When my JAL flight had to be re-booked on AA metal due to weather in Chicago, I was more than a bit upset. Instead of experiencing the JAL SKY SUITE, I was rerouted on one of American’s older 777s from Dallas to Tokyo. Don’t worry though, I got to experience the JAL SKY SUITE (perhaps my favorite business class of any airline) on the way back home.
This is part one of a four part trip report from my travels to Japan:
- American Airlines First Class Dallas (DFW) – Tokyo (NRT) on a 777-200
- Hyatt Regency Tokyo
- Hilton Tokyo
- JAL SKY SUITE Business Class Tokyo (NRT) – New York (JFK) on a 777-300ER
Now, I knew what I was in for and was fully aware that this was not going to be one of AA’s new 777-300ERs that look pretty awesome. Business isn’t even lie-flat on the older 777s for the 13 hour and 25 minute flight, which is why I used an additional 12,500 miles to upgrade to First where I could have a fully flat bed.
The flight started out nice enough with the decent Flagship Suite, new amenity kit, generous bedding package (mattress pad, duvet, additional blanket and 2 pillows), Bose headset, and AA PJs.
I knew there was only DC power (even in First), so I immediately asked for one of the converters before they were all given away as there are a limited number per flight.
Now, the most disappointing part of the flight came just a few minutes in when my TV failed to turn on. I knew it was bad when the remote had no power at all even when they reset my seat. With 13+ hours to go, I was told that TV was broken. Additionally, there were 2 open seats in First on the left side in the 1-2-1 configuration, but those were for the pilots. The purser and flight attendant told me they could not put the pilots in a “middle seat with aisle access” like the one I had. My flight attendant didn’t seem that concerned by this and told me not to worry, my food was coming out soon and to sit back and enjoy! Wow… PS look how small that TV screen is for First
Luckily the New American is Arriving…
About the purser and flight attendants, both men in their upper 50s / early 60s, definitely not in-tune with the “New American”. The purser took his time coming over to me, but eventually found his way and told me that they might have a back-up tablet that I could use. In the end, I think I was actually lucky. The TVs (even in first) are tiny, extremely fuzzy (no LCD or wide-screen here…the screen is made up of multiple boxes), and while there is on-demand, it was limited to only 5 new releases, 3 comedies, and 4 TV shows (I checked my seatmates when he was walking around), shockingly poor for a “Flagship” product.
Meanwhile, they did find me a Samsung Tablet which plugged into my DC power outlet and was loaded with a ton more content. I first made sure that all the new releases on my neighbor’s screen were available on the tablet. Not only were they there, but so were about 20 other new releases and 30 other movies. There was also a large TV show selection and eBook library. The tablet was larger, wide-screen, and much clearer than the standard TVs. I even liked that I could position it in different places depending on whether I was eating, reclining, or fully flat. The only thing missing was the moving map which was projected on the TVs in the front of the cabin, just one row in front of me for about half the flight. When they were switched off, I was lucky in that my neighbor turned his TV toward me and had it tuned to the map.
Note the map visible on my neighbors TV…
Food Service: Pretty good actually including dinner, snack, and lunch….
In between dinner service and lunch (8+ hours) there was really no one to be found in the first class cabin. I was starving and saw that business class had a basket of snacks but we did not. I finally found a flight attendant who told me that once she was finished putting on her makeup and fixing a few things, she’d put out a basket as well. 45 minutes later we finally had the same snacks as the business cabin (note her makeup bag and coke in the second picture):
Since there was no one to be found for drink service and waters weren’t placed out, I took it upon myself to grab a full bottle of seltzer and brought it back to my seat:
When one did return I ordered the chicken snack:
Lunch – UNO’s pizza…
Oh and that turn-down service (with a reminder even to ask for it listed on the dessert menu – see the picture above) is like pulling teeth. When I asked for assistance with the bed, I was shown how to recline the seat and the mattress pad was sort of tossed up on it as the seat was reclining. They then “explained to me” how to complete making the bed…certainly no Emirates/Cathay/Singapore service here. These guys were not about to turn-down the bed…which actually happened to be quite comfy – big pillow and thick duvet.
I did reach out to American after the flight to share my feedback and lack of disappointment on spending the extra miles for First (apparently the flight attendants filed a report as well…see message below). I was initially credited 10,000 miles but then I responded back that the difference between business and first was actually 12,500 each way or 25K for the trip. I was granted an additional 5,000 miles or 15K in total. I think that’s more than fair considering I lucked out that there was a tablet on board that I was able to use.
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