Recently, Singapore's aviation scene got more and more exciting with the assault of low cost carriers. Traditional, these budget airlines would operate only to regional destinations with their A320s/B737s in a dense layout. However, Jetstar started to lead the way with operations of mid/long haul flights out of Singapore using their A330-200 to Melbourne and Auckland, offering ultra-low fares to these 2 destinations never seen before.
Seizing the opportunity of grabbing these low low fares to Auckland just after the launch of the flights, me and a friend booked a short trip to New Zealand over the National Day holidays. Our fares came up to S$600 per person return, inclusive of 20kg baggage allowance, 2 meals inclusive of drinks each way and amenity kit on the way up. A very good deal when SQ is selling tickets for almost S$1800 each person for a flight of similar timing. Jetstar's Business Class fare was at one time during a promotion even much cheaper than Economy on SQ!! In fact our tickets could have even been cheaper at around S$550 if we can booked later due to various promotions nearer to our flight date. So lets now take a peek into the Jetstar long-haul experience!
04 August 2011 Jetstar Asia (Operated by Jetstar) 3K 401 Singapore (SIN) - Auckland (AKL) A330-200 VH-EBF Economy Class
Check-in for all Jetstar flights are at Changi's Terminal One. However, Jetstar and Jetstar Asia flights were handled by different handling agents (Jetstar by CIAS, Jetstar Asia by APS) and thus check-in rows for 3K and JQ flights were also different. As our flight, even though denoted as a 3K flight, was actually operated by JQ aircraft, our check-in was handled by CIAS staff along with the other JQ flights. Our flight was also code-shared with Qantas.
Check-in was efficient. Not much of a wait. According to the agent, flight was 80% full.
A proper boarding pass was printed. There were codes on the boarding pass denoting the extras bought.
Lets do some plane spotting! 2 Cathays were spotted. In fact within a span of 3 hrs, I saw 4 different CX aircrafts in Changi!
All the red tails (Air Asia, Qantas, British Airways).
Another Qantas A330 arriving.
More red tails. A Lionair B739ER this time.
My flight to Auckland, VH-EBF. It had just arrived from Auckland and would be operating another AKL turn.
The gatehold room for our flight was packed! It really looked like a full flight. Boarding was announced shortly after I had entered the holding area and Business Class and families with children were invited to board first. Economy boarding followed according to row numbers. Boarding was orderly as the sequence was strictly followed. A crew member was also at the entrance to the aerobridge checking boarding passes and welcoming passengers. A nice touch!
Boarding the A330-200. Was warmly welcomed by the crew. Crew were also actively helping passengers to stow their hand-luggage in overhead compartments. A good start to the long-haul budget flight I must say.
My seat was at 51K. Surprisingly, legroom was very generous for my 1.8m frame! Nothing like the cramped A320s. The seat pitch was advertised as 31 but I could fully stretch out my legs under the seat in front! Recline was great too! Also I guess row 51 has slightly more seat pitch at the window seats due to the curvature of the cabin. Looks like it is gonna be a comfortable ride. I swear the seats are more comfy than SQ's new economy seats, but without the techno stuffs. (Picture taken later inflight)
On the armrest of the seat is the control panel for the radio channels, overhead light and call button.
Stuff in the seat pocket. Safety card, Jetstar magazine and a inflight guide.
There were a total of 9 cabin crew onboard the A332 aircraft. 6 crew in Economy and 3 in Business. Almost all of them were Singaporeans/Malaysians. There was also a Japanese crew. Flight time was announced to be a quick 9hrs 10min. However pushback was delayed as according to the captain, the push-back truck was missing due to some miscommunication with the ground staff. We eventually pushed back about a 15min delay.
Taxi to Rwy 20C, passing another Jetstar A330 operating a flight to Melbourne. Spot the 3rd CX plane?
Changi's iconic tower. And the 4th CX plane.
Takeoff from Rwy20C into the night sky.
Another kind gesture I observed from the crew: The crew members helped passengers seated at emergency exit rows to store their bags into the overhead compartments prior to takeoff as no bags can be placed on the floor. After seatbelt signs were switched off, the crew retrieved the bags from the overhead bins and returned them to the passengers! Crew then started the cabin service. First, pre-purchased amenity kits (or comfort kits as Jetstar calls them) were handed out. I hand purchased one for the flight up. The kit came in a red wrapper and consists of a blanket and a pouch.
For S$9, you get a blanket and a pouch that contains a pair of socks, inflatable pillow, ear plugs, eye-shades and a toothbrush set. All for yours to keep!
Following that, crew came down the aisle selling the portable inflight entertainment sets. Interestingly, only credit cards are accepted and no cash transactions allowed. Everything is charged in Ozzie dollars. Other than the portable IFE sets, short features, a movie and flight map were also shown on the overhead TV monitors. There were also some radio channels. However you would need to use you own earphones or purchase one fomr the crew.
However as the portable set did not have any movies that appealed to me, I did not purchase it.
After about 1.5hrs of flight, I started to smell food! Meal service then commenced. Hot meals, snacks and drinks were offered for purchase. However if one requires drinking water, there are 2 water fountains in the middle of the cabin with disposable cups. Crew will also gladly get for you a cup of water from the galley, free-of-charge.
However as I had pre-purchased my meals, I was offered a choice of 3 meals. Beef with potatoes, sweet n sour chicken with fried rice or a vegetarian pasta.
I had the beef with potatoes, carrots and beans. Beef was tender. Nice meal and the portion was huge!!
My friend had the sweet n sour chicken with fried rice. I tried some, not bad! And portion was big too! The meal portions are definitely much bigger than SQ economy main courses. And the plastic disposable casseroles do not warp after heating, unlike SQ's current ones.
However, apparently Jetstar did some cost cutting as no starter, bun and dessert were handed out now. These items used to come in a meal box. The inflight magazine also still stated that hot meals will be accompanied with a sweet treat. However when I asked the crew, he was apologetic that there were no dessert with the meals now but they did offer it previously. Along with my meal, I was offered a choice of a hot and cold drink. I had a 350ml bottle of orange juice and a big cup of hot chocolate. First time I had a hot chocolate on a flight!
After meal service was completed and cleared, cabin was dimmed for everyone to rest. However, crew still responded to any call buttons swiftly without delay in the middle of the night. I witnessed a passenger pressed a call button to request for a cup of water and a crew appeared at his seat within seconds!
Overflying Bali at night.
With the aid of the comfortable seat (with adjustable headrests that are actually not flimsy) and recline, I achieved about 4hrs of sleep, waking up when we were nearing Brisbane. An hour later, the sun started to rise.
Passengers starting to wake and admiring the sunrise.
About 1.5hrs before arrival, breakfast (a light meal) was served. We had 2 choices: Scrambled eggs with bacon or Frittata with vegetables. I had an orange juice again and a hot coffee with the meal. Notice how the milk and sugar were placed in a cute little box.
Frittata with mushroom and vegetables. Portion for light meal was slightly smaller than the earlier dinner. Comparable to SQ's economy main course portion.
Scrambled eggs with potatoes and bacon.
Visit to the toilet after breakfast. Surprisingly, the lavs were still very clean towards the end of the flight. The crew must have cleaned them quite frequently during the entire flight. Thick paper towels, tissues, soap and toilet seat covers were available in the lav. Lavatory design is also very modern with hollywood-style lightings on the mirrors.
View of cabin. We are approaching New Zealand soon!
Before our descent, the pilot came on to give us some arrival information. Surprisingly, an arrival video was also shown!
Auckland city in sight.
Descending through cloudy skies.
Turning into finals, flaps lowered.
Touching down soon…
And I had one of the smoothest landing ever on a plane! Barely a bump on touchdown. Impressed!! Arrival into Auckland Rwy23L.
We had an on-time arrival due to the strong tailwinds. Disembarking the aircraft, I took a shot of the Business Class seats. Business Class was apparently also quite full. Good business for Jetstar!
VH-EBF after disembarked.
Parked beside a NZ B772.
Jetstar Asia Airways
Singapore - SIN
Auckland - AKL
What should I say? I more than survived a long-haul budget flight! Jetstar has certainly exceeded my expectations for the flight. In fact, I was quite impressed with the service of its crew members who were all friendly and nice. Meals were excellent in quantity and quality but I do hope that they would bring back the starter and chocolate dessert. Seats were comfortable and toilets were kept clean throughout. All in all, impressive for the price paid! With rumours that Jetstar would be basing 5 A330s in SIN, it is no wonder SQ would want to start their own long-haul LCC to defend its own turf.
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