Trip Report: Japan Airlines (B777-300ER) First ORD-NRT

The Details

  • Flight: JL9
  • Aircraft: B777-300ER
  • Class: First
  • Seat: 2D and 2G
  • Route: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)-Tokyo Narita International (NRT)
  • Distance: 6,269 miles
  • Duration: 12hr 55min
  • Departure: 12:36PM
  • Arrival: 3:00PM

The Preflight

I have to admit I was very excited for this flight. It was going to be the first time that my SO and I would be flying in international first class together. Naturally, we showed up a full three hours before the scheduled boarding time to get a taste of the American Flagship Lounge at Chicago O’Hare.

Check-in was easy and we were escorted to the front to the TSA PreCheck lane by JAL counter staff. We quickly made our way to the Flagship Lounge between the H and K concourses at Terminal 3.

We had a few glasses of champagne while enjoying the amazing apron views from the lounge windows.

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 11:35AM and we made our way to the gate area five minutes early. Unfortunately, there was no dedicated First class boarding lane and the first group to board was “First Class, Business Class, and Oneworld elites”. I felt as if the entire plane was boarding as the line stretched down past three other gates.

Our B777-300ER taking us to Tokyo today, registration JA733J, was delivered to Japan Airlines in June 2005.

The Flight

Japan Airlines features eight seats in the first-class cabin in a 1-2-1 configuration between rows 1-2.

W84 Seatmap

We were seated in the middle two seats of row 2. Since we were travelling together in 2D and 2G we kept the privacy shield between us lowered throughout the flight. Each seat was 33″ wide and pitch was 78.5″. I found the seat itself to be extremely comfortable with an excellent amount of padding.

Each seat featured a massive IFE screen, solid hard wood tray table that slid out, and a nice large ottoman which also doubled as my SOs seat during the meal service.

I appreciated the resolution of the IFE screen and how responsive it was to touch and the remote.

Below the ottoman was a storage area perfect for small carry-ons. In addition there was a dedicated shoe storage space.

In the center armrest was the storage space for the IFE remote. There was also a tiny mirror.

The IFE remote also doubled as a second screen from which I could stream the flight map.

The seat controls offered lumbar support and had a massage function.

There was a separate storage space below the center armrest which also had a phone.

Another seat control interface had three pre-set modes.

The only downside in the seat was that the USB charger and 110V outlet was located next to the IFE screen and out of reach of the seat when fully upright.

Awaiting us at each seat was a shoe bag, Bose headphones, amenity kit, and the gender-specific toiletries.

The amenity kit was well stocked with lotion, eye mask, dental kit, moisture mask, tissues, earplugs, hair comb, and a “gentle steam eye mask”.

The Shiseido Male “skincare essentials kit” had a cleansing foam and cream.

I appreciated the quality of the Bose headphones which was as good as my own pair.

In the two forward lavatories reserved for crew and first class passengers there were toothbrushes, mouthwash, perfume, and skin lotion. The lavatories were kept immaculately clean by the flight attendants. Every time a passenger would exit the lavatory, a flight attendant would go in and tidy it up.

Both first class lavatories also featured bidets which I still do not know how to use…

Upon boarding, the cabin manager and flight attendant trainee escorted us to our seats. We were asked what we’d like to have and I ordered a glass of champagne. Once we got situated, the flight attendant trainee brought us a warm towel and a glass of bubbly. She did warn us that this was not Cristal as that was reserved for the in-flight service.

At each seat was also a nice leather bound binder containing the wine list, menu, Fast Lane pass, Free wifi voucher, and immigration forms.

Once I was comfortably situated, the cabin manager, flight attendant, and trainer came by to introduced themselves to my SO and I with a bow at the end. The cabin was completely full for this flight, and the other six seats were all filled older Japanese or Asian men, presumably all on business. We definitely stuck out as not quiet belonging to this crowd…

After boarding was completed, the cabin manager came over the intercom to announce our flying time. We pushed back exactly on time and had a very short taxi to the runway.

The meal service began with a hot towel.

Warm Towel

The canape was an interesting stinky smoked ham wrapped orange slice and goat cheese filled mushroom.


I had a glass of lovely Cristal with the canape.

A set of butter, salt and pepper, and olive oil was brought out next.


The amuse bouche was sweet corn gazpacho with truffle and popcorn. While the truffle was flavorful, the popcorn was quiet stale.

Sweet Corn Gazpacho with Truffle and Popcorn

Once my amuse bouche was cleared the flight attendant brought out the caviar. It was presented with some rather sad looking potato blinis, two slices of smoked sturgeon, and egg-yolk mascarpone cheese cream. I appreciated that there was a mother of pearl spoon rather than metal spoon.

Caviar, Egg Yolk Mascarpone Cheese Cream, Smoked Sturgeon, Potato Blinis

I enjoyed the caviar immensely, however I felt that a more traditional serving with hard-boiled egg yolk, chives, and sour cream would have been better. The smoked sturgeon was overpowering and the egg-yolk cheese cream was very grainy.

Caviar, Egg Yolk Mascarpone Cheese Cream, Smoked Sturgeon, Potato Blinis

For my main dish I had the marinated balsamic lamb chop with eggplant cannelloni in tapenade butter. It was service with some brussels sprouts, potato, pearl onions, and fried cheese.

Marinated Balsamic Lamb Chop with Eggplant Cannelloni, Green Beans in Tapenade Butter

For dessert we shared the tiramisu with vanilla ice cream which was OK.

Tiramisu with Vanilla Ice Cream

We finished with a large cheese plate to share. JAL also elects not the serve crackers with the cheese plate.

Cheese Plate

The flight attendants also brought out a plate of chocolates.


Once the meal service was completed, I went to the lavatory to change into pajamas. I returned to my seat with it turned down into an extremely welcoming bed. The mattress pad was placed directly on the seat without a cover and there was two additional pillows provided.

Turn down Service

The blanket was extremely heavy but narrow. In addition, the cabin was kept warm and by midway through the flight I was unable to sleep anymore cause I was so sweaty.

Bed mode

Water bottles were handed out and proactively replenished throughout the flight.

Water Bottle

Once I had woken up with about five hours to go, the flight attendant trainee came by to give me a plate of chocolates.


I also ordered a bowel of the JAL Original Healthy ramen. It was very savory and full of umami flavor. I finished the entire bowel.

JAL Original Healthy Ramen

About 90 minutes for landing I ordered some fresh coffee which was served in with a sand timer. The flight attendant instructed me to pour it once the sand had run out. I loved this small gimmick.

Fresh Coffee

For the pre-arrival meal I had the Japanese Delicacies and Japanese set plate. The set plate consisted of freshly made rice, miso soup, some pickled vegetables, egg, and smoked fish. The delicacies consisted of salmon roe, smoked salmon, and pickled octopus. All of them were extremely authentic and delicious.

Japanese Delicacies and Japanese Set Plate

With 60 minutes left into Tokyo, the flight attendants came through the cabin preparing it for landing. All three flight attendants came by and thanked us profusely for choosing to fly with Japan Airlines. They must have bowed three of four times and were all smiles.

The final approach was relatively bumpy given the weather in Tokyo. We touched down on time and within a few minutes arrived at our gate. Thanks for the ride!


In my opinion, JAL provides an extremely friendly and unique first class experience. The service was truly exceptional. On the other hand, the Western food options fell a bit short and the cabin was way too hot. All in all, I’d always pick JAL over any of the US3 to fly me from the continental USA to Asia. Perhaps the catering ex-Tokyo might be better than ex-Chicago. It was an extreme privilege to fly in international First with my significant other on our way to vacationing in Japan!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s