Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu via JAL and Korean First Class

Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu via JAL and Korean First Class

Old Oct 14, 17, 8:00 pm
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: LAX-SNA
Programs: BA Gold, AF/KL Gold, AA LT PLT 2mm, TP Gold *G
Posts: 19,599
Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu via JAL and Korean First Class

Mrs. SFO777 and I are off today to Beijing, well actually Tokyo and then Seoul and then Beijing. I'm using the return part of my cheapo Seoul-JFK AA First ticket and I was able to find an award seat on the same flights for Mrs. SFO777. We're meeting SFO777jr and the future Mrs. SFO777jr in Seoul later tonight when they arrive on the Singapore Airlines LAX-Seoul nonstop. North on the 405 to LAX.



And the ominous air quality warning...









With the Departures level all congested, the Arrivals level was a lot faster.





Give this guy an A+ for creativity for both sunny relaxation area and eye shade.



Meanwhile, up on the departures level.



And to the far A counters.







Unfortunately, JAL does not participate in PreCheck, so we were relegated to regular security. After discovering that the south TBIT security entrance was closed, we headed downstairs to the little used "secret" TSA checkpoint where there were only a handful of pax in line.





Upstairs from security, we were in the T4/TBIT connector.





And a few minutes later in the Qantas First Class Lounge.











While Mrs. SFO777 chilled, I headed over to the One World Business Class Lounge to find a colleague and guest her into the Qantas Lounge. On the way, the line to get into the Korean Lounge. Wow. It ain't that great folks. LOL.







The One World Business Class Lounge, to which I was denied entry by the resident dragon with an attitude who claimed that since "Japan Airlines only pays for one lounge entrance and you've already used your one entrance in the Qantas Lounge." I asked her to page my colleague which she said she would "after I've process the other passengers who are waiting." In the meantime, I called my colleague and waited as she came over to exit the place. Although apparently I drifted too far towards the lounge as the dragon barked at me "You are not allowed in the lounge. Please step back." Charming.




Meanwhile back at the Qantas Lounge, the more personable Qantas dragon had to call Qantas to get permission since she was on Qatar, which the JAL rep on the other end of the line mistook as "guitar". "What do you mean they have a guitar. Is he playing the guitar?" was the apparent respond from JAL. LOL.
Billiken, eightblack and Travlur like this.

Last edited by NWIFlyer; Oct 25, 17 at 6:01 pm Reason: Remove photo of named lounge agent - invasion of her privacy
SFO777 is offline  
Old Oct 14, 17, 8:04 pm
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: LAX-SNA
Programs: BA Gold, AF/KL Gold, AA LT PLT 2mm, TP Gold *G
Posts: 19,599
At around T-45, we headed for our Gate 130.





Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita
Japan Airlines JL 61
777-300ER (77W)
1:20pm-4:55pm
October 11, 2017
Suites 2DG




When the gate agent announced pre-boarding for families with children, we figured general boarding would follow promptly. So we joined the First Class queue, which for JAL means First Class, JAL Diamond and One World Emeralds, among others.



Then boarding stopped due to "time for additional fueling". Pity those poor familes with children that are apparently now at risk on board a plane being fueled.



At last, we had taken on enough fuel and another agent starting boarding First Class. OK, this is nice... A jetbridge just for First Class, or so it seemed until it became the jetbridge for the entire plane.

[IMG]https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/JAL/i-3bn6tLV/0/2e54282f/L/IMG_6221-L.jpg
[/IMG]

Our comfortable 8 seat First Class cabin.







It soon became apparent that 1L was being used for everyone. During a break in the herd, I asked one of the FAs why everyone was boarding thru the F cabin. She apologized and said that there was a problem with the 2L jetbridge and they decided to board everyone thru 1L rather than wait for maintenance.



JAL cost cutting became more evident with pre-departure champagne. Our flight attendant came around with a tray of half glasses or champagne or juice. The half glass was all that was offered. When I inquired as to whether the champagne was Salon, our FA confessed and apologized that it was not Salon, but they will be serving Salon once we're in the air. I inquire as to what champagne is was only to get this amusing "It is a less expensive champagne... but from the same region" LOL.



All First Class passengers were given Complimentary wifi passes, although speed was terrible and wifi pretty much useless.











The JAL amenity kit.







Meh.





Am I the only one that thinks that this perennial JAL feature is a little tacky?



The basic lav although to be fair, it was pre-departure and the towels, flower and toothbrush kit and mouthwash had not been set up.







Today's Wine List and still one of the strangest acronyms in the airline business. BEDD. Apparently it stands for something like Bed, Dining, Delicious and Dream. Yikes. But wouldn't that be BDDD??





All in all, reasonably respectable.











Showtime, JAL style.



And as promised, the good stuff.



And today's amuse bouche, cream cheese on mushroom and chicken.







And a pass of the JL snack basket.







Our neighbor in 2K. Whoa, TMI.




























We both decided on the western menu today since the menu sounded more interesting than the Japanese option. The Green Pistachio (is there any other color?) and Black Truffle Mousse. Very strange.







The Tuna Pastrami with Tapenade Cream tasted as bad as it looked.



Mrs. SFO777 started with the Lamb Salad with Sautéed Portobello Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Raspberry Vinaigrette. She reported "strange" and not very good.



I opted for the Sautéed Foie Gras & Brioche French Toast in Port Wine Sauce.



It was actually quite good with a beautiful presentation. It could have been a little warmer. Also, a Sauternes might have been nice. Just saying.



For my main, I went with the Sautéed Sea Bass with Cashew Nuts and Brown Butter.



It was a little dry and not that good. Shockingly, my AA sea bass on last week's DFW-HNL was much better. Love the Sharpie stripes on the lemon though.



Mrs. SFO777 chose the US Prime Beef Tenderloin with Spinach Flan and Périgueux Sauce.



It looked pretty perfectly done but she thought it was something less than Prime.



On the other hand, I thought it was delicious, and better than the sea bass.



After my main(s), I went with the cheese course which were served pre-plated from the galley. And I had to ask for bread since no crackers/bread were offered.



The Graham's Tawny 30 year old port was delicious.



Mrs. SFO777 enjoyed the Royal Blue Tea which I had tasted a few months ago.



My dessert trio of which the Pear Tart was the tastiest.



I slept off and on for roughly 4 hours, although it was better after I asked the cabin crew to lower the cabin temp a few degrees. Strange bedding as if was just the duvet on top of the foam mattress pad. Now mattress pad cover which I thought they used before and certainly would have been more comfortable.







With 2 hours to go and Mrs. SFO777 still sleeping, I tried the Fajitas snack.



It was really dry and not very good.



As we prepared for landing, the Shiseido Men's kit had some nice products.









Despite the late LAX departure, we landing at Narita pretty much on time with an hour and 45 minutes to connect to Seoul. In flight cabin service was excellent as always. While my previous exceptional in flight food experience had always kept JAL in the mid tier of my overall First Class rankings despite weak ground service, . the deterioration in food quality and the general overall impression of cost cutting probably lowers them a couple of notches in my ranking.


For more pics and an HD version of this report, please visit SFO777.com.

Where I have posted additional chapters...
JAL First Class Lounge at NRT
Incheon Transit Hotel
Korean First Class Lounge at ICN
Korean First Class Seoul to Beijing
Four Seasons Hotel Beijing

Will post to FT as soon as possible.

Last edited by SFO777; Oct 26, 17 at 1:37 pm
SFO777 is offline  
Old Oct 14, 17, 9:56 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Toronto, Canada
Programs: Aeroplan Airmiles AMEX-MR Alaska Airlines
Posts: 540
LOL. There is always one evil eye pic and one open feet pic. You’re on a roll.
injian is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 12:09 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,187
Once again another great report, SFO777!!!

What a horrible lounge experience from that lounge dragon, don't expect them to do that since you are on F ticket, and being OW Emerald, you sure have the right to enter any lounges that you want
JALlover is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 12:39 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: MidSouth
Programs: AA; Delta GM
Posts: 729
I have never traveled (yet) to this part of the world. Great report! Can't wait to read more about this trip! :-)
aquamarinesteph is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 2:12 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: PHX, SEA
Programs: DL Silver, Avis President's Club, Hertz President's Circle, Global Entry (Former AA Plt/Gold)
Posts: 4,018
Originally Posted by JALlover View Post
Once again another great report, SFO777!!!

What a horrible lounge experience from that lounge dragon, don't expect them to do that since you are on F ticket, and being OW Emerald, you sure have the right to enter any lounges that you want
That's what I was thinking! Even Priority Pass (who has to pay for every lounge entered) has yet to complain, even when I used it in 3 places in PDX recently (two with guests).

And speaking of PP, that KAL lounge line was awful!
Gig103 is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 5:24 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: JNB
Programs: Flying Blue, Miles and Smiles, Hhonors, ICHotels
Posts: 1,212


No, just no. That looks awful.

Thank you again for reporting another TR. Safe and happy travels!!
roadwarrier is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 9:58 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: ORD
Programs: United 100K, Etihad Gold, Marriot Platinum, Hilton Gold
Posts: 511
Good report, I hope you tried some Chinese BBQ in Xian.
steveo is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 10:37 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Cape Town
Programs: BA Exec Gold , Emirates Skywards Plat , SAA Voyager Silver.
Posts: 1,574
Thanks for the report SFO777 ! I am always a bit worried to fly Japanese carriers in J/F as i know they really like to mainly severe Japanese oriented food that most mainly contains some form of seafood element in the dish, so good to see a western menu . Looking forward to the next instalment, however have to say i would avoid Foie Gras as it is really cruel !
Flame3601 is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 11:50 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: YWG
Programs: Free Agent
Posts: 1,342
Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post


No, just no. That looks awful.

Thank you again for reporting another TR. Safe and happy travels!!
agree- makes one long for clean cuisine with identifiable components (none of which would/should be grey/dull brown/slime).
canolakid is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 1:05 pm
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: East Coast
Programs: AA CONCIERGE KEY, HILTON DIAMOND
Posts: 10,107
Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post


No, just no. That looks awful.

Thank you again for reporting another TR. Safe and happy travels!!
Sad to see how bad JL F has become... it used to be a fantastic product.
fly747first is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 1:26 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: CMH, HNL
Programs: UA, HA
Posts: 583
Giddyup for another SFO777 adventure in gentle snark, first-class wit, and timezone-stomping travels. ^
TheTakeOffRush is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 2:10 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: BOS
Programs: UA 1K, AA GLD
Posts: 231
if you're flying JL first, be prepared for kaiseki, or else

also no caviar? just foie? why not both
psychoandy is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 3:33 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Tokyo
Programs: BA Gold, Marriott Platinum
Posts: 184
Originally Posted by fly747first View Post
Sad to see how bad JL F has become... it used to be a fantastic product.
But then what does one expect when someone posts a picture of a dish that has mostly been eaten and picked at?
Boten is offline  
Old Oct 15, 17, 5:02 pm
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: LAX-SNA
Programs: BA Gold, AF/KL Gold, AA LT PLT 2mm, TP Gold *G
Posts: 19,599
Originally Posted by injian View Post
LOL. There is always one evil eye pic and one open feet pic. You’re on a roll.
Thanks very much injian. I think that I have another evil eye pic to add when I'm done editing.

Originally Posted by JALlover View Post
Once again another great report, SFO777!!!
What a horrible lounge experience from that lounge dragon, don't expect them to do that since you are on F ticket, and being OW Emerald, you sure have the right to enter any lounges that you want
Thank you JALlover. I didn't make a big stink about it as I was just coming over to pick up the colleague and guest her into the QF Lounge.

Originally Posted by aquamarinesteph View Post
I have never traveled (yet) to this part of the world. Great report! Can't wait to read more about this trip! :-)
Thank you aquamarinesteph.

Originally Posted by Gig103 View Post
That's what I was thinking! Even Priority Pass (who has to pay for every lounge entered) has yet to complain, even when I used it in 3 places in PDX recently (two with guests). And speaking of PP, that KAL lounge line was awful!
Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post

No, just no. That looks awful.
Thank you again for reporting another TR. Safe and happy travels!!
Originally Posted by canolakid View Post
agree- makes one long for clean cuisine with identifiable components (none of which would/should be grey/dull brown/slime).
Thanks roadwarrier and canolakid. The worst part of the dish was the presentation and colors. Even before I started eating, I just looked gross.

Originally Posted by steveo View Post
Good report, I hope you tried some Chinese BBQ in Xian.
On the list. Thank you steveo.

Originally Posted by Flame3601 View Post
Thanks for the report SFO777 ! I am always a bit worried to fly Japanese carriers in J/F as i know they really like to mainly severe Japanese oriented food that most mainly contains some form of seafood element in the dish, so good to see a western menu . Looking forward to the next instalment, however have to say i would avoid Foie Gras as it is really cruel !
Thanks so much Flame3601. My previous JL western meals were spectacular, which made this flight so surprising. It just seemed like they cut the catering budget. From my NRT-LAX flight in April.

Starting with a lovely amuse bouche trio.



Another amuse bouche, the Scottish Smoked Salmon Gravlax. Delicious.



For my starter, I chose the French Veal Vitello Tonnato. OMG, this was sensational with the most perfect little gem lettuce.



My Beef Filet with Green Asparagus and Egg Yolk Soy Sauce.



This was positively divine.



With the most perfect asparagus on the ground or in the air.



Originally Posted by fly747first View Post
Sad to see how bad JL F has become... it used to be a fantastic product.
Thanks fly747first. The inflight product used to make up for a lot of the ground deficiencies. Not sure anymore.

Originally Posted by TheTakeOffRush View Post
Giddyup for another SFO777 adventure in gentle snark, first-class wit, and timezone-stomping travels. ^
Thank you TheTakeOffRush. I'll do my best.

Originally Posted by psychoandy View Post
if you're flying JL first, be prepared for kaiseki, or else. also no caviar? just foie? why not both
I'm sure I could have had both. Just decided to pass on the caviar today.

Originally Posted by Boten View Post
But then what does one expect when someone posts a picture of a dish that has mostly been eaten and picked at?
Indeed, I forgot to take a pic before I started eating. But did you really need to see a full plate of this?
Flame3601 likes this.
SFO777 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: