Category Archives: Jetstar

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JetStar A320

InFlight: JetStar A320 – Direct to Ballina (Byron Bay)

Route: Melbourne to Ballina (Byron Bay)

Flight: JQ464

Carrier: Jetstar

Class: Economy

Terminal: Attempting to check in online failed last night with the same error message occurring on each attempt. A quick tweet to @JetStarAirways revealed that online check-in wouldn’t be available for me today, and they recommended that I arrive at the airport early enough for check-in. This meant arriving at the airport a little earlier than planned, however travelling only with carry on luggage meant a quick stop off at the self service kiosk, print off the boarding pass then head to security.

As Jetstar are owned by Qantas, the benefits of priority security and lounge access for Qantas frequent flyers still apply when flying on the orange kangaroo. There were a fair few people getting away from Melbourne for the weekend this morning so the priority security was a relief before grabbing some breakfast in the Qantas Club before the flight was called. My mobile was having issues this morning, so for the first time I realized the benefit of the complimentary phones scattered around the lounge.

JetStar A320

Most of Jetstar’s flights depart from the newer concourse in the joint Qantas / Jetstar terminal, with my flight leaving from Gate 27 within the shed addition to this terminal. Aircraft are turned around pretty quickly and has boarding had already commenced on my arrival there wasn’t really a queue at all so it was just a short walk across the terminal, up the stairs to be warmly welcomed by the cabin manager before settling into 1A.

Departure: We departed about on time despite some members of the crew being concerned about the time required to brief two customers with additional needs (specifically, deaf and blind). The cabin manager however was great assisting these passengers, ensuring that they received a personal safety briefing before allowing the final door to be closed. A reminder to the crew that, as there is no galley on this aircraft, your conversations can be heard by your customers; thus consider if your conversations reflect an image that your company would want promoting.

JetStar Sky Clouds

We departed to the west, climbing out and making a few right turns towards the north, crossed the NSW border around Corowa, tracked over Wagga before making another slight turn and heading towards Ballina. Our flight time was forecast to be a relatively short 1hr 47mins with an expected on time arrival into Byron.

Seat: 1A. This seat provides undoubtedly the most amount of legroom within this aircraft, with no bulkhead and your legroom only limited by the crew seats (which if you can reach, you’re doing well). Just watch your head when getting in and out of this seat, as the overhead bin will cause you grief pretty quickly if you are too mesmerized by the amount of legroom on offer. Tray table is in the arm rest and is surprisingly sturdy, with only limited bouncing of my laptop as I write this review. Like all economy seats, you’ll struggle to fit a laptop and a meal on the table, but a 15” laptop and a drink fits comfortably.

JetStar A320 Seat 1A

JetStar Exit Row A320
Airbus A320. This is the mainstay of the JetStar domestic fleet and offers an all economy layout in a 3-3 configuration. Exit rows and seats in the first few rows have surcharges on them, however these are relatively reasonable and in my opinion worth the extra cost for anything over an hour flight.   

JetStar A320 Cabin

IFE: No free IFE is available, however rent on board tablets were offered once the seat belt light was extinguished. I didn’t opt for them on this short flight however they looked similar to those that I reviewed last year flying JetStar to Hawaii (which you can read here). I instead opted for my iPhone for music and my laptop to get some work done. Unfortunately I forgot my headphones on this day trip, but the crew kindly offered me a complimentary pair of headphones, which did the trick for this flight.

Meal: The Starter Plus fare I purchased included a $5 voucher to use on food and beverage onboard. The buy on board menu has a range of snack options including muffins, cookies, cheese and biscuits, as well as more substantial options such as hot pies, fresh and toasted sandwiches as well as a range of beer, wine, spirits and non alcoholic drinks. The crew makes a point that they reserve the right to cut you off the booze plane if they feel you’ve reached your limit.

JetStar A320 Snack Meal

JetStar A320 Toasted Sandwich

Although not overly hungry, the $5 voucher tempted me to try the menu, so with the addition of $4 I purchased a can of soft drink and a toasted sandwich (which takes about 10minutes to prepare). Once prepared the hot (which should have been accompanied with something along the lines of “hot plate, hot plate”) ‘Paddington Market’ branded ham and cheese toastie was served. After almost burning my fingers, I decided to leave it too cool before trying it out. Once at a more reasonable temperature, the toastie was pretty good for inflight. The packaging worked well, and for a simple snack it was filling enough to sustain me for the rest of the morning (of course the sugar in the can of soft drink probably helped a fair bit too).

Arrival: A strong southerly breeze resulted in a bumpy arrival over the ocean and a new housing estate before touching down at Ballina Byron Bay regional gateway airport. A decent chunk of reverse thrust and heavy braking pulled us to a stop before continuing to the opposite end of the runway where were could turn around and backtrack to the terminal building. The ground crew were ready for our on time arrival and within few minutes we were walking across the warm tarmac and into Ballina.

JetStar A320 Ballina

Crew: The cabin manger was great and ran the flight really efficiently. The other crew were efficient and made a great team. I was a little disappointed with one crew member’s comments about her view on passengers with special needs and the need for companions, however overall they did well. I think they need to be mindful that without a front galley, the first few rows can hear what you say.

Overall: Overall this was a really pleasant flight, good service and a really convenient link between Melbourne and Byron Bay. Although I personally love to fly the least direct route possible, for small communities these direct air links provide a great boost to their tourism and local economies! Thanks @JetStarAirways for a great flight.

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InFlight: Jetstar’s New 787

Welcome to the first InFlight Flight Review for 2014 on . I’m trying something new for 2014 by including a short video review for one flight review each month.  Given this is something new for me, I thought why not try it out on JetStar’s new Boeing 787! So here it is, the first video flight review! Now you can enjoy the video and the full text review below. Enjoy.


Route: Melbourne to Cairns

Flight: JQ944

Carrier: JetStar

Class: Economy in a business Seat

Terminal: I haven’t been this excited to be flying for quite a while but the prospect of being on a new 787 was definitely worth the 345am wake up! JetStar operate out of the Qantas terminal however unlike the A320 operations this 787 service operated from Gate 11, probably due to its size. Arriving before 5am I took a quick walk down to the gate to take a few avgeek snaps while many more traditional JetStar passengers slept by the gate. How you could sleep when there’s a new plane sitting right in front of you is beyond me! As 5am rolled by the Qantas lounges opened which is where I relaxed, had breakfast and took a few more Tarmac photos from before boarding commenced at 530am.

The boarding line weaves it way around the end of the concourse as everyone scans their passes and boards this shiny new aircraft. Board is completed relatively quickly as the aircraft is definitely undersold for this morning flight (probably in case they had to swap the 787 out with an A320 at the last minute). Once in board I make the left hand turn and head into the small business cabin.

Departure: A small paperwork mix up resulted in a 10min delay to departure however the captain advised that a strong tailwind would blow us up to Cairns for an early arrival. After a very short taxi the GE Nextel engines powered up and we took off to the west. The engine noise is considerably quieter on the 787 compared to other aircraft around this size however the air conditioning has a high pitch squeal which was persistent during the flight.

787 Window

We burst through a layer of cloud and slight rain shower to reveal a beautiful day for flying above the clouds. A few turns to the north and we were on a pretty much straight line course for Cairns.

Seat: 1J. During these 787 run in domestic flights all seats are sold as economy, however once these birds start stretching their wings the aircraft will be sold as 2 cabins. Fortunately for me, this allowed me to try out the business class seating at economy prices. If we are being honest, business class is a bit of a stretch for the naming of these seats as they are what premium carriers would call premium economy seats. None the low cost carrier calls these business class so that’s what we’ll run with for this flight.

787 Business Jetstar Seat

The factory fresh leather seats boast 38inches of legroom however row 1 probably gives you a little more due to the bulkhead in front. Each seat reclines considerably when compared to economy however it’s no flat (or angle flat bed). The front row has IFE in the armrest while the remaining rows have it in the seat in front of you. There is an adjustable headrest which folds upwards which I could really understand the purpose for, but it does.

787 Business Seat 2

Your meal table is stowed in the centre armrest and when I’m use has the ability to slide further away from you but not closer. I’m nit sure why you’d need it so far away (except for customers of size) as I would have liked to have it a little closer whole writing this review. The table is also quite bouncy with each key press resulting on the table and I pad bouncing up and down which can get annoying if you’re looking to get some work done during the flight. If you balance one side on your knee and press down with your wrists it reduces the bounce but you knee and wrists won’t thank you for it.

787 Jetstar Legroom

Row 1 has bassinets installed on each side of the cabin so you might find yourself moved (or sitting next to a baby) should you select these rows. There is a window noticeably missing which would have made the space feel much bigger if it were there. Overall tho, the seat is pretty comforts bel for shortish hops however I’m not convinced that it really qualifies as an international business grade seat.

JetStar 787 VH-VKA

Aircraft:  Boeing 787-8 (VH-VKA). The aircraft was the entire purpose of this flight review and soon the domestic legs will probably return to a320 services so it was good timing to try the bird out before she heads to international routes. The cabin is divided I into 4 main sections with 2 large economy sections at the rear and both a small economy and business cabin to the front.

787 Business Jestar

Business class has 21 seats in a 2-3-2 arrangement whereas economy has 314 seats across a 3-3-3 layout. There is a dedicated toilet in the front business cabin and 5 other toilets spread across the economy cabin. Speaking of bathrooms – there’s no more going into the toilet only to find the last person hasn’t flushed. The hands free flush automatically flushes as you close the seat. The taps are also hands free which keeps those airplane germs at bay.

787 JetStar Economy

The 777 style interior with large recessed overhead bins make the cabin feel quite spacious and inviting. The panels are lit with LED lighting that is set to. JetStar orange during boarding with soft blue lighting on the roof panelling. A big feature of the 787 is the large windows which are noticeably lacking any shades. Instead each window is electronically controlled and the window can change between transparent and dimmed with the touch of a button. Although this doesn’t block out all the light, it does allow you to see through the window during all stages of flight which is pretty cool. The crew automatically open all windows during decent too.

JetStar 787 IFE

IFE: Row 1 has in arm fold out IFE while the remaining have seat back IFE. For this flight the IFE is free however for most flights you’ll probably need to pay. The screen itself is 10.6″ in business and 9″ in economy and offers a limited selection of TV, Movies and a very limited range of music options. A moving map can be found to track your journey under the ‘Voyager’ option (which is odd considering that’s what rival Virgin Australia call their inflight magazine.

I found the selection pretty limiting so I’d advise to bring your own and use the handy in seat PowerPoint to keep your device charged. You can add your device through the USB plug and connect it to the IFE however I didn’t bother trying this today.

Meal: Literally nothing is provided in economy for free, but with a $5 voucher provided with my booking I got a gluten free cookie and a juice which was enough for the 2hr 45min cruise to Cairns. You can BYO food however nothing hot and no BYO booze. The crew made 2 passes during this flight offering items from the cafe for sale.

Jetstar 787 Menu

JetStar 787 Meal

Arrival: After cruising at 43,000ft for most of the journey we descended into the tropical city if Cairns. Passing through several layers of cloud we soon popped beneath the clouds as we crossed the coast and began the approach path into Cairns International Airport. Despite the tropical clouds the approach was smooth, however my first 787 landing was a little rougher than expected as we touched the Cairns runway, applied some reverse thrust and slowed to a casual taxi towards the gate.

JetStar 787 Wing

Arriving at the gate the seat belt sign was turned off and passengers began gathering their belongings and getting ready to disembark. Unfortunately it turned out we had stopped about 6 inches too short for the aerobridge to connect to the aircraft. The Captain came on over the PA system and advised that a tug would pull us the last few inches and that all passengers needed to be seated for this last leg. Most passengers took this quite well, with several laughs and jokes about the distance the pilot fell short by. Not to long after everyone was re-seated, the aircraft slowly inched forward, the aerobridge connected and we disembarked for a day in Cairns.

Crew: The crew were really friendly and seemed somewhat excited to be on this flight – perhaps the new aircraft makes the job exciting like it does for me. While I was wondering around the cabin taking photos of everything the crew were friendly and encouraging rather than looking at me as a freak which was nice. It helped a few of the crew were pretty cute and friendly too. Interestingly an engineer was on board today too – presumably just in case while these birds learn to spread thief wings.

Overall: I had a great time trying out the 787 and it’s really got me excited to try one of these on a longer haul sector (perhaps not in economy tho). Despite being a low cost carrier the cabin felt quite spacious and we had a nice smooth flight. A new aircraft is always exciting and I think any new passengers on the 787 will be impressed.

For more InFlight Flight Reviews and #AvGeek updates and photos subscribe to my twitter and Instagram feeds @carlousmoochous

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JQ1 Header

InFlight: JetStar Melbourne Direct to Hawaii (JQ1)

Route: Melbourne to Honolulu

Flight: JQ1

Carrier: Jetstar

Class: Economy

Terminal: After not flying anywhere for over a month it was an exciting prospect to head back out to the airport and get airborne again. Truth be told, I think I was a little too excited tweeting about every step of the way, from the train station near home, getting on the skybus, arriving at the airport, you get the idea. Even though I knew check in only opened 3 hours before departure, we ended up there about 3 and a half hours before wheels up. As check in was open for the previous Bangkok flight I’d thought we may as well try our luck, to quickly find that there is no bending of the rules around here so we waited grabbing a coffee for the 3hours pre departure time to come by.

Melbourne Airport Flight Departures Board

The international departures hall at Melbourne is one of my favourite, which may be largely biased due to it being my home port but I’ll explain what I like about it. Firstly, it’s clean and well laid out with several old school clicker boards displaying departing flight information before a series of check in counters. Recent renovations have moved a few duty free stores to add further check in counters, which were the ones Jetstar were  using this afternoon.

Secondly, if you’re connecting from a domestic flight there are no pesky buses or trains to catch, the international terminal is located smack bang between the Qantas and Virgin Australia terminals in the one building complex. This means that it’s just a short walk to connect to or from an international flight in Melbourne, reducing your minimum connection time or leaving more time to enjoy one of the lounges, speaking of which, that’s where I wanted to be.

Arriving back at the Jetstar check in queue right on 3 hours a nice queue had already formed, moving at a snails pace. Trying to eavesdrop on the check in conversations ahead of me I worked out the the delays were partly due to the bulk of travellers being relatively unfamiliar with the Jetstar process, and the other half due to the number of documents required at check in. My usual check in process involves a quick scan of the passport, weigh of the bags, issue of the boarding pass followed by a welcoming “enjoy your flight” before heading towards security.

JetStar Economy Class Check In Monitor

This wasn’t the case today, with each passenger being required to present proof of ESTA (the visa for people under a visa waiver program), name and address of hotel for the first night, itinerary and then the usual passport. A lot of this seems unnecessary, but at the same time I can understand why Jetstar do it and other airlines don’t. From what I’m aware, most of this information is used / required as part of the pre departure information that is sent across the pacific to the US to determine if you can or can’t be boarded. I presume the recapture of this information at check in reduces delays at boarding from people who get a denied boarding message due to  a lack of information provided.

JetStar Measure Up Cabin Baggage Tester

I’m also under the assumption that other airlines have much easier access to this information, and thus can preempt it, and not require proof of everything from each passenger. Alternatively, other airlines may be willing to cop the fine/pay for the deportation of passengers who fail to enter at the border, whereas Jetstar probably don’t want to use thier budget for such expenses.

Check In finally complete, and another tweet from JetStar, we moved across to international departures, boarding passes checked and into the standard queue for security. No Platinum priority treatment here. As we approached the mid way point we were pulled aside for a random explosive check to which Cam suggested it was because I was dodgy looking, to which the security lady quickly responded, “no, it’s because he’s cute” which was a nice addition to the ego.

After passing that random selection without loosing my phone number to the lovely but not my type lady, we were able to skip the remainder of ten queue and go to the crew line, at which I was randomly selected to use the full body scanner. New legislation recently passed no longer gives passengers the option of having a pat down instead of the full body scanner (unless medical conditions exist) so unlike the US, the machine appears more automated and much faster, skipping the general screening queue, and being present with a big green screen saying “Ok” on the other side.

The queues pretty much disappeared once at Customs with several counters open and everyone clearing very quickly in the new and much more modern departures area. A short walk through the duty free shopping mall to the centre of the terminal, up a lift and into the Qantas First Lounge ended that part of the arrival process. The Qantas First lounges are definitely worthy of a review of their own so I’ll post that later, in the meantime, after a three course lunch the old school departures board clicked over to boarding and we headed back downstairs to gate 7 for boarding.

Qantas First Class Lounge Departure Board Ticker

Departure: Boarding hadn’t yet commenced when we arrived at the gate, however a long line had already formed so like sheep we joined the line and waited for something to happen. A few minutes later boarding for business class and those sitting at the rear of the plane was called, so I took a seat by the window and waited till the “all remaining passengers are now invited to board” announcement was made. I must admit that the boarding by rows is actually a really efficient way of boarding the aircraft.

Despite having a face to passport to boarding pass check being complete no less than three times, and clearing security, another US rule means that passengers can get randomly selected for further security screening at the gate. Thus any flights going to the US have temporary screens places around the the boarding area allowing security to conduct another face to passport check, and potentially further screening. Like most people, we thought that after passing this point we surely thought passports wouldn’t be needed again, however sure enough the queue ground to a halt as everyone got the passport page out for a final passport check when surrendering your boarding pass to the airline agent – just in case someone managed to change identities in that 10 metres from the last check.

We boarded through door 1L, walked through the small Business Class (aka Star Class) cabin and found our seats. The beauty about being in the last group for boarding was that it was only a few minutes before the final door was closed and we were ready to push back. The captain introduced the crew and informed us that the copilot would be doing most of the flying today, and that he was aiming to fly a little faster to try and get us in a bit early today.

Our taxi took us to the northernmost point of the airfield, and after a Virgin Australia 737 landed we made a long yet seemingly casual take off roll and climbed out of Melbourne towards the south. A few climbing right hand turns later we were back to where we started from, albeit much higher as we passed the airport overhead and headed towards Sydney. The overhead screens occasionally reminded us of our position during the flight, which roughly tracked over Noumea, to the north of Fiji then across the equator towards Honolulu.

Seat:  27 J & K. The seats and the aircraft as a whole wasn’t what I was expecting after taking a Sydney to Melbourne flight on a JetStar A330 a de months earlier. The cleanliness was seriously disappointing with lots of crumbs and dirt from the previous guest on both the seats and ground around. A section of the cover for the seat tracking on the floor is also only half attached and the safety cards in the seat pocket are well worn and due for a replacement. I know this is a budget, low cost carrier but general cleanliness and maintenance should not be an opt in extra so this was rather disappointing.

JetStar A330 Economy Class Seat

The seats themselves however are dressed in a dark grey leather and offer a reasonable amount of legroom for economy, with my knees having some space and Cams knees (at 6’4) not being around his ears. The base padding is comfortable enough for the first 4 hours or so after which it seems to compress down and feels quite hard. The backrest has a thinner padding, feeling like the tray table from the person behind me is in the centre of my back. The headrest on the aisle side moves quite freely and is easily adjustable however the window side is very stiff and hard to get comfortable. You can however rest your head against the wall paneling as there is a window missing, while the remaining window provides a view onto the engine and if you look backwards a little, the wing.

JetStar A330 Economy Class Seat Tray Table

The seat is relatively comfortable for a budget airline, the legroom is sufficient and it doesn’t feel overly claustrophobic. Each seat has a reasonable recline too meaning its not impossible to get semi comfortable. But like all longer haul flights, any economy seat is going to get a little cosy after a while. Not that you’ll need it on a flight to Hawaii, but there is a small coat hook attached to the seat in front of you, should you have the desire to take away any feeling of space you have with your jacket.

Aircraft:  Airbus A330-200 (VH-EBA). I have a feeling that this is one of the original A330’s that came across from Qantas when JetStar first started using the type; I’ll try and check that but the style of the interior seats suggests its an ex Qantas bird. The forward section of the cabin is host to Jetstar’s business class in a 2-2 configuration before opening up into two much larger cabins with 2-4-2 economy seating configuration. If you’re in either business or economy, and sitting on the aisle, watch your elbows as these aisles are seriously narrow. However you can lift up both the centre and aisle armrests, making it easier to get in and out of the seats.

JetStar A330 Economy Class Cabin Melbourne to Honolulu

There are plenty of overhead bins available, each trimmed with a continuous orange stripe running the length of the cabin. I’m quite surprised that despite being one of the last to board, and the lack of any free checked baggage allowance, there is still ample room for our two small bags in the overhead locker above our seat. There were a lot of people checking bags back at check in so I’m guessing JetStar are making a fair few dollars out of the baggage fees on this route.

JetStar Airways Airbus A330 VH-EBA

IFE: In a serious disappointment, this aircraft lacks seat back inflight entertainment, despite it being advertised on the Jetstar web page as A330’s offering seat back entertainment, similar to what I’d seen on my last much shorter flight on one of these JetStar birds. Having prepaid for entertainment, I was curious as to what we would get, but after not too long iPads started to be distributed around the cabin. Fortunately we had pre booked as shortly after they started distributing these around an announcement was made that the allocation was exhausted and that there would be none available for purchase on this flight. They would however be offering some entertainment on the overhead monitors for which headphones ($3) were available for purchase.

JetStar Inflight Entertainment iPad

At first sceptical that the iPad would last the full flight, the back up battery meant it remained at 100% charge the whole flight. Each iPad was loaded with a selection of movies, tv program’s, some games and some audio channels/cd’s although none of the audio content was very new. I watched a few movies and several episodes of the new normal and modern family during the 10ish hour flight. I was cautious not too watch all of my favourites as I suspect the content won’t have changed much between this flight and the return flight home so wanted to save some for the longer return flight.

Overall the iPad provided a decent selection of content for the flight duration, however it was annoying that you had to have your tray table down to rest the iPad on, and the angle wasn’t easily adjustable to get a good view. A cradle that attached somehow to the seat in front would have been a much better option. I would have preferred the seat back entertainment however the iPad did help pass the time, without which the overhead entertainment looked pretty ordinary and would have made the flight a lot less bearable and very much like the old days of travel (I’m talking the mid 90’s).

Meal: JetStar offers a Café service on board with a limited range of snacks and meals available for purchase via credit card during the flight. The other option for meals which can save some money is to pre purchase a meals pack when you make your booking. Although after a 3 course meal in the first lounge just before boarding we probably didn’t need dinner, given I wanted to try out their full service and we had already paid, we got dinner.

One of the benefits to pre-paying is that you get a better choice from meals that are available on board. For the dinner service we had a choice of chicken curry with rice and vegetables, beef stroganoff with potato’s (which was more like a casserole really) and a vegetarian option, which appeared to mainly consist of mushrooms. The crew were helpful in the selection by peeling the tin foil off and showing each meal to us, which reminded me of how Cathay Pacific shows off its meals in business class, albeit these meals didn’t really compare to Cathay obviously. We went for the chicken and beef options.

JetStar Flight Main Meal Economy Class

JetStar Main Meal Economy Class

Even after the great lunch in the first lounge, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food. Sure it’s economy fare, but it wasn’t bad and was probably very similar to any other economy hot meal. Perhaps my expectations were exceeded as I was expecting a horrible meal like I’d experienced on AirAsia the last time I flew on an LCC. The main difference is that its not served on a tray, nor does it come with a side salad or a dessert. Our pre-ordered meals come with a hot and cold, non alcoholic beverage too. Shortly after the main meal service the lights were turned off to allow for some sleep on this time travelling overnight flight.

One advantage of having to pay for everything on board, is that you don’t over eat or over drink just because its there like I often find myself doing when flying. However we did find ourselves buying a few soft drinks on the flight as 10 hours in a dry cabin without fluids is a mistake. Bottled water is available for sale if you don’t want to risk drinking from the on board drinking fountain, which is free. I drank from it once, that was enough.

About 2 hours before arrival the lights came on and a breakfast meal was served. I know every airline does it to make sure the cabin is well and truly ready for landing, but 2 hours is a long time before landing to eat breakfast. Especially when that equates to 3:50am on your destinations clock. Even an extra 40mins later would be great. Again there were 2 options for hot breakfast, being scrambled eggs, with sausage and bacon and a quiche with mushrooms and bacon. If, like my other half, eggs aren’t your fancy, bring your own breaky as you wont be satisfied with either option. We ended up with one of each, with me eating the egg components and Cam eating all the sides.

JetStar Economy Breakfast

I like eggs, but there is something about the reheating process that just doesn’t work that great. I’d actually much prefer a cold breakfast, maybe like some muesli or something else that works best when its had some time to just soak in itself for a few hours. Another hot and cold beverage accompanied the breakfast, and about an hour after everything was cleaned up we began our descent into Hawaii.

Arrival: Our on time departure, and our first officers heavy foot (or more likely favourable winds) meant that our arrival into Hawaii was earlier than expected, with the island still sleeping through a winters night as we touched down 20 mins early. As it was dark, views were limited to the lights of Honolulu just before touchdown, followed by watching the airport gradually wake up as we taxied to our gate. On arrival we disembarked via Door 1L, where we were directed up the escalators where the crew said buses would take us to the international terminal and immigration. However, like sheep we all just followed the people in front that just walked along the corridor instead, and shortly afterwards arriving in the immigration hall. Although you could have taken a bus (if it were there) it’s really not necessary as the walk isn’t far at all.

Immigration and Customs clearance was very polite and efficient however the baggage carousel used was grossly undersized for the number of bags on the flight, however the staff cleared the jams pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before our bags were in hand and heading out through Customs for a taxi. I was somewhat amazed that from docking at the gate to getting into a taxi was complete in under 20minutes. Try achieving that at LAX!

Honolulu Airport International Arrivals

Crew: The main cabin crew were mainly Malaysian while the business cabin crew, in their bright orange jackets appeared to be mainly an Aussie crew. I’m not sure how JetStar operate the flight but it looks like the crew are provided by JetStar Asia, perhaps on a wet lease? Anyone who knows how JetStar crew the A330’s for Hawaii feel free to pipe in and explain it to me. Regardless of how the airline crews the aircraft, the crew were great. Perhaps it’s the buy on board model and maybe even incentives for good sales, but no request seemed to be an inconvenience and all call bells were answered extremely promptly and purchases delivered fast. I’m sure everyone has experienced pressing the button and being greeted by a grumpy crew member who wants to know why you’re disturbing them before, but there was none of that on this flight.

The crew were definitely an on demand service, so if you want something you really need to press the button as unlike other airlines other than the main meal services and the odd snack sales aisle pass, the crew keep to themselves. Overall I couldn’t find anything to fault the crew on, they operated well within the JetStar LCC business model and were helpful and there when you wanted them.

Overall: Despite having some rather major reservations on taking a low cost carrier on a semi long haul flight, I was pleasantly surprised as to the service on board the aircraft. The check in process in Melbourne however was a shambles and I don’t really understand how the home port can be so inefficient, however that aside, once on board the service was good. The key I think to flying with them is to set your expectations correctly. The time old phrase, “you get what you pay for” is definitely true. If you go in with expectations of the first class lounge service continuing on board, you’re going to be severely disappointed.

However if you are looking to save some money and some time, the direct flight from Melbourne to Honolulu will be an attractive option. I bought my airfare during the launch sale, and once I added baggage, frequent flyer points, meals and entertainment it was under $500 return per person making it an unbelievably good price. In comparison to today, if you look at the base JetStar fare it’s cheaper than Qantas, however once you add on all the add ons, which really I don’t think you’d be smart not to add for a long flight, the fare difference is only about $250. The A330 is probably a more comfortable aircraft than the 767 Qantas use and it’s a direct service too, but it begs the question, is JetStar really that much cheaper? I’d say no, but it is a lot more profitable for the Qantas group.

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InFlight:3K684 – Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

Route: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

Flight: 3K684

Carrier:Jetstar Asia

Class: Economy

Seat:1A. Although there is some allure to be sitting in seat 1A on any aircraft (as generally the closer you are to the front, the better the seat and service class) when it comes to low cost carriers like Air Asia and Jetstar where its all economy there is no business or first class seats anyway. So while 1A looks slick and sexy on your boarding pass, its just another economy seat, albeit with slightly more legroom. As I’d flown in seat 1A on AirAsia only a few days ago, if nothing but for the sake of a better review, I should have picked a different seat for comparison. Although this particular seat felt a little newer than the AirAsia 1A, the legroom etc it provided felt about the same.

Aircraft: Airbus A320 (Rego Unsure). There are 58 A320-200’s in the Jetstar fleet, each seating 180 in an all economy, 3-3 layout. This aircraft is one of the 12 sub fleet of Jetstar Asia /Valuair and I must say it felt pretty new (not sure if that’s the case or not, but it just felt clean and sharp). Unlike my previous flight, there weren’t as many creaks from the from doors during the climb, although you really do hear the nose wheel lock into place as you come in for landing on the A320’s (maybe you do on other aircraft too, I’m normally not close enough to that part of the plane to tell.

Terminal: Kuala Lumpur International Airport is a pleasant surprise after landing into the low cost terminal. I got to it via a very comfortable 28 minute train ride from Sentral. Although compared to the local trains, its expensive, in real terms is quite an affordable and fast way to get to the airport (and realistically all airport train lines charge a premium for the convenience). Anyway I’d recommend it as a fast and comfortable ride to the terminal, which itself is really open and spacious with a sail like roof. With only carry on, check in was a breeze, no queues to speak of. Immigration clearance felt like it took a while but was really  within 20mins of joining the queue. I think there was something wrong with my passport as I didn’t get fingerprinted on the way out like everyone else. After clearing Immigration and Customs/Security (yes there was Customs x ray outwards) I hopped on the airport train to my terminal (a short yet pretty cool ride across the tarmac to the satellite terminal). I must admit that I did find the signage a little hard to follow and ended up at the wrong end of the pier, but I always do a walk around the terminal anyway so didn’t find it too much of a hassle when I got to the gate.

The last 2 flights are the first in a while where I haven’t had lounge access before a flight, so I was glad I didn’t have to wait too long for security to open my gate for pre-boarding screening (even though I love airports and planes, I think I’ve become a terminal snob and don’t like to just hang out at the gate for hours like I used to). If you do have time (and don’t want to kill it in a lounge sipping champagne) then you should check out the rain forest they have in the middle of the terminal (yes – a rainforest in the airport). Looking in from outside it looked pretty funky (and different too) so yeah, give it a shot.

Departure: As you can probably see in the photos, the weather wasn’t too great when our departure time rolled up and thus there was a very slight delay to our 0840 departure time. Despite storms moving across the airport, the take off and climb to cruise was remarkably smooth with only a few very minor bumps. Although the scheduled flight time was 1:05mins, the flight time was more around the 40min mark (it’s only about 300km) which meant despite the delay, I arrived on time into Singapore.

IFE: As with any low cost carrier, inflight entertainment is definitely a BYO affair. I’m not sure if you can hire portable video players on Jetstar Asia, but for such a short flight it really isn’t worth your time or effort even if you can. I didn’t even bother getting my ipod out from the overhead locker about (there just isn’t enough time to kill).

Meal: Unlike my surprise meal on AirAsia, I didn’t order or purchase any food on this Jetstar flight – primarily due to how short it was (and I had the slightest bit of a hangover, so wasn’t that hungry anyway). The trolley did do a quick run up and down the aisle however by the speed of its return I don’t think any sales were made today.

Crew: The crew were extremely friendly and welcomed everyone on board. One advantage (actually not sure if advantage is the right word, but anyway) of seat 1A that I didn’t mention before is that you see the crew greet everyone as they board – and chat and joke with the flight deck during gaps in boarding. Its hard to really judge the crew, as for such a short flight all they had to do was greet us, conduct the safety demo, try and sell some food and they say goodbye. From what I experienced and saw, the meet and greet was done well and thus, as that’s pretty much all the service offered, the crew scored well.

Arrival: I seated myself on the wrong side of the aircraft for my arrival into Singapore as although we taxied the full loop of the airport, I didn’t get any views of the terminal other than during our short landing run as we taxied around to Terminal 1 (almost the same gate where I left a few days earlier on AirAsia). I did spend quite a few hours exploring the terminal during my long stopover, but that’s for a separate review of Changi Airport. As I was transitting, and only had carry on I acutally went and had breakfast in the Qantas Business Lounge before heading off to explore the terminal and a little of Singapore.

Overall: I’ll try and keep it short, as I think I’ve spent more time writing the review than the flight itself. For a short haul flight (under 45mins) this is really all you need: Clean, comfortable and airworthy aircraft, friendly crew and on time arrival; all of which Jetstar achieved.