We recently spent a few days at Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock). To get to the spiritual heart of Australia means flying to its remote airport (code:AYQ) at an outrageous cost. Fares from Sydney can range from $450 to $1000 for the round trip. I could fly round trip to Singapore for $450 to $750 in the same period. Yet, Ayers Rock is three hours and 40 mins from Sydney and Singapore is just over eight hours!
We chose to fly with Jetstar, which cost us around $490 round trip. I have never been a huge fan of Jetstar, Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary. Having flown them multiple times in the last 12 months, I have come to know what to expect.
The Jetstar website is very easy to navigate. Get ready to be sold everything and I mean everything. Nothing is included. Unlike Ryanair, Spirit and AirAsia, there are no nasty surprises, however. You won’t get to the end of your booking and found that you’re paying for expensive and unnecessary insurance.
Jetstar gives the ability to see fares across a week. This meant we could adjust our plans slightly to take advantage of a $30 fare saving between days!
I always add a “Plus Bundle” to my booking which gives me the all important Qantas points and status credits I like plus checked luggage of 20kg and a few other small “nicities”. One of my peeves is that on many sectors, Jetstar gives more Qantas status credits than their full-service sibling at a much cheaper fare cost.
Jetstar also has a Max bundle which gives a fully changeable ticket and 30kg of luggage. I have never this to be worthwhile. If you need the extra luggage, it is cheaper to buy it.
While selection of a Standard seat is included in the Plus bundle, I always pay extra again for an exit row seat. For me, its worth it!
NB On international services, Jetstar also offers a Business Class option.
The airline will try and sell you snack options (I eat on the ground) and entertainment options (where available) before getting to payment. They will SMS your flight details (for a fee). Finally, Jetstar charges a fee to pay by credit card but transfer from an Australian or NZ bank or payment by Jetstar voucher is free!
Check In: 10/10
This is easily done on-line. By a fluke, we turned up at the airport 2 hours 20 minutes before the flight to drop our bags off and found passengers are not allowed to do so until two hours before. We struck a delightful agent who allowed us to leave our bags early.
Check-in closes 30 minutes before departure. Do not try to check in late.
Jetstar passengers who are members of the Qantas Club or have Gold or higher Qantas can access the Qantas lounges when flying Jetstar. At Sydney the Lounge is in Terminal 3 but Jetstar flies from Terminal 2. This means leaving Terminal 2, walking across the car park, going through security, relaxing in the lounge and then reversing the process. For a wait of less than 45 minutes, I would not bother. Because we were so early our time in the Qantas lounge was well worth it allowing us a grazing brunch before boarding.
We schlepped back across the car park to terminal 2 from the lounge in terminal 3 to be confronted by a long series of queues for security. I have resolved that Sydney’s Terminal 2 has the worst security queues in the country. Leaving enough time is essential at this terminal because Jetstar is unforgiving about late boarding, strictly closing its gates 15 minutes before departure.
Boarding took a while on this completely full flight.
We got a friendly and smiley welcome at the gate and on board the plane. The friendliness continued for the whole flight. The crew conducting the meal service even addressed me by name.
On board: 6/10
Jetstar uses A320s on their domestic services and are adding 787s to international. I will fly their 787 in business class to Singapore in December).
They have a seat pitch (distance between seats ) of 29” with a 17.4″ width. I think 32” shaped, be the minimum mandatory pitch). For a 185cm, 6’1 man it is tiring being cramped up in a tiny airline seat.
Walking the aisle is crowded.
The airline has a snack menu you can buy from. We had eaten in the Qantas lounge so I chose a healthy snack and a sparkling water from the $5 voucher included in my Plus bundle. No other catering is offered and certainly nothing is free on this almost four hour flight.
We were given beautiful views of Sydney as we lifted off into the morning sun.
Entertainment: 0 out of 10
On domestic flights, Jetstar provides no entertainment.
We were lucky to get our first glimpse of the rock as the plane rapidly descended to the single runway. Ayers Rock airport has no jetbridges so a walk on the tarmac in all weathers (generally warm to very hot).
My Flight Rating: Overall 67% (3.4 out of 5).
My rating of Jetstar: 62%
Positives: Staff friendliness, Website
Negatives: Entertainment, Seat pitch
Would I fly them again? Yes