Route: Melbourne to Singapore
Plane: Dreamliner 787
Scheduled flight time: 7 hours and 50 minutes
The budget offshoot of Australia’s iconic Qantas, Jetstar gets a bad rap from many flyers. Is it deserved? Pretty much everyone who’s ever flown a commercial jet can recall horror stories and Jetstar is no exception but there’s little doubt in my mind that Jetstar cops flak for being, well, a budget airline.
Lots of travellers fly Jetstar expecting it to offer the same level of amenity and flexibility as a full service carrier. Jetstar started flying in 2003 and people immediately had issues with the restrictive travelling conditions. Indeed, they still do – when a passenger falls foul of the requirements, or the expectations aren’t meant, the howls reverb across social media in particular.
But let’s face it – low cost carriers have been a game changer. You pay for the level of service you want and if you don’t want whistles and bells, it can be a very affordable way of travelling the globe.
We fly Jetstar internationally a lot – to Singapore, Bangkok, Honolulu, Tokyo and Bali. We’ve done it on the ultra cheap but this week, we tried the “luxe” option – business class from Melbourne to Singapore.
Jetstar flies the Dreamliner 787 on this route. While the main cabin has a 3-3-3 configuration, business is a 2-3-2 setup. We’re in seats 1A and 1C (there’s no B seat in business), a bulkhead row which means plenty of legroom for your slightly short correspondent while my tall companion is comfortable.
We glance at the rows behind us and there appears to be plenty of room. The seat pitch is a decent 38 inches (96cm).
The seat is leather and comes with a small pillow, a blanket (made from recycled plastic bottles) and an amenity kit containing socks, eye mask, pen, ear plugs, toothbrush, plus a lip balm and hand cream by Milk, the company founded by Australian ex-Olympic swimmer Michael Klim. There are also ‘noise-cancelling’ headphones supplied.
There’s a choice of sparkling wine, orange juice or water before takeoff, with a packet of pretzels. The label reveals these are a ‘product of Egypt’. Globalisation is a wonderful thing …
Being in a bulkhead row, the inflight entertainment is housed in an arm rest and we’re not able to access it until the plane levels out.
The flight is 30 minutes late leaving Melbourne. It takes a due westerly route, across the bottom half of South Australia and then arcs up through Western Australia, across Indonesia and into Singapore. For a westerly trip, it feels quite fast and we land in Singapore 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
En route, there’s a small selection of movies and TV shows available free of charge to business passengers. The seat reclines a fair way, although the buttons on the arm rest for this and the foot rest are very stiff. The foot rest is pretty much useless; even for rather short individuals such as myself, it feels very cramped. Can’t imagine it would be a particularly comfortable position to try to sleep.
Meals are served promptly after take-off. There is a choice of three main courses, but I plump for the vegetable risotto. It’s OK, but I take the cheese from the accompanying salad and toss it into the rice and it’s much improved.
Champagne is poured on request – and here it is. We also opt for the cheese platter after our meal, rather than a dessert.
The windows in the Dreamliner don’t have shades, but are set to a dark blue colour for most of the flight. I try to work out how to change them but have no success. We settle in to watch a movie, although the headphones are of pretty basic quality, and it seems only minutes later, we’re offered our final snack, an hour and a half out from landing.
The staff were efficient and pleasant, but there’s no addressing you by name as is the case in other business class cabins. It wouldn’t be difficult for them to learn names, as there are only 21 business seats on board.
It was a pleasant experience for a daytime flight and, all things considered, worth the extra cash for a bit of additional comfort.
If you’re interested in what it’s like back in cattle class, check out our review of economy here.