Carfield
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Posts: 2142
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

StarFlyer's Inaugural Taipei to Kitakyushu (with Fuji Dream brief report) October 2018

Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:25 am

StarFlyer Venturing into International Service – Taipei Taoyuan Inaugural
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StarFlyer is a boutique airline based in the Japanese city of Kitakyushu. It operates a fleet of 12 A320s equipped with only 150 seats in a mono class configuration. Its main route is between Tokyo Haneda and Kitakyushu, but also flies a few trunk routes for ANA, one of its shareholders. It flew between Haneda and Kansai, as well as between Haneda and Yamaguchi Ube, and between Nagoya and Fukuoka. Indeed, you checked in with ANA for those flights. It has tried international flights before, which was a short 50 flights between Kitakyushu and Pusan, South Korea, but that flight did not last long. It has also tried charter work to Hong Kong and Seoul Incheon before. Finally, earlier this year, it announced that it will try international flights again, and Taipei will be its first chosen destination with expansion planned to Hong Kong and Shanghai in the future. Taiwan is a big tourist market, but is fairly saturated with both full service and low-cost airlines. Its original plan calls for three routes: Taipei to Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Kitakyushu. Their latest A320s, JA25MC and JA26MC, are equipped with Sharklets, as well a new cabin with a few updates on the galley, including ovens. They also feature only one over-wing window, instead of two over-wing windows. They are also hiring Chinese speaking flight attendants too. When it finally announced the inaugural dates, I was determined to fly the inaugural flight. I also want to note that Fukuoka is no longer on the plan because of slot issues. The plane basically begins the day in Nagoya with a morning flight to Taipei, and then an early afternoon roundtrip to Kitakyushu and back, and then a late evening flight from Taipei to Nagoya. It is clear that the Nagoya flights target Japanese tourists and the Kitakyushu flights targeting Taiwanese tourists. In the end, I decide on doing the Taipei to Kitakyushu inaugural because it is truly a unique flight and I expect more celebration on this flight linking to its hub. I hope you will enjoy this trip report on this unique boutique airline.

Full Album link: http://s1213.photobucket.com/user/Carfi ... iInaugural
This is a huge album because I include my other flights done during my three days in Japan. If you want to find out more about Fuji Dream Airlines, you can find pictures of the airline including its interior and service items. I will only share a few pictures here but feel free to go through the album.

October 28, 2018; Sunday
7G 800 Taipei to Kitakyushu Lv1135 Arr1435 Airbus A320-200 Sharklet JA25MC

As expected, StarFlyer operates from the older but recently renovated Terminal One. EVA Air is its ground agent, as it actually handles a number of LCCs including Peach and Scoot. Aisle 1 is basically where you check in flying all these airlines. The aisle area was quite busy because Peach was still handling check in for its morning bank to both Osaka Kansai and Okinawa. Later, both Scoot and Peach’s early afternoon flights to Sapporo were also using the counters in this aisle, which result in many confusions. In the end, things are sort out and I was the second passenger checking in.

Outside sign
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Busy Aisle 1
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Meeting before check-in began – two and half hours prior to departure
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A very Chinese cultural thing to celebrate the inaugural – flower bouquets with celebratory cards
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StarFlyer does not offer online check in for now but the line was processed fairly quickly, especially today was the first day. StarFlyer is a boutique airline offering certainly services expected from full-service airlines, such as free seat assignment including exit rows, complimentary food and beverage (more limited than traditional airlines), and free baggage allowance (20-30kg depend on your fares). However, its mileage program is limited to Japanese residents or people with a Japanese address.

I headed to gate B5 after passing immigration and security check, as I wanted to check out the set up.
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Without knowing it, I actually walked into the rehearsal of the inaugural ceremony. I was very impressed because it was not just a run through. All the staffs, executives, and honorary guests actually went through the whole inaugural ceremony.
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Gate B5
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There was no beverage & food buffet like those organized by Singapore Airlines and other US and European Airlines, but there was a formal podium set up. Passengers were taking pictures with various signs promoting the new service. There were many staffs helping passengers snapping pictures.
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Plane not here yet but the fire engines are making sure that they would be shooting water, not foam!
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The first passenger-carrying StarFlyer flight arrived from Nagoya at 10:31am, and there was a water canon salute. Everyone was glued to the windows.
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After the inbound was parked, the ceremony began with MC introducing the President of StarFlyer.

Here is the MC.
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President – Makoto Takahashi
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Representative from the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association
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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
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Lucky Draw – stationary sets as gift
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Black Carpet
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Boarding soon began at 11:18am, and each passenger got a gift bag.
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Purser welcoming passengers – basket of headsets and blankets are available too
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Cabin shot
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Really smart looking seats with generous legroom
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Exit row for the first leg – Row 11 – there was only one over-wing exit on these new deliveries of A320s
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Let took a look at the inaugural gift bag: Model plane, luggage belt and some kind of cloth
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For these new A320s, each seat has both universal power outlets and USB charging ports, as well as adjustable legrests. I have better pictures on the return flight.
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Inside of magazine pocket, there are the in-flight magazine, sanitary bag, and safety card.
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The flight was 100% full and many tour operators blocked seats on this inaugural flight. It was quite a nightmare to buy tickets for these inaugural flights. Despite of the load, everyone was quickly seated. However, we had some delays due to paperwork, as the maintenance staffs were walking back and forth between the cockpit and the jet bridge. For the first flight, it was understandable, and the 50 minutes turnaround time also did not make sense for a new airline flying to a new city. Thankfully it was an inaugural flight and everyone was in the festive mood and folks just took the opportunities to take pictures and post things on social media.

Door was finally closed at 11:57am and we pushed back at 12:05pm. There was a Chinese speaking F/A and all announcements were made in three languages – English, Chinese and Japanese.

We finally took off from R/W5L at 12:27pm. Flying time was an hour forty-five minutes at 35,000 feet. We later descended to 33,000 and then further to 31,000 feet, as we face some major turbulences.
Routing: Jinshan-350-330-310-Nagashima Island-Ueshima Island-Shimibara Bay-Omuta-Dazaifu-Iizuka-Yukuhashi-KKJ

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Leaving the Taiwanese coast
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As I wrote earlier, StarFlyer offers limited but complimentary food and beverages on its new flights to Taipei. I also notes that four different bentos are offered on these four different routes. The bentos will be warmed on the two flights departing from Japan. The return bentos are served chilled.

F/A first rolled out the meal cart and passed out the meal. Each tray came with the bento, the dessert, a menu card (Japanese and Chinese only), and a mini bottled water. For this flight, the first meal tray was passed out at 12:50pm.
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Beverages are served later at 1:10pm, and ironically, the F/As were already collecting the finished food tray at the same time.

Menu for this segment
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The lunch bento featured Chicken teriyaki, salt grilled salmon, Gomoku (five vegetable) rice, Boiled shrimp, pea pod, pumpkin, Burdock, Yam Cake & Egg Omelet, accompanied by a packaged pineapple cake. It was delicious and I cleaned up the tray. It was a nice snack for a two hours flight.

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Chicken teriyaki & salt grilled Salmon
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Gomoku (five vegetable) Rice
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Pineapple cake
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Beverages are complimentary but are limited to the following items:
beer – Asahi & Kirin, “Kibou No Sizuku” apple juice, mineral water, ice & hot green tea, and coffee

Green Tea
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As you have possibly noted, each seat comes with a personal TV, which include mostly Japanese television programs, along with BBC News and a few English documentary. There are no movies, since their flights are quite short. There are also audio programs and they are heavily promoting Mariah Carey’s collection album. I mostly stick with the map channel.

Here is the link to the list of channels:
https://www.starflyer.jp/int_jp/inboard/program/

After lunch – nice winglet shot
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Destination Maps were passed out after meal service.
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Finally seeing land
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Final decent – Kitakyushu Airport
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We landed on R/W18 at 3:12pm.
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We immediately got another water canon salute, as we exited from R/W18.
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I was the last one who left the plane, which was a big mistake, but these shots are worth it.
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We parked at spot 3 four minutes later at 3:16pm. Unfortunately, the other international flight, a Jin Air’s 737 from Pusan landed ahead of us. The small immigration hall could not handle two planes arriving at the same time.
It was a very frustrated arrival experience, as it took an hour to exit from immigration and custom hall. Since some people are known to smuggle gold into Japan from Taiwan, the custom check was pretty thorough. I finally exited at 4:15pm.
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Another welcome party by local Tourism Board
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More gifts
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Famous “corkscrew” chocolate
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Soap
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Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2142
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Part II

Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:26 am

After my delayed arrival, I went to the observation deck to take some pictures, since I still had some times before my bus to town.
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Jin Air’s Boeing 737-800 Winglet back to Pusan
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JA25MC heading back to Taipei
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Goodbye
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Menu for all four flights:
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Nagoya Chubu International Airport to Taipei (top)
Served warmed
Sweet & sour fried pork, rice with basil leaves, Green onion & salt grilled seaweed-marinated chicken, grilled Pike mackerel, Nagoya special puff pastry sandwich filled with red bean paste, and local tea

Taipei to Nagoya (bottom)
Chicken Teriyaki, Rice with mixed mushrooms, seasonal boiled vegetables, boiled prawns, Japanese sweet, and bottled water
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Kitakyushu to Taipei (top)
Served warmed
Grilled Mackerel Pike, Karaage (Fried Chicken), Yam Cake, Broccoli, & Egg Omelet, Steamed rice with mushroom and shredded egg, cheese chicken, fish cake, boiled shrimp, carrot, and okra, accompanied by a mini Black sugar tart and bottled water

Taipei to Kitakyushu (bottom)
Chicken teriyaki, salt grilled salmon, Gomoku (five vegetable) rice, Boiled shrimp, pea pod, pumpkin, Burdock, Yam Cake & Egg Omelet, accompanied by a packaged pineapple cake and bottled water

As I said earlier, I took a few other domestic flights and you are more than welcomed to take a look at the pictures. All the pictures were taken using my new iPhone XS, which were much better than my older iPhone.

October 30, 2018
JH 356 Hanamaki to Nagoya Airfield Lv1630 Arr1755 Embraer EMB-175 JA03FJ “Pink”
Fuji Dream Airlines is another Japanese regional airline that is based in Shizuoka, the city closest to Mount Fuji. It has a major operation in both Nagoya Air Field (former Nagoya International Airport before moving to Chubu) and Shizuoka. I chose Fuji Dream Airlines because it had a flight to Kitakyushu. I wrote about the airline last year, so I did not want to add much, except I like the colored liveries. The service was decent and the transit at Nagoya was simple, despite having to re-clear security.

Beautiful Spring day in Hanamaki
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Hanamaki Airport with mostly regional jets serving this regional city
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J-Air E-170s
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The Japanese is obsessed with this Halloween theme – the FDA’s Halloween Display
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Check in area for FDA
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I love this E-170/175 display at the check in counter
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My ride this afternoon JA02FJ Pink
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Even the baggage trucks spot the Halloween theme
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Cabin shot
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Seat
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Safety card
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List of planes
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Departing
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Staffs all bowed & waved
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Beverage list
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Arrival at Nagoya Airfield
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Observation Deck
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JH 407 Nagoya Airfield to Kitakyushu Lv1840 Arr2000 Embraer EMB-175 JA10FJ “Silver”

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Only ten passengers in total this evening
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Comfortable seat – reclined position
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Candies prior to arrival
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Empty cabin shot on disembarkation
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October 31, 2018
7G 801 Kitakyushu to Taipei Lv1555 Arr1740 Airbus A320-200 Sharklet JA25MC

International Check-in area was located on the other end of the airport. The counters will open two and half hours prior to departure.
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Opened right on time at 1:25pm
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Seat map
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Security will open 90 minutes prior to departure
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The counters were fully manned and the staffs were friendly and polite, as expected. They were still getting used to the system and lots of staffs were learning among themselves. I saw some rep from the reservation system here too.
There was a mandarin speaking lady helping out too.

I spent the next hour and half in observation deck, as well as eating in the restaurant. I waited till the inbound landed before going through security. There was really nothing much after immigration and security.

Another StarFlyer A320 – heading to Haneda
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Note the two over-wing exits
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JA25MC arriving back from Taipei – it landed early this afternoon.
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As I said earlier, the international section of Ktiakyushu Airport was quite small. There are no food outlets at all so please eat before going through security. There is basically a duty-free shop with some vending machines selling drinks.
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There are basically two gates – one for JIN Air (and other LCCs) and one for StarFlyer.

Gate 4 – StarFlyer’s décor
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Gate 5 – LCCs – mostly Jin Air
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The loading for the return flight was pretty light, as expected. I don’t think we had more than thirty passengers, which made boarding super-fast and the service more personable. I even had time to buy some souvenirs from the onboard shop. I could not call it duty free because it did not the typical cosmetic and liquor goods. They mostly sold StarFlyer’s branded goods.

Boarding began at 3:35pm!
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Cabin shot
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Blankets
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I chose a normal seat on this flight – 3A and the legroom was excellent. I basically got the whole row to myself.
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3DEF
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Power outlets for each seat – one universal power outlet and one USB charging port

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Please note the leg-rest too
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Door was closed at 3:46pm – yes eleven minutes to board everyone and manage all paperwork.
With little traffic, we headed to R/W36 and took off at 3:59pm.
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City of Ube
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Yamaguchi-Ube Airport – StarFlyer also flies here!
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Oita
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Description from magazine – they finally updated the description on the November issue of StarFlyer’s magazine
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Flying time was two hours and twenty minutes with a cruising altitude of 36,000feet.
Routing: Kunisaki-OIT-Kitsuki-Oita-Taketa-360-Hitoyoshi-Satsuma-Ichikikushikino-Pengjia Islet-Xinfeng-Yinwu-Dayuan-TPE

The service was similar to the inbound flight, and the meal cart first made its appearance. The tray came with a bento with the smart StarFlyer cover, a bottle of water and a packaged dessert. I was pleasantly surprised that the bento was actually warmed this time. Similar to the inbound, the meal was delicious and the black sugar tart was extremely good too.

Menu
Served warmed
Grilled Mackerel Pike, Karaage (Fried Chicken), Yam Cake, Broccoli, & Egg Omelet, Steamed rice with mushroom and shredded egg, cheese chicken, fish cake, boiled shrimp, carrot, and okra, accompanied by a mini Black sugar tart and bottled water
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I love the StarFlyer’s branding
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Delicious black sugar tart
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Beverage came later and I got a can of Asahi this time.
Asahi Beer
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So here is a detailed description of the seat.
Personal TV – touchscreen enabled
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Coat hook
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Headset plug and another USB charging outlet
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Seat map
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Cabin shot from the back
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Seat pitch was the same in the back too
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11F – exit row – non-reclining but there was a cushion available on demand
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10F
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Trying to show the seat in recline position – very generous – I used Row 2 since someone was sitting behind me.
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Beautiful afternoon
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As I said earlier, I finally managed to buy some StarFlyer’s pen on this flight. The F/As gave me some additional souvenirs.
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Another “Here Now” Destination Guide for Taipei was handed out, after descent had commenced at 4:44pm Taipei local time. Taipei is an hour behind from Kitakyushu.
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The weather was pretty bad in Taipei, as it was raining.
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We landed on R/W5R at 5:29pm. Taxi to gate A7 wasn’t too long and we were parked at 5:36pm.
I cleared immigration using the e-channel and bags came out at 5:48pm.

In conclusion, I am a fan of StarFlyer and its brand as boutique airline. I sincerely hope that they will succeed at these international flights but these light loads will not work in the long term. First week of operation is perhaps the worst indication of how the flights go, but I notice that the Nagoya flights run a bit fuller. Kitakyushu is a bit off the radar for most passengers, except its Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden. They have two major annual events each year and the garden are impressive. I am also a bit irritated about the fact that the inaugural certificate was only available on demand and they never announced it. For an aviation geek, it is a bit frustrated not to have those items. Service wise – given its price, the bento and limited beverage are fine, but they need to change the flow a bit. I think that they need to serve beverage and meal together, and then do a separate tea/coffee run. It will also help if they do an official duty free/inflight shop run. The entertainment program should include some Taiwanese TV materials. Taiwan has plenty of TV programs available and it should be easy to get and inexpensive to do so too. I wish StarFlyer all the best and hope that they will fly to Hong Kong soon. That inaugural will also be high on my list to do.

I hope you all enjoy this trip report!

Carfield
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1838
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: StarFlyer's Inaugural Taipei to Kitakyushu (with Fuji Dream brief report) October 2018

Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:22 am

Looks like a very nice airline!
 
igtrader88
Posts: 51
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:52 am

Re: StarFlyer's Inaugural Taipei to Kitakyushu (with Fuji Dream brief report) October 2018

Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:21 am

Great TR thank you very much! Would try and fly them between HK and Japan if they start operating this route in the future.
 
MHG
Posts: 858
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:33 am

Re: StarFlyer's Inaugural Taipei to Kitakyushu (with Fuji Dream brief report) October 2018

Sun Nov 25, 2018 3:36 pm

I´m quite impressed about Starflyer´s product.
It is not exactly "fancy" but overall sufficient and with some nice details.
Surely there are many so-called full service carriers out there that do not offer anything similar even in business class ...
The overall product reminds me somewhat to economy flying in the 1970´s/80´s with more legroom added and today´s tech features (power sockets and in-seat screen).

Just a question regarding merchandise since you mentioned availlability onboard ...
What kind of branded products were on sale ? Unfortunately Starflyer´s website does not offer any infos on that.
Flying is not inherently dangerous but it is very unforgiving in case of carelessness, incapacity or neglect.
 
Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2142
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: StarFlyer's Inaugural Taipei to Kitakyushu (with Fuji Dream brief report) October 2018

Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:45 pm

Thanks for all your kind comments!

The products that they sold include pens, some towels (a famous Japanese brand), consomme/soup packs (their inflight offering for domestic flights), and some kind of Star Flyer's cookies. They also sell StarFlyer's "Robot" stationary sets. I noticed that many Japanese passengers bought those towels.

Carfield

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