Father's Day is June 16

I had the privilege to fly first class to Japan. Don't ask me why, let's just say I am a lucky person. Don't judge me, I am only doing this to show how things are being done up there.

Don't we all wonder how the privileged few have luxurious full flat seat, all you can drink/eat, three windows per seat, two bathrooms for 16 passengers, while the rest are literally crammed like chickens in coach? I don't want to sound like an asshole, but once you experience this, it's very difficult to see the reality of the fourth row from the back of the bus.

Here are how things are done for the selected few at the now-bankrupted American Airlines.

Flight from ORD (Chicago) --> NRT.

Seat: It's not that wide, but very very long. Once full flat, one can comfortably sleep as if you are sleeping on a sofa. I say sofa, not bed, because it's still narrow, but totally as comfortable as spending a night at a friend's apartment.


Amenities: each seat is given a comforter, a blanket, and "bed cover" to put on your seat for more plush. Upon request, flight attendants are supposed to "turn down" your seat, but that's just what they say. None of American Airline's mature ladies even talk to you. Actually, the Chicago crews were a lot nicer than the New York crew, which is expected.


Seat operation system: complicated. You don't want to look like an amateur, so you have to figure out how these things work quietly.


Windows: Yeah, there are three windows per seat. Think about the half windows in coach. This was definitely a luxury.


Pajamas:  Pretty comfortable, but it's silly to see everyone in first class wearing the same thing.


Drinks: Abundant. You press the call button, and they bring more booze (as they look at you with the face of, "How are you still drinking?!"). Awesome.


Once the aircraft is up 38,000 feet altitude and cruising speed, the meal starts. Since this is noon departure, this is lunch, I guess.

White table cloth on the table.


Plates, salt and pepper shaker, and butter are served. And yes, this is all real china, not plastic.


First course, grilled shrimp. They are served from a big platter, and they are actually good.


Not chewy, very plump, and flavored with garlic and herbs. Pretty nice.


Entree: Chicken and pureed squash. Not worthy of anything. This tasted how airline food should taste.


I guess Chicago is famous for pretzel bread? The attendant recommended this out of many choices on bread basket, filled with warm ones. And this was very good. It was like eating a softer version of a pretzel.


I don't usually have dessert, but they serve a famous sundae that they make with a bunch of toppings. Here you can see some fruit, nuts, booze to pour on top.


Done with the meal, with one more vodka on the rocks, I slept for about six hours without any disruption from a fellow passenger leaning on my seat or anything. Oh, the Bose noise-cancelling headsets that they provide is very nice. They act as ear plugs, and you don't hear anything.

I was woken up by the scent of the next meal from the galley. Unfortunately, it was extremely disappointing sesame chicken, smeared with a shit load of sesame, and salad.


View from the window.


13 and half hours later, I landed at NRT, then on to next flight from NRT-SYD (Sydney), in row 54, for another 10 hours, back in coach. It was reality, hard fucking reality. At least it was on JAL where the booze was free, and I had enough to be able to sleep and wake up just about when I saw the Opera House from half the window I had access to.

Fast forward my time in Australia and Japan, and to my return flight NRT--> JFK

Flight attendants were so "mature", and they were not "attending", more like "doing me a favor by serving food and drinks". First class was pretty empty on this flight, but during the flight, all the seats were taken up by attendants who were sleeping and actually snoring.

First course: salad with a piece of chicken. Again they were served from a big platter, and everything was fresh and tasted good.


Though I ordered a traditional Japanese meal, they gave me a selection of appetizers from the big platter. Smoked salmon and another shrimp. It's amazing how the seasonings exactly the same no matter which country you board the plane. The photo is dark, but the only difference on the shrimp is the actual quality of shrimp. Japan definitely has better shrimp than the States.


More appetizer cart with fresh vegetable and slice of meat of some kind.


Here is my Japanese menu. So complicated, I lost interest reading and just waited for the food to arrive.


Hassun, Kobachi, and "Western Dish":


Below is the "Western Dish". Good vinegar, crunchy vegetables. Pretty nice. Not so "western", though. They tasted like regular sunomono, or vegetables marinated in vinegar.


Kobachi was also good. But these two tasted pretty much the same since main sauce consisted of vinegar...


Hassun was ok, nothing special. The egg tasted fake.


Satoimo (taro root) had skins on it. I think it had a decorative purpose, but it was kinda inedible.


Main course: soup, fish, more egg, and mochi-esque dish on top left. I think it was potato.


Oh this is crabmeat and lily bulb paste stuff.  It was tasty.


Fish was too soy saucy and fishy.


Japanese meal was good for what it was, but it's pretty disappointing to know it was all made in Japan -- I expected more. I wonder if this is American Airlines standard or general rule of airline food.

In the middle of the flight, they served pumpkin soup.


I think the airline heating system uses some kind of combustive method where hot is EXTREMELY hot, and the cold is EXTREMELY cold. My soup was piping hot, almost lawsuit hot.

Good though. Spiced with curry, and a bit spicy. Comforting, almost welcoming me back to US land.


Now you have better idea how these selected, privileged people eat during a long flight. I wouldn't boast the food situation, but the seat, and sleep-ability is extremely luxurious and you can actually function when you land at your destination since you had a pretty relaxed time during the flight.
Column: ReCPY


  • Did you take any of the plates or silverware for me???

    Kayoko on

  • A great review and some ver nice pix – thank you! I’ve got some international miles on AA’s metal, but I would not call it a lot. My take is that those Senior Mammas mostly don’t give a hoot, becasue they don’t have to. The front end food is not bad, but it is far from exciting. If the Old Mamma paid just a bit more attention, those major (Seriously Messy) plating errors wold not detract from the otherwise fairly good food. As you probably know, most front cabin food is not factory plated, but done in the galley, at least in international fights. The skill and care of the galley FA makes all the difference. One makes allowances for soup slops, but beyond soup, those plates should look a LOT better. If I’ve got one seriously major gripe about ALL international carrier’s front end food, it is about the damn veggies! Again, front end food is usually bulk packed, reheated and plated in the galley. Someone has got to devise a method to offer the veggies a bit less reheating time – or whatever – as they are usually served as seriously overcooked annoyances. It the Senior Mommas gave a twit, that could be avoided. The veggies don’t look that bad when they are loaded onto the airplane! My guess is that AA may have the worst food service of any international carrier, but they are not alone in t heir demerits. All carriers could learn a few (veggie prep-)lessons from a few of the better Asian carriers. They offer proof that it IS possible to serve properly cooked veggies at 40,000 feet – and after 8-10 hours in the air. AA is not fooling anyone and I don’t fly with Momma if it can be avoided – and never, repeat NEVER on a long-haul, international trip. Have I said enough?

    Old Fart on

  • So you went between the US and Australia via Tokyo? How was that booked?

    MPH on

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