*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net
I didn't know about this airline until I did some searching on flights from KIX to either NRT or HND. When I came about with this airline, I did some research on it and I knew at once I had to fly on it even though it was operating a common type, the Airbus A320. I received some feedback from my aviation buddies that this airline is actually a premium airline and when I saw the ticket, the price was at S$120 one way and immediately I did the booking after selecting the date. Unfortunately, I could not get the window seat and had to settle for the aisle seat.
*Update - You can now book your Starflyer flight using ANA's website as ANA codeshares with Starflyer on the domestic flight. (Credit to Florian for the update)
This was my original booking
Unfortunately, the website was in Japanese, I had to use the translator from google which only managed to translate half of the page. Took me quite a while for me to get my booking done! Later on, I decided to stay one night in Seoul (3rd Sept), meaning that I had to change this flight to a later timing in 1730. (Original timing was 1100 departure on the 4th Sept) so that I could change my Peach flight (Original flight was 3rd Sept 2200 hours) to the 4th Sept 1000 hr flight. That meant that I would only spend a few hours at Osaka Airport instead of a day over there. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to change the ticket as it was in Japanese! So I had no choice but to cancel my original ticket and book a new one. I had to pay a penalty of S$70 and add on another S$100 for the ticket including the changes.
My updated itinerary
It took me quite a while to settle this in Helsinki, glad to have it settled before my Finnair's flight to Seoul. Anyway, once that was done. I enjoyed the next couple of days meeting up with great people.
My ride to HND: JA01MC, the first A320 in the airline's fleet.
Crappy weather at Osaka Airport caused lots of flights to be cancelled including the previous Starflyer flight to HND. This meant that passengers from the previous flights were transferred to mine which meant that it was a full flight. As a result, I wasn't able to get a window seat and had to settle for an aisle seat instead.
On the bright side, it would be easier for me to take cabin shots that were the only thing I could think of to console myself.
I am a big fan of this livery. Very classy looking livery, don't you agree?
Somehow this livery reminds me of the old U.S Airways livery.
After the turbulent flight with Peach Aviation, I felt unwell for a while. Going through immigration was a bit of a nightmare for me as the customs officer stopped me to search my luggage and myself thoroughly before letting me go. They were friendly and were apologetic about it. I asked them why they told me there was a recent case of a Singaporean getting involved in some incident. This, I didn't probe further. They asked me the routine security questions and after that was over, I was allowed to go. This "ordeal" took about 15 minutes.
No harm is done since my Starflyer flight was about 4 hours more to go. I decided to grab some food, sushi and it made me feel much better after that. Before I departed 'Peach' Terminal aka Terminal 2, I took some photos of the interior. Here are the photos!
The Peach staff were around to assist the passengers and promoting the airline, I think this airline has done very well not just in-flight, on the ground as well.
After the brief walk around the small terminal, I took the free shuttle bus to terminal 1, where the other airlines were.
I was waiting nearby these counters for a while until I realized these counters were newly set-up and weren't ready for operation. I only realised when I was walking past one of the ANA counters with this airline's and my flight number display on a signboard.
An event is going on, had no idea what was it.
This was where I checked in later. I still had plenty of time left to walk around at the departure area later. The check-in counter crew were once again excellent! They were polite to me and spoke very good English.
I got to use the international departure hall a year after this flight.
Once I was done with my exploring, it was time to head for the domestic departure. Going through security check this time was a breeze and before I knew it, I was at the air-side.
Checking my flight for updates.
There is free wifi available at the airport.
Once again, checking the screen for an update. I was afraid that the flight got diverted to another airport since the weather at that time was pretty bad.
My flight's assigned gate: 21
Looks empty now but not when it was time for departure, it was very crowded then, about 150 over passengers.
However, everyone lined up in an orderly manner and the staff had no problems at all, getting all of us on board quickly. I certainly love the way Japanese does its thing, fast and efficient!
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Engines: 2 X CFM56-5B4/3
Delivery: 12th December 2005
Aircraft is leased from GCEAS
Departing gate: 26
Seat no: 9D
Scheduled departure: 1720
Actual departure: 1750
Scheduled arrival: 1830
Scheduled arrival: 1845
Duration: 1 hour 15 mins
The minute I stepped on board, I was greeted by 2 of the crew standing near the door, welcoming each and every passenger on board. I was shown to the seat by one of the crews was extremely helpful, treated everyone like a royal subject. The cabin ambience was excellent, the seats itself was much better than I thought! It is fitted with comfortable black leather seats which comes with a basic PTV system (Which doesn't matter at all since it flies only on domestic routes) and a generous legroom space of 34 inches! It felt like flying on a premium economy class on a premium airline. For the price I paid, it was certainly a bargain.
Y Class cabin
Photos were taken before my seatmates arrive.
Doesn't look like Economy Class, right? This is by far the best A320 cabin, I flew so far.
The IFE Screen is touched-screen and its responsive. There is the English language which made life easier for foreigners.
Photos in the toilet
A 'Happy' Charles enjoying himself on his 49th airline. :)
The crew were excellent! Each and every one of them paid attention to every passenger on board, ensuring that all of us were comfortable. One of the passengers had difficulty putting his bag into the overhead compartment due to my haversack taking up too much space. This crew came and asked me whether the haversack was mine (In Japanese). Even though I couldn't understand what she was saying, I knew exactly what was happening and I went to adjust my stuff and the other passenger managed to place his stuff in it. Both of them thanked me profusely. Love the Japanese culture! You don't get this elsewhere, honestly speaking.
The downside about this flight was the late arrival of the aircraft which meant that the plane departed later and arrived at Hanada Airport later than the scheduled time. All the announcements were made in Japanese and I presumed the crew had apologized to us for the late departure due to the bad weather. None of the passengers was too concerned about it anyway.
Anyway, boarding was fast and the gates were closed. The safety video was played and there was English subtitle. I wished I could record the safety video, it was very well-done. The video showed a group of ninjas demonstrating how passengers should react when there is an emergency and also the standard knowledge. Once the aircraft reached the runway, the crew were told to seat and we were on our way. I have expected some strong bumps along the way and for the first half an hour or so, the plane had some bumps but nothing as bad as my Peach's flight. The crew were made to seat until half an hour later when the air was smoother. Since the flight was only an hour and 15 minutes, we were served only a drink. A choice of tea, coffee, soft drinks or juice. I picked the Apple Juice and had it down my throat not long after. I was enjoying every moment of the flight, exploring as much as stuff as I could. My seatmate sitting on the window seat was busy snapping photos and that reminded me of myself flying. How I wish I could exchange seat with her.
Anyway, I went to the toilet to do my usual photography stuff before settling down for the rest of the flight, looking at the map on the PTV. It wasn't accurate for the most part of it!
The rest of the flight was routine and we landed nicely at Haneda Airport, the weather in Tokyo was slightly better than in Osaka and we parked at the remote parking lot. The airport bus then ferried us to the terminal and soon I made my way to the hotel.
I have been impressed with the Japanese's service so far both at Osaka Airport, Peach Aviation and Starflyer. If you ask me to compare which in-flight service was better, I would say the Starflyer is the winner! The staff was very attentive and they treated you very well on board. I won't hesitate to fly with this airline again, period!
Website: 5/10 (The lack of English language)
On-ground service: 10/10
In-flight service: 10/10
Seat comfort: 9/10 (Excellent leg-room space)
Cabin ambience: 10/10
Punctuality: 7/10 (Not the airline's fault)
Choices of Beverages: 9/10
PTV selection: 8/10 (Considering its a domestic flight)
Overall rating: 87 /100
I highly recommend this airline to everyone! Not for the aircraft type, but the true Japanese service and in-flight product. The airline is not well-known to foreigners but more to the locals especially to frequent travellers. I would have to give this airline 2 thumbs up for what the airline has offered. I had no idea about this airline until I did some search on the domestic flights and I knew that I had to give this airline a try and I had no regrets about it. However if ANA 747D (Boeing 747-400 Domestic only found in Japan) was doing on this route, I would probably have gone for that. I had a great flight experience with this airline, probably the best in-flight service I had so far for this year at least.
I hope you enjoyed reading this trip report.