#FirstWorldProblem: Go for a new experience, or fly an airline you already know is great?

I’m facing a bit of a dilemma, which, admittedly, is as insignificant as can be. Then again with all the problems going on in the world this whole hobby can seem insignificant, but that won’t stop me from asking a question.

Next year I have a one-way ticket booked to Thailand and am now working on a return. I want to use my American miles, and I’m facing an issue where I just can’t make up my mind.

I plan on flying first class, and have two options:

Option 1:
Cathay Pacific 702 Bangkok to Hong Kong departing at 6:40PM and arriving at 10:35PM
Cathay Pacific 872 Hong Kong to San Francisco departing at 12:30AM and arriving at 10:00PM (-1 day)

Option 2:
Japan Airlines 708 Bangkok to Tokyo departing at 8:10AM and arriving at 4:25PM
Japan Airlines 62 Tokyo to Los Angeles departing at 5:25PM and arriving at 11:25AM

Option one is in first class on both segments. I’ve flown Cathay Pacific in first class many times before (trip reports here, here, here, here, here, and here) and they’re spectacular. I prefer the departure time because I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, and I appreciate that the transpacific flight is longer so I can get some real sleep.

Option two is in regional business class from Bangkok to Tokyo, which is a flight of over five hours. Then the flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles is operated by Japan Airlines’ new first class product. I’ve flown their old first class and wasn’t terribly impressed, though I’ve heard great things about their new first class. At the same time I don’t see why I should take an early morning flight and fly regional business class for over five hours when I can do first class the whole way. But it would be a new experience…

What would you do?

Filed Under: Awards, Cathay Pacific
  1. Well, from the point of view of someone who enjoys reading your impressions of new airline experiences, I vote for JAL!

    But I agree with you that an early start (although will you be jetlagged and up early anyway?) and regional business class is less than awesome.

    Is there a mileage burning differential between the two? (One would hope so!) And what’s the relative lounge situation from your perspective?

  2. I would fly JAL. It seems that part of your job is to experience and report on new and interesting things. I know I would be more interested in hearing your opinion on JAL than yet another report from you on Cathay.

  3. Agree with all the above… for the love of the blog would love to read about JAL. But if it were me I’d be on CX in a heartbeat

  4. CX, since their times work better. You can work on a trip that works better schedule wise to take the JAL first class product.

  5. I as well would like to read more about JAL’s F Class. I plan on redeeming NRT-JFK for my mom so would like to read more about it.

  6. Old faithful CX. (especailly since they MAY be discontinuing F all together in the future). I’m sure you’ll have another opportunity to fly JAL’s new F product.

  7. I’m in agreement with the above also. I it were me, I might ask, ‘What’s the purpose of the trip?’

    If it’s purely pleasure, then CX all the way, if it’s to broaden your experience, improve your knowledge and possibly change your opinion of a previous (singe) experience on JAL, then perhaps it’s a gamble worth taking!

    Either way, I’m sure the trip report will be entertaining.

  8. Only CX. Look at your risk/reward scenarios and realize that you have no significant upside if JAL new service is good. Save JAL for next trip when you don’t have to do layovers.

  9. As others before me said: since your new “job” is to report on new products, you should take the new JL First product and take plenty of pictures! As for me, I would personally do CX, because I’ve only done it once (R/T) and was highly impressed, while my once on JL was less-than-impressive. So, a) I’m still thirsty for CX (you’re not), and b) you have a duty (kidding!) to show us the new JL First. šŸ˜‰

  10. I would take the Cathy, but you as a travel blogger, you should take Japan Airlines as it will provide a better story.

  11. Cathay. You’ve also done a lot of SQ reports, but your bad experience made the last JFK-FRA one very interesting. Sooner or later you’re going to have a bade experience on CX (well, hopefully not ;)) and I think that would make an interesting report.

    Isn’t that terrible?

  12. I would also take option #1. The 2nd option has a very tight layover. You need to go back through security at NRT, plus with the long walk from the gate, you run a high risk of missing your flight.

  13. I’d go with JL for the new experience myself, having flown (and loved) CX F a lot recently. JL new F looks really nice, and if you like Japanese food it’s guaranteed to be fantastic. Also, JL F award space is usually a lot more difficult to find than CX F, so the opportunity might not come up again.

  14. Ha! You’re asking your blog readers this question? The problem with asking your blog readers the question is that there are two very clear answers depending upon whose interests you’re looking out for. If you’re looking out for your own interests, take CX. If you’re looking out for your blog readers who have seen very few JL F TRs, then by all means take JL. šŸ˜‰

  15. CX for the better departure time and familiarity with the product. I don’t see any reason to travel 5 hours in regional business class in order to then enjoy F on JAL.

  16. Cathay. Is that even a question? Who the heck wants to get up for an early 8:10am when there’s a far superior option (product and schedule-wise) in the evening?

  17. Ben, an even better option take the Emirates A380 flt from BKK to HKG. It’s only $400 in bus. and less than $600 in first. It will give you a chance to try Emirates on the A380. Then continue on to the U.S. on a Cathay flt using an award ticket. I’m doing exactly that in Dec.

  18. View it as a sacrifice for your business…take JL F. Frankly, any trips on cx f is mostly a luxury, not business any more, as you seem experienced in their offering.

  19. If you consider this blog an effort in true journalism and a showcase of your deep knowledge of the air market for potential ticket-booking clients, this is easy, take the flight you’ve never done before.

  20. The JL connection is way too tight…. you also don’t get to visit and blog about their lounges. Are there any other options that work? What about JAL to LHR, ground transfer and then LGW to tampa?

  21. Unless CX is offering a new version of their first class, go with JL. To be honest, there are some airlines I wouldn’t mind seeing you not doing for a while, unless it’s a new type of seat (the recent new SQ business class you tried) or a seat you’ve never done before (ie, first class in British Airway, or the full suites in SQ or EK)…even if you don’t make the lounge, it’d be interesting to compare the new JL seat to the old one. Also, if I remember correctly, you weren’t as impressed with the FA service as you were with ANA…

  22. JL all the way. It’s always fine to try new things. And it’s not that you will have to feed the engines with carbon in a hot room, it’s business anyway.
    The only thing I would worry about is the tight connection in Tokyo

  23. do JL! I purposely flew them to NRT rather than NH, solely because there were less reviews and a difficult award to book with state of the art seats. I hope that I can do a direct comparison with the two Japanese heavyweights on the last leg of my RTW, NRT-MUC.
    I just filed a TR on FT on my JL flight last week.

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