Flight date: 12 February 2012
Aircraft: Airbus A321-200
Flight Number: JQ85
Flight Time: 2hrs 35mins
Class: Economy (Value Plus fare)
Travelling overseas, for those living in the southeastern part of Australia, usually means a long-haul flight unless, of course, you are crossing the ditch to visit our Kiwi cousins. But for our country folk that reside in the north and northwest of the country, this isn’t necessarily the case. I was in Darwin for a friends birthday party and had booked a return flight from there to Bali, Indonesia for less than the price of my one way flight from Sydney. The Jetstar Airways flight from Darwin to Denpasar, Bali, was actually the shortest international flight I have ever taken from Australia with a scheduled flying time of 2hrs 35mins. Jetstar Airways (JQ), a Qantas Group company, is considered a low cost carrier and has a ‘user pays’ or ‘pay-as-you-go’ system, so I decided to purchase a ‘Value Plus’ fare which gave me certain benefits then just my seat, hoping to strip away that budget airline feeling when aboard. The four benefits, for around $30 per flight on these sectors, included a priority boarding pass, online standard seat selection, Qantas Frequent Flyer points and a meal with a non-alcoholic beverage and tea or coffee included.
As this Freakyflier usually always does, I arrived at Darwin International Airport early for my early evening flight to Indonesia and with no queue, check-in was quick and efficient with a very friendly Jetstar ground staff member. After clearing the small immigration area which leads directly into the larger duty free store, where I kept my wallet closed ;), I waited in the departure gate until the flight was called for boarding. Through having a priority boarding pass – benefit # 1, I was one of the first to board Airbus a321-200, one of six that Jetstar operate in its all Airbus fleet*. The aircraft, spotlessly clean, was configured to tightly seat 220 passengers and although the seats have a smaller than average pitch of 28 inches they do have a wider than average width of 18 inches. I settled into seat 28A, a standard, non-bulkhead or exit row seat, which I had chosen online – benefit # 2, and after everyone else had boarded and the aircraft doors were closed, I was delighted to discover that I had the entire row to myself.
Benefit # 3 of my Value plus airfare add-on, came not long after take off. Before other passengers wishing to purchase from the Jetstar inflight menu could make their selection, a cabin crew member came and asked me what meal I would like. She stated the meal choices as Beef or Chicken. I chose ‘Chicken’ which was very quickly delivered, hot, direct from the galley. It came, not on a tray, but by itself in a standard economy class sized, rectangular shaped dish made of throw-away plastic, with a see through plasticised film on top, reminiscent of a microwave meal. The chicken, Asian style, with lightly sesame coated chunks of thigh meat and steamed vegetables, came with a condiment and utensil pack consisting of the standard plastic knife & fork, a serviette and salt & pepper. As mentioned, with the meal came a choice of a soft drink or a juice and tea or coffee, I chose a soft drink, a Pepsi, which was a 330ml sized can, not often seen or sold in Australia and canned in Singapore. The meal was slightly boring with not much to it in flavour and content, and to be honest, on this short flight I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. I was offered a tea or coffee as my meal was cleared, however I declined and purchased another Pepsi, which interestingly, this time was an Australian made 375ml can.
Jetstar aircraft have no main screen or seatback entertainment but entertainment consoles can be hired for AUD10 which show a variety of new release movies, TV shows, music videos and cartoons for the little and big kids. I didn’t hire one, as I had my laptop with me and my plan was to watch a recently purchased movie, however my battery died half way through. It is probable that Jetstar, like most airlines, will start streaming inflight entertainment directly to passengers devices such as tablets or laptops, most likely for a fee, but I do wonder about device recharging abilities onboard if, like my laptop, the battery loses its power.
My flight landed about 15 minutes early at Denpasar International Airport, Bali and disembarkation from the aircraft was quick. After stopping to purchase my Indonesian Tourist Visa for USD25, which I had some USD set aside, I cleared immigration and customs and made my way outside the terminal into the thick tropical air, with a constant yet polite ‘NO!’ to the taxi touts and awaited my hotel transfer, which arrived on time. Benefit # 4 came a few days later when I received my Qantas Frequent Flyer points at the standard one point per mile flown. For me, the ‘Value Plus’ add-on did have its benefits as the priority boarding and being served a meal before others could purchase one made me feel like a passenger with ‘value’. The standard seat selection really wasn’t much of a benefit as standard seats are just that, standard, and on this flight I had the whole row, but the Frequent Flyer points are important to me and are something I love to earn and burn. Overall, I enjoyed my rather short overseas flight from Australia and I most likely would purchase the Value Plus add-on again should I choose to fly Jetstar Airways. 🙂
Jetstar Airways operates three weekly flights between Darwin and Denpasar, Bali
I travelled to Darwin and Bali under my own funds.
*Referring to Jetstar Airways (JQ). Jetstar Asia (3K), Jetstar Japan (GK) also operate all Airbus aircraft while Jetstar Pacific (BL) of Vietnam operate a fleet of majority all Airbus aircraft with the exception of a single leased Boeing 737-400.