American Airlines First Class Flight 135 New York JFK to Tokyo Haneda – Review
Haneda, more formally referred to as Tokyo International Airport, is conveniently located in Tokyo proper, only 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) from Tokyo Station, the city’s largest rail terminal. So why do people fly to Narita International Airport, the city’s main international airport, and spend up to two hours getting into the city when they can fly into an airport that is much more convenient?
The answer is a bit complicated but boils down to Haneda having been a domestic airport until 2010 and is also a far lesser known airport than Narita.
CHECK-IN AND BOARDING
One recent evening I found myself in Terminal 8 at JFK at the American Airlines Premium Check-in Area, which is almost lounge like with comfy overstuffed chairs, checking into a non-stop flight from New York to Haneda. There was no one on the first-class line (the Premium Check-in Area has separate lines for business- and first-class passengers). I was warmly greeted by name and the check-in process was very quick and efficient.
Usually, the lines at the Priority Access area, which is reserved for business- and first-class passengers and high-level members of the airlines’ frequent-flyer programs, are fairly short but given the early hour (roughly 5 p.m.), there was a bit of a wait.
Soon I was in the Flagship Lounge, a private lounge for American’s first-class passengers traveling to international destinations as well as a few transcontinental locations such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Flagship Lounge is a quiet, calm oasis with an excellent choice of food (starting with breakfast in the morning, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and a late night menu) and drink (a selection of liquors, wines, and champagnes). Since I planned on enjoying the excellent Japanese menu on board the flight, I merely sampled the dishes being served in the lounge and then it was time to board. Our gate was only a few minutes away from the lounge and I was among the last to get on the plane.
American calls its 777 first-class seat a Flagship Suite and it is a designation that is largely justified. My seat, 4G, was in the rear of the Boeing 777-200’s first-class cabin. American has a total of 16 first-class seats, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The Flagship Suite features a comfortable swivel seat that, with the push of a button, becomes a six-foot long fully flat bed. Each suite is designed for maximum privacy and one hardly notices one’s neighbors. My suite had an oversized tray table, a desk alongside it, a reading lamp, several overhead lights (individually controllable), a DC power port, and ample storage space. An ottoman (with its own seatbelt) is suitable for short visits from friends traveling in the same cabin and serves as part of the bed when the seat is in a fully flat position.
On the seat’s armrest was a bright red newly-designed amenity kit, which in addition to the traditional eye shades, socks, and toothbrush contained a ballpoint pen, ear plugs, tissues, and Akhassa skin care products including Kaffir lime body lotion, face moisturizer, and lip balm plus a moist towelette. On the ottoman I found a pillow, duvet, light blanket, slippers, and a separate bag with pajamas.