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- Just Booked: Tokyo and Osaka, Japan in April for Cherry Blossoms
- Tokyo: Cherry Blossoms, Microbars, Amazing Food, Views, & Wanderings
- Osaka: Bullet Train, Food, Nightlife, Aquarium, & Wanderings
- Hotel Review: Hilton Tokyo Shinjuku
Back in January, American released a whole bunch of First and Business Class award seats on routes to Asia. It was pre-devaluation, and I was starting to think of ways to burn some AA miles before the late March deadline. Awards to Asia in particular went up quite a bit.
It reminded me a lot of when I booked Lufthansa First Class to Frankfurt for Oktoberfest before the United devaluation – similar timing and concept.
I saw routes were open from Dallas (where my new condo is) to Tokyo – a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Dates were open in early April – prime cherry blossom time!
Even more serendipitously, I had to be in Texas around that time anyway for a week-long work meeting.
Of course, booking flights to catch the cherry blossoms is always a bit of a crapshoot. But, I’m happy to report, we arrived just in time to see the beautiful blooms.
This flight was an excellent pre-cursor to a lovely stay at the the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku.
I’ve been meaning to post about it for a while, so let’s hop to it.
Grabbing the space
We flew over in First Class – not because we wanted to. In fact, I was hoping to snag a Business Class seat, and then change over to the JAL DFW-NRT flight instead of this one, because American lets you change flights as long as the dates & routes stay the same.
But, “unfortunately,” only First Class seats were available. I know, wah-wah, right?
I tried to convince a couple of AAgents to let me switch to the JAL Business Class seat – on the basis that 3 cabins aren’t offered so it’s essentially the same – but they weren’t having it.
In the end, my desire to visit Japan far outweighed whatever seat I’d be flying there on. So I left good enough alone – but the flight ended up being surprisingly pleasant, especially for an old product.
This old bird has held up nicely.
The seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration. And the two seats in the middle have a partition between them.
If you’ve traveling as a pair, you can put the partition down. The seats swivel at the touch of a button to face one another. And you can fold out the tray to dine together. I thought that was a sweet touch. <3
In fact, you have to swivel the seat to make it into a lie-flat bed.
The single seats would be a great option for solo travelers. If I had to pick one, I’d pick one near the middle or back because the ones near the front are really close to the galley and bathrooms, so you’d probably get a lot of light, noise, and traffic – not the best for a long trans-Pacific flight.
Speaking of which, the flight was about 13 hours altogether.
American does offer a turn-down service for the seats. But I ended up making up the bed myself.
Note you can also lower the armrest nearest the aisle so the bed isn’t so confining.
About the footrest/jump seat
You can see in the pic above where it comes to an angle right at the end. To turn the seat into a bed, you swivel your seat to line up with the footrest, then the seat fills in the gap. Your feet go into that corner that’s formed.
If you’re short, it’s not a worry. But taller peeps might have to squeeze in a more tightly – or try a side fetal position to sleep comfortably.
It didn’t bother me, but it’s something to note.
As a jump seat, it’s so cute. You can fold down the tray in the middle to dine with your seat mate. Or you can both swivel your seats toward each other. I liked how there were a couple of options to interact with your companion built into the seat design – it was super charming.
We got a great gaggle of FAs on this route.
Long-haul flights tend to get the older, “career” flight attendants in my experience. They came around often to refill water bottles, pick up trays, and generally make themselves available.
In the past, I’ve felt like the FAs go to the back for hours on end – forcing you to push the call button if you want anything. I guess some crews prefer that, but I like when they walk by so you can wave them over.
This crew was also super personable and easy to talk to. FAs can add a lot to a flight – and this was a case where that was especially true. It made up quite a bit for the age of the plane.
Right when we took our seats, they began with warm service right away with a beverage.
Soon after, they distributed menus, amenity kits, Bose headphones, and pajamas.
The Cole Haan amenity kit contained mouthwash, a pen, dental kit, socks, eyeshade, tissues, and hand sanitizer.
It also had a trio of 3Lab products: lip, hand, and face moisturizer. They were very nice products. I used them all on the flight over – definitely a nice touch.
Forgive the obnoxious bathroom selfie, but I wanted to show the PJs they handed out. They were black with blue trim. It’s always nice to get out of blue jeans/button-ups before you sleep in your seat-bed.
I’ve also lounged about in this getup a time or two since the flight.
- Link: AA DFW-NRT food menus
We swiveled in our seats to get ready for lunch. Can you tell I really loved this feature? 😉
And here are some pics of the meals.
I ordered the Japanese meal choices. With a glass of sake, of course.
The starter was huge! As far as quality, it was delicious. Much better than what I expecting.
The main tray featured arctic char and a beef filet, along with veggies and a miso soup. The char was very good – not the best ever, but solid – and they did a good job keeping the beef tender. The sides were excellent.
I liked the starter more than the main tray, but between the two, there were a lot of choices to graze from.
By the time dessert came around, I was stuffed.
But the shortbread with berries was light. And the Bailey’s “nightcap” was great to sip as I fired up the IFE.
(I watched “Room” with Brie Larson, which was pretty good. I watched it mostly because she got the Best Actress Oscar for her role earlier this year.)
After they picked up the last tray, they brought out chocolates, which was a nice touch.
They kept the food coming. There was a snack, a light meal before landing, and packaged items available in the gallery throughout the flight.
Eggs are hard to get right on a plane. The omelette was one of the more decent ones I’ve had in the air.
But the fruit parfait stole the show. I ate every bite. I was still stuffed by the time we landed in Tokyo, which was enough to hold me over through customs and the long train ride from Narita to Shinjuku.
I paid 62,500 American Airlines miles each way to fly to Tokyo and back in First Class (plus ~$45).
Now, you’ll pay 80,000 American Airlines miles each way from the mainland US for this flight. So I saved 35,000 miles by booking early.
Considering paid rates are easily $8,000+ each way, that’s a heck of a deal to fly to Japan in relative comfort.
Long west-bounds flights are difficult no matter how you slice it. The fact that they served an omelette at 4pm local time as you’re waking up from a “night’s sleep” is a testament to that.
Yes, the seat was old. But it’s well-designed.
Sure, the IFE system could use an update. And power and USB outlets would be nice instead of the cigarette outlet thingies that need a converter.
But all told, the service was friendly, the food was better than expected, and I found the seat features to be especially conducive to traveling with a mate.
I was able to sleep for a few hours at a stretch in the lie-flat seats, which definitely helped ease the exhaustion upon landing.
And overall, I’m happy with how the flight turned out.
If you’ve flown this route or similar, how did your experience compare? Did you notice anything different (updated/better/etc.) here? Would love to hear how this product and service have held up over time!* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!
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