Airline review: Jetstar A320 economy, Adelaide to Denpasar, Bali

Our rating

2 out of 5

THE ROUTE

Adelaide to Denpasar

THE PLANE

Airbus 320-200, of which there are 53 in the Jetstar fleet.

LOYALTY SCHEME

Jetstar credit card: spend $10,000 and get $100 in Jetstar dollars. These can be spent on Jetstar flights and "other perks" – but not, it seems, on the card's annual $69 membership fee. Alternatively join the Qantas FF program and get reduced points for Jetstar flights.

CLASS

Economy, seat 11C

DURATION

Five long hours. Jetstar flies daily to Denpasar from Adelaide.

SEAT

The economy seat pitch is a leg-scrunching, in-your-face 29 inches (74cm), which is a couple of inches short of Virgin. There's a more pleasing 17.9-inch (45.5cm) width and a standard recline of 4 inches (10cm). The A320 has a 3-3 configuration. Emergency rows can be reserved for a premium ($15). There is no business class.

BAGGAGE

One checked piece (20kg total) plus one carry-on bag; pay $36 for an extra 20kg piece.

COMFORT

The early-December midweek flight is light on passengers so the sardine factor is mitigated. I'm in front of the emergency rows so the seat doesn't recline; luckily the guy in front doesn't push back while I'm drinking any sort of hot beverage. The aircraft is clean and newish and there's a pleasant charcoal leather upholstery. Small comfort, however, (especially on the packed return flight, when sleeping passengers have to contort themselves).

ENTERTAINMENT

No screens. No rental iPads. No USB sockets for those needing extra power for their portable devices.

Advertisement

The inflight mag reveals a line-up of new movies ($10 fee) awaiting passengers flying to Bali on Jetstar's Dreamliners out of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. For anyone on the A320 international routes – bad luck.

See: Airline review: Jetstar Dreamliner economy to Bali

SERVICE

The black-clad team do their job with good cheer and aplomb. They seem to belong to a different product.

FOOD

My pre-booked inflight meal (chicken dish in a foil tray, $15) turns out not to have been pre-booked, so I rely on the snack menu for two meals and drinks, costing $45. The Pot Belly classic beef pie is listed as "a truly memorable eating experience" though it's really a mediocre pie that costs $9. The cabin trolley is a credit card-only deal, which is bad news for the couple behind me. On their five-hour international flight they are given a glass of water.

THE VERDICT

It's hard to love what Jetstar does and more importantly what it represents – and that is the low-cost, by-the-numbers business of stripping everything out, filling the space with the mirage of fee-paying "choice" and reducing the joyous experience of international travel to a cramped and miserable chore. "Low cost"? It can be if you book right place, right time. But this flight cost $438. And that's before the $80-odd I might have paid in extras.

ONE MORE THING...

The last time I had nothing in an aircraft was during a Chinese CAAC domestic flight in 1990. The old 707 had no entertainment and much to the embarrassment of the crew, something had gone wrong with the in-flight meal supplier. As a small measure of apology they gave us all padded silver purses.

Tested by Max Anderson who travelled at his own expense

See also: Airline review: Business class for the price of economy with Scoot

See also: Airline review: Qantas brings back daily flights to Bali