Low Cost Carrier Reviews: Eastar Jet flight from Seoul Gimpo to Taipei Songshan

This article is part of my continuing series highlighting our experiences booking flights and flying on Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) around the world. LCCs are known as such because they target travelers who are especially price-conscious by offering a “no-frills” flying experience that is all about getting from point A to point B. By breaking apart many of the costs included in a traditional airline fare and charging for them a-la-cart, LCCs are able to offer extremely low fares. Their everyday fares are usually less than half the standard airlines, and if you manage to snag one of their promotional fares, sometimes all you will pay is taxes and fees. However, they tend to charge you extra for pretty much everything, so if you are the type that wants to bring three bags, wine and dine while flying and the such, then you’ll find that the “low fare” turn into an expensive flight very quickly.

Eastar Jet International Routes as of June 2014

Eastar Jet International Routes as of June 2014

Eastar Jet (Not Eaststar Jet) is a small LCC based in Seoul that offers cheap tickets on 10-15 different routes, mainly from South Korea to Japan, Taiwan and other popular SE Asian destinations. We discovered Eastar Jet while we were in Seoul, trying to find a cheap flight to get to our next destination, Taipei.  Seoul has traditionally been dominated by Korean Air and Asiana, whose fares are on the more expensive end, but over the past few years multiple LCCs have started flying from Seoul to destinations around NE and SE Asia.

One unusual note is that we never actually flew on an Eastar Jet operated flight. The flight we booked (see below for review) ended up being operated by T’way Airlines. The two airlines have a codeshare agreement on their Gimpo-Songshan route, allowing their customers to fly every day, rather than every other day. At the time, T’way didn’t have an English version of their website, while Eaststar was simple enough to navigate in English, so we booked the flight on Eastar. However note that when I recently looked at the prices of the two airlines for the Gimpo-Songshan route, T’way had better prices. So look at both options.

Eastar Jet booking and flight review: Seoul Gimpo to Taipei Songshan (Operated by T’way Airlines)

We had initially set up a flight on Scoot Airways (based in Singapore) which left at 11:30pm.  Unfortunately, Scoot moved the flight back a couple of hours to 1:30am, so we would have been up all night by the time we arrived in Taipei around 3am and got to our friends house.  Thus we decided to bite the bullet pay Scoot their change fees to refund our ticket, and look for a better option.

Unfortunately, there were no cheap options from the main Seoul airport (Incheon, ICN) to Taipei’s main airport.  However, while searching for cheap flights I did notice that both cities have secondary airports (Gimpo in Seoul and Songshan in Taipei).  These used to be the cities’ main airports before their new, bigger ones were built, and they happen to be much closer to downtown in each case, so they are actually ideal.

Gimpo in Seoul does a lot of domestic flights and short international flights, and is preferred by the Korean LCCs.  As it happened, Eastar Jet had a perfect flight for us leaving Seoul at 11am.  Their regular price seems to be about 250,000 Won/person (~$250), but they have lower specials and we were lucky enough to find a day that worked for about $75/person.  As with most LCCs, taxes and fees are not shown until you click-through and almost double the cost, so in total we paid $140/each for the three-hour flight.

The Eastar Jet website was not terribly complicated to navigate.  Finding English was simple and their route map and booking engine were easy to find.  There were different tabs for domestic and international itineraries.  When I selected “one-way” for my ticket, a scary looking message popped up with the following notice:

Eastar Jet Int Requirement notice

It turns out that you probably don’t need to be very concerned.  After selecting OK, they allow you to continue the booking process.  I believe they show the message because people with certain passports need to prove that they will be leaving certain destinations such as Taiwan or Japan within their visa period.  I was concerned about this, so we actually booked our next ticket out of Taiwan to Hong Kong before going to the airport in case the agents asked for proof, but our check in agent didn’t ask about it at all.  My guess is that if you have a US or European Union passport, you are probably fine.  Still, I would suggest having a flight out of Taipei if possible, just to be safe.

One nice aspect about Eastar is that unlike a lot of LCCs, they do give you up to 15kg (33lb) of checked luggage for free! If you are carrying more, there are additional charges.

After booking the flight, a confirmation page popped up for printing right away, but it did take almost a day to receive a confirmation email, and it was all in Korean.  However, none of this was needed at the airport.  We simple gave the desk agent our passports and she pulled up the tickets.  One slightly confusing thing when we arrived at the terminal is that there were almost no signs for Eastar Jet.  It turned out that the flight was a codeshare with T’way Air, another LCC.  The ticket was issued by them and nothing on it indicated Eastar.

Getting to either airport from downtown Seoul was very simple.  There are two trains that leave from Seoul Station downtown in the direction of Seoul Incheon Airport.  One is an express train that takes you directly from Seoul Station to Incheon with no stops.  The other is the local train, which stops in Gimpo, with a couple other stops in-between.  The journey to Gimpo takes about 20 minutes, and only costs about $1.50!  Once you arrive to Gimpo, be prepared to walk about 300-500m underground in order to get to the international terminal.

As noted earlier, once in the terminal we had to figure out that our flight was actually operated by T’way and check in at their desk. The whole process was extremely simple, as was going through security. The flight itself was comfortable as well, with a reasonable amount of leg room. We were even given a little snack to enjoy on the 3 hour flight, which is extremely unusual on LCCs.

Overall, we enjoyed our experience on this flight. The flight time was much more convenient than Scoot’s, the cost was comparable, and since we flew from and to the older airports in Seoul and Taipei, our travel time to and from the airport to our destination was also shorter.

I’m very curious to hear more about experiences any of you have had on Eastar Jet or T’way Airlines, so please leave your comments below.

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14 Responses to Low Cost Carrier Reviews: Eastar Jet flight from Seoul Gimpo to Taipei Songshan

  1. Jennifer August 16, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    Thanks for this post! I got the same alert when researching flights on Eastar’s website from GMP > TSA. It made me a little nervous, so I did a google search about it and found your blog. And…then I see you guys are in Iowa! Me, too. Greetings from Des Moines. 🙂

    • Aurelien August 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’m glad the post was helpful! I figured other people would come across the same thing and I wished I had a source to confirm it wasn’t a problem when I booked the flight. Its always fun to see other Iowans traveling the world!

  2. Jani September 18, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Thank you for this useful bit of information! My boyfriend and I both hold Australian passports and I also have Taiwanese citizenship so I hope there won’t be a problem!

  3. Alex September 24, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Hello, I just booked a fligth from Narita to Tokyo 4 days ago but they didn’t send me any email confirmation nor charge to my credit card. I heard something about I have to book online using Internet Explorer, but I afraid doing all over again and then have to pay two tickets. Do you know something? (I emailed them, but they didn’t answer me). Thank your and greetings from Mexico.

    • Aurelien October 2, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      Hi Alex,

      Sorry for the delayed response. Did it end up working out for you? I remember not getting a confirmation immediately, but it arrived in my email after a day or so. It didn’t end up in your spam folder, did it?

  4. Anh October 20, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    Hi Aurelien,
    Great info on Eastar and I just want to share my first ever problem with online booking with this LCC. Yesterday, I tried to book a return flight ticket from Seoul to Jeju. After having filled in all details required, including my credit card, I did not see the popped up confirmation page nor receiving an email confirming my booking at all. Don’t know should I try to book again or wait for 1 more day? I simply do not wish to end up paying double for same trip.

    • Aurelien October 22, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

      Thanks Anh,

      Have you received the confirmation by now? Unfortunately I’ve only had experience making one booking, so I’m not sure what I would do in your case. Have you looked at your credit card online to see if the transaction was made? Hopefully by now you’ve gotten the confirmation and are all set.

  5. Sal March 29, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    I would like to buy one way ticket frm seoul to tokyo. The website show the same message.

    Is it ok for me to buy the tix? Coz after that, ill be flying to Malaysia from tokyo and already buy the flight tix.

    • Aurelien April 3, 2015 at 6:52 am #

      Sal, If you already have a ticket to another country after Japan you should be fine.

  6. Chris May 27, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    Ditto on the Internet Explorer thing. I tried with Opera and as with many Korean websites, it isnt compatible with alternative American browsers.

  7. Emma1985 August 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    I missed my flight due to date confusion and lucky for me, the Eastar Jet manager (located at Kota Kinabalu International Airport) was very helpful and friendlyto help me to booked another ticket and refunded my money when i arrived at seoul. To my surprise, the price is still the same as my booking earlier and i was relief to hear that. I booked the tickets earlier via Mozilla Firefox as other web browsers are incompatible.

  8. Dana November 11, 2015 at 7:58 am #

    I just tried booking but when I entered my personal info (name, passport, etc. NOT payment), the page started downloading an unsecured .exe file. I cancelled the download because I’m very wary of what I download into my laptop. I found this site after a Google search and everything you said matched up… until the booking process. Did you have to download any files to complete booking? Thanks for your help! Happy travels!

  9. Olivia October 16, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    Can I add on baggage after complete booking ?

    • Aurelien October 21, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

      At this point I unfortunately don’t remember as its been 3 years.

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