October 23, 2007


Flying with Jetstar on an international flight is a bit like meat-loaf - you know it won’t be as good as a decent stake or lamb chops, but you end up disappointed by the experience none the less.

I'm convinced that most of the "low-cost" differences that characterise low-cost airlines are purely for show. They want you to think you're saving money by pointing out constantly that nothing is included in the fare - even a bottle of water will cost you a few dollars, your boarding pass is printed onto a receipt slip and your luggage can’t be checked through to the final destination without having to be re-checked at the next airport.

I recently flew Jetstar on a new international route and it was all just weird. For a start the plane was empty, so you had a mix of absolute poverty in the way of inclusions but total luxury from having four seats yourself. That's Jetstar for you - nice new planes and nice smiley staff, but I was still afraid to use the toilet during the flight in case I had to pay for that too.

What bugs me the most is that all this cheapness isn't actually necessary, it's just part of the theme. Remember those tacky restaurants where the music cranks up every 30 minutes and the waitresses have to line-dance? It didn't get your order back from the kitchen any quicker did it?

That's what you're getting on Jetstar – pretty girls, hokey music and a distraction from what could otherwise be good service.

Even the checkin procedures are a song and dance. You enter the departures at Melbourne Airport and to the left is Qantas who are forcing you to checkin with a touch-screen, and to the right is Jetstar who cattle prod everyone into the same queue for manual processing. It’s worth a reminder that Jetstar is owned by Qantas, so what’s wrong with this picture?

In a touch of irony the previous week I had tried to manually checkin to a Qantas flight and was told I couldn’t. Only business class or Qantas Club members were given a queue for checkin, all others had to punch a computer first and then queue to drop off their luggage. Again, impressions count and Qantas want us to believe that we’re getting a more modern experience and that’s worth paying extra for – despite the fact that we’re doing their work for them by checking in ourselves and then have to stand in a queue anyway.

Well I’m sick of meat-loaf, maybe it’s time to try something Asian instead?

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