Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jetstar Starclass - Bangkok to Melbourne

JETSTAR flight JQ30 Airbus A330-200 VH-EBC (the white as opposed to silver A330)
Bangkok to Melbourne
ON TIME - arrived almost 1 hour early

I recently returned to Melbourne from Bangkok and happened to pick up a very cheap Jetstar fare (about 8000 THB one way) with the thought to upgrade to starclass at the airport. I had read on frequentflyer.com.au that the price had recently dropped to 5900THB for the 'On Departure Upgrade' for this sector, which seemed like a bargain. Checking online the day of the flight showed 13 Starclass seats available, I hoped these wouldn't go before I got to the airport, so planned to arrive nice and early!!

Flight was scheduled out at 22.00, with check in opening at 19.00, I got there about 19.20 and went to the service desk for Jetstar to inquire about the possibility of a paid upgrade. There was no queue at the service desk, and on arrival I was told the price was 8000 THB! I was disappointed the price had gone up, but what the hell, you only live once, plus I had been meaning to try it out for a long time. The check in girl and her supervisor were quite polite, and in about 5 minutes I had my boarding pass for 5J, an aisle seat... much to my disappointment there was no windows left! I noted a couple of other pax also paying for upgrades at this time.  I was told how to get to the lounge, so I headed to the Qantas business class lounge, my first time to visit this lounge in Bangkok (as I only hold elite status on Star Alliance, and am not in Qantas Club).

Jetstar check-in, at row W, the southernmost check-in row


Flight information display tonight

Qantas and British Airways share lounge's at Bangkok for their matching schedules to London and Sydney. Jetstar also use Qantas lounges when available. There is both a First Class lounge, and a Business Class lounge, Starclass pax use the Business lounge. My boarding pass said nothing about being in starclass, in fact it still said Jetsaver as the fare type, so I wondered if I would be questioned on entry, but I wasn't, they simply swiped my card and invited me in. I went in and settled, surrounded by the 'Mums and Dads and Kids' holiday crowd, in shorts and t-shirts!!! Hmm, not my cup of tea!! I'm used to the pleasant well to do business crowd in the Silverkris Lounge! It was quite busy, I assumed not all of them were in Starclass, and a lot must be Qantas club members plus families (who get to use QF lounges whilst flying Jetstar).

the BA/QF lounges are on the G concourse

The lounge food was ordinary at best, a selection of sandwiches, cold meats and a very poor version of vegatarian Pad Thai were the 'features'. The drinks selection was good however, with many wines, including sparkling and a good selection of beers, spirits and soft drinks. I poured a glass of champagne which finished the bottle, there was a staff member hovering nearby and I asked her if she might retrieve the next bottle from there store rooms. This is the exchange of words:

Me : "The champagne is finished, could you get some more?"
Her: (smile)
Me: (gesturing at empty champagne bottle) "It's finished, can you get more? finished, see?"
(by this time an Australian woman was waiting beside me for some champagne with her flute at the ready)
Her: (smile) "Finished?"
Me: "yes.... it's finished... some more please?"
Her: (smile) "Finished?"
Me: (smile) "yes! more? more champagne?"
Her: "Finished"

At this point I gave up, wished the woman waiting for Champagne good luck and returned to my seat. After I finished my glass I returned to the wine area expecting a fresh bottle, but alas, it was not to be, there was only ordinary white and red wines. The same lounge attendant was still there, by the time she had learned a new word (probably asked someone else out the back) "out of stock!". HOW COULD THE QANTAS BUSINESS LOUNGE BE OUT OF STOCK OF CHAMPAGNE!! Outrageous!! Outrageous I tell you.
Instead I filled up on vodka and pineapple juice, and by the time the boarding call came, I was quite merry!


lounge food - Pad Thai, sandwiches and cake, I was absolutely disgusted that they 'ran out' of champagne after I finished this glass

drinks area

The new security arrangements at BKK meant we could leave the lounge at the last possible minute as we had already cleared security just after passport control. So along I trundled from G to E concourse for the flight, about a 600 metre walk.

hand baggage search at boarding area, showing the QF codeshare flight number QF266 on the display

By the time I had arrived most economy class passengers were already on board so it was a quick hand baggage search (normal on flights to Aust ex-BKK) and straight on board. Starclass seats were already filling quickly. I settled into 5J with 5K already occupied. I was disappointed at the leg room, being only marginally better than Thai or Singapore economy class. Within a couple of minuted I was offered a choice of water, juice or sparkling wine, I took the sparkling of course. Don't ask me what wine it was, I have no idea!

legroom, plastic glass of sparkling on the centre arm rest (I admit I am slouching forward)


another leg room shot (I admit due to a few drinks i am slouching forward)

view of the centre console showing seat controls, audio controls and drink tray

Departure time was rapidly approaching and the starclass cabin quickly filled up to 100% capacity. Other peoples trip reports I had read online had pretty low loads in starclass, so I considered this reasonably unusual! I listened to the chatter going on around me and soon discovered that many of the passengers tonight were on staff travel. I was disappointed the service was not going to be quite as personal, and I couldn't have a window seat which I like to have!

The last few passengers trundled on board and the Captain welcomed us. Flying time tonight was expected to be a very quick 8 hours and 15 minutes, with a few clouds on the departure but mostly smooth for the remainder of the flight. We would be helped along with a nice strong tailwind over Australia. We pushed back on schedule and made our way over to runway 19R for a departure towards the south and the gulf of Thailand. Takeoff was smooth and there was only a little bit of minor turbulence during the climbout. I must admit to being half drunk at this stage so I was enjoying the ride!

Starclass cabin soon after departure, a full house tonight

Airshow system - showing an early arrival forecoast


The starclass lavatory - nothing exciting here! No special amenities or flowers

About 30 minutes after departure the dinner service commenced. We were being served by 1 Thai based male Flight Attendant and 2 Australian based females. Dinner was served off the trolley and drinks were offered from the same trolley. There was several choices, including chicken with pasta, pork with rice, and a couple of others I don't remember. There was no menu offered at any time, including no drinks menu. I took the chicken with pasta and got a vodka and orange juice. The friendly cabin crew kept my vodka topped up during the meal service.

There is virtually no difference to the Starclass meals when compared to the pre-purchased economy class meals, except it is an open bar and there is a dessert and fruit service following. The meal is served on a small plastic tray and comes in an aluminium tray. Overall, very disappointed in the food offering, it is worse than what you receive on Thai or Singapore Economy class on flights to Australia.


dinner trolley making its way down the aisle

my dinner, there is 2 small chocolates in the box at the back left side

Shortly after dinner the crew came around offering AVOD units to those passengers who wanted one. AVOD is included for all starclass passengers. I took one, although it is quite uncomfortable having to sit it on your tray table all the time. They do offer noise cancelling headphones, although these are poor quality and I chose to use my personal set of Sony's. The selection of movies and shows is quite poor in my opinion, but enough to get me by for this sector.

AVOD and a voddie

After the AVOD was handed out and dinner trays taken, another trolley came around with a selection of fruit and a chocolate mousse cake. I decided to try a piece of the cake, and it was handed to me on a plastic plate.
Chocolate mousse cake - average at best

I started watching some animated Australian movie I don't remember the name of, about a young girl from Australia and her pen pal who is an old man from New York. It was mildly entertaining. As it was getting quite late it was time to put the seat in recline mode, although the recline is simply awful, and the leg rest angle is only small too, making the seat only MARGINALLY better than economy class. Perhaps it is comparable to a 'premium economy' product on Qantas. Nevertheless I managed to doze off for several hours at this point.

daylight emerges over the Aussie desert

I woke up to find us powering along over the Australian desert at a ground speed of almost 1150km/hour with only a little over 2 hours remaining to Melbourne. It wasn't long before I could smell some coffee brewing and it was time for the breakfast service. Breakfast involved the crew wheeling a trolley down the aisle and offering everyone individual options for breakfast, you could mix and match what you wanted. On the trolley was yoghurt, fruit and egg, bacon and cheese foccacias. I took the foccacia and yoghurt.

my breakfast

The food was very ordinary at best. The foccacia was fairly tasteless! They did offer coffee and orange juice to go along with it, the coffee was not too bad. Breakfast service was packed up with a good hour or more remaining until arrival.

The captain made his arrival announcement somewhere over northern Victoria, Melbourne was looking mostly clear and we would be arriving almost an hour ahead of schedule, we were warned it was windy in Melbourne with winds at 50km/h and temperature was 14 degrees (much to the disgust of the pax next to me). By this time we were cruising at 39,000 feet and all was good. We started our descent and approach into Melbourne's Runway 34, passing the airport out to our left with a couple of left hand turns over Melbourne's western suburbs to line up with the runway. There was a magnificent view out the windows to the right of the Melbourne CBD. A wobbly short finals with the gusty wind but a nice touchdown ended the journey. Melbourne airport was absolutely chaotic at this time, I counted 8 aircraft waiting takeoff, this can occur when single runway ops are in progress at MEL in the morning. There was also at least one or two intl flights awaiting parking positions at the still under construction Intl terminal.


lots waiting to leave Melbourne

This morning also marked the first arrival of a Singapore Airlines A380 on commercial service into Melbourne. SQ227 from Singapore was conveniently parked at the gate as we taxi'ed past, right next to a Qantas A380. My shot below show's what I believe to be the first time 2 x A380's have been at the gate at MEL at the same time!

SQ and QF A380's at MEL Intl




We parked next to the SQ A380 and disembarked. Immigration was quick and painless but we faced a 50 minute wait for bags!! They claimed congestion in the baggage area was the fault, but we were the only group of people waiting for bags at that time, so seems unlikely. I and the other passengers were furious!!

Overall whilst I did enjoy the upgrade from Jetstar economy, I don't think Starclass is worth the money, certainly not worth the prices they charge when you book the flight originally in star. On the other hand, I did get 120 status credits and about 6000 FF points posted to my QF FF account so for those needing SC's or points it might prove a good option!!

My rating: 3 out of 5!


13 comments:

  1. " surrounded by the 'Mums and Dads and Kids' holiday crowd, in shorts and t-shirts!!! Hmm, not my cup of tea!!"

    But old worn jeans is your cup of tea...?

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  2. I think jeans and a t-shirt is a minimum for an international sector. I should amend the above to refer to the singlet, shorts and thongs that I find weird.

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  3. Nothing wrong with shorts and tees while flying! I do that very often even when flying in J!!

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  4. Mike, you're a douche.

    Nice report.

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  5. Dazza, I'm interested to know what class Jetstar provide for domestic travel when an international flight is booked in StarClass. EG: SYD-BKK via MEL Starclass. The SYD-MEL leg is operated by Qantas. Do you know if the travel on that leg be in economy or business? Cheers.

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  6. AFAIK it is qantas economy unfortunately!

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  7. Dazza, you're a whiny little bitch...

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  8. Very magnanimous of you dude... ;) And thus revealing an aspect of Dazza not immediately apparent from his review!

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  9. what is the snack bar like?

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  10. Having flown StarClass intenationally 5 times return, plus "full service" carriers business class to Asia and Europe from Sydney (Qantas, Etihad, Thai, JAL and Virgin Atlantic), all in the last 5 years - personally paid for - Jetstar StarClass is a great product when you consider other business class fares. Jetstar StarClass offers great service and great value! It's all about expectation, and obviously Dazza doesn't have much to compare this with...?

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  11. to the last anonymous poster, I reviewed star class again this year, give it a read. I dont doubt StarClass is good value, but it should not be advertised by Jetstar as 'business class'. They do advertise it as 'Jetstars International Business Class'. It is a premium economy product, and yes it's good value when you consider the Qantas status credits as well. And I do have some capability to compare having flown SQ F, SQ C, TG J, TG F, CX J class numerous times.

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  12. LOve the comment about the 'worn' jeans his wearing after he knocks others for wearing t-shirt and shorts!! lol

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