My 5th Dreamliner Flight: Jetstar “Business” to Singapore

MEL, Melbourne, Australia  to SIN, Singapore  JQ7
Scheduled Departure: 12:00 Arrival: 16:50 Actual Departure: 13:34 Arrival: 18:06
Total distance: 6,040km -3,753 miles

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Bookings: 10/10

While operating just one class on domestic services in Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam, the carrier runs a StarClass (Business Class) on key international flights between Australia and Honolulu, China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. I thought I would try this option out, especially as it gave me another ride on a 787, making it my fifth 787 ever!

Jetstar’s website is very easy to use. I like the way, they handle choosing between one way and round trip bookings. It is very easy to find fare options by time or by cheapest fare. Once you book an Economy or Business fare, Jetstar offers you “Bundles” which include additional baggage and Qantas frequent flyer points.

Star Class with these points costs about one-third of the price of a regular airline (British Airways, Qantas or Singapore) on the same route. It is also cheaper than a Premium Economy with the airlines that offer that option on his route.

What I find extraordinary, is that Qantas rewards passengers on Jetstar and Qantas Business fares the same number of points and Status Credits despite a vast price difference.

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-5-13-12-pmIt does mean Qantas Frequent Flyer customers can rack up status credits to reach or maintain a status level for a much lower dollar investment.

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Check In: 6/10

Online check-in was pretty smooth. Actual physical check in was a scene of chaos. Jetstar had cancelled the next day’s MEL to SIN flight. They had moved some passengers forward onto this flight so this flight was completely full.The small check in area was full with a long line of about 200 passengers plus people seeing them off, snaking into the terminal area.

I could not find the Business Class check in line. One reason for the failure to spot the counter was that the Information Screen was blank with a small scrawled “Out of Service” sign (see below):

There was also a small sign at the entrance of the Business Class line but it was hidden by the long line of Main Cabin passengers! It took directions from the service counter staff for me to find my line.  Other Business Class customers commented on how hard it had been to find where to go. Seeing Jetstar sells smooth check-in as one benefit of their Star Class, this is an issue.

The One staff member handling the Business Class line was looking after an Economy Class passenger with a very complex issue which required multiple phone calls and a couple of visits to the Service counter. I watched for fifteen minutes and was told off for taking a selfie in the line, before the staff had a confab and one of the Main Cabin check in staff looked after me.

I was given an express pass to get through immigration which sped things up slightly.

Lounge: 10/10

img_5295Qantas Star Class fares give passengers access to the Qantas Business Lounge. I have access to the Qantas First Lounge because of my Frequent Flyer Status which was a bonus treat! Thanks Qantas!

Happily tucked into fruit salad and pancakes from their brand new ala carte Breakfast menu!

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Boarding: 5/10

At this point, I was impressed that Jetstar managed to trump the chaos of the check in process. I got notified by Tripit that the flight was delayed by 30 minutes. This was before the staff in the Qantas Lounge were told about the flight status. A fact that they were apologetic about. I wandered down to the Gate area, 15 minutes after the scheduled boarding time to find nothing much happening.

 

Confused passengers were seated waiting for something, anything. While I was there, an announcement was made by a Jetstar agent to say boarding would now be at 12 midday. No why. I went back to the Lounge who were still not even aware that the plane would be late. They expressed embarrassment on this. I understand that Qantas and Jetstar operate separately but there should be some better internal communication. 

 At 1210pm, I was back in the gate area to find  passengers who were even more frustrated than before -still with no further information. Jetstar, please, give your passengers regular information.  Even, “we do not know what is going on but you are not forgotten” is better than silence. Surely some scripts can be supplied to staff?

Boarding announcement was made at about 12:20pm for Business Class and priority passengers. It was made in English for a flight to Singapore.

img_5313There was a surge of everyone, for the boarding area. Staff valiantly tried to turn people back as passengers thrust boarding cards at staff. As one yelled “Business Class” only, I waved my Boarding Pass and she waved me forward. i felt like Moses through the red sea as the crowd parted to let me forward.

As i reached the gate, another Business passenger stopped to give the gate attendant n a piece of his mind. Never mind that the time he took to do that, was slowing the process down. Plus this woman had not power to change a thing. I sympathised with her and she laughed saying “water off a ducks back“.

I do not know what the rest of the Boarding was like because I was off and away down the gangway onto 787-8 number VH-VKH which was delivered to the airline on July 5th, 2014 (Just over two years before).

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We were warmly welcomed aboard by the crew who all  but two were Singapore-based. The other two were from Jetstar’s Bangkok-based. I could not fault the hard working staff for the whole flight. They gave a definite impression of genuinely enjoying making the flight experience a positive one.

I was surprised, nay shocked, to be given a welcome aboard drink, electing for a glass of very delicious champagne and a water!

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The airline left an amenity kit and blanket on the seat and a set of headphones and bottle of water in the seat pocket.

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img_5383Onboard announcements were made in English and Mandarin. 

The Plane: 7/10

Jetstar squeezes 335 people onto their  787-8 planes.

Business Class is made up of 21 recliner seats into three rows with a 2-3-2 configuration. It was absolutely full on my flight.  Seat pitch is 38″ and width is 19″. Quite a contrast to the 60″ I had in the first row of  Thai’s 787 and the 75″ with LATAM. It is the same pitch as Scoot’s 787 Business but narrower than their 22″ wide seats. 

img_5396314 Economy passengers are shoved into rows 10 t0 55 in a 3-3-3 configuration. At the back, there are some 2-3-2 rows. Seat pitch is an awful 30″ and width is 17″. Hard to cram any more in and hard to move on an eight hour flight.

img_5401There was  one lavatory at the front of the plane, one behind the first three rows of Economy, two in the middle of the aircraft and two at the rear. The front toilet remained clean. It has no frills.

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Some Economy passengers passed through the cabin to use the front toilet.

The seat: 6/10

Like Scoot, Jetstar’s grey coloured “Business” seat is a more of a Premium economy seat. It is a recliner which means you can lie and relax. I didn’t actually put the seat back.

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img_5461My biggest concern was the passenger in the seat next to me took off his shoes and he had very smelly socks. What is the etiquette in this situation? The smell lingered for the whole flight. Singapore Airlines used to include a request in their safety video where they asked passengers not to take off shoes. What is worse, he wore his socks into the bathroom. I am always leery of having bare feet or socks in aeroplane lavatories. Would you say something ?

Safety: 10/10

Good safety briefing, taken seriously by the staff.

Take Off

It was only when the Captain welcomed us aboard, that we found the reason for the delay. Our originally scheduled plane had a bird strike on arrival and was no longer able to fly the sector so they had substituted this plane. It, of course, had to be stocked and prepped. Why could no one tell us that at the Boarding area? Passengers may have been much more accepting of the situation.

Take off was compounded by some weather conditions around the airport and runway works both of which were reducing airport capacity. Consequently, we had to wait a while for pushback and take off.

As I have come to expect, the 787 take off was beautiful.

 

Soon after take off, the crew brought round a refreshing towel. Something else I did not expect from Jetstar!

 

 

 

Meals: 8/10

Meal orders for lunch were taken before take off. I was asked  by name what I wanted. Again, this is something I have never experienced on a Jetstar flight before.  There were two choices for the first course and three mains choices and a couple of desserts.

I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the meals. The starter is pictured below:
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img_5368For dessert, I had a raspberry cake. Pleasant enough but I would not rave about it. Some custard, cream or ice cream would have rescued it.img_5375I decided to order a glass of their award winning Port with it.
img_5374 The staff initially thought I was asking for tonic water so it took a few tries to get the port which was indeed excellent.

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A couple of hours before landing, we were served a small snack. I chose the chicken croquette and the chocolate cake. Both delicious but not a skerrick if fruit or vegetable.

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Between the two meals was a stretch of a few hours, during which I felt like a snack. Wandering into the galley, I asked what my options were for a snack. “Nothing” was essentially the answer! The staff had boxes of very attractively packaged truffles and  I was persuaded yo have three! Delicious but not enough -lesson eat more in the lounge. I did have a nice Kahlua and Milk. The cabin crew told me they would take my feedback on as this was a new menu. I was clearly not the only one who sought mid-flight sustenance!

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Entertainment: 8/10
All seats on this aircraft come with personal TVs.  In Business Class they are 10.6″ personal screen, and in Economy Class they are a little smaller at 9″.  

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Every seat in on the plane has a personal USB port. In Business Class there is also a  personal laptop powerpoint.  In Economy Class,  there are two powerpoints for every three seats.  

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In-flight entertainment (Movies, TV, games and music) are available free for Business Class customers but cost for Economy passengers with packages that can be pre-purchased when making a booking or bought on board.

Looking out the 787 windows and playing with the tinting gives me several minutes of enjoyment. Here, the plane leaves the Australian continent on its track across Bali and into Singapore.


img_5439Landing

A very smooth landing into Singapore’s Changi, albeit one hour 16 minutes late. Being Singapore, I was through immigration etc, into a taxi and at my Little India hotel within an hour.  Oh, if more airports functioned like Changi.

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The Verdict

My Flight Rating:  75% (3.75 out of 5).

About the Airline: Jetstar Airways is a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian Airline Qantas. It was formed in 2003, in response to the threat of low-cost airlines. With 74 planes, the airline flies to 37 destinations and carries 8.5 per cent of all passengers travelling into and out of Australia.


Skytrax:
 Skytrax rates Jetstar Airways as a three star airline and  place them as their 34th best airline. Skytrax customers rate them at 5/10.

My overall rating of  Jetstar Airways: 62% Jetstar has never been one of my favourite airlines. I rate them 44th out of the airlines I have flown. I always wait to be surprised by them. Today’s flight was a positive surprise.

Safety Rating: Airline ratings gives the carrier 7/7. The airline has possessed an excellent safety record since their founding.

Frequent Flyer Program: Qantas Frequent Flyer or Emirates Skywards, JAL Mileage points or Lotusmiles Miles  can be earnt if a passenger purchases an addiitonal bundle.

Positives:  The Welcome, The plane, The Meal, Drinks

Negatives:  Communication prior to Take off, more of an issue than the 76 minute delay, lack of mid-flight snack

Would I fly them again? Yes-I would treat it as a Premium Economy ride with extra perks like faster check in (when you can find it), Business Class points and  lounge. When choosing between Scoot or Air Asia business, Jetstar wins hands down. Choosing between Qantas Premium Economy or Jetstar Business? I would take Jetstar!

 

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Comments

  1. Not sure why you’d call out a flight to *Singapore* and announcements in English … the first language in that country is indeed English, and far more people speak it (better, dare I say) than in Australia.

  2. Great report! May I ask why the emphasis in italics about the boarding announcements made in English for a flight to Singapore?

  3. Gideon,thank you. Singapore is a multiracial country and a hub for flights to many other countries. Would be nice for Australians to respect that diversity and not assume all passengers flying out of an Australian airport only speak English.
    There were many passengers on the flight that day who clearly could not understand English.

  4. Thanks Singlish. I am a huge fan of Singapore and a massive admirer of their Education system which has propelled the country to become a leader in the region, if not the world. You will see my other comment on this in the comments here. I was not being disparaging of Singapore but of an Australian airport that did not take into account the multi lingual needs of passengers transiting through Singapore. There were many passengers clealry transiting through Singapore that had no clue what we being said. Yup Singapore English is spoken way more clearly than many if my fellow Australians! (Except for some Singlish words which leave me stumped!).

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