. With comfortable lounge exerience, Yamazaki whiskey, great meal and service onboard, and 2 bottles of Champagne, I definitely think it was well worth USD 73 spent on top of economy fare. If I remember correctly I booked 14-days advance saver fare which was JPY 24,800 (USD 225), and it could have been cheaper if I booked more in advance.
If anyone has a chance to fly a domestic flight in Japan amongst one of busy routes, I'd highly recommend JAL first class for the experience.