Flight Number: JQ38
Departing: Sydney International Airport T1, SYD 09:10
Arriving: Melbourne International Airport T1, MEL 10:40
Operated By: Jetstar
Class: Economy (Y)
Type: Paid economy ‘starter’
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner VH-VKH
Frequent Flyer Program: Qantas Frequent Flyer
Frequent Flyer Points Earned: 0
You might not really want to fly with Jetstar, neither do I, none the less, here is a review of their service and yes there is method to my madness. The flight number JQ38 is an international service originating at Bali Denpasar travelling to Sydney with irregular services continuing to Melbourne as an international flight. If your dates just so happen to match or you don’t mind coordinating your travel with this flight, it is a pretty good way to get from Sydney to Melbourne on a flight that isn’t your standard 737 or A320.
Though this is technically a domestic segment, Jetstar does not allow you to check-in on-line as the plane departs from the Sydney International Terminal. You are also required to carry a valid passport as your identification though it will not get stamped. Although you are not able to check-in on-line the check-in line was non-existent when I arrived, though I imagine it would get busy 30 minutes before check-in closes (I arrived as soon as check-in opened so that I could have as much time as possible at the lounge). It is also worth noting that you must be checked-in at the airport no later than 60 minutes before the scheduled departure, which is a bit more restrictive than a domestic flight.
Once you’ve received your boarding pass, head off to the departure area and through the doors to the passport check area. Immediately after you get to the end of the corridor turn right and join the line with sign showing an ‘orange D sticker’ as should be shown on your boarding pass. This line is shorter and you will not need to fill out a departure declaration form, from there a Customs officer will check your boarding pass and passport as if you were travelling internationally and you will then be directed to the security screening area as per normal.
For persons travelling on JQ38, you will be able to access the Qantas International Business Lounge if you are travelling in Business Class, are a Platinum One, Platinum or Gold Qantas Frequent Flyer or are a Qantas Club Member. As I fell into that category, I headed straight for the lounge after clearing security and walking through the duty free of which you cannot buy anything and I find tacky that you have to walk through. After you clear this, head straight and to the upward escalators to the left hand side, from there walk along the podium to the lounge. A review of the lounge is coming soon..
The boarding process began on time and with little difficulty; it began with Business Class passengers, those with children or in need of assistance and finally everyone else, note that Qantas Platinum One members or below do not receive priority boarding on Jetstar flights, well, at-least not this one. which was disappointing!
Jetstar have three classifications for their economy seats on the 787. They are standard, upfront and extra legroom with each coming at a different price. To select any seat on a Jetstar flight costs you $5 or you can purchase a ‘plus bundle’ for $35 which gives you free standard seating selection, Qantas Points, Checked baggage and a $5 inflight food voucher. As this was only a day trip and the cost of the plus bundle was almost as much as the sale ticket, i decided only to take the $5 seating selection.
All seats aboard the 787 are pretty much the same, in the sense that thay are tight and offer little legroom, though it is bareable for a 1 hour flight; I couldn’t imagine sitting in it for more than 2 hours! It is worth noting though that the 787 economy seats have 1 extra inch of pitch compared to the Jetstar A320 and A321 aircraft.
The cabin layout is in a 3-3-3 configuration, I chose a window seat on the wing which had a nice view and wasn’t too loud being near the engine.
Each seat comes with an entertainment system which you can access for $10, for a flight of 1 hour it isn’t at all worth the money though on a longer flight it does have a nice variety of films and TV shows. The only thing good about the entertainment system on this flight was that I was able to charge my phone and watch the air-show at no cost.
Service in the economy cabin was quite good, the flight crew were eager to distribute pre purchased meals and sell items to other customers just after the seat belt sign had been turned off, though with this the process felt a little rushed and lacked a bit of courtesy. None the less, for a 1 hour flight it was adequate and no issues arose.
Once the plane had landed at Melbourne, it was a short taxi to our gate where we promptly disembarked and headed for the exit where our boarding passes were again stamped. Note that there is no priority line when exiting Melbourne International for domestic passengers so there can be a little wait. After this you pass through the baggage collection area and then on to the bag check area, here your boarding pass will be taken from you as if it were a declaration card for an international passenger, the customs officer told me that “no-one is allowed to keep them”.
For a flight of only one hour it is quite an ordeal compared to a normal domestic flight between Sydney and Melbourne, I would recommend this flight only to people with a Qantas FF status above Gold or QC Member to access the International Business Lounge or to anyone who just wants to try the 787 on a short trip. If given the choice between International or Domestic, I would choose the International purely for the lounge access though if you are in a hurry it would be best to travel on a domestic flight. There really isn’t much difference between the Jetstar 787 and A320 from a seating point of view either.