Occasionally, you can manage to snag a relatively good deal on an international Jetstar Business Class airfare which makes the price comparable to an economy fare on a full-service airline. So, if you happen to spot a fare which is just a small amount more, is Jetstar Business Class worth it?
We made a bit of a last-minute decision to go back to Vietnam over the summer holidays, so it was a case of shopping around on the internet to see what flights were available and whether there were any good deals. Eventually, The Poolboy hit on some reasonable fares with Jetstar, and realised that it wasn’t that much more to fly Business Class on the route from Singapore to Melbourne. As that was an overnight flight, we decided to book it, but fly the daytime Melbourne to Singapore flight in economy. A couple of weeks prior to the flight, The Poolboy received an email offering an upgrade on that Melbourne to Singapore flight for $190 per person. So, we ended up taking that too, which meant we did the return Melbourne to Singapore legs in Business Class. In the flight notes below, I’ve focused on the Melbourne to Singapore leg.
(Our flights between Singapore and HCMC were with Jetstar Asia, and there is just economy class in those cabins.)
This was our first time flying Jetstar internationally, and our first time in Jetstar Business Class. I had previously heard Jetstar Business Class described in a tongue-in-cheek manner as ‘poor man’s business class’; as being ‘like international business class was back in the 1970s’; or as being comparable to Qantas Premium Economy.
So, what did I think? Was the extra worth it?
Fairlie flight notes: Is Jetstar Business Class worth it?
Flight JQ7: Melbourne (MEL) to Singapore (SIN)
7 hours, 10 minutes (daytime flight)
Type of plane
Seating configuration in Business Class
6 rows, mostly 2-3-2 configuration (Row 1 is 2-2-2 and Row 6 is 2-2)
4J, 4K, 5J, 5K
The seats are wide, dark leather, recliner chairs. They reminded me a bit of the type of recliner your grandmother may have in her living room to watch TV (although the footrest doesn’t raise as high as grandma’s would, and the back doesn’t recline as far.)
There are leg and foot rests, an adjustable headrest, and an adjustable lumbar support, but the back of the seat reclines only 20 centimetres, which doesn’t come close to competing with flat-bed business class options on full-service airlines (but you pay a LOT more for that privilege).
The extra width and legroom certainly makes for a much more comfortable flight than you experience in economy class, but I still didn’t find it conducive to sleeping. The fact the leg rest only swings up by about 45 degrees makes it difficult to find a totally relaxing position for sleep – but it is very comfy for watching movies. However, when the leg rests are out and the seats in front are reclined, it’s really tricky for the person in the window seat to get out to go to the toilets.
The comfort of the Jetstar Business Class cabin reminded me a lot of the experience of flying Qantas Premium Economy on an A-380. And in fact, the legroom and seat widths are very comparable. (Jetstar Business Class seats are just over 1 cm wider than the Qantas Premium Economy ones.)
96 cm (38″). This compares with 79cm (31″) in economy.
50.5cm (20″). It’s 44 cm (17.5″) for the economy cabin.
Business Class passengers can take two items of carry-on baggage on board, as long as each item does not exceed 7kg, with a total combined carry-on baggage weight of up to 14kg.
All Jetstar Business Class fares automatically include a 30kg checked baggage allowance and you can purchase up to an additional 10kg. (The Jetstar base level economy fares don’t include any checked baggage. For those fares, checked baggage allowances (of 15kg, 20kg, 25kg, 30kg, 35kg or 40kg) need to be purchased.)
Every Business Class passenger is given an iPad free-of-charge which provides access to a selection of new-release Hollywood, Australian and Japanese movies, games, TV shows, e-magazines, a kids’ content zone and a music library. They come with headsets designed to reduce the surrounding noise.
The iPad was easy to use with simple navigation menus, and has a stand which allows it to sit on a slight angle on the tray table. The selection of movies was okay, but not fantastic. There was only two that appealed to me, and after I viewed them I watched episodes of TV shows.
The quality of the picture and sound was excellent (once I finally got an iPad that worked), but the iPad itself was very unwieldy whenever food or drink was served. There just didn’t seem to be any convenient place to place it, or to balance it, while the tray table was being used. We ended up wedging the iPad between ourselves and the tray table. (In contrast, the screens in Qantas Premium Economy are mounted on a swivel on the seat armrest.)
Food and drink
A pre-take-off drink was offered. Although I was offered ‘orange juice, water or sparkling wine’, I saw the bottle the ‘sparkling wine’ was poured from, and it was actually French champagne. Which was an unexpected surprise.
The lunch menu consisted of canapes, salad, a bread roll, choice of a main course and dessert/cheese. All served on china crockery with metal cutlery. It was no fine-dining experience, but at least you get a choice, and it wasn’t a bad standard for in-flight catering.
Later in the flight, afternoon tea was served, which consisted of a choice of a sandwich or arancini and a dessert. Throughout the flight ‘snacks on demand’ were available (chips, popcorn, fruit jellies or chocolate). I wasn’t sitting with her, but I’m pretty sure The Impossible Princess would have made full use of the ‘on demand’ facility.
The coffee option was Grinders French Press coffee, and there was a selection of Twinings and other teas, as well as the usual soft drinks, juices, beers, spirits and a range of Australian and New Zealand wines.
Amenity packs, plus pillows and blankets are given free to Business Class passengers, economy class passengers can purchase them. The pack was quite good – when unrolled, it became obvious that it was a padded iPad cover. I’ve since used one as an extra layer of protection for my iPad inside its travel case. The contents of the pack included: an eye mask, earplugs, tooth brush and toothpaste, pen, socks and Zenology cosmetics (no pointy end pjs!).
Service and extras
Check-in at Melbourne airport was quick with the dedicated Business Class queue (the regular queue was really long), and Business Class passengers get priority boarding.
A regular Jetstar Business Class fare doesn’t entitle you to use an airport lounge. For that perk, you need to upgrade the fare to Business Class Max (which is generally a few hundred dollars per flight more). However, if you already have Qantas Club membership you can access the Qantas Club lounges when travelling on Jetstar (any class).
Qantas Frequent Flyers travelling on a regular Jetstar Business Class fare do not earn points or status credits. To do so, you need to be on the upgraded Business Class Max fare.
Within the cabin, the dedicated Business Class crew were cheerful and efficient. The sound on my iPad wasn’t working initially, and the crew members were very diligent in following that up (it took the exchange of three sets of headphones and two iPads before I was good to go).
Plus, if you need to charge your phone or laptop (and who doesn’t always need to charge their phone?!), there’s in-seat power for that purpose.
When it comes to business class airfares, I usually feel a bit conflicted. Yes, the extra comfort in the air is nice, but in my head I calculate the additional dollars and how many extra days that could pay for on-the-ground at the destination. And the cheaper airfare usually wins out. As I’m wedged into my seat, banging my knees against the seatback in front, I tell myself, “It’s not about the journey, it’s about the destination”.
However, having said that, we would usually fly with full-service airlines like Qantas or Singapore Airlines, rather than low-cost airlines. So now, having experienced it, if I could find a Jetstar Business Class airfare that is comparable to, say a Qantas or Singapore Airlines economy airfare, I’d certainly be tempted to do that instead (and in fact, we will be when we fly with Jetstar to Tokyo later this year).
It’s no flat-bed, silver-service, pointy end PJs business class experience, but it does make a longer-haul flight that bit more comfortable.
Business class in the air or spending the extra on the ground? What’s your choice?
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