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First Class - Japan Airlines - Haneda to London - "Champagne Cavier Skies"

First Class - Japan Airlines - Haneda to London - "Champagne Cavier Skies"

Old May 9, 20, 5:21 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: UK
Programs: BA Gold
Posts: 20
First Class - Japan Airlines - Haneda to London - "Champagne Cavier Skies"

I have ticked many things off my aeronautics bucket list since I started my "flying career"! It suddenly became apparent that my Avios balance was enough for a one way ticket in First Class.


These points had taken me over 4 years to accrue, with a myriad of cards and loyalty point schemes.
Out of all the airlines in the OneWorld Alliance (where my points were valid), I had already tried British Airways’ First class offering a few times. Qantas in First would be a hassle (given I am UK based). Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines seemed the best options.



I thoroughly researched the ins and outs of each airline’s First Class product.
While Cathay were known to offer only one of either Krug or Comte de Taittinger (might have changed now). JAL at the time served three vintage champagnes at once (Lanson Noble 2002, Cristal 2009, Salon 2007). This won me over and next I knew I was trying to figure out how on Earth I was going to get to HND in the first place, cheaply, to get to fly JAL in First back to London.




I scoured the internet and found a one way fair for under roughly £700 from Athens to Guangzhou, China on Saudia Airlines (review pending). (I could fly London to Athens cheaply with BA, using Avios.) I could then use Avios to book Guangzhou-HongKong-Seoul on Cathay Pacific. After this I would fly to Jeju, to Kumamoto then on to HND to begin my JAL First experience back to London.



On the day of my flight to London I started with an exploration of the JAL First lounge. I was particularly enthusiastic to see the “Red Suite”, which overall is a gallery of sorts, featuring books and aerospace artifacts. It also houses a games room, complimentary Shoe-Shine and the Champagne and Sake Bar (I did indeed get my boots shined!) One of the best things about Asia is it's love of massage chairs. This lounge had a massage chair room with 5 full body mechanic masseues on hand. I mixed myself a Kir Royale then spent a good 30 mins enjoying one of these beauties!


Red Suite - JAL Sakura First Lounge

I left for the plane, a 777-300, and was greeted warmly by the crew, who offered me a pre-departure champagne, even though I was quite late. The seats were wide brown soft leather with a private cocoon like feeling, and I spent the next 15 mins during taxi pondering my food selection from the extensive menu, that featured Caviar and Western and Japanese items. The Amenity kit was incredibly extensive and featured some items from the very high end Shiseido brand.



What ensued after takeoff was not necessarily the original intention, but I ended up having a 10+ course meal, 2 servings of Caviar and trying all 3 of the fabulous vintage Champagnes. (The cheapest Champagne was the Lanson 02 (RRP ~£80) and I found this more appealing than the more famous Cristal 09 (RRP ~£200)) The crew were only too happy to indulge my requests on this flight and were keen to converse in the galley and show me around the plane in a very genuine manner.



I had a nap for 3-4 hours, then had a few more treats and Champagne before landing. At the time of writing this review, the COVID crisis has halted most air travel. Prices for JAL First HND to LHR may therefore be very different from past and future prices. But, right now the over the time max and min price of a return ticket is between £8,137 and £21,171. My costs on this redemption were £107! The cheapest ticket you will find at this time is £22,171 for a ticket in JAL First to London. Quite the bargain!


Last edited by ConcordeLuvr; May 9, 20 at 5:43 am
ConcordeLuvr is offline  
Old May 14, 20, 8:06 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Toronto, Canada
Programs: Aeroplan Airmiles AMEX-MR Alaska Airlines
Posts: 541
Funny that your vid popped up on my YT today.
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Old May 15, 20, 9:24 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Programs: UA 1K MM, AC 50K MM, Marriott Lifetime Titanium
Posts: 271
Can't beat the champagne selection!

Great trip report. Very good use of your points... if only for the champagne and caviar! The Cristal Champagne is waay over-rated. Never tried Salon but would love to. I'd agree that Lanson vintage would be excellent. Thanks for sharing the experience.
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Old May 31, 20, 10:36 am
  #4  
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: UK
Programs: BA Gold
Posts: 20
Thanks for your comments guys!

Going backwards, I wanted to review Tokyo and share my experiences there. The format is in a top ten list, in no particular order.


1. Capsule Hotel
This was a fabulously cheap and a great experience. I stayed in two different hostels, one had private showers, one did not! One had luggage lockers and one did not! So, my experience definitely varied. I would definitely use this style of hostel again, it felt private in the cocoon of the capsule.


Capsule Interior

Capsules

2. Festivals
The Japanese really seem to enjoy displaying many parts of their historical culture, there always seems to be parades/festivals going on throughout the year. On arrival in Shinjuku, while lugging my suitcase on foot to find my hotel, it was a pleasant surprise to be halted by a parade of people in traditional outfits, chanting through the street. This was for the end of Autumn Parade

Shinjuku end of Autumn Festival

Shinjuku end of Autumn Festival

3. Meiju Jingu
This Shinto Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken, is a real retreat back to nature in the middle of the bustle of Tokyo. There were many placards to read to learn about the history of the place and the walkways and grounds were expansive and totally at contrast to the liveliness of the surrounding urban areas. I also picked up a gorgeous kagura mask in the gift store!

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu

4. Tempura
Battered fried goods…hmm…often lambasted as not being so good for you. Simply, there is just a lot less caloric guilt attached to a Pumpkin Tempura or an Okra Tempura – So I definitely indulged accordingly. My favourite tempura on the trip was at a supermarket food court: sweet potato tempura. Divine!

Massive wad of sweet potato that has been Tempura'd!

Okra, Pumpkin, Eggplant Tempura

5. Lunchbox
The Japanese love a well presented lunchbox. The shocking part of this, I found, was that many of the best lunchboxes I saw were in small dingy shops on train platforms and stations.


From a train platform shop

Shinjuku Isetan 'Depachika'

6. Sweet Snacks
Getting to explore the Asian sweet tooth, through the Japanese mouth was a real joy. The flavours can be very subtle yet deep. The Sweet potato or Sesame latte for example, so different to what we get in the west and in my opinion totally divine. I really developed a love for all things red bean (savoury only!), matcha and hojicha (roasted green tea).

Takeshita Street

Shinjuku Isetan 'Depachika' - High quality sweets

Sweet potato

Fresh roasted Sweet potato in the local supermarket!

7. Sesame Café
Truly I have developed a love for Sesame. I will be going back to this café each time I visit Tokyo, that’s for sure – A huge selection of treats – It felt like I was in an adult version of a kids candy store. The subtlety yet intensity of flavour of a sesame ice cream topped with sesame oil is something almost spiritual in sensation!

Sesame Friend Ice Cream

Sesame Ice Cream and Sesame Latte

8. Chidorigafuchi Boats
Sadly, on the two times I have been to Tokyo I arrived on a Monday, when the boats are not available. This lake looks absolutely stunning and I can only imagine how fun boating on it would be.

Chidorigafuchi Boating Lake

Chidorigafuchi Boating Lake

9. Shinkjansen
Getting the weekly discounted foreigner pass, for the Shinkansen, was very cheap for what you were getting. In business class it seemed most of the time rather empty. I traversed the whole of south Japan down to Kagoshima using the pass, and this is something I would love to do again.

Business Class

Business Class

10. Travel out of Japan
There are so many great places to see in Japan, I was fortunate enough to go to a few Volcano’s, Ryokans (traditional Japanese style hotel) and see some incredible spots of nature and culture. Tokyo really does not compare to the deeper Japanese experience in terms of culture and feel.


Mount Aso Trek

Takachiho Gorge

Nara Park Osaka
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Old Jun 2, 20, 9:44 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 54
I have flown JL First Class twice, and both times i have thoroughly enjoyed it both times. I fly regularly JL business class to Japan for work, and their service is flawless.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:22 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 151
Thanks for sharing! Love the pics..especially the bento boxes! Japan is indeed a great place to visit.
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