Maybe it was supposed to be the best product because it was also the hardest to get booked. That’s my theory for now with StarFlyer. For my flight from Fukuoka to Nagoya I decided to try the sleek-looking StarFlyer and ultimately was well rewarded, though the effort required to get there was more than even I could handle alone. Thank goodness for friends.
Much like my SkyMark booking efforts I was originally put off from the StarFlyer option due to price. I know LCC doesn’t necessarily mean cheap to the passenger but in this case the price was significantly higher than the competition, at least as seen through SkyScanner or OTAs. I tried booking direct instead, discovering a $75 one-way fare that was perfectly priced, but only available for tourists on a foreign passport visiting Japan for a short time. Again, perfect for me. So I tried booking it.
The StarFlyer site has an English option but it is not really functional. A combination of Google Translate, the Japanese site and more than a bit of luck got me through the process such that I had a reservation for my travel, but no ticket issued. When I tried to use my credit card to pay I got an error that translated roughly to “all lines are down.” That made no sense but three days later I was still getting that error. And none of the phone numbers I could find for StarFlyer would work via Skype. I was running out of options.
I put out a call to friends to see if anyone was in Japan with a local phone and/or credit card. Fortunately one was and less than 15 minutes later the booking was complete. The irony around needing someone local to book a visitor fare is not lost on me, of course.
Check-in is handled by ANA in Fukuoka which was fine, though again kiosks were of no help to me. I didn’t try my luck with the lounges because I wasn’t technically on a *A flight but they did call for priority boarding (which I used; maybe they just didn’t stop me because they were being polite to the foreigner). And once on board the most crazy thing: It was actually really nice.
Everyone had plenty of legroom. The seats had IFE screens and cup holders. It was some sort of bizzaro world I’d stumbled in to. And given that I hadn’t paid for extra leg room seats on this segment it was much appreciated.
I wish I could tell you something about the service on board, meals or anything other than the seat. I cannot. I passed out hard before takeoff and woke up on landing. I assume we flew a few hundred miles during that time and that things went well for the other passengers on board. I can only say that I slept great. In a coach seat. Hooray, jet lag!
I stumbled off the plane and over to the Toyoko hotel just adjacent to the airport for a much needed real bed.
Scoring the StarFlyer experience:
Buying tickets: 2/5
Impossible online with a foreign card. But the ability to get a “visitor” price was a nice win.
Mixed in with the regular ANA check-in so that was slightly confusing. But I also boarded when they called for Star Alliance Gold priority even though it wasn’t showing on my ticket.
Tons of space for everyone. This was not a typical LCC experience at all. The looped IFE video is a waste but it is there.
The on-board experience was great but hamstrung by the challenges buying the discounted fare. Probably not worth paying the “real” price they wanted without the tourist rate compared to other options, but with the discount (if you can get it issued) very much worthwhile.
More from my Japanese LCC Adventure
- The Japanese LCCs: Building an Adventure
- The Japanese LCCs: Vanilla Air
- First Cabin: Casual Nudity and a Capsule Hotel
- The Japanese LCCs: Peach Airlines
- Exploring Fukuoka: But why??
- The Japanese LCCs: StarFlyer
- The Japanese LCCs: Air Asia Japan
- The Japanese (non) LCCs: Japan Air Lines
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