Review: Japan Airlines First Class LAX To HND

Review: Japan Airlines First Class LAX To HND

Flight Info

  • Flight Number: JL 15
  • Seat: 1A
  • Aircraft: Boeing 777-300 ER
  • Departure Time: October 11, 2023 1:30 PM
  • Arrival Time: October 12, 2023 5:38 PM
  • Flight Time: 11 hours 54 minutes
  • How I Booked: 70,000 Alaska miles + $18.10 in taxes booked 1 year in advance at calendar open

Check In And Arrival Process

Overall, it was a pretty straightforward check-in process. We arrived ~2.5 hours before our flight so there was no line at the check-in counters for business and first class.

There was a passenger in front of me in the first class line dealing with an issue while there was no line for business class so my brother was able to go right ahead and check in with the counter agent. What surprised me here was that the system showed that he was traveling with a companion (me). Because of this, the agent was able to check both of us in together at the same time wich was really convenient.

The most memorable part of the whole check-in process was that the counter agent gave me a Japan Airlines first class bag tag with my name already written on it. She said this was exclusively for first class passengers and helped put it on my backpack.

Japan Airlines first class passengers receive an exclusive bag tag when checking in
Japan Airlines First Class Bag Tag

One thing I didn’t expect was that the counter agent was able to print First Class lounge access directly on my brother’s ticket since he would be the complimentary guest OneWorld first class passengers get.

However, I was a little disappointed after getting our boarding tickets since I thought Japan Airlines first class would have some maroon or other distinguishing feature like the gold embroidered ticket Singapore Airlines Suites ticket did. But oh well, no big deal.

Japan Airlines First Class Boarding Ticket
Japan Airlines First Class Boarding Ticket

After printing out our boarding passes, the counter agent gave us a little mini map with directions on how to get to the Qantas first class lounge and the OneWorld business class lounge and we were on our way.


We immediately proceeded to the Qantas First Class Lounge and it was great. This lounge is regarded as one of the nicest in the United States and it’s hard to disagree. The overall decor and space were fantastic. Having a dedicated dining area and sitting area really adds to the private feel of the lounge.

I think the thing that I appreciated the most about the lounge was how empty it was. There were at most 20 people in there with us during our stay there and it was so quiet. Being able to just relax in a private space uninterrupted by the busyness LAX is such a luxury.

Japan Airlines first class passengers are eligible to use the Qantas first class lounge at LAX
Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX


About 30 minutes before boarding, we headed over to our dedicated gate and they had already started prepping passengers in group 1 (first class passengers and One World Emerald passengers) for boarding. Overall, it was a very efficient process with Japan Airlines staff directing passengers where and when to line up. The interesting thing was that there was no need to scan the boarding pass. Instead, there was a facial scan that all passengers went through before boarding.

Check in process


I entered near the nose of the plane and was directed left into the first class cabin. Japan Airlines uses 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration for a total of 8 seats in their first class.

Initial view of the Japan Airlines first class seats next to the window 1A and 2A
Japan Airlines First Class seats 1A and 2A

To be honest there just wasn’t much of a WOW factor for me. My first impression of the cabin was that it was definitely on the older side. The dark brown leather seats blend in with the cream colored seat partitions and the walls of the plane resulting in a pretty lackluster impression in terms of aesthetics. But the wood finish of the side storage compartments did help to make the seat color scheme not look so monotonous.

Larger view of the initial setup of the Japan Airlines First Class seat
Japan Airlines First Class Seat

I sat in a window seat on the left side of the plane which offered great views outside but the center seats are special in that they have a privacy partition that can be raised or lowered. This is great for couples traveling together who don’t want to be completely separated from each other. I personally don’t think there is a “bad” seat in first class. But 2A or 2K are good choices for solo travelers since they’re further away from the bathrooms in the front.

The middle seats in Japan Airlines first class have a retractable partition that you can lower or raise
Center Retractable Partition For The Middle Seats

The seat itself feels and looks like a leather recliner and is actually quite roomy. It isn’t as wide as some other First Class seats but I really appreciated how much foot space there is. Even fully extending my legs I couldn’t reach the footrest.

Detailed Look at Japan Airlines First Class Seat
Detailed Look at Japan Airlines First Class Seat

There was lots of storage space since each first class passenger basically gets their own overhead bin. There is also additional space below the footrest where you can stow your bags. I was able to place all my belongings above in the overhead bin and didn’t need to utilize this space.

Japan Airlines First class seats feature a large TV and big foot rest
Japan Airlines First Class TV and Foot Rest

To the left of the seat were the seat control panels. It featured a pretty standard set of options to control your seat position. But the most interesting one was the lumbar support option. I turned it on but it was very subtle. I actually couldn’t tell it was on until I put my hand on the backrest and felt movement lol. There is a guide explaining all of the features of the seat but I basically figured stuff out by just tinkering with it. I thought the footlight option was pretty random and funny. I don’t know why you would actually need a light at your feet but maybe I’m just not imaginative enough.

Controls to adjust seat position and add lumbar support

There is actually another smaller control panel that just auto sets the seat to the 3 main positions. I didn’t really use this panel since I preferred the customizability the first panel allowed. One notable feature about this panel is that once an option is selected, the seat will start automatically adjusting to that level but you can press stop at any time to leave the seat in a certain position.

There is a second control panel in Japan Airlines first class that adjusts the seat position to 3 predetermined states
Separate control panel to adjust seats to preset positions

Waiting at my seat were a cleaning wipe, water bottle, noise canceling headphones, First Class folder, Wifi card, slippers in a bag, and an amenity kit.

When you board Japan Airlines first class, you have noise canceling headphones, cleaning wipe, slippers, and amenity kit waiting for you at your seat
Welcome Items At Seat Upon Boarding

The noise-cancelling headphones were Panasonic brand and actually quite nice. They were really comfy when worn and also did a pretty great job of noise canceling since I didn’t hear the engines or other passengers that much.

Panasonic Noise canceling headphones are provided in Japan Airlines first class
Panasonic Noise Canceling Headphones Case
Panasonic Noise canceling headphones are provided in Japan Airlines first class
Panasonic Noise Canceling Headphones

I thought it was a nice touch how these headphones had the Japan Airlines logo on them.

The seat itself actually features a good amount of storage space as there are 2 main side storage compartments. The first one closest to the seat held the in flight phone and also offered a large stowage area for a bag or other personal items. This compartment is surprisingly deep and can fit a good amount of items in there.

Japan Airlines first class has a large storage compartment and in flight phone next to the seat
In flight phone and large storage compartment

The next compartment housed the TV remote and the lid of the compartment featured a mini vanity mirror. This compartment is much smaller than the first one so you’re better off using the first compartment as the primary storage space.

Japan Airlines first class has a separate compartment with a vanity mirror in the lid and the TV remote control inside
TV Remote Control Holder and Vanity Mirror

Both of these compartments are opened via OPEN buttons that you can push. You can close them by simply pressing down until you hear a clicking noise.

Japan Airlines first class seat has open buttons along the side that will open up the compartments for storage and holding the TV remote
Open buttons to open the compartments

Each seat features two lights with one light on your left and one on the right that you can turn on by twisting the bulb. The side of the seat that has the storage compartments will also be the side with the headphone jack.

Japan Airlines first class seats have two mini seat lights on the left and right that you can turn on
Seat light and headphone jack

There is a charging port available as well but I forgot to take a picture of it, apologies. The charging port compartment is located on one side of the TV at the very front of the seat. You can access it by pushing the OPEN button to lift up the lid revealing the port. It’s your standard international port and I was able to plug my US charger directly into it without needing an adapter.

There is a compartment at the front of Japan Airlines first class seat that holds the charging port
Compartment holding the charging port

In Flight Entertainment

The in flight entertainment is the area that I feel Japan Airlines is most lacking in. The TV in First Class is large, which is great but similar to the rest of the seat, it honestly felt a little old. I’m being nit-picky here but the picture quality didn’t seem that HD to me and the colors were a little bit pale. The TV is also not a touch screen which some people may dislike, but honestly, I thought was fine. The TV is so far away from where you’re seated that it isn’t really practical to reach out and touch it. I found that the remote was much more convenient to use.

Japan Airlines first class has a large TV and a moveable dining table
TV and Moveable Dining Table

As for the the remote, it was unfortunately super outdated as well. You can tell that the software on it is pretty old and I personally felt that it wasn’t very user friendly. My remote was actually set to Japanese by the previous passenger and when I tried to change it back to English, I spent a good 5 minutes fiddling with it before giving up and asking one of the flight attendants to help me. I consider myself decently tech savvy so to me this was just another example of how unintuitive the controls were.

Japan Airlines first class has a retractable TV remote to control the entertainment system
TV Remote

In addition to this, the movie selection felt really limited. They of course have big Hollywood movies like Top Gun Maverick and classics like Inception but I personally felt that every time I wanted to watch something, I had to scroll through a ton of options before finding something that I was interested in enough to watch. This lack of good in flight entertainment options is a common theme amongst Japan Airlines flyers since there’s even a Flyertalk thread dedicated to it lol.

If anything, I was kind of surprised at the lack of recent animes given that this is a Japan based airline. They had some newer ones like Spy x Family and some classics like Detective Conan but those were the only two memorable ones I could remember.

Also, the world map stopped working about halfway through the flight. No matter what I did to refresh, it always showed the plane stuck at the same location over the Pacific Ocean, and the time to destination never changed. It wasn’t a big deal but it was disappointing to not have that info readily available.

Amenity Kit and Pajamas

Japan Airlines first class passengers receive complimentary pajamas consisting of a long sleeve shirt and pants that are handed out after departure. I was kind of let down since I thought they would be more exciting in terms of design. They’re just a plain gray color and I was kind of disappointed that it didn’t say Japan Airlines anywhere except on the clothing tag inside the garment. But overall, they’re decently thick and very comfortable. I appreciated that the pants came with pockets since not all airline pajamas do.

Passengers in Japan Airlines first class receive complimentary pajamas
Japan Airlines First Class Pajamas

Something I noticed is that some of the other first class passengers got their pajamas even before takeoff and had already gotten changed into them. I guess you can ask the flight attendants right at boarding to get your pajamas faster. I tried asking for my set but was politely told to wait until after takeoff. I guess I was too slow in asking haha.

One really nice gesture was how after changing out of my normal clothes, as I was walking back to my seat, one of the flight attendants saw me and offered to hang up my clothes for me. I was genuinely surprised that they offered this level of service since I hadn’t experienced anything like that before on a plane but I was super appreciative of it.

First Class passengers and business class passengers also receive complimentary slippers. These are pretty comfortable with pretty solid padding. They’re actually open toed at the end which I wasn’t expecting. I personally prefer closed toed ones but still thought that these were great slippers. One major difference is that in first class these slippers are found in a gray drawstring bag next to the seat while in business class they’re found in a clear, disposable plastic bag.

Passengers in Japan Airlines first class receive complimentary slippers
Japan Airlines First Class and Business Class Slippers

I found the amenity kits to be very generous and full of great stuff. The main amenity kit comes in a hard shell case by ZERO Halliburton brand and features

  • moisture mask
  • toothbrush
  • earplugs
  • pocket tissues
  • lip balm
  • eye mask
  • comb
  • hand lotion
  • mouthwash
Japan Airlines first class passengers receive an amenity kit featuring a comb, eye mask, lip balm, etc.
Japan Airlines First Class Amenity Kit

There is also a skincare set by Shiseido that is given in a nice little box. This box features

  • Face cleanser
  • Face cream
  • Hydrating lotion
Japan Airlines First class passengers receive a complimentary skincare essentials kit
Japan Airlines Skincare Essentials Kit

Pre Departure

While I was still getting comfortable in my seat, the cabin manager who was dressed in a white uniform that was different from the navy blue one the other flight attendants wore came by to introduce herself and personally greet me.

Afterwards, she asked me if I would like a pre departure drink. There was no option to get alcohol at this time so I opted for the pressed juice which was just a blend of pineapple juice and other citrus and was quite delicious. I appreciated how she also gave me a hot towel when bringing out my drink.

Japan Airlines first class passengers get their choice of a pre departure drink and a hot towel
Pre departure pressed juice and hot towel


First class passengers receive complimentary Wifi which is great. The flight attendants will give you a wifi card that explains how to connect and provides you with a password you enter online. The Wifi speed was good and I had no issues browsing online, checking social media, and texting.

Japan Airlines First class passengers receive a Wifi card explaining the password and hot to connect for free
Complimentary Wifi card

Lunch Service

Japan Airlines is known for their stellar catering and they definitely didn’t disappoint on this front. The food onboard was FANTASTIC. I felt that the courses were well paced and the presentation was stellar. Each course was aesthetically pleasing and tasted just as good as it looked.

The food and beverage menus are found inside a very nice folder that has the Japan Airlines first class logo imprinted on the cover. I opted for the Japanese menu, which I highly recommend as it offers some really interesting flavors and dishes that you won’t get from other airlines.

Japan Airlines First Class passengers receive a folder containing the food and beverage menus and customs forms
Japan Airlines First Class Folder

At about 1 hour into the flight, the meal service will begin with a flight attendant coming to set your table for you. The ledge in front of the TV is actually your dining table and when it’s time for the meal, a flight attendant will help you bring this table towards you. Once the table is moved towards the middle of the seat, the flight attendant will lay a brown tablecloth over it. From there, you can adjust whether you want the table closer to your seat or further away by sliding it.

The neat thing about this table is that when it’s in the middle, you can actually use the footrest as another seat to enjoy a meal with a companion.

To start, I got a glass of Billecart Salmon-Cuvée Nicolas Francois 2008 champagne and was served smoked salmon on a blini with some cheese. Japan Airlines is known for serving Salon 2013 champagne which retails at $1000+ per bottle but unfortunately, that is reserved for flights departing from Japan only.

Japan Airlines First class passengers who picked the Japanese menu start off with a smoked salmon appetizer and their choice of drink
Champagne and Smoked Salmon Appetizer

Next was the Japanese Kozara or “small plates”. The presentation here was beautiful. It consists of 5 small dishes with different dishes arranged in a half moon orientation.

Japan Airlines First class passengers who pick the Japanese menu receive a course of 5 small plates featuring different Japanese flavors
Kozara “small plates” course

I apologize I didn’t get a better picture from the top. But from left to right, the dishes were

  • simmered chicken meatball with miso sauce
  • mushrooms dressed with tofu sauce chestnut
  • grilled cod roe and jellied soba noodles
  • steamed savory egg custard with salmon roe
  • eggplant with miso sauce and simmered prawn

I really enjoyed the soba and the egg custard.

After this was a Japanese clear soup with some vegetables. It was very hearty and a nice switch up from the richness of the previous dishes.

Japan Airlines first class passengers receive a course featuring Japanese clear soup with vegetables
Japanese Clear Soup With Vegetables

At this point, I had finished my glass of champagne and my flight attendant asked if I would like some sake to pair with the next fish course. My answer was an easy yes.

The next set of dishes were the kelp-marinated sea bream, seared soy-marinated tuna, with sweet potato, and then seared vinagered mackerel with broiled eggplant.

Japan Airlines first class passengers who picked the Japanese menu will receive a tuna and mackerel course
Tuna and Mackerel Course

As a sushi lover, I found these dishes to be excellent.

The main flight attendant serving me was great at asking if I needed anything or wanted more drinks throughout the meal. She also made some small talk asking where I was going in Japan and for how long. She even asked if I was interested in trying the sake she recommended. I gladly accepted and actually really enjoyed her recommendation. The sake was mildly sweet but very flavorful and it paired very nicely with the fish.

Finally, we got to the main course of beef roll with celery, deep fried pumpkin, white leek, and bok choy.

Japan Airlines first class passengers who picked the Japanese menu will receive a main course of beef rolls with celery and vegetables
Main course of beef rolls with celery and vegetables

I really enjoyed the rice and prawns. The beef was good too but I wasn’t blown away by it and I actually enjoyed the fish dishes more.

After clearing this course, I was asked if I would like some caviar. This was surprising to me since I’ve always been served caviar first before the other courses. Regardless, the caviar course was great as well. This was the first time I’ve seen pureed salmon served with it but it was a nice complement to the caviar and sour cream.

Japan Airlines first class passengers can order caviar
Japan Airlines First Class Caviar Service

Finally, for dessert, I was served a grapefruit jelly which my flight attendant explained was a dessert from Kyoto. It had a strong grapefruit flavor but wasn’t overly sweet. There was also a little bread cake that was slightly sweet and pretty tasty.

Japan Airlines first class passengers who pick the Japanese menu will receive a grapefruit jelly dess=ert
Grapefruit Jelly Dessert

After this, the flight attendants came around one last time with a basket full of snacks asking if passengers would like anything. I ended up taking the dried seafood which ended up being really good.

Japan Airlines first class passengers can receive various snacks including a dried seafood snack
Dried Seafood Snack

To close things out, I tried Japan Airline’s signature drink “Skytime” which is a non alcoholic beverage with peach and grape flavors. It’s really sweet but quite refreshing. I would recommend at least trying it to see if you like it.

Japan Airlines has a signature non alcoholic drink called Skytime that features peach and grape flavors
Japan Airlines Signature Skytime Drink


There are 2 bathrooms located in the front of the plane. The bathrooms are nothing special, which I’ve come to expect when flying anything other than an Airbus A380. There are toothbrushes, mouthwash, hand towels, and various lotions. I thought the mouthwash cups having the Japan Airlines logo was really cute lol.

Japan Airlines First Class bathroom with mouthwash cups and hand towels
Japan Airlines First Class bathroom with mouthwash cups and hand towels
Japan Airlines first class bathroom features toothbrushes, lotions, and mouthwash
Toothbrushes, lotions, and mouthwash

However, the coolest thing about these toilets is that they have a bidet!

Japan Airlines first class bathrooms have a bidet
Japan Airlines Bathroom Bidet


Since the cabin was only half full with 4 passengers all seated with an unoccupied seat next to us, the flight attendant offered to make the empty seat next to me into my bed. So now I had a bed and seat to myself which was super nice. It felt like a mini suite in a way.

Japan Airlines seats are full lie flat and can be converted to a bed
Japan Airlines First Class Bed

I’d read beforehand that there’s the option of a firm or soft mattress pad but I never got that option. I actually don’t know which mattress pad they ended up using for me but I thought it was decently comfortable. It definitely wasn’t as soft as I expected it to be but was still quite plush nonetheless.

Japan Airlines beds are very wide and spacious
Spacious and wide bed

Unfortunately, the cabin was really hot and I found it hard to sleep. That coupled with some pretty bad turbulence we were having and the loud engine from the 777-300 made it difficult to get quality sleep. I think I dozed off for only 30 minutes before waking up and going back to my seat.

I will say that having a separate bed and seat is really great. I alternated between the bed and seat at least 4 times haha. Normally after setting your bed up for you to sleep, you will have your bed for the rest of the flight but can always request to have it converted back into the seat.

Anytime Menu

One of the biggest surprises to me on this flight was that there was no official second meal. I expected some sort of refreshment service but the only full meal service we had was immediately after departure.

However, there is an anytime menu that passengers can order from. I ended up ordering the steamed rice with spicy cod roe and the Japan Airline’s special healthy ramen. Whenever you order food, a flight attendant will come and set your table for you again which is a really nice touch. I apologize for the dark photos, the whole cabin was dimmed so it was hard to get a good picture.

Japan Airlines first class anytime menu item of steamed rice with spicy cod roe in Japanese dashi broth
Steamed rice with spicy cod roe in Japanese dashi broth

I thought the spicy cod roe was just ok but I surprisingly really enjoyed the healthy ramen and would recommend that.

Japan Airline's healthy ramen noodle
Japan Airlines healthy ramen noodle

I also ordered the Royal Blue Tea Japan Airlines is known for. It’s served chilled in a wine glass and was terrific. I highly recommend trying it even for those who aren’t big tea drinkers.

Japan Airlines has a special royal blue tea that can be ordered
Japan Airlines Royal Blue Tea

Landing In Tokyo

At about 1.5 hours from landing, we were served some fruits and our choice of drink.

Before landing in Tokyo, Japan Airlines first class passengers were served a fruit plate
Fruit Platter Served Before Landing

For my drink, I got a cappuccino and it was fine but I thought the little hourglass timer was super cute lol. I also did not expect the cup to have Japan Airlines first class logo on it, so that’s a welcome surprise.

Japan Airlines cappuccino with hourglass timer
Cappuccino with hourglass timer

After cleaning up the meal, a flight attendant came by with a catalog asking if we would like to make any in flight shopping purchases. I didn’t quite catch what she was saying but I do recall her mentioning that these were items only first class passengers were eligible to purchase. If I had to guess, the catalog was for bottles of alcohol that are hard to come by in Japan. There’s actually a flyertalk thread dedicated to it.

Inside the first class folder that holds the menu are also the customs declarations form as well as an in flight shopping catalog.

The inside of the Japan Airlines first class folder holds the food and drink menus, customs declarations form, and shopping catalog.
Inside of Japan Airlines First Class Folder

When we were about to land in Tokyo, each of the flight attendants in first class came by to thank me for flying Japan Airlines which was a super nice gesture. What really blew me away though was when the cabin manager came by and gave me a handwritten postcard thanking me for choosing Japan Airlines and wishing me a great time in Japan. The postcard was super sweet and they even gave me a bag of souvenirs as well.

At the end of the Japan Airlines first class flight I received a handwritten postcard and a souvenir bag from the flight attendant
Handwritten Postcard and Souvenir Bag

The bag of souvenirs was my favorite though. Inside was a model plane, a Japan Airlines tag, and a Japan Airlines pen. Just look at how awesome this miniature model of a Japan Airlines A350-900 is!

In the souvenir bag given to Japan Airlines first class passengers was a model Japan Airlines A350-900 plane, Japan Airlines pen, and Japan Airlines tag
Model Plane and Tag

Overall Service

Japan as a country is known for its hospitality and politeness and I experienced that first hand on this flight. The service was terrific with all of the flight attendants being extremely attentive and polite. I could really feel their desire to provide passengers with the best experience possible.

The service really shone in their attention to detail and in the little things. I was really impressed when I nonchalantly scratched my arm and the flight attendant asked if I was cold and wanted anything. That quality of service and attentiveness is something that few airlines consistently provide and really makes for an enjoyable experience. This level of service was consistent throughout the flight as another flight attendant readily offered to fold my pajamas and pack them for me when we were close to landing.

The service was top notch with attendants being very quick to come whenever service was requested and just being friendly when engaging in small talk or explaining what dishes were to me.

However, I did feel there was a little bit of a language barrier since there were times the flight attendant was trying to explain something to me and occasionally had a little bit of difficulty doing so. It didn’t detract at all from the experience and was an extremely minor thing but it was something that I noticed. Obviously, this depends very heavily on the crew who is working your flight and may not happen for other flights. I think that for my flight, the flight attendants working first class were geared toward Japanese passengers since we were flying into Tokyo. I lean towards this explanation because I noticed that the rest of the first class passengers were all Japanese.

From start to finish, I really felt the warm Japanese hospitality that the country is known for from all of the attendants. Their constant smiles, and bowing at every exchange was a great way to get a first taste of Japanese culture and hospitality.


Japan Airlines first class is a superb product. The biggest downsides are the limited in flight entertainment options and outdated hard product, although both of these are soon subject to change with their new Airbus A350-1000 first class. There were a few smaller issues like how warm the cabin was and how loud the engine of the 777-300 was but those were minor in the grand scheme of things.

Overall, where the hard product is lacking, the soft product more than makes up for it. The food, hospitality, service, and general experience were all top notch. It made for an extremely pleasant flight that didn’t even feel like 11+ hours. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again if the opportunity arose.

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