|A JAL Boeing 777-300ER (regiration: JA742J) parked at Terminal 1 Gate 6 on June 4 2012|
|JL005 flight path on June 4 2012 (Source: FlightAware)|
Date: June 4 2012
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2A (First Class)
Scheduled Departure Time: 13:25
Actual Departure Time: 13:36
Scheduled Arrival Time: 16:25+1
Actual Arrival Time: 16:03+1
While I was relaxing at the JAL First Class Lounge at New York JFK, the service manager came visited us and apologized that the boarding time will be slightly delayed for around 5 minutes. He told us he will inform us once again when it is ready for boarding. Not a big deal for me though I was eager to try out the JAL Suite for the first time but I could wait for 5 more minutes :) Finally the service manager once again came inform us that the flight is now ready for boarding. So I waited for everyone to leave the lounge, took some pictures and asked the service manager to take some pictures of me too. How often you get to have the entire First Class lounge for yourself :D
Today's flight is departing from Gate 6, which is the usual gate JAL uses for this flight. It is just a short walk from the lounge. At JFK, JAL uses two lines for priority boarding, one for First Class and oneworld emerald passengers, and the second one for Business Class, oneworld Sapphire and oneworld Ruby passengers. This is slightly different from the process at Los Angeles where JAL finishes boarding the First Class and oneworld Emerald passengers before the other priority passengers. Although I could be a little outdated on the boarding process as I now usually wait till the last minute to board and by the time I arrive at the gate, usually they are boarding the Economy Class passengers and I just walk straight to the front of the line (Yea I don't even want to wait in line with the rest of the priority passengers LOL and there's really no point to board early anyway :P)
However, only L2 is used for boarding. This is the door right behind the mini-cabin in Business Class. So if you wait till the last minute to board at JFK, you might have to wait for a while as the two boarding lines eventually merged into a single line for L2.
|W82 configuration used for today's JL005 flight to Tokyo Narita. Image by Japan Airlines|
Today's flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER with W82 configuration. It was the one with the latest long-haul product at that time, until JAL recently upgraded its long-haul products with the SKY SUITE 777 (SS7) rollout on the Tokyo Narita - London Heathrow route on January 9 2013. The First Class cabin has a total of 8 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. I was able to pre-assign 2A, a window seat on the captain side of the plane.
|JAL Suite seat 2A|
I quickly settled in my seat and started taking pictures. The attentive and proactive cabin attendant (CA) noticed that and offered to help take pictures of me. Little did she know I was trying to take pictures of the seat itself for the trip report, Facebook and twitter updates LOL. But of course I was going to ask the CA to take a picture of me in the seat too. So a big thumbs up for JAL CA to proactively offer help and this continued throughout the flight, even during meal service :)
The rest of the CAs came introduced themselves and offered me newspapers, pajamas, cardigan, etc. As you might have heard, JAL does not offer pre-departure drinks. Historically this is due to the safety regulations in Japan which prevent the Japanese carriers from offering such service so the CAs could focus on pre-departure safety checks. However this regulation has been relaxed in recent years but JAL chose to continue the practice of not offering pre-departure drinks while its main rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) has changed. Personally not a big deal for me and I would rather them focus on safety checks instead of running around with champaign glasses.
After all passengers have boarded, we taxied to runway 4L and had a smooth takeoff. I absolutely love those GE-90 engines. They made the initial climb is so much smoother!
Today's load in first class was 5/8, with only 1 Japanese passenger. This is an unusual foreigner to Japanese ratio, at least compared to my usual LAX route (yea I know because I sat right behind the First Class cabin most of the time). There's a myth/misconception of JAL treats Japanese passengers better. This might be caused by the language barrier but I have never experienced such thing and I only communicated with the CAs in English. Later during this flight (and the flight to Jakarta) the CAs actually did something special just for me and I am not Japanese at all! You will have to wait to find out what they were ;) I just hope the 2 westerners sitting in 2D and 2G didn't just assume I am Japanese and was treated better :P