Review of Jetstar Asia Airways flight Kuala Lumpur Singapore in Economy

Flight 3K688
Class Economy
Seat 28F
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 00:45
Take-off 30 Jul 23, 22:22
Arrival at 30 Jul 23, 23:07
3K 49 reviews
Proximanova
By SILVER 311
Published on 2nd January 2024

Prelude: A sad start to the Year for Japan and JAL


BREAKING NEWS: It has not been even two days into 2024, and it has emerged that a Japan Airlines A350-900 (JA13XJ) has collided with a Japan Coast Guard DHC-8-300 (JA722A) at Tokyo Haneda Airport, resulting in both aircraft bursting into flames and being destroyed beyond repair. Mercifully, thanks to the timely instructions by the cabin crew in a crisis situation — as well as compliance by all passengers in not retrieving their belongings — all 379 occupants of the JAL A350 were evacuated safely, but tragically five out of six people on the Coast Guard plane (except the captain) have been confirmed to have perished. What a horror start to 2024 for the Japanese — first the New Year’s Day earthquakes and tsunami, and now the destruction of both a two-years-young A350 and an aircraft that was carrying supplies for the earthquake victims themselves.

I have just concluded my trip to Vietnam and returned to Singapore — also on an A350-900 (9V-SHV, a fitting bookend to a journey that began on A380 9V-SKV) — and on Flight 191 at that, a number which has had a terrible history and negative connotations thanks to major crashes in the past. The registration may also have been an ‘unlucky 13’ for JAL, and what’s more the airline is weeks away from placing its much-vaunted A350-1000 — with a new, heavily hyped First Class product — into service, and it has also ordered 13 of that. I am only a mildly superstitious flier, with my main concern being avoiding the 737, but all I can hope and pray for is that this is the last major accident in 2024. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, and if any people have the resilience to rise from this double disaster, it’s the Japanese.


Introduction: The last flight report of 2023… or the first of 2024?


The first day of 2024 was also the last day of my big Christmas/New Year vacation tour across India and Vietnam, and I had a big day-long itinerary at the spanking-new Lotte Mall, Hanoi West Lake — perhaps the most outrageously outstandingly opulent mall I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen many. From The Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates, to the ION Orchard, Jewel Changi and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, to the ICONSIAM, centralwOrld and Siam group of malls in Bangkok, to the Pavilion, Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur — this one is so extravagant, extraordinary and exotic, replete with a giant aquarium, that it probably beats most if not all of those. (I’ll publish the details around June 2024 when I’m reviewing the corresponding flights.)

As such, I had to postpone publishing this flight report from New Year’s Eve 2023 to after I returned home to Singapore on 2 January. I had planned it to be my last report of 2023, but I’ll no longer call it that to be fair to everyone, and instead this inconsequential Jetstar Asia flight from KL in July 2023 becomes my first of 2024. Especially since the images were already put together, and it was only a matter of writing the words, which isn’t hard to do as there are much fewer pictures in this report as it was a very short (and, I daresay, forgettable) flight. As that cover image (instead of the expected Jetstar A320) — from my pre-departure waiting period at KLIA2 — tells you, I send my best wishes and greetings for 2024 and hope that it turns out to be a fruitful and prosperous one for all.

I’ve already gone through the details of this little four-hour trip to Kuala Lumpur in the previous instalment on the Ethiopian 787-9 — with Christine’s Bakery being the focal point of the two-or-so hours spent in the city — as well as the airlines and aircraft types (including the SQ A380) I’m flying on the current trip. But I didn’t share with you the Vietnamese airlines that I flew, the 26th and 27th (and final) flights of 2023. In one of the reports that I published in October 2023, I’d written this:


a New Year’s Eve Vietnam trip involving (potentially) the Cathay Pacific A350 and A321neo and (definitely) the VietJetAir A330 and Vietnam Airlines A350


Suffice it to say that the words ‘potentially’ and ‘definitely’ should have been interchanged! While I did indeed get the CX A350-900 and A321neo, neither the VJ A330-300 nor the VN A350-900 showed themselves, but that by no means translates into disappointing flights. I have to say, I enjoyed every minute flying on the VietJetAir sharkletted A320ceo (VN-A675) from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, and the Vietnam Airlines 787-10 (VN-A879) in the other direction, with great food and friendly, fun service — and, in the latter case, a cool IFE system and the Dreamliner’s big windows. VJ is much like AirAsia in terms of its hot meals and leather seats — both of which are verboten on IndiGo — and of late it has been extensively targeting Indian passengers with both food and fares. Needless to say, I enjoyed them quite a bit, and the A330-300 would have made little difference in terms of the pleasant low-cost service.

VN, however, has been trumpeting the achievements it has made in terms of its Skytrax 4-star rating, service and fleet, and while it’s no Ethiopian, the numerous well-produced videos in the IFE make the milestones of the pride of Vietnam — with the slogan of ‘Reach Further’ — clear for all to see. In general, VN’s HAN–SGN trunk route is operated interchangeably by its A350-900s, 787-9s and 787-10s, so I was fully expecting to get a 787 based on the previous operating history, with the A350 being more sporadic. While at some point I’d been hoping for VN-A897, VN’s SkyTeam-liveried A350 — much like KLM’s 777-300ER in the SkyTeam colours, PH-BVD, that I’d got in June flying to Denpasar — this one merely interchanged the last two digits!

I do not mind these substitutions at all, unlike the dated 777-200ER of Thai Airways, which it likes to send every now and then instead of a regular A350 — this terrible lightning struck me for the second time in November flying from Bengaluru, when the scheduled A350 was replaced at the last minute — and which it has no intention of either refurbishing or retiring. I wish this game of TGing would stop once and for all, but fortunately other ASEAN airlines, including Singapore and Vietnam Airlines, have seen sense and thrown out their older 777s, bringing in new A350s and 787s instead… though, in fairness, TG has those too. (The big exception is Garuda Indonesia, which will never operate the A350 or 787, nor will any other Indonesian airline — but fortunately its A330-300s, A330neos and 777-300ERs are by no means as ancient as those 777-200ERs of not only TG but also some other Asian airlines, including both Korean ones, KE and OZ.)

Anyway, on with this one, and I’m more than surprised that after my two Garuda reports in November received an underwhelming response with zero comments for either, the Ethiopian one got more than 2,000 views. I suppose people like exotic airlines on ordinary routes! 


Routing


The quest for a bakery, or ‘a bag of happiness’


Sunday, 30 July, Kuala Lumpur, 7pm. KLIA is so far down from the city (as I’ve said countless times before) that you should be lucky to reach your destination in 45 minutes — never mind the excellent expressway infrastructure. I was headed to Bandar Sunway in the western suburbs in Selangor state.


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It was nearing on half-past seven when I came close to the township, one where the Sunway Group has made a name for itself with its residential, commercial, educational and infrastructural accomplishments.


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By the time the Egyptian-themed Sunway Pyramid mall came into view, dusk had fallen and the bright lights (and Barbie sign) had lit up the scene.


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The mall was as sprawling and diverse as many others in Kuala Lumpur, and I had to pass up on the opportunity to take a couple of cute figurines with me, as I didn’t have any ringgit in cash! As compensation, I did take their pictures, and have attached them below.


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In fifteen minutes I was out, and headed to the Sunway Geo Avenue building with its assortment of random shops.


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Sunway Geo Avenue stood opposite a hospital, and this plaza was somewhat less lively by comparison, but by no means deserted.


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This, then, was the entire purpose of the trip: the Christine’s bakery with its lovely (girly!) glowing lights, baby-pink décor and large selection of sweets, treats and eats. That said, I preferred the Mid Valley Megamall outlet (which I’d visited in May) as it was much brighter and gave a cosier feel to the ambience.


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For the sum of RM36 (S$12, US$8) I was once again in possession of ‘A Bag of Happiness’, one that I’d lost in May!


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At 8:10 another Perodua — a Bezza sedan this time; the one from the airport was an Aruz SUV — turned up and took me all the way down back to KLIA. Really, Christine’s means it when it says ‘a bag/box of happiness’!


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KLIA again, after two hours — but the budget terminal this time


As is usually the case, it took some 40–45 minutes to go all the way down to the airport, and in the meantime I was typing out one of the many reports I have churned out for this website. An ad for AirAsia — featuring the ‘old’ logo, mind you — was a sign that we were near Base Camp KLIA.


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As it neared on nine, we drove into the low-cost terminal’s alleyway.


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By now I’d found out that the flight would be operated by 9V-JSL, which had the nicer-looking Jetstar titles as against the big, blocky wordmark that forms the logo of the airline.


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At 8:55 I was back where I started two-and-a-half hours ago, surrounded all around by ads for the Big Red, and got down from the Perodua Bezza that was equally red. It’s clear that the airline will persist for using the ‘legacy’ handwritten-ish logo for the airline business and the newer airasia logo for the website and ‘Super App’ — a rare example of a company simultaneously using two different logos for different parts of the business.


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KLIA2 has a good selection of shops — this pre-check-in retail area is called gateway@klia2 — but it certainly doesn’t match the classiness of the Main Terminal Building. ‘Can’t stop seeing red?’ went a cheeky AirAsia ad.


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Now I entered the check-in area of KLIA2, which I’d never seen before, and which looked more like a big train or bus interchange — somewhat like KL Sentral — more than anything else.


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I went all the way to the right, to the 3K counter, and picked up my boarding pass, there being no checked-in luggage. Of note was the multiple codeshare partners for this LCC flight: Qantas itself, another Oneworld airline (SriLankan), one in SkyTeam (KLM) and Qantas’ best buddy Emirates. In contrast, my wretched Scoot flight in May had no codeshare partner other than the parent Singapore Airlines.

On a previous occasion when I’d written about KLIA2, I’d said, ‘In the coming months you should see more flight numbers beginning with Z9.’ Oh how wrong I was: MYAirline ceased operations on 12 October 2023 — a bit under four years after the previous owner of the Z9 code, Kazakhstan’s Bek Air, went into the history books after a fatal crash at the end of 2019. What promised to be a challenger to AK (with a similar red colour scheme) turned out to be little more than a short-lived, money-starved flash in the pan — no different from other LCCs across the globe like Norway’s Flyr, India’s Go First and Colombia’s Viva Air and Ultra Air, which all went belly-up in 2023.


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This is what I’ve made the cover image for this report as we welcome 2024, and it sends a lovely message to everyone.


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Shopping in a glorified train station (though a nice one)


Other than the odd WHSmith shop or duty-free store, the small-town, budget feeling continued throughout KLIA2, without the grand aesthetic of the full-service counterpart.


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In the WHSmith I bought a three-way (Lightning, USB-A, USB-C) charging cable, which sadly never worked afterwards.


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Next I went past the very generic Heinemann Duty Free…


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…and headed to the Sony store, where I bought a mini-charger (second row, right, within which the first item on the first row) for my Apple Watch so that I could plug it in anywhere on the move instead of having to charge up at home at the beginning of the day.


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There were also some cheesy, touristy fridge magnets, with pick-up lines ranging from ‘Good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught’ to ‘My boyfriend says my dress is so tight he can hardly breathe’. I knew better than to choose such a glorification of bad girls as ‘Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere’, so I passed on it.


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Some more gift and souvenir shops, including for traditional attire, much like you’ll find at Suvarnabhumi.


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Before long I’d reached the gate, since it was the first in a long line, and here the differences between this low-cost terminal and the full-service one became even more apparent, given that this corridor was extremely narrow as against the wide, spacious one with glass windows where I’d arrived at. In fact, it looked more appropriate for a primary school — given the bright colours of the walls — than an international airport!


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I headed down the narrow corridor to a Burger King and picked up something to have on the plane, as I wouldn’t be buying anything on board for sure, not with those high SGD prices.


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Now all I had to do was to step on board the jetbridge, and who should I meet but 9M-RAV, the sharkletted A320 which had carried me to Singapore half a year ago (and exactly a year ago from the date of publishing this report) when I’d flown from KLIA2 from the first time!


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The girls at the door were spiffy in their black uniforms — I’ll give credit to 3K for that, at least; but the sharp effect gets even better when you fly with the Jetstar of Japan!


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The flight: Boarding and departure


Flight: Jetstar Asia Airways 3K688/JSA688
Date: Sunday, 30 July 2023
Route: Kuala Lumpur International (WMKK/KUL) to Singapore Changi (WSSS/SIN)
Aircraft: 9V-JSL, Airbus A320
Age: 12 years at the time (built: 12 July 2011, delivered: 2 August 2011)
Seat: 28F (starboard side, window)
Boarding: 9:50pm SGT/MST (GMT +8)
Departure: 10:22pm SGT/MST (GMT +8)
Arrival: 11:07pm SGT/MST (GMT +8)
Duration: 45 minutes

Notes:
• First flight on Jetstar Asia Airways, and second on a Singaporean airline other than SQ and Scoot, with the previous one also being on a non-sharkletted A320: 9V-SLS on SilkAir MI435 from Chennai to Singapore on 11 January 2020.
• First flight on an LCC other than AirAsia, Scoot, IndiGo or another Indian LCC, SpiceJet — the only one of these to operate the 737 instead of the A320. At the end of 2023, though, I flew VietJetAir (also on an A320ceo, but a sharkletted one this time: VN-A675) and it struck me as being more personable than 3K, not to mention the hot meals. In other words, VietJetAir is more like AirAsia while Jetstar is more like Scoot — except VietJetAir and Jetstar (and IndiGo) don’t have any inflight connectivity portal, while AirAsia and Scoot do.


A bit better than Scoot, but AirAsia is much better


The first impression I had when settling into the drab grey leather-padded seat was ‘My word, is this tight!’ Words that I had never spoken on any other airline before, not even Scoot, which I love to hate. However, the cheery café menu more than made up for it, though I wouldn’t be buying anything — both due to those high Singapore dollar prices and because there was barely any time to do anything.


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With not much else by way of entertainment — no, no inflight magazine — I had to do something, and so I read this overview of all the shop-till-you-drop offerings Kuala Lumpur had, many of which I’d visited in May.


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Followed by this one on how to best use your time at KLIA, or in the city — my top advice being check out that model aircraft display in the Main Terminal Building!


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Followed by one on the merger of two of the country’s largest telecom companies, Celcom and Digi, to take on the perennial leader Maxis. And other such random things… until the plane and the data signal both went into the air.


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45 minutes of trying (and failing) to entertain oneself


At 10:20pm, our shiny silver A320 pulled out of the terminal and whooshed past the AirAsia headquarters. I remember the all-Singaporean cabin crew, led by one Jessica with a smooth polished accent, specifically welcoming Qantas frequent-flyer passengers and those from other codeshare partners (viz., KLM, Emirates and SriLankan) — which goes to show how much 3K sells its tickets as codeshare flights. Those expecting a Qantas experience here will be sorely disappointed if they don’t know what they are setting themselves up for! (If this is the way QF serves Kuala Lumpur with a bare-bones all-economy product, then…)


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Some non-9M/9V aircraft, including a China Southern A320 and an Emirates 777, had landed by this time — as had 9M-VAB, one of only four A321neos in the entire AirAsia group, but it has hundreds of A321neos on order. The mobile network — which was still called ‘MAXIS-STAYHOME’ — eventually had to be switched off and the phone put in flight mode.


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The A320 took off, and there was nothing to capture outside the window, as it was total darkness. Soon, the plane was plunged into darkness as well.


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With little else to do, I turned towards reading books on my iPad. At the time I was reading about an Indian travel blogger’s experiences as a solo female traveller all over the country and the world — with a special emphasis on Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic, but also other parts of the globe like Ethiopia, which I mentioned in my caption included here.

A big part of her book is dedicated to her turning towards veganism, given the extreme torture and cruelty that animals are subjected to, whether for meat or milk. Male poultry birds are seen as virtually useless since they cannot reproduce, and therefore are put to death cruelly. Such violence permanently turned her away from anything to do with animals (indeed she points out that veganism is not a new fad, but has been practised for centuries) — and led me to realise just how, in my packet of Lay’s Wavy cheese-flavoured potato chips, the milk that gave rise to the cheese was likely brutally extracted from the poor beast.


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This heavy subject done with, I barely had time to fill in the remaining half-page of my journal for that day before the clock struck eleven and the cabin crew announced their descent.


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The ships of Singapore back in seven hours


At a bit past eleven, the very same ships that signify Singapore showed themselves again, barely seven hours after I left them behind. Contrast that to my big end-of-year trips in 2022–23 and 2023–24 where, after over ten days, the sight of those ships signified a homecoming after a long and fruitful holiday.


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We touched down at 11:07pm at Terminal 4 — where 3K had moved after raising its fair share of objections with Changi Airport Group — and parked next to HL8316, a Jeju Air 737-800 that had landed from Busan (PUS) which Singapore Airlines also serves with its 737 MAXes.


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Meanwhile over Kuala Lumpur, SQ512 (only on weekends) had departed for Bengaluru while KL806 was arriving from Manila — neither of which exists in the 2023/24 winter schedule. KLM serves Jakarta via KUL (KL809/810) instead of Singapore (KL837/838) during the winter, but its Singapore to Denpasar service (KL835/836, also shown here, which I ranked as my best flight of 2023) remains unaffected.


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We landed in the company of a number of other A320s and 737s, as well as a handful of 787s from Air China and JAL-owned Zipair, and other widebodies here and there.


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As I disembarked, I had a word with the cabin crew supervisor, Jessica, who was standing alongside another one, Tiffany, at the door. I noted how 3K had thus far kept a very low profile (but I didn’t mention that this was in contrast to the flashy, loud-mouthed Scoot, whose marketing strategy I feel is an embarrassment for Singapore Airlines) and how it had the potential to grow much beyond what it was at present.

Jessica agreed that while Jetstar Asia was nowhere as big as its Japanese or Australian counterparts, it was steadily inducting newer planes and launching new destinations, before she waved me off the plane.


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Jetstar Asia may not be big on style or substance, but whatever little it does, it does well and cheerfully. Here’s seeing you again, spiffy silver bird, and the smiles of its inky-black cabin crew!


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Terminal 4: Changi’s isolated idyll


Soon I turned into Terminal 4’s arrivals, which I’d seen only once before, when arriving on AirAsia at the very start of 2023 — which I’ve stated above when talking about 9M-RAV.


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Where other LCCs (AirAsia, VietJetAir, or the more obscure ones like Cebu Pacific and Jeju Air) stay completely independent and steer clear of codeshare partnerships, Jetstar’s numerous prominent codeshares were clear for all to see. Korean Air was the only full-service carrier having arrived at T4 at this time, though it is also served by Cathay Pacific and a few others.


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With no luggage whatsoever to collect, I fired up Gojek, which in theory I love for its warm, friendly quotes — something that Scoot should’ve learned from, alongside its beautiful illustration style — but in practice I rarely use since its fares are consistently much higher than Grab, which is a far more boring app to use.


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Before the car came I popped into a Cheers convenience store and grabbed some snacks, including a chickpea pulao with chicken masala (an Indian dish) and a pesto chicken sandwich, for the next day.


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As I left the terminal I caught sight of this pretty, dazzling, glowing ‘bird’ watching over the surroundings — a good contrast to the Monet exhibition seen earlier in the day. A silver Hyundai Ioniq now turned up and whisked me homeward.


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Much like Cinderella, I — or is it Christine? — made it back just before the clock struck twelve and the day turned into Monday.


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I took ‘Christine’ home and placed ‘her’ on my bookshelf sitting right below that SkyTeam-coloured KLM 777-300ER, along with the new Selamta magazine I’d got from the Ethiopian flight earlier in the day, positioned next to the earlier Selamta and the Holland Herald from KLM — all placed behind an Asiana Airlines fan with its cute Korean cartoon characters.


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See more

Verdict

Jetstar Asia Airways

6.6/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Buy-on-board menu6.5

Kuala Lumpur - KUL

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.0

Singapore - SIN

6.8/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.5
Services5.0
Cleanliness5.0

Conclusion

This was probably my most middling, mediocre flight of 2023, and in hindsight Jetstar Asia hasn’t had the scale, product or brand visibility in ASEAN that the AirAsias, Scoots and VietJetAirs do — which may be why it banks so heavily on codeshares with its Aussie parent Qantas and all its non-Star Alliance friends. In all honesty I shouldn’t have rated the meal at all, given that I ate nothing from the menu, but at least I got some ‘food for thought’ courtesy the book I was reading and the author’s story of her conversion to veganism! Jessica and Tiffany, too, handled affairs with poise and ease, in all the 45 minutes of flying time that was allotted to them. This airline hides its light under a bushel, and as the only Singaporean airline that is neither Singapore Airlines nor owned by it, it’s easy to miss — more so since it sticks to only the likes of Bangkok and Jakarta and Manila, never venturing further afield to South or Northeast Asia like other well-known LCCs.

That said, 3K has recently been taking on some more planes — but those are still secondhand A320ceos from the early 2010s, with 9V-JSX and JSY coming from none other than rival Scoot as the former 9V-TAZ and TRD respectively. Much of 3K’s fleet has shifted to the main Aussie branch under the VH-XN* series, resulting in a fleet of below 10 planes, making this the forgotten child of the Qantas/Jetstar group. However, with some investment and care, I don’t see why 3K shouldn’t be able to spread its wings further — but it should take care not to end up in bankruptcy the way MYAirline (which also flew older A320ceos) did. I’m still waiting for the day 3K breaks out of the 9V-JS* registration series and inducts a few A320neos, which it’s never had so far — enough of the ugly grey (silver) duckling already!

UP NEXT: My next two reports for January 2024 will also be on LCC flights, specifically two on IndiGo to/from Bengaluru that I had to book in September 2023 almost at the last moment — at the most dreaded times of all, the early-morning departure and the late-night return, which is my least favourite way to fly between India and Singapore. Both flights, however, had silver linings: the outbound had a kindly flight attendant who assuaged my fears, since I had a severe bout of coughing (one that has resurfaced recently!), while the return was on the *first day of international operations* from BLR’s glamorous new T2, which has won all sorts of plaudits for being ‘a terminal in a garden’ and ‘one of the best-designed new airport terminals in Asia’. At least this helped to sweeten the pill of reaching Changi at an ungodly 4:30am!

While 2024 likely won’t have as many phenomenal flights as 2023 — since I’ll mostly be travelling much less than last year’s grand total of 27 flights and 2022’s 15 — I do have one thing to tick off in February: the Air India A350, which is flying some domestic routes before being placed on longhaul international scheduled operations, and whose remarkable product should provide a good contrast to the SQ A350, which I have just flown for the fifth time (fourth in the Regional configuration) from Hanoi. Those everlasting memories of that marathon year-end trip across India, Hong Kong and Vietnam will shape much of the content that I’ll write this year, and it will be well into the middle of 2024 when I’ll be writing about them. Throughout, I hope that everyone has a Happy New Year 2024, and that all those in Japan get timely assistance, moral support and strength. Safe travels in 2024 and beyond!

Information on the route Kuala Lumpur (KUL) Singapore (SIN)

1 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 642175 by
    pheeplanes 20 Comments
    intresting flight report even the ride on 9v jsl was good as my ride on 9v jsm and 9v jsn to and from hongkong back in 2017 when i took as well as 9v jsi from bangkok back in march 2018 and 9v jse and the onboard meals is $1 more than scoot despite being a short 1 hour from kuala lumpur to singapore hope that i could take jetstar again soon even jetstar asia is slowly getting new a320 from scoot and other operators and introduce more routes such as to hongkong and other destination from singapore

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