First Class on JAL from Hokkaido's Shin Chitose Airport to Tokyo's Haneda Airport comes with champagne and Tempur pillows

First Class on Japan Airlines from Hokkaido to Tokyo

Lunch on JAL’s domestic First Class from Hokkaido to Tokyo
was certainly way better than many meals I’ve had in
Business Class on international flights of other airlines…. 
Today I flew First Class on Japan Airlines from Sapporo’s New Chitose International Airport to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, living a #Travelife. 
This is a 90-minute domestic flight and as you know, most domestic flights anywhere in the world are basically no frills flights, even in business class. 

The JAL First Class experience is completely different, however, so I’ve decided to describe it here. Not every flight merits a blog entry — and if I did one for every trip this would be a never-ending blog simply about flights — but this JAL flight on First Class from Sapporo to Tokyo Haneda certainly does.

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I was actually booked on business class from Sapporo to Tokyo and not on First Class. After all, it’s quite a crazy concept — at least to me — to pay such a premium for First Class for a flight under two hours.
But when I got to New Chitose International Airport, after driving for about 80 minutes from the hot springs town of Jozankei, which is just past Sapporo — and thankfully I was not at the wheel but at the back of the van catching up on blogs and emails — I was in such a good mood after a very nice long weekend in Hokkaido with the Travelife Magazine team
So I decided to upgrade from business class to First Class on JAL by paying the extra surcharge.
The lounge for First Class for JAL passengers
at Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport

It’s not always possible to upgrade by paying extra at the check-in counter because sometimes the flights are completely full.

In fact, a couple of trips to Hokkaido ago, the Travel Companion and I were booked on business class from Haneda Tokyo to Sapporo when I happened to mention to him that we might be able to upgrade to First Class by paying extra at the check-in counter.

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When the Travel Companion found out how much it would cost to upgrade to First from Business, he was suddenly in a very gallant mood — well, he always is, actually, and nicely so — and he’d said to me then: “I’ll treat you to First Class.

It wasn’t a big amount to do the upgrade, but it sure was nice to hear those words from him.

So we were all set for First Class but unfortunately the plane wasn’t. It was completely full on that flight and so we were stuck in business class, which isn’t exactly bad either. But First Class does make a difference.


Since then, I sometimes upgrade to First Class when there is space on the flight and when I feel like paying extra. It’s very tempting to do so as of course it’s a way more comfortable flight experience.

But it also depends on how I feel and whether I’ve spent a lot on shopping at Sapporo airport, I suppose, as you can certainly drop a small fortune buying hairy crabs, horse oil cosmetics and boxes of egg tarts.

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This time, I’d already decided to upgrade in advance because of my good mood, and because I’d bought this very large artwork that just wouldn’t fit in my suitcase.

I just knew my artwork would never fit into the overhead compartment of business class either, and I’d probably get complaints from the other passengers for using up one entire overhead rack to myself.


I would certainly have had trouble finding space for my art work even in business class on a domestic flight, whereas in First Class, the stewardess just took the package off me and stuck it in the clothes closet with a smile.

All I had to do was settle into my pretty comfortable seat with a Tempur pillow, and continue living a #Travelife…

For that, and for the delicious Japanese o-bento box lunch they served complete with champagne and all kinds of beverages, the upgrade costs were certainly worth it — even for a 90-minute flight.

JAL’s First Class served a very decent champagne.
This is a photo of their Japanese-made strawberry sparkling wine.
First time to try it and it was so good that it merited a photo.


The First Class chair is something else as well, as it’s spacious and ever so comfortable, even compared to business class. The stewardesses even give you Tempur pillows for your neck.

And then when I reached Haneda Airport, on time as almost always, as this is Japan, I simply jumped into a waiting car and I was home in 20 minutes via the new underground toll road that cuts across from the airport straight to the center of town, as always living a #Travelife.

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