Howdy all. Many years ago I swore after a near half-day delay getting my wife and I home from Singapore I would never fly Jetstar again. A few years earlier I had been on a plane where we had been all told to get back to the terminal for a few hours as they had to fit a part to the plane. Other flights I had taken with them had been delayed with disappointing regularity and tales from others who had suffered at the hands of Australia’s biggest budget airline were all far too similar.
Yet last month I did what I said I wouldn’t do again – I took a Jetstar flight, Melbourne to Sydney (the plan was to return by train, but that’s another story). The reason? Well, I’ve done Virgin Australia and Qantas Vlog reviews in the last 12 months, and so it seemed reasonable to do one for Jetstar when the chance presented itself.
I was headed to Sydney and I needed a flight, and I wanted to use Qantas points and I could choose Jetstar or Qantas. There were so many flights to choose from, Jetstar needed slightly less points (6500 as compared to 8000 for Qantas) and so I just went with it as there seemed little point in doing another Qantas Domestic Review this year. And so it was I took on a Jetstar flight for the first time since 2014.
And right now air travel is not what it should be in Australia (and indeed elsewhere too). Whilst the CEO Alan Joyce took home 2.3 million in the last 12 months plus over 3 million in shares, (AUD), Qantas and Jetstar – which is basically Qantas’s budget arm, run by Qantas – shed thousands and thousands of jobs since the pandemic began and today don’t have enough staff it seems on the ground to deliver a decent service. Knowing that the priority will always be Qantas over Jetstar, and knowing that the number of delays and cancellations over both airlines has been unprecedented in the last few months, I was a little apprehensive about taking Jetstar.
But I reasoned that a tale of poor service delivery, delays or even cancellation would make for a good blog. The natural result though occurred – I basically had the best, smoothest flight I have ever had with Jetstar. It was even ON TIME!
So let’s go back to booking, which I did through the Qantas Frequent Flyer Website obviously. From there they give you TWO booking numbers (because one is never enough) and one is your Qantas booking number and the other is your Jetstar number. So I have to take the Jetstar number and go to the Jetstar website to ‘manage my booking’, where I selected a seat and chose a snack – a ham and cheese toastie. All up that was an extra $19AUD which actually isn’t too bad all things considered.
My booking had one checked luggage included, not sure how much but I think 20kg – this is another thing you would normally pay extra for depending on the type of booking you made if you had booked directly with Jetstar. So for me I thought it a bit strange that I needed to pay $7 for a seat but had checked luggage included. In fact I didn’t think I had checked luggage and was contemplating whether to just take carry on this time around. The managing your booking process is a little deceptive as it says ‘Would you liked to add checked baggage’ – but if you see the fine print in brackets you can see ‘20kg already included’. Perhaps the better way to put it is ‘Would you like EXTRA checked baggage’, but the cynical side of me thinks that it’s deliberate.
Anyways. The day before my flight I checked in online, I’m really not sure if it saved me time, probably but not too much. I arrived well early at the airport which wasn’t nearly as busy as last time when it was Easter Weekend, and in a flash my bad was taken by the machines and I passed swiftly through the security procedures. In fact I was done and dusted in about 10 minutes flat.
This was Terminal Four – which is where all Jetstar domestic flights leave from and is the newest terminal at Melbourne Airport. It’s kind of a big ‘shed’ in a way, a little like the old KLIA2 Terminal in Kuala Lumpur, but not as hot and not as chaotic. There are plenty of choices to eat and although there were plenty of people there, it wasn’t super busy and it didn’t feel overcrowded. Do keep in mind that I flew on a Monday, which is not the busiest day of the week for air travel.
The gate though was a bit of a walk, around 8 minutes probably and then there was no waiting area really with seats at the gate, it was just a pretty disorganised line. However we boarded in good fashion, walking across the tarmac to the Airbus A320, back and front door boarding which always makes the experience more pleasant and indeed quicker.
The flight was completely full I don’t think I could see a free seat. The legroom was actually not too bad. I’m only 5’8” so not the tallest guy around, so keep that in mind by my knees had plenty of space and weren’t pushed up against the seat in front of me which is all you can ask. The A320 was configured in a 3 – 3 formation, and there was no Business Class (so all Economy) as far as I could see.
We took off on time, the ride was smooth, I had my window seat, there really wasn’t anything to complain about. I was glad to not need the bathroom on the I hour 5 minute flight, as getting past two strangers would have indeed proven difficult. There were four I think flight attendants on the flight, all of which were bubbly and friendly and were all you could ask for or indeed expect on a budget airline and frankly, I was impressed! The cheese and ham toastie arrived shortly after take off, pre-ordered meals are usually delivered before regular service commences. The toastie was nice. And although it cost $12 I compared it to the tiny snacks on Qantas flights I’ve been on over the last couple of years and at least it was something a little substantial.
No issues at Sydney airport, off the plane, bag received within a few minutes at the carousel, and I was soon on my way into Sydney. The whole experience was pretty faultless. HOWEVER – the one thing I will say is that when in Terminal Four Melbourne I looked up at the board and the 1240pm flight (mine was 2pm) Jetstar Melbourne to Sydney had been cancelled, perhaps that’s why the flight was so full. And so I’m pretty glad I wasn’t on that flight even though there wasn’t a huge wait for the next flight.
As good as the experience this time around was, personally I would rather not trust in Jetstar because just last week I heard a colleague talking about their horror experience of cancelled flights with Jetstar this month. It’s really pot luck if you get a smooth experience, and right now things are not running smoothly for any Australian airline, let alone one with a reputation of issues.
Thanks for popping by. Have you flown Jetstar before and how did you find them? Please do commented below! Thanks – and May the Journey Never End!