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Review: Jetstar business class, Melbourne-Singapore

By David Flynn     Filed under: business class, Jetstar

With many Australian businesses aiming to keep their travel budget tight in 2012, Jetstar is increasingly well-placed as an alternative to Qantas.

But just how does its business class service – previously marketed as Star Class – stack up against conventional notions of what to expect at the pointy end?

We hopped aboard Jetstar’s daily JQ7 flight from Melbourne to Singapore to find out. 

Jetstar business class: the budget beater?

One of the biggest differences between Jetstar and its full-service sibling Qantas is the ticket price.

A return ticket for Jetstar business class on the JQ7/JQ8 service between Melbourne and Singapore costs barely 50% more than a Qantas economy class ticket for the same route on the same dates (based on a dummy booking for flights in late February, 2012).

While $900 would get you an economy seat in Qantas, Jetstar business class came in at $1,370. This will also almost $900 cheaper than Qantas premium economy, at $2250, and fully a third the price of Qantas business class ($4,155).

However, this is also where Jetstar’s cost-extra approach kicks in. The base fare doesn’t include Qantas Frequent Flyer points or status credits, and is non-refundable. That’ll cost you an extra $200 each way for what Jetstar calls a Business Max fare, which bumps the total ticket price up to $1,770.

No matter which of the two business class fares you choose, everything else – meals, drinks, in-flight entertainment and 30kg of checked baggage – is included.

Jetstar JQ7 Melbourne to Singapore

Jetstar’s Melbourne-Singapore service runs on an Airbus A330, with the first six rows given over to business class.

Most Jetstar A330s have 38 business class seats in a standard 2-3-2 layout, although the first row has only two seats in the middle block instead of three, while the sixth row doesn't have a middle row at all.

However, Jetstar’s latest Airbus A330 sports a more efficient configuration which provides a full six rows of 2-3-2.

Each Jetstar business class seat is 20 inches wide with a standard pitch of 38 inches, putting it roughly on par with Qantas premium economy seats – at least, as far as the numbers are concerned.

If you want maximum legroom, aim to snare a seat in the first row or the left-hand aisle seat in the second row (2D). For more, see our Best Seats guide.


Jetstar business class seats

The seats themselves are big old-fashioned leather-clad recliners, plush and padded to the extreme. They’re what international business class used to be perhaps 20 years ago, and also what many airlines today consider as their regional ‘premium’ seating for short-distance flights.

In fact, Jetstar’s business class seats struck us as something like your favourite old-style recliner armchair at home: the back tilts while the legrest swings up and a footrest pops out.

While not a lie-flat, it’s fine for medium-length international flights such as the eight hours from Melbourne to Singapore, but only on a daytime.

During the day – such as JQ7’s noon departure from Melbourne, for a 4.45pm arrival into Singapore – the seat and its space was comfortable enough to spend half the flight working on the laptop and the rest catching a quick nap to recharge for a night in the Merlion City.

But for overnight flight – like the return leg JQ8, which leaves Singapore at 10.30pm – there’s neither enough recline or legroom for a decent sleep (unless you’re among the fortunate few who can easily and soundly sleep in a reclined position).

The mandatory amenities kit contains the basics but, as you'd expect, is nothing swish.

In-flight entertainment

While some Jetstar Airbus A330s have seat-back screens, most – including the one I travelled on – are without a video screen in the armrest or seat back. This means in-flight entertainment is limited to

  • listening a number of music channels
  • watching some appalling shows (including an episode of the 1970s TV series Wonder Woman!) on screens fitted into the bulkhead and ceiling
  • browsing a much better selection of content on the iPads issued free of charge to business class passengers (see our article here)
  • relying on your own tablet or laptop

Most business class passengers on our flight chose the third or fourth option, and there’s plenty of room for tablets and laptops on the wide and deep tray table, which is one of the most generously proportioned tables we’ve yet encountered.

Noise-cancelling headphones are available if you forgot to pack your own. (What? You don't already own a pair? For shame, they're a must-have for frequent flyers!)

Meals

The meal choices on JQ7 were Chinese-style chicken and noodles, lamb casserole with vegies, and gnocchi, all served with a side salad. I opted for the casserole.

There was relatively little lamb in the casserole itself, although the stew itself was tasty – but the vegetables were limp and the potato was stodgy, making this decidedly third-rate fare and one of the areas Jetstar needs to improve upon.

This was one of those flights to make me ponder why airlines seem locked into serving hot meals instead of a simple crusty baguette with a range of tasty fillings. 

Summary

It all comes down to value for money. I’d rate the full Qantas experience as markedly better in every respect, even in premium economy, but that’s an experience for which you’ll always pay extra.

And if you’re working on a budget – either your own company’s money or for a client – you simply might not have the ‘luxury’ of choice. Just don’t expect your standard ‘business class’ experience from Jetstar business class.

The writer travelled as a guest of Jetstar.

Profile

About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 10/1/12 by johnnysfo

NUFF SAID-;)

2 on 10/1/12 by Al

Thanks for an unbiased review of JQ business class. It's not really business class by any definition, is it? At least not 'international' grade business class. If they had a daytime flight back then that might be a bit more bearable than trying to sleep in a recliner, but then I suppose you're looking at paying an extra night for a hotel room in Singapore and at the current rates that would set you back almost as much as paying extra for a Qantas premium economy seat!

3 on 10/1/12 by Al

PS It's refreshing to read a review which is critical of a flight despite it being a junket, the same as you guys do with hotels, nice to see compared to so many sites where a free trip or hotel stay always results in a glowing review!

1 on 10/1/12 by aklrunway

Bearing in mind Jetstar is a leisure airline aimed at holiday makers. One would assume Jetstar's business class is great for those that have never been able to afford to travel in a premium class for the price of an economy ticket more than actual business travellers. Good review however no mention of the staff service etc.

1 on 10/1/12 by aklrunway

Also, Jetstar's newer A330-200 aircraft have seatback IFE.

2 on 10/1/12 by David

Hi AKL – good point on the service, it was pretty average, nothing to stand out.

As for the target audience, I'd suggest it's a split between holiday-makers and business travellers: certainly on my flight, by conversations overhead, I got the feeling that many passengers were travelling for business, and my seatmate definitely was, she said that JQ vs QF simply came down to her project budget. (Ouch!).

4 on 10/1/12 by sdwylie

Further to "aklrunway"'s comment - I flew on one of the newer A330-200 aircraft which had the seatback video touchscreens - which are an identical system to those in the newer Qantas planes - but also noticed that the seats are identical to the latest generation Qantas domestic business class seats (with the life-vest in the leg rest), but in grey leather - there felt like a lot more personal space, and the cabin was brand new.

5 on 11/1/12 by Thecdec1308

I flew on the innaurgral flight from Melbourne to Beijing via Singapore (24/11/10) as a Jetstar guest and it was a brand new A330 in Bussiness. This craft had in seat IFE and more comfortable seats with a greater recline. This new seat with greater recline and inseat entertainement I would say is better then Qantas Premium economy having flown both alot. Slight problem Jetstar only has 3 craft with this new seating product so if you get it fantastic as it does make one seriously consider it over premium economy with Qantas. Down side though its almost impossible to pick a flight with one of these three planes.

6 on 12/1/12 by wilsoni

The price is definitely right, as long as one remembers this is economy-plus in standard not business-lite. You get what you pay for. The meal photo looked disgusting - what a mess. I've taken to bringing my own food, even on Qantas domestic and trans-Tasman business. I too applaud ABT for reviews that tell it like it is - "guest" of the airline, hotel etc or not. Well done.

7 on 7/3/12 by AirportAddict

How about either doing it properly or scrapping that cabin! They could rename it premium economy :D        Hope they have something better on the 787.

8 on 7/3/12 by Thecdec1308

Judging though by Qantas and their current startergy I think it will stay (bussiness class) as Jetstar is becoming a little bit of a hybrid airline. If it had a proper lie flat even an angled that would be okay for a day regional flight

9 on 2/4/12 by spinoza

A lot of you have said they should just call it premium economy.. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to be that this means it is the cheapest way to accrue QFF status credits. Because this is classified as "Business", for under $2000 you can earn 240 credits. Paying the same price (if not more) for Qantas PE, you only get 120 credits. Very useful way of working your way to Platinum.

1 on 9/7/12 by CL9

good point

10 on 9/7/12 by CL9

Wow! They're business class meals and presentation of them is certainly a huge step up from many years ago, during the times when they served them in the foil with plastic glasses etc. You can see those old photos on Johnny Jet's Flight from Hawaii to Sydney.

 

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