On board Jetstar's Dreamliner: gimmicks aplenty but seats a squeeze

Bigger windows, larger overhead baggage bins, a more expansive cabin, and higher humidity and increased cabin pressure to reduce jet lag.

With Jetstar's first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner landing in Melbourne on Wednesday, the aircraft sounds like a dream come true for passengers.

And Jetstar and US plane-maker Boeing are keen to trumpet the Dreamliner's features.

"This is a game-changing aircraft," Jetstar chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka declared.

But the question for passengers is whether it lives up to the hype.

You get what you pay for, but flying on the 787 will be a step up for low-cost travellers.

The technological flagship for Boeing has gimmicks aplenty.

Top of the list are the much larger windows which tint at the touch of a button, doing away with the need for pulldown shades. Watching them fade after pushing the button was like playing with electric windows in grandad's new car for the first time as kids.

The plane is also noticeably quieter, in the same league as Airbus's A380 superjumbo.

The one gripe has been whether Jetstar has crammed in too many seats for long-haul flights to destinations such as Honolulu and Tokyo. Leg-room and seat width are important for passengers who face nine hours in a metal tube at 40,000 feet.

Jetstar's brand-spanking-new plane fits 335 seats – 21 in business class and 314 in economy. Nine seats abreast in economy is a squeeze, especially for lanky, broad-shouldered Australians flying overseas for holiday.

The airline is keen to emphasise that the seat layout for the twin-aisle 787 is similar to its A330 aircraft which ply routes from Australia to destinations in Asia.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, the first budget airline to fly the 787, has 259 seats in economy and 32 in premium economy – considerably fewer than Jetstar.

Not surprisingly, full-service airlines allow passengers more room.

Air India's 787s which began flying from Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne in August, seat 18 passengers in business class and 238 in economy.

So you're dreaming if you think you'll get a Qantas A380 experience on a Jetstar 787.

It is important to bear in mind that Jetstar is a low-cost carrier, not a premium airline such as Qantas or Air India. You get what you pay for, but flying on the 787 will be a step up for low-cost travellers.

Top of mind for many passengers is the standard of the inflight entertainment system. Jetstar's new flagship plane has screens on the back of seats in both business-class and economy. The touch screens feature new release movies and, in a sign of one of the airline's target markets, several Japanese films.

Though, as you would expect for a budget airline, passengers in economy will have to swipe their credit cards to access the entertainment.

Boeing has engineered the planes out of carbon composite material, which allows for humidity of about 14 per cent, compared with about seven per cent for other commercial jetliners. It is aimed at reducing jet lag when you land.

Likewise, an increased cabin pressure to reduce the altitude from about 8000 feet to 6000 feet should also help reduce fatigue.

On Jetstar's 787 delivery flight to Melbourne, it was noticeable that a dry throat and mouth was not nearly as prevalent as when flying on older planes.

While these might be subtle features for passengers, it should result in a smoother travel experience – albeit still a bit of a squeeze in economy class for some travellers on a Jetstar Dreamliner.

Jetstar Boeing 787-8

Total seats: 335 (21 business class and 314 economy)

Seat pitch: 38 inches in business and 30-31 inches in economy

Row configuration: 2-3-2 in business and 3-3-3 in economy

Entertainment: seat-back screens in all seats

Jetstar Airbus 330-200

Total seats: 303 (38 business and 265 economy) or 310 (42 and 268)

Seat pitch: 38 in business and 31 in economy

Row configuration: 2-3-2 in business and 2-4-2 in economy

Entertainment: iPads for eight A330s and seat-back screens for two aircraft.

The reporter travelled on the 787 Dreamliner between the US and Australia courtesy of Jetstar