Review of StarFlyer flight Nagoya Fukuoka in Economy

Airline StarFlyer
Flight 7G31
Class Economy
Seat 12A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 01:30
Take-off 23 Jan 16, 08:00
Arrival at 23 Jan 16, 09:30
7G 6 reviews
NGO85
By GOLD 412
Published on 27th November 2022

Background


I was reading about 7G the other day and remembered that I had flown them before, but couldn't find the report. Turns out this was part of a series that I never posted so here goes a deep cut from my archives into obscure Japanese domestic flights in honor of my 150th FR.
 
This series will cover a quick weekend trip on NH using UA miles for some warmer weather. The goal of this series was to fly to Miyako-jima (宮古島) and the trip cost 12,000 UA miles (no tax/fees on NH award tickets). At that time, Miyako-jima (MMY) was only accessible via OKA and ISG (HND service didn't start until 2016 followed by NGO/KIX). When I was searching for the outbound flight, I saw some options via FUK so I jumped on them in order to catch a 7G flight. For the return, I originally planned on spending a 6-hour layover in OKA sightseeing, but those plans disintegrated quickly as I’ll discuss later. So the routing is fairly straightforward minus the hitch to FUK.


Routing


This report will cover the trip from NGO to FUK. This will be my first time aboard 7G and I think it will be the first report in English on 7G despite being 7 years ago…


Pre-Flight


Standard arrival to NGO via train, reaching the airport at 6:44. I scurried over to the NH check-in counters where I approached the priority lines since there was a huge line at the normal check-in this morning. As soon as I get there, a NH agent approaches me and asks me where I’m going. As a foreigner, they likely assumed I’m in the wrong line (NGO has different check-in areas for domestic flights and domestic flights onto international connections). I clearly state that I’m flying to MMY and they let me go.


I ended up with a very inexperienced agent, who struggled with the situation. Since this is an award ticket, she had to manually check me in for each flight. She gets to the first flight and tells me that she wants to change my seat because I am in an exit row seat (I had reserved an exit row window seat online). I was really confused why this was a problem and she offered me an aisle seat in a different row. I told her that I wanted to keep my window seat and asked her why I couldn’t sit in an exit row seat. She said “You aren’t old enough.” What??? Japan’s aviation law, like the US, states the age limit for exit-row seats is 15 so this agent was completely incompetent to propose such an argument. I eventually asked to speak to her supervisor since this didn't make any sense and after 20-minutes of hassle, I was eventually handed my 3 boarding passes for the day.


After that fiasco, I went up to the observation deck to get some crisp morning air and relax with some views of the domestic operations at NGO. As always, they seem to do a perfect alternation of NH and JL planes (just ignore that 7G A320 at the end, which will be my bird).


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The remote stands with a nice mix of domestics with a backdrop of the snow covered Suzuka Mountains. Mount Gozaisho (御在所山) is the most prominent.


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Back inside since it was too cold, I went downstairs and cleared security. Our flight was on time and scheduled to depart from Gate 3.


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I briefly stopped in the Centrair Lounge, NGO's humble room with coffee and Yebisu on tap.


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10 minutes before boarding, I left and did the walk down to the gate and took in some views along the way. The NH B735 Super Dolphins will be featured later in this series.


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JL B788 to HND a the gate with JL B788 arriving from BKK in the background.


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BC B738.


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Our 7G A320 ready to go.


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flight


StarFlyer, 7G 31
Equipment: Airbus A320 [JA22MC, delivered November 2013]
Departure: 8:00 (ATD: 8:14)
Arrival: 9:30 (ATA: 9:45)
Flight time: 1:31


Boarding started on time and was orderly. Down the jet bridge to our steed.


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Our shiny black fuselage.


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My hard fought seat in Row 12 (taken on arrival).


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The sleek black cabin (again taken on arrival, but you'd never know since planes are usually left as clean as they were found unlike in the US…).


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View of the cabin from my seat during boarding.


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7G is known for its premium product. A Y150 configuration is almost unheard of on an A320 and their legroom is fantastic in any row.


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7G is also known for its IFE, a rare species on Japan domestic flights.


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Being in the exit row, it is a fixed armrest with recline button on one side and the psuedo armrest along the window (which is actually very awkwardly located so you can't comfortably use it).


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The crew came through the cabin and distributed headsets and blankets.


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Seat back contents.


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The trendy safety card.



Boarding completed on time and we pushed back next to our BC B738 neighbor.


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During the taxi, the safety video was done in Japanese with English subtitles.


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With northern winds today, we had the long taxi from the domestic side of the airport down to Runway 36. Crossing past the international side of the airport with CZ, JL, PR, and TG tails.


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DL B757 and VN A321 at remote stands.


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Boeing's gift to NGO, with the airport unsure what to do with it…


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We aligned on Runway 36 and were quickly rising up over the Ise Bay towards the city center.


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We banked a hard left to turn towards the Suzuka Mountains and start our trip down Honshu..


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Yokkaichi.


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We finish our u-turn over the mountains before disappearing into the clouds since there was heavy rain in the forecast in Kyushu.


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With all that snow, good thing they distribute blankets to get warm and cozy.


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IFE on a Japanese carrier is almost unheard of so a real luxury for domestic flights. They have pretty basic offerings for video/audio. I really only used the moving map function.


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IFE instructions.


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And the answer to the question everyone is thinking…


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Cabin shot upon reaching cruising altitude and the service starts.


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I took a cup of coffee, which is distributed with a chocolate.


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Unfortunately, with all of the rain, nothing to see of note the entire flight.


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The FAs made a couple of passes through the cabin. When collecting empty cups, they also asked if I wanted another cup. I said yes, and I was promptly brought another cup of coffee and chocolate. They are considerate, they put a lid on the coffee this time since we were preparing for arrival into FUK so that I wouldn't spill.


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The cabin was prepared for landing as we were approaching Kyushu.


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We looped into FUK the long way.


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A rainy day in the largest city on Kyushu.


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Touching down on Runway 34.


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KE A333 heading back to ICN.


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We pull into our gate next to a JL B772 getting ready to go up to HND.


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Cabin shot as we come to a stop.


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Until we meet again 7G.


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I waited to deplane last to get some cabin shots.


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The friendly crew wished me a good day and I thanked them for their hard work and off we go into FUK.


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My flight to OKA wasn't until 13:15, so I had ~2.5 hours to kill. I decided to head out into the city to grab a proper lunch before returning for my next flight. FUK is connected to the subway as the terminus of the Kūkō Line, so it is very easy to access (2 stops from Hakata Station and the Shinkansen).


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Welcome to Fukuoka.


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This is where I will leave off this series, thanks for stopping by!

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Verdict

StarFlyer

9.0/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering6.0

Centrair Lounge

5.0/10
Comfort6.0
Meal/catering4.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Services4.0

Nagoya - NGO

8.3/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness10.0

Fukuoka - FUK

8.8/10
Efficiency9.0
Access10.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

7G is a hidden gem in Japan. A Y150 configuration on an A320 and IFE at every seat, what else do you need for 60-90-minute domestic flights? You can't earn *A miles, but they can be easily booked through NH with their codeshare agreements. They have a very limited route network, so really only a niche carrier operating to a couple of cities from their bases in FUK and KKJ on Kyushu.

NGO:
- There's a reason it wins Skytrax awards every year... clean, modern, observation deck, (moderately) easy access.
- Lounges? That's a different story, but the Centrair Lounge is completely aligned with every other NH domestic lounge.

Flight:
- Y150 configuration is the most spacious I have seen on an A320 or B737 in Y.
- Seats are very comfortable and the cabin is sleek.
- IFE is a great feature, especially for moving map. A very distinguishing feature in the domestic market.
- Crew were very friendly and attentive. Don't expect a good English ability.
- Service is the only "meh" part of the experience. In theory, it's on par with NH/JL so I'll give them a 6 as a very basic offering. JH is still the best.

FUK:
- Clean and easy access to the city.

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