Today, Japlanning is launching into its latest airline review. On our late-2012 trip to Tokyo, we flew with Jetstar from Melbourne to Tokyo, via Gold Coast. Read on to find out how they were, and what we loved and didn’t like about Australia’s number one low-cost airline.
Today we are flying with Jetstar, in economy, from Melbourne, Australia via Gold Coast to Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan.
Late in 2012 we took a research trip to Tokyo (Yes, we are constantly back and forth to Japan, it’s a hard life), and we decided to use Jetstar, the low cost sibling of Qantas, to get there, as they’re are one of the only airlines that fly direct to Japan from Australia (Qantas and JAL are the other two). The first pleasantry for this trip was the arrival time at Melbourne airport: we didn’t have to be there hours beforehand, thanks to it being a domestic flight to Gold Coast, Queensland for our connecting international flight. Arriving in Melbourne an hour prior, with a smooth check-in, and also the disappointment that our bags wouldn’t be checked the entire way through to Tokyo (that’s right, we would need to collect our luggage at Gold Coast and then check it again at Gold Coast for the International leg), this is a bit of a drag, however not too surprising from a low cost carrier - costs need to be cut wherever possible (I’m more surprised they haven’t added it as an extra cost service!)
Domestic Flight – Was an uneventful two hour and change flight…
Once arriving at Gold Coast airport is where some headaches began, we had a 4-hour layover before our onward journey to Tokyo. So, we collected our bags, thanks to Jetstar’s no check through policy, and went to check in to the international flight... Well, until we saw it wouldn’t be open for check in for another two hours. So we got the joy of trying to find a place out of the way of morning peak-hour in the terminal to sit with all our baggage, not great so far.
Once we were able to check-in, it was quite uneventful and quick which was nice. The departure lounge was packed at this point, and the international section was worse, with the terminal being so small, and 4 flights leaving over two hours, everyone meant business; however, the airport handled it well. We got the call for boarding on time and embarkation was a breeze (also on time), however departure was more than an hour late.
We took our seats, which were right at the front of economy in seats 25J and 25K on their Airbus A330-200. Jetstar’s seats are surprisingly roomy, and probably the most comfortable of all the low-cost airlines servicing Australia. With an extremely generous width of 45.7cm, and a recline pitch of 78.7cm, it is a roomy seat for a budget airline. We quickly realised this was going to be a roomy flight, with it only being about 35% full, a bonus for us, as once in the air, we commandeered the seats in front and behind us for a row each, making it more comfortable. Take off was delayed because of “paperwork”, so we didn’t get into the air for another hour and 20 minutes, which, on a full flight would have been frustrating, however being so empty it didn’t affect us too much.
Once in the air, the cabin crew began their sales pitch, first through with the Jetstar iPads for rent on the flight, then shortly after with comfort packs for sale. These are the little sales pitches you expect though, as they need to make the extra money somewhere! Shortly after, they came through with the lunch service, and all items were an additional cost, ranging from a few dollars for a drink to $15+ for a hot meal. Jetstar do have a wide selection available, with chips, sandwiches, wraps, and cheeses for a light snack, to three hot options (a chicken, beef and vegetarian option), however, if you are really wanting one, you should order these when you book your tickets, as those pre-purchased are served first, and on fuller flights hot options are usually not available for the impulsive purchaser.
We sampled the chicken and vegetable stir-fry dish, which was quite terrible, with an old skin of sauce on top, giving the idea that it had been waiting to be eaten for a long time. The flavour was non-existent and the bread roll was basically a rock, and should have been confiscated incase it was used as a weapon by other guests. The beef noodle dish was edible and much fresher, but still forgettable, which makes you wonder: can’t they cook with a little seasoning and flavour? The drink options were your usual fare with Australian beers and wines available, and also some house spirits, and coke soft drinks. When you purchase a hot meal, you do get a drink included, so there is that “benefit”.
In the entertainment department, you’d expect, much like other discount airlines, to be non-existent, this is where Jetstar mildly surprised us. The plane does feature projectors at the front of each cabin, and TV screens throughout, where they show a couple of old movies and several sitcoms on repeat for the duration of the flight. Honestly, it is a pleasant surprise, as, let’s face it, they really don’t have to offer it since they do rent out iPads, which are stocked with dozens of the latest movies, TV shows and books, as well as games and music to keep anyone entertained for the entire journey.
Beyond the usual offerings, the flight was smooth with very little turbulence, which was nice, and outside the lunch and dinner service, the flight attendants were almost never seen except for a rouge drink trolly every few hours, though if called upon, they were quick and attentive.
We tried to get a little sleep, but weren't successful. Being a daytime flight, it seemed hardly worth it with such a minor change in timezones, jet lag wasn’t looking to be an issue.
We landed into Tokyo 45-minutes late, and disembarking was a breeze, thanks to an empty plane and seats near the front. The staff were all still smiling as we left and wishing us a safe journey.
This one is a tough one, on one hand, the terrible food and bizarre checked baggage policies would normally make Japlanning look elsewhere for a airline, however you must keep in mind that it is a low cost airline, and when booking with one you should be expecting cut backs in service and quality.
Jetstar were exactly what we would expect from a budget carrier, and being one of the only few airlines from Australia with direct routes to Japan, we would fly them again, if they were the only airline within our budget when planning a trip. If they improved some aspects and started selling baggage checked the whole way, that would definitely jump them up the list of Japlanning preferred airlines.
Jetstar fly to Japan direct from the following regions:
- 1 flight daily from Gold Coast, QLD to Tokyo
- 1 flight daily from Gold Coast, QLD to Osaka
- 1 flight daily from Cairns, QLD to Tokyo
- 1 flight daily from Cairns, QLD to Osaka
- 4 flights weekly from Manila to Tokyo
- 4 flights weekly from Manila to Osaka
- 3 flights weekly from Singapore to Osaka
For flight sales and bookings please visit www.jetstar.com