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November 14, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Jetstar Airlines

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This was my first time flying Jetstar, which is Qantas' discount airline, designed to compete with Virgin Blue (my boy Sir Richard Branson's Australian low-fare carrier). Jetstar began booking flights in 2004 and I just happened to be on Bondi Beach the day they launched their advertising campaign. The check-in line snaked around the corner but we waited just five minutes. Why can't all airlines have an army of agents as well? I inquired about an upgrade and was told that there was space available in their StarClass (first class) but it would cost an extra $250USD per person. Two hundred and fifty dollars for an upgrade on a 10-hour and 20-minute flight? Now that's a deal!

Okay, so when I boarded the A330-200 series plane that was configured 2-3-2, I quickly learned that StarClass is a cross between United Airlines' Economy Plus and First Class on one of United's 737s. The plane held 303 passengers and was sold out in coach but only half full in StarClass. The majority of the flight attendants (FAs) were young, attractive and offered just average service.

Pre-takeoff drinks were standard: champagne, orange juice or water served in plastic glasses. After takeoff, the FAs handed out kits that included a blanket, eye mask, noise reduction headphones (the cheap kind) and a blow-up neck cushion (a first for me). For entertainment, they provided DigiPlayers that had a poor and limited selection of movies and TV shows. The food service was served efficiently but was more no-frills than most domestic airlines' economy class meals. I had a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, served still wrapped in the aluminum foil.

Throughout the flight, snacks were available in the galley and two hours out, a hot lunch was served. Choices were chicken or vegetable lasagna that was also served in the aluminum package. The dessert tray was the only thing that resembled first class. I'm not talking about the presentation but the actual goodies themselves: cheesecake, chocolate cake and fresh fruit. Besides the extra space, what we both appreciated most were the power ports (no adapter needed), which allowed us to use our laptops for the duration of the flight. FYI: There are no outlets in coach and economy passengers have to pay for everything; drinks, food, snacks and DigiPlayers ($12). Overall, the $250 was a good deal.

Since we traveled over the international dateline, we landed in Sydney the following day at 4:05pm. We cleared immigration and customs in 20 minutes. We hit the ATM for some Australian dollars (at the time of publication, $1USD = $1.09 AUD) and then were off for a 25-minute ride to the city. We made it to our hotel room in just under an hour from touchdown. Now that's impressive! Even more impressive was when Thomas, the bellman at The Four Seasons, took our bags, asked how to spell my last name (J.E.T.), then looked up at me and said, "Your sister is Georgette, right?" I nodded in disbelief. He said, "You're that travel guy, right?" Can you believe that he remembered when my sister and I stayed there three years ago? It's this kind of service that makes The Four Seasons stand out.

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Jetstar Line


Jetstar Plane






Pre-Takeoff Drinks


Welcome to Sydney!


Australian Dollars


Thomas The Doorman


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