Flight test: Jetstar economy class

THE ROUTE

Nadi-Sydney

THE PLANE

Airbus A320

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Qantas frequent flyer points can't be accrued for travelling on the entry-level Economy Starter fare but those splashing out on a Starter Plus or Starter Max bundle can earn points and status credits for their flights.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?

There's no business class on this sector. In the all-economy cabin, I'm almost at the back of the bus in window seat 28A.

TIME IN THE AIR

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Four hours, 50 minutes. Despite leaving Nadi 28 minutes late, we arrive in Sydney bang on time with a touchdown so smooth we don't even feel the wheels hit the tarmac.

THE SEAT STUFF

The dark-grey leather seats, with a width of 45.4 centimetres and average pitch of 73.6 centimetres, are arranged in a 3-3 configuration.

BAGGAGE

Passengers on an Economy Starter or Starter Plus fare can add a checked baggage allowance ranging from 15 kilograms ($25) up to 40 kilograms ($60); a Starter Max fare includes 20 kilograms of checked baggage. All fares include a main item and small item of carry-on baggage, with a combined weight of up to 10 kilograms.

COMFORT FACTOR

Recline your seat a little - it's the only possible adjustment - and lie back and think of the money saved flying a no-frills airline. Seats are comfy enough for the average-sized passenger.

THE SERVICE

Efficient and pleasant; otherwise unremarkable.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

Passengers can rent an iPad ($10 a flight when pre-purchased) to watch movies, TV shows and music videos, listen to albums, play games or read a selection of e-magazines. The iPads are collected about half an hour before landing. I could browse the in-flight magazine but end up whiling away time chatting to my newly married seat neighbours.

FEEDING TIME

The food and drink trolley makes two runs during the flight. If you splashed all your holiday cash on tropical cocktails, BYO snacks on board (the only thing handed out for free is a cup of iced water). The in-flight menu includes nuts, noodles and sandwiches, and combos such as the $12 beer and pie deal and $5 coffee and muffin deal.

TWO MORE THINGS

An unexpected glimpse of New Caledonia is so eye-popping that it's worth trying to snag a window seat on the left-hand side. And perhaps because it's the end of a long day, come twilight - about an hour before landing in Sydney - every kid on board turns feral. The toddler behind me kicks my chair in a rhythmic pattern: I close my eyes and think of it as a bonus massage.

THE VERDICT

My greatest pleasure on a plane is catching up with movies so I boarded with low expectations. Although I packed a book to keep myself entertained, I don't open it. Instead I enjoy conversation with strangers. Perhaps it's that Pharrell Williams Happy song playing over the sound system as we disembark or the fortnight spent around smiling Fijians, but I hop off this flight feeling quite happy indeed.

Tested by Katrina Lobley who flew courtesy of Tourism Fiji.

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