Jetstar Starclass - Bangkok to Melbourne A330-200 ( JQ30 )
As part of a recent decision to start trying to get some status in the 'oneworld' airline alliance I have been taking a few oneworld flights. Although Jetstar is not a oneworld airline, it is owned by Qantas and a part of the Qantas frequent flyer program and when flying Starclass you earn status credits which get you to the higher tiers of Qantas Frequent Flyer and therefore, oneworld. Fortunately for me I live in Melbourne most of the time, and Bangkok some of the time and these two cities are served 3 times a week direct via a Jetstar A330-200. It's one of the cheaper options for flying in Starclass. So today I find myself checking in for JQ30 once again, and heading back to the cold in Melbourne.
Check-in was quick, there wasn't many people around, I assumed a fairly empty flight in all classes. The recent political situation in Thailand had put a stop on many peoples travel plans, but things were bound to improve soon. As a Starclass passenger you have access to the Qantas business class lounge in Bangkok. The lounge was fairly quiet and contained a good selection of drinks but the food was pretty average tonight. To be honest I am writing this 2 months later so I can't completely recall what food was on offer in the lounge. Anyway, as boarding time approached I headed to gate E5 on the E concourse. As is usual for flights departing to Australia I was subjected to a hand baggage search as I reached the top of the ramp to go into the holding area.
As I arrived I noticed VH-EBA parked at the jetway. This aircraft is an Airbus A330-201. It was delivered brand new to Qantas in December 2002 and it flew for them (I think mostly on domestic flights) until the beginning of 2007 when it was transferred to the Jetstar international fleet. Starclass is basically what used to be the Qantas domestic business class seats that have been reupholstered in leather, I believe they added in-seat power as well.
The flight was a little bit behind schedule so I had arrived too early. I took a seat and did some people watching. There was the usual Australian tourist crowds mostly, plaited hair etc. Quite a typical looking load for this particular flight which mostly caters to holiday makers from Australia.
We did have one very interesting passenger though, he was important enough to be escorted in handcuffs (made of some kind of material) onto the aircraft by numerous Thai police/officials as well as what I believe were 2 Australian Federal Police officers in plain clothes. There did seem to be some Australian embassy officials overseeing things as well. This one lucky passenger got to pre-board and he did get many interested looks from my fellow passengers! I found out the next day by reading the news he was being extradited to Melbourne as the suspect in a theft of some very valuable jewellery. He had been hiding out in Pattaya! (of course).
Once our special guest was safely on board and the hoard of Thai police and officials had left it was time for Starclass and passengers requiring assistance to board. Away we go....
I was originally booked in 2A but after I realised there was only 10 passengers I moved to 3A. The reason I did this is because 1A was taken and when you recline these seats, it does not leave much room to get out. In 3A I had nobody in front of me, beside me, or behind me. Perfect really!
leg room shot - no slouching, I promise
I took the above leg room shot very conscious of the fact that the last trip report I did on Starclass, my leg room shot showed me in a slouched position on my seat (caused by being slightly intoxicated). I got told off by a few forum posters on frequentflyer.com.au for this, so I made sure I took a shot with my back up straight and sitting with my bottom at the back of the seat this time. I hope this is better!
Im not sure what Jetstar call the flight attendant in charge, but let's just say the purser for this report. Our purser today was a slightly older female but she was lovely. She seemed to genuinely enjoy her job. She had two Thai staff working with her in Starclass today, they helped out in economy as well. For those who don't know Jetstar International have a number of Bangkok based cabin crew to save on costs. One of them came around with welcome drinks, I took the sparkling wine (not Champagne of course). I also got my arrivals card and an express immigration card. This was something I didn't get last year when I flew Jetstar so it was a nice enhancement. We also had some basic noise cancelling headphone and the comfort pack (containing blowup neck pillow, blanket, eyeshade, toothbrush and toohpaste). The comfort pack is yours to keep.
At this point in the boarding process it started pouring rain outside. It was one of those really heavy Thailand rainstorms. The rain could be heard on the roof of the aircraft and water streamed down my window.
It's hard to see how heavy the rain is in the photo but it was quite heavy, I hoped it would clear up before our takeoff... and it did.
looking across the cabin
With everybody on board the doors were closed and I observed the jetway being moved back away from the aircraft. Melbourne, here we come!
Well, maybe not.... we sat like this for about 5 or 10 minutes and then the jetway moved back into position and the door was open again. We had a technical problem of some sort. A short delay was announced and somebody from engineering ( I think ) came on board and went to the cockpit.
After about 15 minutes or so, the door was closed again and it was time for pushback. This time things seemed to be ok and we pushed back and started the engines. By this time the rain had basically stopped and the sky was clearing. We made a routine departure towards the south. After dodging a few clouds the seat belt sign was switched off and service commenced.
It was about 11pm in Bangkok as the dinner service started. We were all presented with a bottle of water for the flight.
I can't quite remember if a round of drinks was offered before dinner or not, but drinks were certainly available at any time though. There are no menu's handed out. 3 choices were available for dinner, this is what I had:
I don't remember what kind of meat it was but the taste was just ok. I took a glass of Australian white wine with the meal. The little box of chocolates is a nice touch. The wine was regularly topped up by the purser (who featured in the Jetstar inflight magazine that month in the employee interview section).
After the main course the crew came to offer cake and a fruit and cheese plate. I decided to have a bit of everything, why not?
dessert with cheese and fruit plate
The cake was too creamy and not cakey enough. I think it was the same type of cake I got the last time I flew this route. The fruit and cheese were not too bad. Both were served on black plastic plates. By the time I was done I was quite full and ready to sleep. I was offered an Audio Video on Demand portable unit but I had been watching a TV Series on my laptop so I stuck with that. The purser left the unit on the seat next to me anyway in case I changed my mind during the flight. I used the inseat power with my laptop no problems. At the end of the meal service our lovely purser came around to ask me if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast in the morning. I said yes! I liked this little bit of personal service that does differentiate between economy and starclass.
Soon after dinner I decided to call it a night and reclined my seat as far as I could and put the leg rest up and tried to get in a sleeping position. These seats are FAR from flat, but somehow I did manage to get a couple of hours sleep before I woke up and used the bathroom. I noticed a cabin crew member going around the cabin offering snacks to those who were awake, all included for starclass and available to you anytime.I sampled a cookie and a fruit and nut mix.
I ended up falling asleep again a short time later and I woke up somewhere over the South Australian outback.
I think about 90 minutes before arrival in Melbourne a breakfast service was offered to those who wanted it. The crew came around to ask each passenger individually if they would like breakfast. I decided to give it a go.... I found it was basically the same offering as last year, an egg and bacon sandwich. The egg part of it just isn't very good.
It did come with a small bowl of fruit which is something that wasn't offered last year when i flew this route. I had a large glass of orange juice to go with it.Then followed it up with a cup of coffee. I don't know what they do with the egg in that sandwich but if they just made it egg only (like McDonalds) and didnt mix it with anything else and make a weird omelette type thing, then it would be fantastic.
After breakfast was complete I went and washed my face and brushed my teeth. Feeling refreshed I went back to my seat and watched some more of my TV series on my laptop and before I knew it we were on descent into Melbourne.
We flew over the western side of Melbourne before making a U-Turn over the Westgate freeway and making the approach to Runway 34 at Melbourne. It was a good landing from memory, it must have been because I normally remember the rough ones and I don't recall anything of interest from this one!
QF93, Airbus A380 preparing to go to Los Angeles
We parked at the new part of the international terminal and I made my way to passport control, making use of my express arrivals card to beat the queues.
I felt the StarClass experience had actually improved since last year. There was a couple of small changes which made quite a big difference to me. It's certainly not a bad way of coming home if you can get a good price, and on the Bangkok run right now, you usually can!