JAL (Japan Airlines) First Class Product Review

Well, today was a first of firsts….My first experience in FIRST CLASS. It was all it was cracked up to be but is it really worth 11-13K? I’ll let you decide.

Let’s start with the lounge at Narita. The first class lounge was under construction so while it was less crowded, if I really wanted anything like a shower, massage chairs or to take a nap, I had to go downstairs to the Business class lounge. It was a nuisance but not a deal breaker. One bonus about the first class lounge was the sushi bar (note: only 3 pieces per person at a time) but the fish is so fresh it literally melts in your mouth. Honestly, if you have been to one airport lounge, you have been to them all.

Let’s get to the main event…the flight: JAL #4 from NRT to JFK…FIRST CLASS.

The boarding process: was a joke. And to be honest a bit unorganized. In the beginning, First Class felt almost feels like Senior Business Class. All classes trampled through, no real line-up process. Everyone seemed in a clump, not a line. The boarding process was erratic at best, and the flight was delayed by almost an hour.

At this point I was not impressed, but still willing to give it a shot because the seats were soooooo BIG and comfy. Imagine a super big lounge chair that your grandpa would read the paper in. Seriously, the seat width between armrests was 23 inches, while in bed mode it was 33 inches wide and 78.5 inches long, so my lil 5’3in self was in Heaven.

I’m not gonna lie, one of the MAIN reasons I love the leather seats is because I am afraid of a British Airlines incident. (for those that don’t know, a Business class passenger sat in a seat full of URINE. I have no desire to be soaked in urine and it’s easier to spot, as well as clean leather. AND, I am THAT person with the Wet Ones and Lysol. #nottodaysatan 

Biggest Drawback: THE POWER OUTLET. It’s near the television monitor,(you can see it’s where my little toes can’t even reach), not CLOSER to the passenger as in most aircraft. It’s far enough away that if you are using an iPhone and standard cord, it will not make it back to your seat within a matter of mere centimeters.

Seating was a 1-2-1 configuration, 8 seats total in first class.

Next: Let’s Talk Amenities aka Face Masks, and Toothpaste and BOSE…OH MY

The meal service is what I read most about on the blogs. And the menu was simple, clean lines, like the decor. The service is known as JAL BEDD and after all the hype I couldn’t wait to try the food and of course the champagne.

The ENTIRE menu:

First the drinks…which was just changed March 1, 2019 …so I got to try the current selection.

and trust I tried ALL the champagne…

The Signature Champagne is EVERYTHING…and at a retail value of around $600 a bottle it should be. Light and fruity, and very crisp. It demands your attention. I almost feel as if it should be enjoyed without food, however their food is so delicious, it’s like Sophie’s Choice. #icant

2nd The 2009 Cristal (about$250 per bottle) while good, it really did pale in comparison that i didn’t even write any notes. WOW! Sorry Cristal.

3rd:Comtes De Champagne Welp ($200) …I’m back in the groove. And I must admit I enjoyed this champagne alot, maybe because I was about 4 glasses in but this one had a dry and crisp taste, like new money.

Then there was the food, and of course Lexie decides to make an appearance. She only shows up for the booze and upgrades, but back to the food….and I can’t lie the menu was TOO extensive for me to post, and I was a bit sleepy. I however chose the “Japanese Menu” and have pics of that plus some of the dish


While the entire meal was delicious and filling a few things stand out…the seasoned rice was delightful to my tummy. The caviar with wafer cake melted in my mouth. I loved it. The Steamed Savory Egg Custard was so good, I asked for another…the food was DELICIOUS.

Now I’m sleepy, so I go to the restroom to change into my pajamas, and before I go in the cabin attendant asks if I’d like her to make my bed and if I would prefer “hard or soft”. I chose soft and stepped into the loo. Which was a basic Premium class loo. Tidy with tons of toothpaste and mouthwash. There was one thing that puzzled me:

A Bidet ? On an Airplane? Ummmm…NOPE. I know certain airlines have used them since early 2000 but #Hardpass

A Bidet ? On an Airplane? Ummmm…NOPE. I know certain airlines have used them since early 2000 but #Hardpass

And Now time to get some sleep.

The 12.5 hour ride while long I never went hungry, or thirsty. The attendants were quick to come pour you a glass. The movies were current enough to keep me entertained, however the main attraction was the bed. I have never slept so soundly on a plane.

All in all, a stellar 1st time experience. Only thing is now I want it AGAIN. #aboutthatlife

Budget Travel in your 4o's and Beyond, and it's COMFORTABLE!!!

Wake Me Up, When I’m Famous: let’s be honest, we all like a little luxury now and then, some of us like it a lot more than that. I mean I don’t know when it will happen again but I’d love to take another first class international flight. The goal is Emirates.

Granted, even travel in business is lovely with the flat beds, champagne, and even the comfy jammies, but sometimes we are talking a pricing difference of thousands AND THOUSANDS of Dollars. I mean how can one justify a $12000 ticket versus an $1200 one…but then the champagne:

Qatar Airways Boeimg 777-300ER Business Class Product

Qatar Airways Boeimg 777-300ER Business Class Product

I wondered if I could do it. But I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I mean, a week-long European holiday, WITHOUT having to check a bag and for $850 or less. And that MUST INCLUDE plane ticket. Piece of cake…sigh.

To be honest even IF it could be done, I DIDN’T want to do it. I mean how could I get a week’s worth of clothes in a backpack? What about shoes?

But I did it. And now at the airport with my backpack on as well as three sweaters and two pairs of pants, well because …weight restrictions. #thestruggle

Two destinations were set for the week-long European Adventure. First up Amsterdam for 4 nights/4.5 days. We chose a budget airline as we just needed to get there as inexpensive but as SAFE as possible. We chose Norwegian. (pro tip: when using a NON US Carrier always use the airlines website in THEIR language and LOCAL CURRENCY. Use a Chrome or Safari if you need translation. This can save you anywhere from 25-50$ a ticket). During this time of year the JFK to AMS ticket was super cheap. I scored a one way “crazy ‘$99 Dollars to Europe for Winter” so yeah it was about $115. The flight is a little over 7 hours from NYC to AMS. You leave at midnight, arrive aroun 7am (ET) but it’s actually 1PM Local time, by the time you arrive at hotel it’s check in time, you can refresh and hit the streets. The money we saved on traveling, we made up with food and fun:

The Housing Situation: we stayed in a charming Dutch AirBnB for four nights at the cost of $145 a night / (72.50 pp), and it could realistically sleep FOUR. It was an entire apartment for half the cost of a hotel. Perfection!

Next up, London. We flew again. This time it was an hour long flight on British Airways, for the low, LOW cost of $30!!!! #WINNING! Stayed at an Airbnb that was $130.50 per night (65.25pp) for a decent size studio in a lovely area for three nights, and saw some friends and theater. Plus a little champagne of course:

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Then there was the situation of returning home. It was right before Christmas and NYC so we braced for the worst…which was about $170 via good old Norwegian once more for the win. As well as the Victoria Station bookstore where I picked up my book to read on the plane ride back, however I was so excited I decided to start the night before with a little night cap:

The perfect ending to a perfect trip….

The perfect ending to a perfect trip….

Summation for flights and accommodations :

Airline ticket JFK to AMS: $120. Carry-on ONLY. No more than 10 KG! (I wore a lot of sweaters that trip)

Accommodations in AMS: Airbnb $580/290 pp

AMS to LGW: Flight on BA $30.00

Accommodations in London: Airbnb $391.50/195.75 pp

Airline ticket LGW to JFK: $170. However this time I was allowed 12kg.

Total: $805.75 pp for a WEEK IN EUROPE!!!! It can be done.

BONUS: Nothing needed but a passport if you are an US citizen!!!!







Japan Airlines Economy Class kicks A$$

Flying Japan Airlines has always been on my radar as many rave about the service, the food and the space.

Welp...I had the opportunity to try it out from Bangkok to Tokyo.

And well it was better than most US Carriers version of economy.

In Japan they haven’t jumped on the “basic”, “reg economy” “premium economy” band wagon and it shows in a VERY good way.

The flight time is about 5 hours, and I chose an evening flight in hopes that I could sleep. I sat in 25D an aisle seat. And honestly I’ve sat in Domestic First class US seats with LESS space. I had plenty of room to stretch my legs. Then entertainment system while dated with their tv shows, the movies were current. I was kept quite entertained. AND they serve all booze, all free.

Now the cons and there are many...the way they turned on and off the plane lights was VERY annoying especially on an overnight flight. There was no warning. No gentle...”hey sleeping passenger the lights are coming up” just a BAM ...we have lights. Also they did not collect trash often so my area was littered with empty glasses, but not two many as they only ran the beverage cart through twice.

The plane decor seemed dated. I noticed the business class seats with dark woods just seemed “old” like the plastic on the couch at grandma’s type of old.

And the food was ok. They gave a chocolate croissant and some Japanese snack mix at the start of trip along with a small bottled water.

For dinner was a soupy rice with beef mix, salad, some sort of pudding (that I avoided like the plague) and fresh fruit. Luckily for me I wasn’t very hungry, and we would be landing soon.

So overall I would STILL chose this carrier over a US carrier for all the amenities included that on domestic US international carriers (American, Delta, United etc) you would pay extra for. On a scale of 1-10...I give the experience an 8.

Stay tuned my next post ...as this leg was economy but my Tokyo to NYC is the coveted Japan Airlines First Class. I’ve heard that they don’t have apartments on private suites( like Emirates or Etihad) but the food and drink are supposed to be phenomenal and you best believe I’m gonna have the champagne.

And big apologies ZERO pics of the previous flight. My phone and I were both dead on arrival for that flight. But once I got to NRT I perked up real quick.

Japan Airlines First Class Flex is coming soon.

January the month of Compassion in Travel aka TSA Ain't Makin $h*t so Be NICE

Hello luvs. Happy Tuesday. I know some of you may have been upset as I said I’d post every Monday, however yesterday was a holiday (MLK Jr) , so here were are ….Tuesday.

Yesterday was full of reflection. Various news programs, the internet, and even national newspapers giving him a day of reflection, remembrance and acknowledgment. However I couldn’t spend the day watching the telly as I have to pack for an extended trip to Asia.

In the beginning of the shutdown, I assumed it would last only a few days maybe a week, but never long enough to effect my trip…and now here we are, granted it "could theoretically end before next Monday, but… let’s be real…this standoff is like we (as a country) have never seen.

Luckily, for us the TSA workers are being AMAZING about this whole debacle, where they are NOT being paid but in the words of Dr. King "The time is always right to do what is right.". And they are doing exactly that, MANY are still coming to work every day, and do their job WITHOUT PAY! Some not exactly certain if they will receive any or a percentage of their actual pay. YET they are in the airport working to protect YOU/US/ME the “the traveler/ frequent flier/”. YES the lines are LONG, but according to data released by the TSA on actual wait times last week were still well under an hour with the longest being in MSP and ATL for 41 minutes. And to be honest I’ve waited in longer lines to get into the country when I fly to London via Gatwick . So the lines aren’t THAT long folks. True, about 10% is calls out sick in protest but overall not very long wait time.

However, a little advice JUST BE NICE, but not overly nice. A pleasant hello, and a heart felt “thank you” when you retrieve the last of your items and have completed screening. Is A-OK!

What can be seen as NOT OK! : saying “Thank you so much for doing your job in these unfortunate circumstances” or anything to that effect. Who REALLY wants to be reminded ‘hey you are working without pay. Hope that mortgage thing works out for you” . The people affected by this shutdown are working WITHOUT pay ; and are pawns in a political game of cat and mouse. Let’s be clear…saying thank you means nothing when you can’t pay bills, buy food for your kids, or even a tube of toothpaste. Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and they will soon be missing another one. At then of the day…they like all of us just wants this shutdown to end, and life to return to normalcy.

Qatar Airlines from Economy to Business Class aka Started at the Bottom Now We Here

I’m not lucky, nor am I fortunate. I am a hard and diligent worker who takes chances, and have made sacrifices. I am not rich, or even well off. I am like the minority of Americans. No, not the 1%. The middle class poor…we make just enough to pay our bills and buy a pair of shoes at the end of the month, or maybe splurge for a night out at the movies.

Yet, there are the days when the flight Gods smile upon me, and says UPGRADE!!! One day it will be a first class seat but until then, Qatar Business Class will do nicely…thank you!!!

It has taken a couple years, a few thousand miles and dollars but I’ve done it. I’ve ridden the entire Qatar Airlines Business class international fleet. And it has been glorious.

First how I did it:

When I started the flight game I was a wet behind the ears pup of 37 years old. I had no idea about how points worked, and frequent flier what? Then I joined a FB travel group geared toward black solo travel, another more women centered, another for women 35+, and then another. THEN I lurked, and lurked and lurked some more. Just reading and seeping up the vast amount of knowledge as much as I could.

For my initial flight to Thailand I chose Qatar for three main reasons:

  1. flight time (was the shortest around 19.5 hours)

  2. Cost- the economy ticket was on sale via their website for under $600 (THAT’S STILL a steal)

  3. Even their economy class was touted as part of the Five Star Service so you better believe I tried it out as well.

The Cost:

First, the cost of a International ticket JFK to BKK Business class can run between $9G-10G. That’s right around TEN THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS. Is it worth that much? I can’t justify it in my mind, but I also don’t have THAT kind of money. If I did, I’d still look for a bargain but yeah I’d do it. Besides, business class tickets from the states to Asia are costly. I however need SLEEP. Seriously to lay down.

Is it cheaper to book three economy tickets. YES. But we all know me…so

Two weeks before my flight I got an “OFFER” email. It seems I could bask in the Joys of Qatar’s Five Star Service in their business class for the low low upgrade cost of $1200 for the 12 hour flight from NYC to Doha, and an additional $850 for the Doha to BKK. AND I could use all lounges and services for the entire flight. Qatar Airlines was the ONLY airline that actually let you utilize this privilege. Something they don’t do anymore, FYI.

Well $2150 was a bit too steep for me so I opted for the NYC to Doha portion. I was NOT disappointed. It was everything I thought it would be. It was a 777. The seating is nice and the flatbeds seem to be larger than the American standard business class seats.

My first experience was delightful. Ok it was fruitcaking AMAZING. I had to have more. The food, the amenity kit, the pajamas, and did I mention the food? I spent 12 hours not wanting for a single thing. It was Heaven, and I was spoiled.

From the Q Suites in the 350, to the 777 spacious layout, to the Grandpappy of em all the double-decker 380 with it’s on COCKTAIL LOUNGE. So NOT kidding.

(SLIDESHOW ALERT: and by slideshow it’s eight pics, just click on image to see next one.)

The Q Suites are my favorite as it gives you the ability to be private but also social, and great if traveling in a group/team for work or a family. I love the little privacy door. You can actually shut the world out.

The entertainment system on all flights is the ONYX system. I did not notice a difference in programming between economy and business class, as I have noticed on other carriers. And while award tickets can be a BEAST to book with miles, it can be done for about 70,000 miles, BUT THAT’S A POST FOR ANOTHER DAY.

More and more I find myself flying to Asia and Qatar being my airlines of choice. Maybe I can work out a LOLA special with them. I mean everyone needs to try Qatar Airlines at least once.


Save The Dates- Thailand Dreams Tour- September 22-30, 2018

The trip of a lifetime awaits. You are welcome to do as much or as little as you like but we think you will want to do it all. Ever dream of a vacation with white sand beaches, 5-star accommodations, food glorious food all while getting the workout of your life?

If so Thailand Dreams is for you. You will arrive at the lovely island of Koh Samui, Thailand. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a car and driver who will whisk you off to your deluxe accommodations at the lovely Ammatara Pura Pool Villa . 

The accommodations are worth the trip alone.  The hotel is located directly on the beach where you are just inches from the deep blue warm waters of the ocean. The hotel has a luxurious outdoor pool with bar and restaurant where you can sunbathe, have drinks, or just lounge in one of the mini cabanas...HEAVEN ON EARTH:

The rooms are beautiful and include everything your heart could desire:  HUGE outdoor shower with sunlight peering in, and TRUST total PRIVACY, a ginormous bathtub fit for two, kitchen, washing machine, and more so much more. Did I mention all the rooms have a personal pool? Rooms are billed with double occupancy however single supplements can be arranged.      BONUS: The room also has a twin day bed. So could possibly sleep up to three in a room...which makes your cost even cheaper if you are a party of 3.

This is only the beginning. Koh Samui is a lovely little town that is known for it's Muay Thai training and exercise in general. So yes relaxation is involved but if you also want to drop a few pounds on vacation THIS is the vacation for you. This is where I began my weight loss journey almost three years ago, and I have teamed up with some of Thailand's top fitness professionals and will include: beach walks, hikes through the jungle, yoga, Muay Thai classes, Weights, Strength and Conditioning and MORE. A typical daily schedule:

630 AM: Morning beach walk, jungle hike or view points. Usually 5-10K (3-7 miles)                    9:00 AM: Breakfast provided by the hotel (included in package). This is your vacation. Eat as much or as little as you want just make good decisions. (and of course,we will always answer questions and assist when needed)                                                                                               10:30 Yoga- Get your zen in. We swap between Yin and Vinyasa every other day, so all muscle groups are covered                                                                                                                          12:00 noon: healthy organic lunch consisting of fish of the day/chicken, veggies, fresh juices or smoothie (included)                                                                                                                            1-3:00 PM- free time. Hang out on the beach, get a massage (one thai massage and one sports massage is included)                                                                                                                         3:30-4:30 Time to get physical with Strength and Conditioning                                                  5:00-7:00 PM: Muay Thai with the folks of Lamai Muay Thai. This facility changed my life. They will do the same for you.                                                                                                                          Dinner: your choice. So get out and ty the local cuisine or some of the other great eateries around town. (yes I have faves..and will advise)

Again, this was MY schedule and so far I am down 100 pounds, but you can do as little as you like and if you want even more, we can arrange private classes of Muay Thai, weight training swimming and more.

Best part...all classes and food is available along the main beach road so you don't need a car or motorbike UNLESS you want one. They are available for rental.

Schedule for week is as follows:

Saturday, September 22nd- arrivals. Your day to sleep, hang out on the beach, and if not too tired an excursion to Fisherman's Village for an early dinner.                                                                   Sunday, September 23rd- YOUR day. I will however be taking a group down to a couple of viewpoints and you just have to go to the Sunday Market. You can try every food that Thailand has to offer, pick up gifts and more. A definite must do in Samui.                                                   Monday -Friday: we eat, sleep, train (or maybe a little of everything in between)--*note: Muay Thai Lovers Thursday Night is Fight Night. So if you want to see a real Muay Thai fight this is the time we do it. Van and tickets are under 40 USD and can be purchased from Lamai Muay Thai Camp.    Saturday, September 29th : Excursion of choice...a trip to the elephant sanctuary, snorkeling, temple visits or all of the above. Whatever you want to do this is your day to get it in.               Sunday, September 30th- the end...NOOOOOOOOOOO. I know it will be hard to say goodbye but think of all the fun you've had.

********Pricing depends on how many are interested. I am aiming to keep it between $1500-$2G per person but mainly depends on rooming costs. Flights are NOT included but if you need assistance I can offer suggestions. Especially since you will more than likely need to fly into Bangkok (BKK) then take the hour flight to Samui (USM) via Bangkok Air or Thai Airlines.

Also, you can always stay a while longer. I can assist with finding a place to stay,  excursions, workouts and more. I love Koh Samui, it is like a second home to me. I know the area and people well. Let LOLA help you have the best time ever.

Questions? Please post below in comments section or email ladiesonthelam@gmail.com. In the coming weeks, I will have a page where you can get more info, make a deposit, as I will have payment plans available but trip must be paid in FULL by September 1st.

Since this is the first trip to Asia as a group, size will be limited so act quickly. If you are traveling alone but willing to share a room, there will be a questionnaire in effort to match personalities.

Please note: YOU are responsible for your own health/travel insurance, flights and anthing that is not listed or included. Shoot me a note with questions, and let's get ready to LOLA.

Thailand Dreams 2018

Kit (and Lexie too) because you already KNOW she is coming.

Cheap Fares but at What Cost? Fuel Dumping: Friend or Foe

I just booked a ticket. To Africa...Ghana to be exact. For $328.28. That's right from New York City, NY in America to ACC (Ghana in Africa) for THREE HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS and TWENTY EIGHT CENTS round trip. Sorry for the ALL CAPS but I am super excited about this, the thing that is not so exciting was it's a fuel dump ticket. And well they can be tricky.

I could write it all out and break it down for you myself, but I'll be in honest in the end I would just be taking someone's words as mine as it's pretty hard to explain. I found a great article in the Economist about the process and while it's not for the faint of heart but if you are low on cash and willing to take some chances it's an amazing way to see the world. Please check out the article HERE: and if not here is a direct link as well:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2013/11/fuel-dumping