Just the thought of flying trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific exhausts me!  Los Angeles to Kuala Lampur (affectionately known as “KL”), New York-Cairo.  The most prominent competitive edge for any airline is service and cabin comfort.

Japan Airlines (JAL) recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of their Los Angeles to Tokyo service.  Cabin service is, of course, important, but you also have to get up and walk around.  I can handle a tourist class seat for three hours.  On my flight from Los Angeles via Tokyo to “KL” with Malaysian Airlines, I crawled out of the plane at Tokyo and begged for an opening in business or first class.  I was willing to pay the difference.  It didn’t happen.

JAL has a 4-class service with tourist, business and first, but on the new 777-300ER aircraft on US routes to Asia they have first, executive and Premium Economy Class seats along with Economy class.  The four class cabin features 8 JAL Suites in lst class, 77 JAL Shell Flat NEO’s in Executive class and 46 JAL Sky Shell Seats – the world’s first shell type seating in the premium economy class.

Oh, to occupy a lst class JAL suite!  It’s 20% larger than the old JAL Skysleeper Solo Central seats, upholstered in pale grey leather with 5″ wide, thickly padded armrest.  In the upright position, there’s an ottoman on which to raise your feet.  Should you be travelling with someone else, and travel in a pair of suites, you can raise or lower privacy partitions located between them.  Enjoy Bose noise cancelling headphones and a 19-inch personal TV screen with movies, music or video games using JAL”s audio-visual on demand entertainment system.

Many moons ago I flew first class to London on Pan Am’s first grand 747 with dinner “upstairs” on a real table with 3 other passengers, linen tablecloth, china service and silver tableware  We were served “real” food.  Today the food seems to be made of plastic and tastes weird.

Now, on long hauls, you can order what you want when you want it in first class.  There are many airlines with menus and choices – vegetable, Kosher, meatless, etc.

On my last trip from Los Angeles to Honolulu I sat at the very front of the plane, in a middle seat.  I fell asleep having taken a connecting flight to Los Angeles earlier.  On awakening I found that my head had rested on the shoulder of a rigid Japanese gentleman who had braved my heavy head for hours.  I thanked him in Japanese.  He grunted, “Ah ha!”  And so ended my sleep.  We’ve come a long ‘way, baby.