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A short hop from KIX to HND on 7G

A short hop from KIX to HND on 7G

Old Jan 31, 11, 5:07 am
  #1  
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A short hop from KIX to HND on 7G

StarFlyer (SFJ) is a Japanese domestic carrier based in Kitakyushu (KKJ), Fukuoka. They have two routes; KKJ-HND and KIX-HND. Although they are nominally a low-cost carrier, their prices are not substantially lower than the legacy carriers; in addition, they codeshare with ANA. As a result, a better description of StarFlyer would be "boutique airline."

I recently had the opportunity to fly with them from Osaka to Tokyo, and as they are not usually reviewed here on FT, I thought I'd post my first trip report about SFJ.

KIX-HND on 7G22/NH3822 operated by StarFlyer
Departure: 12:00 (actual 12:10)
Arrival: 13:10 (actual 13:15)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Seat: 22D




KIX makes an appearance on FT now and again, but it's really an underrated--and underused--airport. Even the domestic side of the terminal has a very open feel despite having so few flights compared to HND. The restaurant and shopping options are plentiful and access is good, though far from central Osaka. (As I was in Kobe I took the UKB-KIX high speed ferry which connects both airports in about 30 minutes.)

With my status with NH I was able to use the domestic Signet lounge. I didn't take photos as it's nothing to write home about, but it does have drink dispensers, a beer dispenser, chilled glasses, Japanese magazines and newspapers, and a smoking room. NH's domestic lounges are of generally low quality, even compared to the infamous American lounges, but such is life.

As I was enjoying a beer while reading the Nikkei, an announcement was made that the flight would be delayed due to the aircraft's late arrival. This announcement was made once or twice before an actual boarding time was given, at which point everyone in the left for Gate 21, 20 meters from the lounge.



SFJ uses four A320-200s for all their services painted in a rather stylish black and white color scheme. There was priority boarding for those needing assistance, and then general boarding began about 10 minutes late.



The flight was full, but on this short, 1-hour flight many of the passengers were businessmen and few people had much carry-on luggage. As a result, boarding only took about 7-8 minutes. Earphones were handed out by a male flight attendant at the door.



Legroom was quite good -- I was able to cross my legs without a major issue, something impossible on NH's domestic 767s and 744s. Each seat also has a coat hook and elastic band, which I was cautioned to use to keep my jacket from flying off during takeoff.



One of SFJ's most distinguishing characteristics is its onboard service. There are seat-back IFEs with over 20 looped audio and video channels; power outlets beneath each seat; and footrests. All this on a one hour flight! This compares favorably with NH and JL who have nothing like this in economy, even on their long HND-OKA and HND-CTS routes.

The seat-back monitors are used for the safety video. SFJ just updated their safety program this month, and it is superb. (Can you imagine saying that about an airline safety video?) It's not on the internet yet, but I'll give you a hint: think ninja.



Another distinguishing part of the SFJ experience is that they have not cut back their free drink service. In fact, they recently added soup! Compared to NH's domestic offering of water or green tea, SFJ offers Tully's Coffee, peach tea, green tea, and Tropicana orange juice. A small square of chocolate (pictured) comes along with the coffee. As I saw the flight attendants making a note after serving each passenger, I assume that there was only one serving per person.

The flight itself was mundane -- a bit of turbulence en route made the drink service a bit rushed, but otherwise no complaints. I noticed that many announcements were prerecorded, ostensibly to cut costs and to deal with the language barrier (several SFJ pilots are non-Japanese).



We landed at HND on time, but ended up parked at a remote stand and bussed to the terminal. I was a bit preoccupied and was not paying attention, but instead of arriving at Terminal 1 (used for SFJ departures and shared with JL), the bus took us to Terminal 2 (used mostly by NH).

On a related note, a problem some people have with SFJ (especially when they use the NH codeshare) is that their HND-KKJ use HND's Terminal 1, meaning that NH elites cannot use any lounges, and KKJ has no NH services, so there is no lounge to be used. (SFJ's HND-KIX services use HND's Terminal 2, however, so this isn't a problem on that route.)

I hope you enjoyed this short trip report! Any comments or questions are welcomed.

Last edited by armagebedar; Jan 31, 11 at 6:04 am Reason: Corrected information on what terminals SFJ uses
armagebedar is offline  
Old Jan 31, 11, 5:28 am
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Thanks for the TR! I haven't tried StarFlyer yet, and from your pix it looks like the service is pretty good. Unfortunately they aren't part of any alliance yet so it'll probably be a long time before I fly on them...

By the way do you pass by Kobe often? When you're around drop me a line and maybe we can have a little DO of sorts here!
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Old Jan 31, 11, 5:56 am
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SFJ's HND-KIX flights always use Terminal 2 at HND -- other SFJ flights use Terminal 1. Confusing, but pointed out on the SFJ web site, albeit only in Japanese...

Originally Posted by armagebedar View Post
We landed at HND on time, but ended up parked at a remote stand and bussed to the terminal. I was a bit preoccupied and was not paying attention, but instead of arriving at Terminal 1 (used for SFJ departures and shared with JL), the bus took us to Terminal 2 (used mostly by NH).

On a related note, one of the problems people have with SFJ (especially when they use the NH codeshare) is that they use HND's Terminal 1, meaning that NH elites cannot use any lounges. Likewise, KKJ has no NH services, so there is no lounge -- KIX is the only airport where there is lounge service for NH elites using SFJ.
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Old Jan 31, 11, 6:02 am
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Originally Posted by joejones View Post
SFJ's HND-KIX flights always use Terminal 2 at HND -- other SFJ flights use Terminal 1. Confusing, but pointed out on the SFJ web site, albeit only in Japanese...
You're right -- and it's on the ANA website as well. Serves me right for not reading more closely! I've edited the post.
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Old Jan 31, 11, 3:35 pm
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Nice report - I just flew with them last week and hadn't had an opportunity to post a report.

I've got nothing more to add, other than perhaps a link to a clandestine cut of their safety video that a "friend" shot...

Greg
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Old Jan 31, 11, 7:42 pm
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Excellent TR!! I'm glad you have a pleasant flight. Hope you will returns back from HND-KIX or someplace else. You flying one-way tickets from KIX-HND? Did you take on the highspeed trains from Tokyo to Oaska.
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Old Jan 31, 11, 7:55 pm
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Thanks for the TR. I enjoy hearing about smaller airlines. Makes me wish I had paid more attention in my earlier flying years to some that I took ... and now can't even remember names.

Boy, I'd love to have footrests in E. I try to lift my legs by using my small carry-on bag under the seat (yes, short legs).
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Old Feb 1, 11, 5:46 pm
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Interesting report! Thanks!
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