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Round the World - First Class (Qantas, Japan Airlines & Cathay Pacific)

Round the World - First Class (Qantas, Japan Airlines & Cathay Pacific)

Old Jun 25, 19, 12:44 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Sydney
Programs: Qantas Platinum, Hilton Honours Gold
Posts: 79
Round the World - First Class (Qantas, Japan Airlines & Cathay Pacific)

I have been on a First Class Round the World Trip from Sydney to Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Paris & Hong Kong on a few different airlines!

Sydney to Los Angeles (Qantas - First) – POSTED
Los Angeles to New York (Qantas - Business) – POSTED
New York to Tokyo (Japan Airlines - First)
Tokyo to Paris (Japan Airlines - First)
London to Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific - First)

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Here is my review of my first two flights of the journey:
Carrier: Qantas
Class: First Class
Depart: Sydney
Arrive: Los Angeles

Carrier: Qantas
Class: Business Class
Depart: Los Angeles
Arrive: New York (JFK)

The review is below. I did take a fair few photos from the flight and compiled a mini YouTube video dairy of the flight - If you want to check them out you can view them on my blog site –
https://lifeofatravelczar.com/qantas-first-class-sydney-to-los-angeles/
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QANTAS FIRST CLASS LOUNGE (SYDNEY)
I arrive nice and early to catch my flight for my around the world adventure. I will be flying to Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Madeira, Paris and London. In excess of 36,000 miles around the globe. It’s pretty exciting!

My journey begins on a wet and rainy (and might I add cold) Sydney winter morning as I head to the airport to check-in. Sydney Airport’s Express Lane through Immigration and Security is closed making for long queues but I manage to weave my way through the crowds and find myself in the lounge nice and early.

Breakfast: I tuck into a delightful Eggs Royale and pair it with a flat white to awaken my senses and a glass of champagne to suitably dull my senses ahead of the long flight.

The Spa: I had a lovely spa treatment (The Sydney Signature Treatment) before boarding. It entailed a beautiful foot massage with a clay mask on the back and a short back massage. After that I felt all refreshed and boarding commenced for the flight.

THE SUITE
I am seated in Suite 1A in First Class today. Qantas’ A380 First Class cabin is laid out in a 1-1-1 configuration. The cabin is located on the lower deck of the aircraft where there are 14 suites in the cabin.

The open suites are spacious with sufficient storage areas next to the window in the wooden compartment. The suites have a theme of light / neutral tones with beige upholstery, wood grained surfaces and crème leather bands above the seat and on the arm-rest. Each suite is encased in a light cream shell which encloses the seat. The overall structure of the suite provides sufficient privacy notwithstanding that fact it’s an open suite. Seat 1A does provide the most privacy of all the suites and you certainly do feel alone in the sky. The seat has an ottoman against the window for a guest to share during dinner.

The seat is quite flexible and there is a mini seat controller on the side which can adjust the seat to any angle and recline. This is unlike other First Class Suites such as Etihad and the Old Singapore Suites where it’s either a bed or a fully upright seat. You can actually lounge in this seat. As a note during take-off and landing, the seat faces forward and away from the window and the IFE screen, but for the majority of the flight (dining, watching movies and cloud gazing) the seat angles away from the aisle with a swivel such that you face the window.

INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
The selection on the inflight entertainment selection was extensive but the issue is I have traveled a fair bit in the last 3-4 months, so I have pretty much seen most of the content. The music selection is also pretty extensive if that’s your thing. I do prefer TV dramas (like CSI, NCIS etc.) and wish there would be more of these added to the mix. I ended up watching La La Land again and listened to a few of my favourite tunes at the end of the flight.

The screen appears to be smaller in size relative to some of the other carriers I’ve flown with and the controller is not as responsive as some of the other carriers. I note Japan airlines, Cathay and Qatar have full LCD control pads and I could even watch my movie in the Etihad control pad.

THE TASTING MENU
I opt for the tasting menu and the canapes were served on arrival onto the aircraft.

Canapes: The canapes today are the Caviar Tartlet with Cauliflower Puree and Ocean Trout Tataki with Soy Jalapeno and Cucumber. The caviar tartlet was crumbly in the mouth, with the burst of the caviar salinity and the smoothness of the puree. The Ocean trout tataki has a bite of the jalapeno, the salinity touch of soy and the refreshing cucumber which melded nicely to the strong flavours of the trout.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc (2007) Champagne: Of all the First Class champagnes this would have to be my second favourite. It is only superseded by JAL’s offering of Salon on all flights ex-Japan. It’s a beautiful Blanc de Blanc champagne. It’s a nervous moment when they reveal the champagne for the flight; I have been previously saddled with the Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill and Veuve Cliquot Grand Dame and definitely prefer the Comtes. There is expressive citrus, hints of brioche and mild notes of mint on the nose. A beautiful flourish of white peaches, minerality – a wonderful tapestry of lushness, freshness and sensual purity. It’s a dream; the reason it’s such a favourite. It’s got a little hint of floral notes and lemony mint sparkle in the finish – a truly wonderful experience.

Roast Pumpkin Soup with Garlic and Thyme Croutons and Herbed Crème Fraiche: The soup is pretty decent; a lovely texture and and creaminess flow on the tongue. I am not sure if I’m the only one; but my favourite part of any soup course is the crunchy croutons. It was a simple elegance of style to start the menu.

Flametree SRS Walcliffee Chardonnay (2016), Margaret River, Western Australia: There is the beautiful aromas of citrus and pears which allure the senses. On the palate there is a touch of pears, honeydew an gentle notes of hazelnuts with a rich buttery and vanilla finish. It’s a decent wine to pair with the soup.

Fraser Isle Spanner Crab with Celeriac, Green Peas, Brown Butter Dressing and Hazelnut: Qantas do a seasonal special on flights ex-Australia and today it was the spanner crab. Thankfully it was also on the tasting menu, so I didn’t have to choose between the two. The spanner crab is an amazing dish and probably one of my favourites on the Qantas menu. This dish it’s all about the crab; the spanner crab unlike most of its other brethren swims forward (it doesn’t crawl sideways), they reside in very pristine waters of Fraser Isle and actually have a diet, more akin to a culinary aficionado, of scallops, prawns and other tiny crustaceans…. On second thoughts, I envy their diet. This combination results in beautiful succulent and flaky meat. I attended a function by Qantas many years ago where the owner of the company which supplies the crab to Qantas described the difficulties in catching these beautiful specimens and that fisherman have lost their lives in the pursuit of this exclusive crustaceans. The succulent crab meat (more akin to lobster or a Moreton bay bug) is sweet and rich in flavour and stands on its own. There is a smokiness from the brown butter dressing and a nice textural contrast offered by the peas and the crunchy hazelnuts. A very nice well-rounded dish which doesn’t need much culinary flair given the standard of the produce. This was also recommended to be paired with the chardonnay, but I actually sipped on the champagne which was a more appropriate pairing.

Rockpool Bar & Grill Style Cape Grim Beef Fillet with Potato and Cabbage Gratin and Broccolini: Cape Grim is on the north-western tip of Tasmania. For those of you who follow me from overseas, Tasmania is an island off the south-eastern coast of Australia. Given its isolation, this part of the country (with the absence of large buildings and pollutants) has the world’s purest air and rain which is ideal for pasture and grazing all year round. It rains for around half the year to ensure the pastures are continually nourished. The superior quality of pasture and the cow’s ability to graze almost all year round is critical to the quality of the beef. The beef is aged appropriately to ensure maximum flavour.

The beef is cooked well, a bit more medium than the medium rare I asked for, but nonetheless it’s good. The nice smokiness of the charring and the centre is moist. The rich flavour and beautiful texture make for a very nice dining experience. This beef fillet here is probably second only to the the steak I had on Etihad First (Abu Dhabi to New York). The gratin, which is “baked in dish” is the epitome of comfort food, with its rustic rich creaminess and tangy seasoning and I do love the lush fresh broccolini.

There were wine pairing options and I did opt for both; Cape Mentelle, Cabernet Sauvignon (2014), Margaret River, Western Australia and Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier (2016), Canberra District, NSW. I know the Clonakilla is highly acclaimed but it was a bit too young, it had a hit of spice which just rubbed me the wrong way. I opted to focus my attention on the Cape Mentelle; fitting given my West Australian heritage. There were beautiful cherry, vanilla and berry aromas which proved quite alluring. On the palate a harmonious tapestry of dark berries and cassis dominate with delicate touches of smoke, pepper, herbs and cedar which begin to appear – as the bottle continues to flow over the afternoon you can even taste a hint of menthol appearing. Beautiful fine tannins do work nicely with beef and gratin. It was such an experience to enjoy a wonderful dish and to enjoy the view of the clouds as the plane made its way across the Pacific Ocean.

Spice Template Inspired Caramel, Chocolate and Sesame Ice Cream Sandwich: The tasting menu did dictate the chocolate mousse but I had a good discussion with the flight attendants on the range of desserts and settled on the ice cream sandwich. There’s a mix of sweet crisp caramel and chocolate coating and the delightfully mellow ice cream which hits the spot. It’s not a stylish dessert but it did the trick.

Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny: I pair it with the Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny. On the nose you definitely can sense the smoked raisins and walnuts which is quite a sensation. On the palate its less intense than I thought (or previously remembered). It’s like a liquid fruit cake with a touch of spice and aniseed. Much better than the dessert wine and I think it went better with the ice cream in any event.

THE BED
I love the new bedding on Qantas. The mattress pad is super thick and soft and the linen (provided by partner Sheridan) is luxe and the pillows (mix of whites and creams) are definitely a winner! The duvet cover has a lovely cream colour which is different to the dark navy on the prior version. Overall the bedding matches the tones of the broader cabin very well. I have a glass of the Cape Mentelle and drift off to sleep in the clouds as the sunset approaches.

THE PJS AND AMENITY KIT
Qantas supplies PJs and an Amenity Kit in First Class. I have mixed views on the PJs and Amenity Kit. I do love these Martin Grant designed PJs they have grown me since my last Qantas flight. The Navy and black is stylish and has its charm. It is very comfortable too! The first-class amenity kit is not quite at the standard of the leather pouches from Etihad, Emirates or Singapore Airlines… its essentially a pencil case.

However, the contents are pretty useful; there is a a collection of products from Aurora Spa Rituals (ASPAR); a hand cream, lip cream, facial mist (which is my absolutely fave) and face moisturiser along with a Rexona deodorant, some decent socks, earplugs (probably not needed given the noise cancelling headphones) and a dental kit. There is also a new addition; a padded eye mask which may be useful to some passengers.

BREAKFAST
I awake as we approach into LAX and sit up on the bed and gaze at the pitch black skies awaiting for the sunrise. The crew commence the breakfast service and I am torn between my desires for the pancakes on the menu and the need to have a lil’ detox. I yield to my health consciousness and opt for the healthier breakfast.

Poached Eggs with Pearl Barley Kale and Spinach Salad tossed nuts and seeds and pomegranate and yoghurt dressing: These are one of the better eggs I’ve had onboard and if my memory serves me right, it’s the first time I’ve had poached eggs in the sky. The beautiful runny yolk bursts out of the egg white capsule and coats the barley, kale and spinach with its rich gooey goodness. The nuts and seeds provide some nice textural touch and the pomegranate adds a little sweetness.

Botanica Cold Pressed Green Juice with Kale Silverbeet, celery apple a cucumber and Lemon: I pair the breakfast with a lovely glass of green juice which proves refreshing. Oh and I just couldn’t resist another glass of champagne before landing. It’s got fruit in it so it’s like a liquid fruit salad… well kinda!

OVERALL
I definitely enjoyed this flight and for me that’s a sign of an amazing experience – how do you feel when you’ve landed. The service was very attentive and always on the ball. I didn’t have to ask twice for anything. The crew can make all the difference and on this flight, they were especially friendly and nothing was missed. The bed was comfortable and I got a good night’s sleep. The mattress and blanket were one of the better ones in the sky and I especially loved the pillow and the cabin temperature was also spot on (in some airlines it can be like an oven). The suite is showing its age, but on balance if I had to choose an open suite, this is spacious, comfortable, offering decent privacy and a very flexible seat which can be a bed, chair or semi-recline lounge.

The centrepiece of Qantas approach to dining is there is less culinary flair compared to other airline’s First Class dishes, but the produce is carefully sourced and can stand on its own with little culinary effort. This is particularly the case with the Cape Grim Beef and Spanner Crab. That’s not to stay I don’t prefer good plating and culinary art but you can’t go wrong with decent produce.

I have mixed views on the wine list; I’ll take the Comtes over Dom Perignon and most other First champagnes out there (even Cristal) but I would like to see some international wines creep onto the list. Some of the wines on the list are too young and basic. A few more aged wines would be preferable. I also think they shouldn’t be using the David Caon glasses in First, as the long-stemmed glasses are the way to go.

TRANSIT
This flight (QF11) technically goes through to New York, however just to clarify; the QF11 Sydney to Los Angeles is an Airbus A380 flight. The Los Angeles to New York (JFK) leg is also a QF11 flight but is on a different aircraft (Boeing 787 Dreamliner) which ironically is the aircraft which flies from Brisbane to Los Angeles. The transit is not easy; you land in LAX and have to clear Immigration and Customs, collect your bags and transfer them and then clear security before catching the flight to New York.

Even with automated passport gates and express security passes it is a nightmare. The queues are long, you still have to meet with a CBP officer (unlike the automated gates in Australia and the UK) and priority bags don’t seem to work (my bag was almost the last one out). I only had 15 minutes in the Qantas First Lounge in LAX and grabbed a double shot flat white (which I definitely needed it) before racing on board the flight to New York.

LOS ANGELES TO NEW YORK
I won’t go into a detailed review of the flight from LAX to JFK as it was a relatively short flight and I was tired from the inbound flight so spend most the time relaxing. I recommend trying to stay awake for this flight (as your body adjusts better to the jetlag) and the flight is over the US countryside and with the Dreamliner’s extra-large windows it makes for great viewing.

I had a lovely poached chicken salad with a tangy harissa dressing for lunch. The classic scene from the Titanic caught my attention, as Leo & Kate enjoy a sunset rendezvous on the bow of the ship – for life is often best lived with a splash of frivolity. At the end of the flight I was invited to view the cockpit of the Dreamliner – a very special moment! Thanks to one of the flight attendants who has her own Instagram travel blog (you should definitely check it out; here's the Instagram handle @creative_oceans). It was a wonderful experience and actually shows one my favourite things about Qantas; the staff can be amazingly friendly and go the extra distance to make the flight that much more special.
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Old Jun 26, 19, 12:49 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Europe
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Posts: 2,666
Thank you ArrowFlyer for the detailed report, it’s almost like being there with you ! Having to experience LAX at the end of such a journey seems unfair ;-)
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Old Jun 29, 19, 11:43 pm
  #3  
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Sydney
Programs: Qantas Platinum, Hilton Honours Gold
Posts: 79
Originally Posted by Braniff View Post
Thank you ArrowFlyer for the detailed report, it’s almost like being there with you ! Having to experience LAX at the end of such a journey seems unfair ;-)
Aww thanks! Yeah LAX is such a let down; I personally prefer flying into DFW (on QF7 instead); its a much better airport to transit and connect through
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Old Jul 16, 19, 4:28 am
  #4  
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Sydney
Programs: Qantas Platinum, Hilton Honours Gold
Posts: 79
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Here is my review of my third flight of the journey:
Carrier: Japan Airlines
Class: First Class
Depart: New York (JFK)
Arrive: Tokyo (Narita)

The review is below. I did take a fair few photos from the flight and compiled a mini YouTube video dairy of the flight - If you want to check them out you can view them on my blog site –
http://lifeofatravelczar.com/japan-a...york-to-tokyo/
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I arrive at the airport after less than 24 hours in New York. I am a tad jetlagged but manage to get to the airport on time. Today I’m flying on JAL from New York (JFK) to Tokyo (Narita). I don’t spend too much time in the Lounge (which is the Lufthansa Senator’s Lounge) and eagerly get to the boarding gate for my flight.

THE SUITE
Japan Airlines’ 777 has only eight seats First Class seats which makes this product considerably more private than most of the other Oneworld airlines First Class cabins. The JAL First Suites are not fully enclosed but offer a decent level of privacy and on this flight there was only 2 other passengers in the cabin. The carpet is a beautiful dark red and exudes a warm Hollywood style welcome. The shell which encases the Suite is a light cream colour and is in stark contrast to the seat and ottoman which have a soft brown leather exterior. The seat converts into a fully flat bed and has a decent massage functionality.

Overall the suite is suitably comfortable, spacious and has plenty of room for a second dining companion if you’re traveling with someone. The side of the Suite closest to the window has lovely woodgrain finishes and contains some good storage areas and it contains the inflight entertainment controls. There is a beautiful 23-inch TV and some Bose Noise Cancelling headphones to help you enjoy the inflight entertainment. The inflight entertainment control has a small viewfinder to easily navigate the range of entertainment options. I watch The Secret Life of Pets which is one of my fave movies!!

The only efficacy point is the power socket is next to the TV screen which makes it difficult to charge your phone and use it while you’re seated. Standard overhead reading lights are built into the side of the Suite. JAL also provided a voucher to use the Wi-Fi which was useful to stay connected with happenings on the ground. Although it does cut out quite often and isn’t particularly fast

AMENITY KIT AND PYJAMAS
Japan Airlines partnered with Etro for the current amenity kits; the colour scheme and patterns are quite bold and unlike any other First amenity kit in the market. I have to say I prefer the Porsche Amenity Kits which JAL previous provided; but these are some of the better ones in the market as most carriers seem to be downgrading their kit.

The kits contain some perfume, lip balm and lotion. These are all with the Shantung scent and come in a small cloth drawstring bag. There is a dental kit with a mouthwash container toothbrush and toothpaste. There’s a very useful hair brush and set out other practical amenities such as earplugs, eye masks, moisture masks and tissues. JAL do well on the amenity kit front, a second amenity kit is also provided with a special products from Shiseido. The Shiseido kit has hydrating lotion, total revitalizer and cleansing foam. JAL provide some decent pyjamas on this flight. It’s called a Relaxing Outfit (as opposed to a “Tense Outfit”). The pyjamas are designed with the wellness focus with eco-friendly and lower levels of allergens and organic cotton. It’s not a classic or stylish design; and I certainly love the Porsche designed PJs I received on a prior JAL flight, but these are comfortable and soft and aid the sleep onboard.

LUNCH
Shortly after take-off the lunch service commences and I opt for the Japanese set menu.

Champagne: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc (2007) Champagne. This is the same champagne and same vintage which was served on my Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. I was ecstatic to see this onboard as I had heard the Salon was discontinued from all flights (other than those ex-Japan) and I dreaded sipping on anything other than a Blanc de Blanc on this flight (even if the other choice was Cristal). Here are my tasting notes for that flight: “There is expressive citrus, hints of brioche and mild notes of mint on the nose. A beautiful flourish of white peaches, minerality – a wonderful tapestry of lushness, freshness and sensual purity. It’s a dream; the reason it’s such a favourite. It’s got a little hint of floral notes and lemony mint sparkle in the finish – a truly wonderful experience.”

Kozara: The first platter has a delightful medley of dishes; Grilled Flounder Roll, Grilled Lobster with Egg Yolk Vinegar, Japanese Omelette topped with Caviar, Sea-bream with Braised Soy Pulp and Fried Soft Shell Crab marinated in Vinegar Sauce. The key with all these dishes is the quality of the seafood and the preparation. The lobster is rich and tangos well with the tangy rich egg yolk vinegar. The sweet omelette is beautifully pierced by the saline intensity of the caviar. The sea-bream is flaky and delicate and oozes in the unami of the soy pulp. The crunchy soft-shelled crab is blunted gently by the bite of the vinegar and intertwines with the lovely textural splendour of its flaky meat, soft skin and crunchy exterior. The grilled flounder is tender and has a delightful texture to finish off the plate. All around this was a wonderful start to the lunch!

Owan: Japanese Clear Soup with Grilled Sea-bass & Winter Melon. A delicate and well-seasoned soup. The soft sea bass oozes its oils to flavour the soup. The beautiful skin retains a firmness and provides beautiful texture. The sea bass has a tender and retains its gentle touch of natural flavours notwithstanding immersion in the soup. It’s a very hearty experience but with a lightness of flavour.

Mukozuke and Azukebachi: The plate has Kelp-marinated Abalone & Salmon, Foamed Vinegar Sauce “Nube”, and Broiled Eggplant & “Somen” Noodles in Japanese Broth Jelly. The abalone and salmon hit with their natural flavours. The dish doesn’t parlay much seasoning or culinary effort; it’s wonderful produce asserting themselves in the splendour as nature intended. The kelp marinate does show itself with a saline flow; but the salmon and abalone are the real stars. The broth jelly contrasts with the other dish. It’s delicate and soft and the eggplant and noodles add a delicate touch but the dish is intensely crowned with the salmon roe leaves a sensational tingle when it hits the taste bud. I continue watching The Secret life of Pets as the clouds sail past the window and it’s such a beautiful moment. Its a sensory array of experiences; the movie, the clouds, the champagne and the lunch!

Dainomono and Tomewan: The main course arrives and this the Sukiyaki Style Beef Steak with Ginger Koshikari Rice, Miso Soup and Japanese Pickles. The beef is well seasoned and has some gentle flavours in the marinade. The beef is good quality but is more towards medium than the medium-rare I prefer. But the dish does stand on its own. The tender beef displays its natural flavour strongly, I am kinda indifferent towards the pickles, but I do love the miso soup! There’s something oh so lovely about tucking into the beef and enjoying the Chateau Larange will watching the clouds float outside the window.

Chateau Lagrange (2013), Saint Julian, Bordeaux: I switch from the Champagne for the main course. I choose the Chateau Lagrange from Saint Julian in Bordeaux. This 3rd growth cru is a pretty decent wine; I have tasted it before on British Airways and it certainly pairs well with beef dishes. However this is a much younger vintage and so I do proceed with caution. The aroma flows nicely with cherries, cassis, earthy tones and aniseed. On the palate, there are intense red fruit flavours with sweet spice notes which linger nicely. There are some decent tannins which flowy nicely through the mouth, but I would say with a bit of extra age one could this wine being a much better pairing with the beef.

Black Sesame Pudding: I am not a huge dessert fan, but this one did the trick. It was light, creamy and very gentle on the palate.

Royal Blue Tea (Queen of Blue): I pair the dessert with the Queen of Blue – Royal Blue Tea. I had provided a background on this tea in one of prior posts. Here it is for ease of reference. “It is a premium Japanese tea in a wine bottle. It is made from the finest hand-picked tea leaves at Shonan Cha Kobo and is produced one-by-one. These tea leaves are very rare as they are only picked once a year during the summer time. It then takes 3-7 days for them to be soaked and dripped into the bottle.” This is one of the rare times you will catch me tasting a non-alcoholic beverage on board, but this ones a keeper. It does pair well with the pudding. It has a gentle sweetness, soothing smokiness with some notes of subtle fruit make it the perfect sign-off for the set menu.

CAVIAR SERVICE
Having nominated the Japanese Menu, I felt a bit sad as I missed out on the Caviar Service on the Western Menu. I do ask the flight attendants if they could provide me with the caviar service too and they happily oblige. Caviar, Egg Yolk Mascarpone Cheese Cream, Smoked Sturgeon and Potato Blini: The caviar is a dream; with its rich imperial salinity leaving an indelible impression on the palate, its a breathtaking experience. The blinis have a moist fluffy pillowy texture and proves to be a fitting bed for the caviar. The velvety egg yolk cream is a tantalising decadent experience. Its definitely something to remember! I pair the caviar with the Cristal which proves uninspiring, so I eventually switch back to its rightful pairing of the Taittinger Comtes.

THE BED
Eventually I decide to take a nap as the plane jets through the Pacific Ocean enroute to Tokyo. As the cabin is not full (like most of my other flights with JAL), the staff make-up the bed in the Suite next to mine so I could continue enjoying the dinner service and IFE. JAL’s Airweave DUAL MODE bedding hits the spot and have a nap and wake-up feeling pretty refreshed!

PRE-ARRIVAL LUNCH
Japanese Delicacies: Three little tasters of Scallop with Spicy Cod Roe, Seasoned Stem Lettuce and Soy-marinated Enoki Mushroom are brought out to start. These tasters do well to whet the palate with a mix of salinity, unami and flourishing natural seafood flavours. Japanese Set Plate: The dish has Grilled Spanish Mackerel “Saikyo Miso” Flavour, Specially Selected Fermented Soybeans, Steamed Rice, Miso Soup and Japanese Pickles. The succulent oily mackerel has an intense flavour that pairs nicely with the mild smooth sweet notes of the Saikyo Miso. The soybeans are not particularly interesting, and I do love the warm miso soup to unwind. I continue with the Taittinger Comtes as the flight draws to a close and pretty soon, we land in Tokyo (Narita).

TRAVEL VIDEO DIARY
It’s a little hard to show the full extent of the suite, the Bed and all the fine dining in pictures, so I’ve compiled a little video diary of some of the highlights of the flight. Hope you enjoy it.

OVERALL
JAL would have to be one of my favourite First Class products – it’s certainly up there with my experience on Etihad First Class Apartments last year. The hard product may seem standard; but the suite is spacious, the IFE is easy to use and the privacy of a smaller cabin (8 suites), which is rarely full, makes for an enjoyable flight. JAL excels in the food and beverage area; there is a full Japanese menu of quality seafood, caviar service and world class champagnes (Cristal and Taittinger Comtes), decent red wines and the Royal Blue tea. I was a bit sad they had dropped Salon Champagne from their routes outside of Japan but this should not detract from the experience. Their pre-arrival meal was also better than some main dishes I have had on other flights; it is always a culinary showcase on JAL. The second is the amenity kit & pyjamas are better than a lot of the other carriers (indeed some airlines don’t provide these) and most airlines seem to have downgraded their product recently. I am and always have been a huge fan of their Porsche PJs and Amenity Kits and hope they bring them back soon! Finally, the service on JAL is always perfect; I can’t think of an instance when the flight attendant was rude or for that matter forgetting a simple request. It was an extremely enjoyable flight indeed!
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Old Sep 11, 19, 4:43 pm
  #5  
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Sydney
Programs: Qantas Platinum, Hilton Honours Gold
Posts: 79
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Here is my review of my fourth flight of the journey:
Carrier: Japan Airlines
Class: First Class
Depart: Tokyo (Haneda)
Arrive: Paris (CDG)

The review is below. I did take a some lovely photos from the flight and compiled a YouTube video dairy of the flight - If you want to check them out you can view them on my blog site – https://lifeofatravelczar.com/japan-...okyo-to-paris/
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THE LOUNGE
I am off to Paris for the next leg of my journey and to commence my European adventure. I am flying from Haneda to Paris (CDG). I head over to the JAL First Class Lounge. I have reviewed the lounge a few years ago (you can check out the link here) and it hasn’t changed much. It is a lovely spacious lounge with all the amenities you’d expect from JAL. There is an extensive buffet with fine wines, champagnes and spirits and a range of different areas / rooms for a mix of business, leisure and relaxation.

One of my favourite rooms is the champagne and sake room with Riedel glassware to match. There is a collection of aviation mementos and memorabilia in the Gallery Room. The perfect games room for an unwind before the flight. I decide to have a selection of food from the buffet and some champagne before my flight. The views of the tarmac are quite amazing from this lounge. I select the miso soup, pickled vegetables, a selection of pintxos, smoked salmon, sweet omelette, cod roe and scrambled eggs to start the day.

Eventually the boarding call chimes and I’m off to board my flight to Paris!

THE SUITE
Japan Airlines’ 777 has only eight seats First Class seats which makes this product considerably more private than most of the other Oneworld airlines’ First Class cabins. The JAL First Suites are not fully enclosed but offer a decent level of privacy. I reviewed the exact same plane / product on my flight before from New York to Tokyo, so for the specifics on the suite and IFE please refer to that post above.

AMENITY KIT AND PYJAMAS
We are provided the same amenity kit and pyjamas as the prior flight. Here are some snaps of those. You can read the full review of them on the prior post.

LUNCH
Shortly after take-off the lunch service begins. I watch Disney’s Tangled for most of the flight; its such a beautiful fairytale.

The Salon (2007) Cuvee ‘S’ Le Mesnil Blanc De Blancs: JAL serve the best champagne of all the First Class products in the world. Salon is a rare champagne which is made from a premium grand cru chardonnay from selected vintage years. Unfortunately due to the rarity of the champagne and the fact that an insufficient of bottles are produced for all of JAL’s routes, JAL now only offers the champagne on flights ex-Japan.

Here is a brief summary / history of the champagne from when I first tried it a few years ago: “Salon is only produced in years when the harvest is considered to be of sufficient quality for release and even then it is only released for consumption once it has reached full maturity (typically 10+ years). Between 1900 to 2000 only 37 vintages were released by Salon. The first vintage in 1905 was only used by founder, Eugene-Aimé Salon for his friends and special guests at dinner parties. In 1920, under the pressure from his friends in high French society, the founder agreed for the 1911 vintage to be sold to the public. It is a Champagne house shrouded in secrecy with the allure created by its exclusiveness. It has survived two world wars (well almost, Hitler actually stole a number of bottles of the 1928 vintage), a great depression, the transition from the third French republic to the fifth, two champagne wars, a global financial crisis and the technological revolution but its reputation and style remains unchanged. Salon was the first Champagne house to exclusively use Chardonnay (blanc de blanc style) without the customary blending of Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier. All Chardonnay grapes are sourced from the town of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger from the same vineyards (sans one which was sold to Krug) as the first vintage for consistency and quality.”

The aromas are fresh with lovely floral notes, some light pear and toasted brioche which seduce the nasal senses. On the palate a richness of tart citrus, white pepper and nuttiness intertwined in beautiful fresh minerality flow through pierced with the tingle of the bubbles on the tongue. The crisp acidity is assertive but flows effortlessly. This is a symphony of balance and richness which leaves me simply breathless.

Amatoro Pork Rillettes: The rillettes have a smokiness and a creamy flow to kick-off proceedings. There are little “stringy” parts of the pulled pork mixed in the cream to provide a lovely textural sensation on the palette. The crisp bread is a lovely textural contrast to the rillettes and the perfect bed for each mouthful of rillettes. For those of you who may not have tried it before Amatoro pork is in the Shikoku Area in Japan and is premium product within Japan. It was quite a treat to have it onboard.

Unfortunately this is a full flight and JAL only stock two bottles of the Salon which are fully consumed before the next course. While I do sigh with sadness and a little bit of anger at my fellow passengers, I am largely responsible for the depletion of the Salon supplies. However the next champagne is equally good; its the Taittigner Comtes.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc (2007) Champagne: This is the same champagne I had on my flight to Tokyo; so here are my tasting notes: “There is expressive citrus, hints of brioche and mild notes of mint on the nose. A beautiful flourish of white peaches, minerality – a wonderful tapestry of lushness, freshness and sensual purity. It’s a dream; the reason it’s such a favourite. It’s got a little hint of floral notes and lemony mint sparkle in the finish – a truly wonderful experience.”

Caviar with Egg Yolk Cream & Crispy Rice Wafers: The splendour of imperial salinity, the grandeur of its slimy pod like texture and sight of its dark translucent colours is what leaves a lasting imprint on the senses from this dish. The crisp rice crackers are nice, but I do prefer the bilinis which they served on the prior flight. The velvety egg yolk cream is decadent but leaves sufficient room for the star of the dish to shine.

Steamed Abalone and “Imakane” Potato with Abalone liver Sauce: The dish is driven by the distinctive impressionable flavour of abalone. The rich liver sauce reinforces the strength of the main ingredient. The potato provides a nice softness of flavour to balance the abalone as do the beans and other vegetables. The texture of the abalone and beans provide a nice contrast to each other and round out the dish nicely.

Steamed Lobster, Seasonal Seafood & Vegetables: This is a specialty regional Provence dish with some JAL customisations. It’s served in a bag which is emptied gently onto the plate. It’s just light juices of seafood and light oils and seasoning; nothing heavy. The seafood does the dancing and is the star attraction of the dish. The succulent lobster shines with its strong natural flavours, the octopus is equally assertive and there is a light flaky white fish which adds some nice texture. The hearty spring vegetables round out the dish nicely.

Sweet Corn Sorbet and Coffee Gelee: This dish is a textural, temperature and flavour medley; you have the crunchy corn, the delicate creamy corn ice cream, the chilled snowy granita, the crisp corn praline; all imbued with a sweetness to match. Then there is the dark bitter slimey coffee jelly which grips the dish in contrast to the corn elements. It’s quite a dessert.

I pair this with the Queen Royal Blue Tea (which you can see next to the champagne). It has a gentle sweetness, soothing smokiness with some notes of subtle fruit make it the perfect sign-off for the set menu. To finish I have some lovely macaroons from the famous chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin.

THE BED
After that leisurely lunch, I decide to have a nap before we land. I am pretty tired, so I ask the flight attendants to make the bed. On all my prior flights on JAL the cabin has been virtually empty (with only 2 or 3 passengers) so the flight attendants have typically made the bed in the suite next to me (which has its benefits in that you can continue watching the IFE undisturbed). The benefit today is that the bed is next to the window which has some pretty stunning views of the oceans and continents below us.

PRE-ARRIVAL LUNCH
I awaken from my flight to find out that the Taittinger has also run out. I take my blame for the depletion of that fine vintage too. I am offered the Delamotte which is an okay champagne and the lesser cousin of the Salon.

Assorted Japanese Brochettes: The brochettes which are skewers of chicken thigh with ‘Tare” sauce, Chicken breast with Mustard and Omelette with Green Onion are decent and a nice way to start the pre-arrival lunch proceedings.

I think I’m done with the champagne and so I opt to switch to the red wine; Chateau Lagrange (2013), Saint Julian, Bordeaux. I had this on the flight before, so here is my tasting note: “The aroma flows nicely with cherries, cassis, earthy tones and aniseed. On the palate, there are intense red fruit flavours with sweet spice notes which linger nicely. There are some decent tannins which flowy nicely through the mouth, but I would say with a bit of extra age one could this wine being a much better pairing with the beef.”

JAL Original Ramen Noodles in Soy Sauce Soup: The ramen on JAL is the epitome of comfort food; hot broth, full of unami and purely slurpable. And given the other passengers have their noise cancelling headphones on its perfectly okay to slurp.

Thick Omelette Sandwich with Truffle and “Sangeton” Pork Cutlet Sandwich: This dish is a treat; the pork cutlet sandwich is delicious which tender pork and a rustic crusted batter with a smokey BBQ sauce. It hits the spot. The sandwich that is particularly decadent is the omelette with truffles; there’s the silky sweet smooth egg omelette and the shavings of deep earthy black truffles which make for the perfect final dish to sign-off this flight.

Soon after I finish this dish, the flight prepares to land in Paris and the views of the French countryside are so beautiful.

OVERALL
JAL would have to be one of my favourite First Class products and this flight is no exception. There is a consistency of service like no other and there is a culture of being eager to please the customer which is sometimes lost on other premium carriers.

JAL offer one of the best food and beverage onboard; I had the full Japanese menu of quality seafood, from abalone, to lobster and caviar service and world class champagnes, decent red wines and the Royal Blue tea. Their pre-arrival meal was also an absolute stand out; truffle egg sandwiches and premium ramen.

I have to make a special mention of the Salon. This is probably the best champagne in the world and JAL serve it on their flights departing from Japan. It is a testament the approach that JAL take to the food and beverage onboard that they provide such a premium product for its passengers.

The suite is very spacious, the IFE is easy to use and the privacy of a smaller cabin (8 suites) is a plus although on this flight the cabin was full. The amenity kit & pyjamas are better than a lot of the other carriers (indeed some airlines don’t provide these in First Class anymore) and the lounge in Haneda is one of the better lounges out there. It was an amazing flight.
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