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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:39 PM   #1
Carfield
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Default StarFlyer's Inaugural Taipei to Kitakyushu (with Fuji Dream brief report) October 18

StarFlyer Venturing into International Service – Taipei Taoyuan Inaugural






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/Ca...aipeiInaugural
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


Busy Aisle 1


Meeting before check-in began – two and half hours prior to departure





A very Chinese cultural thing to celebrate the inaugural – flower bouquets with celebratory cards



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.
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:39 PM   #2
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I headed to gate B5 after passing immigration and security check, as I wanted to check out the set up.


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.


Gate B5







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.




Plane not here yet but the fire engines are making sure that they would be shooting water, not foam!


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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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:40 PM   #3
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After the inbound was parked, the ceremony began with MC introducing the President of StarFlyer.

Here is the MC.


President – Makoto Takahashi


Representative from the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association


Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


Lucky Draw – stationary sets as gift

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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:41 PM   #4
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Black Carpet


Boarding soon began at 11:18am, and each passenger got a gift bag.






Purser welcoming passengers – basket of headsets and blankets are available too


Cabin shot



Really smart looking seats with generous legroom


Exit row for the first leg – Row 11 – there was only one over-wing exit on these new deliveries of A320s



Let took a look at the inaugural gift bag: Model plane, luggage belt and some kind of cloth
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:41 PM   #5
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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.



Inside of magazine pocket, there are the in-flight magazine, sanitary bag, and safety card.



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



Leaving the Taiwanese coast


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.




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


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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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:42 PM   #6
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Chicken teriyaki & salt grilled Salmon


Gomoku (five vegetable) Rice


Pineapple cake


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



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



Destination Maps were passed out after meal service.


Finally seeing land


Final decent – Kitakyushu Airport

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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:42 PM   #7
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We landed on R/W18 at 3:12pm.




We immediately got another water canon salute, as we exited from R/W18.



I was the last one who left the plane, which was a big mistake, but these shots are worth it.



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.


Another welcome party by local Tourism Board


More gifts
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:43 PM   #8
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Famous “corkscrew” chocolate


Soap


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.


Jin Air’s Boeing 737-800 Winglet back to Pusan


JA25MC heading back to Taipei



Goodbye


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


Hanamaki Airport with mostly regional jets serving this regional city
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:44 PM   #9
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J-Air E-170s




The Japanese is obsessed with this Halloween theme – the FDA’s Halloween Display



Check in area for FDA



I love this E-170/175 display at the check in counter


My ride this afternoon JA02FJ Pink




Even the baggage trucks spot the Halloween theme
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:44 PM   #10
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Cabin shot



Seat


Safety card



List of planes


Departing


Staffs all bowed & waved
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:45 PM   #11
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Beverage list







Arrival at Nagoya Airfield


Observation Deck
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:46 PM   #12
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JH 407 Nagoya Airfield to Kitakyushu Lv1840 Arr2000 Embraer EMB-175 JA10FJ “Silver”





Only ten passengers in total this evening







Comfortable seat – reclined position
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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:46 PM   #13
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Candies prior to arrival


Empty cabin shot on disembarkation



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.





Opened right on time at 1:25pm


Seat map


Security will open 90 minutes prior to departure


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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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:47 PM   #14
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Note the two over-wing exits



JA25MC arriving back from Taipei – it landed early this afternoon.








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.


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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Old 23rd November 2018, 12:48 PM   #15
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Gate 5 – LCCs – mostly Jin Air



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!


Cabin shot




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