The Familiar Story of Jetstar
Hello all. Sorry it’s been nearly a week since I last posted, but I’m back in the swing of work and that’s what happens I guess. I manage to pick up a head cold a few hours after returning home which is still with me a week later sadly. Nevertheless, it’s time to start reviewing my month away with airlines, hotels and experiences under the microscope! As part of the healing process, I’m going to start with the continuation of my healing process after taking Jetstar back to Melbourne from Bangkok.
I started at 5am on the morning on the 11th, or a fraction before when I took my connecting flight to Bangkok from Chiang Mai with Thai Airways – to be covered in a separate review. Unfortunately, I had to collect bags and then check in again after waiting two hours at Suvarnabumhi Airport in Bangkok. Whilst waiting the two hours for the check in to open, I checked my email to find an email from Jetstar apologising that the flight from Singapore to Melbourne was going to be delayed. It didn’t say by how long, so I checked the website and found that the 8pm departure my wife and I were booked on was now changed to 5.45am on the 12th, due to arrive around 4.30pm in Melbourne.
Although I had enjoyed an on time flight with Jetstar to Bangkok, my wife’s flight had had a 90 minute delay – it was the same flight, just 2.5 weeks later. The email went on to say that for long delays overnight not in the city you live in Jetstar would endeavour to find hotel accommodation. I figured since we would be in transit at Singapore, it would be at the airport hotel. We were a little pissed off, called home to let family know, killed a bit of time and then we could check in.
The first flight, on an A320, was more or less on time (give or take 10 minutes) and personally, I think I slept most of it. In Singapore we got off the plane and went straight to the Jetstar transfer desk. I was hoping that here I would find all the information I needed and have it all sorted, and with only two people in front of us, I hoped it could all be sorted in a reasonable amount of time.
Unfortunately, we were told that apart from knowing the flight was delayed, there was nothing else the people at the desk knew. To find out all the arrangements and so on we needed to go to a specially set up desk which was next to the check in counter, at departures. So, we needed to go through immigration at Singapore, something I was keen to avoid.
More so when I got to passport check to find a long queue waiting there. We’d got off the plane just before five, gone to the transfer desk and after lining up for immigration we wouldn’t get our passports stamped until after 6pm, the queue took a good 45 minutes, the longest immigration clearing of the entire trip for me!
Then, with a flight of 230 passengers needing to be looked after, at departure they had one desk ‘manned’ by one woman! Luckily there weren’t so many when we arrived, but soon the queue behind us had dozens and dozens of people waiting to find out what was going on. No signs, no people directing, many lined up in the long line at baggage drop only to find after waiting 30 minutes the flight was delayed and they needed to join our queue. Some had emails, some did not. No-one I met had received a phone call so I don’t know why they ask for your phone number when you book if they don’t call you in this sort of instance.
So we asked if it was possible to stay in the Transit Hotel. We were told it would be difficult, but they would go and check. So one guy went to check, and we waited to one side. The lady at the desk said at some point, around 30 minutes later that she thought that they were fully booked. We waited for a definitive answer. We did not receive one. It was now 50 minutes waiting for this simple question to be answered. I asked directly. She said she had received a phone call a while ago telling her that they were full, but yet she never turned to us and said ‘I’m sorry the Transit Hotel is full, do you want to go to the hotel we’re sending everyone to?’. Also, I was watching everything that happened at the desk and saw her receive no such phone call. So I had to clear it up with her at the point I was fed up waiting.
And I said to send us to the hotel everyone was going to. She then said they needed to organise another hotel because that hotel was full. Thankfully that didn’t take long, but we had to go to a hotel in the centre of town, not far from Orchard Road. We needed to be at the airport by 2.30am, and a bus would be sent to pick us up. They would also pay for the cab ride to the hotel and for dinner there. The bus would pick us up at 2am. We left the airport at around 7.15pm. We were to have dinner, try and sleep for a few hours, and then get back to the airport to be more than 3 hours early for the flight even though they already had our bags. We were told we needed new boarding passes because the flight now left on a different day. That’s three boarding passes we had for the one flight, at Bangkok the Jetstar staff had given us different seats to the ones we had paid to specially book. They were the two central seats too. I like window, my wife likes aisle so I booked at the back of the plane where there were only two seats together on the sides. So I complained and that fixed that up.
The hotel was the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, and it was a pretty decent hotel. I’m sure that the airlines get a substantial discount – Jetstar would pay up to $150 Singapore dollars for a room they said, the hotel website has their cheapest room at around $234, although their price menu at the hotel started at a dubious $890. The room was nice, very good even and a nice view of the tall buildings at night. But was it nicer than some of the other rooms I’d had on the trip? No, and it wasn’t very big either. But you know, it was the sort of hotel that’s out of my normal price range and maybe I’m being a bit harsh. I just couldn’t see how they could charge $890 for it.
The $45 buffet Jetstar paid for though was very decently price – the food was excellent. I had roast lamb. I went back for seconds, amongst a wide choice of other things I tried. We sat down to eat shortly after 8pm, and then went to our room and showered etc. By 10pm we were in bed. At 1am, three hours later, we were woken up by a wakeup call, which seemed a bit early for the 2am bus. Couldn’t sleep again, it had taken an hour plus to fall asleep. So, with less than two hours sleep we were bussed back to Changi Airport.
First in line, checked back in at 2.30am, through customs in a blink of an eye, we were set with 3 hours to go still. We had two $8 vouchers for breakfast at a small place, but to be honest it was mostly Chinese food that looked like it had been kept warm for a long time. So, I paid for Subway.
The time went past somehow. Tried to sleep. Couldn’t. Eventually it was time to board, and luckily there were a number of free seats at the back of the plane – another reason I had chosen those seats. My wife was able to have the two seats behind our seats, and so we had two each. We took off just after 6am – there was some delay that the pilot tried to explain, but you know I was over delays by this point.
I looked at the magazine and was not surprised to find the one in my seat pocket was ripped and water affected. Budget airline – yes I know, but seriously, such an unprofessional look. I think I had something to eat after we took off, but very quickly I fell asleep. Yes, finally Jetstar flight JQ8 was on its way!
And got just about as much sleep as any flight I’ve been on, bar the one time I got upgraded to Business Class. Well it helps when you got up the previous morning at 5am and had managed 2 hours since! It was around 7.5 hours Singapore to Melbourne. I woke with less than two hours to go. To see Australia, red and dry below me.
The flight itself was fine. I slept. Best thing to do on a flight in my book. I wasn’t even that stressed by take-off I was so tired. A couple of days ago Jetstar sent me a 50 buck voucher, for use with Jetstar, within the next six months. Yeah, like I can’t wait to have another ‘Jetstar Experience’. Just writing this entry has made me tired. We touched down at around 5pm, We were due in 6.45am the same day.
I don’t know what to say. I started off a grumblebum before I knew the flight was delayed. But I’m pretty sure that the next overseas trip I take I’ll go full-fare airline. Our two flights with Thai Airways were hassle-free. Significant delays are, sadly, par for the course with Jetstar. I had a day and a half before going back to work. Thank goodness for that. If you see a good deal for Jetstar, and want to take it, make sure you leave yourself plenty of leeway before any commitments whether you’re flying out or flying home.