I Flew Budget – Jetstar (Valueair)

20120831_220945All the regular flights were full, it’s holiday season in Indonesia. No Singapore Airlines flights available, no Garuda, Lufthansa full, everyone full in all classes. Our corporate travel policy is that we must book through travel agents, no direct flight booking but this time I had to be in Jakarta and there was no alternative. Not even the 5:00 am Singapore Airlines flight had seats. Jetstar it was.

The first issue was that the online booking website froze at the point of paying for the ticket. We called Jetstar then.

“I’m sorry you have this problem with the website. Yes I can confirm that the booking has not processed. Are you aware that if I book the flight for you there is an extra surcharge?”

“Really … but it is your website that goes belly-up when we try an pay, not our fault mate!”

“Yes, I’m sorry about that but it is the policy".”

Off to a good start. To be honest, I have flown Jetstar in Australia but there it was booked through a travel agent so all was kosher. This was a new experience.

The rest of the booking process was fine (over the phone) and payment was accepted. Jessica booked it, paid on my credit card. Jessica received a confirmation email about the flight.

Two days before being due to travel, Jessica got an email reminding her that she was flying to Jakarta on Wednesday. She wasn’t, I was. However Jetstar had the right passenger and I booked in online.

Arrived at the airport, checked in (nice, pleasant check-in staff) and went to the departure gates to wait. Love Terminal 1 at Changi now, it’s better than many Australian shopping malls.

Jessica had booked me the option pack as I had luggage and she felt that I might be a bit hungry after a day of meetings so she had a meal organised as well. I will state now that the meal delivery kind of made me feel like I did way back when working in the Middle East and I was put on an Umrah flight to Jeddah during Ramadan. A plane full of fasting pilgrims and Thomo, served the full meal in the middle of the cabin. It was kind of like that. The flight attendant comes to me before take off and asks, “Mr Thompson – the chicken stew or the chicken rice?” I took the chicken stew and a Mountain Dew. The rest of the cabin got a Kaya roll and water.

The meal itself was tasty enough. It was not a Neil Perry creation but flavourful enough and certainly hot, fresh out of the microwave.

The packaging however was especially designed so that the clear plastic stretched over the food tray could not be torn off. It just ripped around the edge. The plastic knife provided was little assistance in this area and the whole exercise of getting the plastic cover off with the plastic knife was akin to trying to cut a diamond with a piece of quartz. Still, it did provide some amusement for the passengers around me.

Jetstar (Valueair) was not so bad. Still, looking at the photo above you can see why it is a budget airline – the plane seemed old, around 7 years or so and it rattled badly.

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