Flight Test: Auckland to Gold Coast

SADIE BECKMAN
Last updated 11:13 23/05/2014
Jetstar

CHEAP AS CHIPS: Budget airlines are a subject of much debate, but can be a surprisingly positive way to fly.

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Jetstar is known as a budget carrier but it's not lacking in any of the expected comforts, service or quality.

THE ROUTE Auckland to Coolangatta, Gold Coast

THE PLANE Airbus A320

FREQUENCY Daily

THE LOYALTY SCHEME Qantas Frequent Flyer club members can earn points on Jetstar Starter Plus or Max fares.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END? Economy seat 26D.

TIME IN THE AIR 3 hours 40 minutes.

THE SEAT STUFF Economy seats have an adjustable headrest and 28 inch/71cm pitch. Extra legroom can be obtained when booking by using the paid seat select option and choosing a bulk head or front row seat if available.

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE Economy passengers on a Starter fare may check in one bag weighing up to 32kg and measuring less than 190cm in height for free.

Permitted Carry- on luggage is one main item and one other smaller item (such as handbag or laptop) with a combined weight of 10kg.

You can pay for extra baggage when you make your booking, which is charged per kilo, but beware of turning up at the airport with un-booked excess baggage, as you may not be able to take it, or if you can, will be stung $160 in fees.

COMFORT FACTOR Good, although the legroom isn't massive. The design of the seats and the fact the entertainment is on a tablet you can position how you want, rather than jammed in your face in the back of the seat in front, makes a real difference. There are six seats per row, a one-aisle configuration of 3-3 seats.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT A good range of recently released movies as well as TV programmes, games and kids' entertainment is provided on iPads, which are available as an add on to your booking for flights over two hours,, or you can rent them at the start of the flight when they are distributed.At $12 it's worth it.

There is also a massive music library installed on these, and new headphones which you can keep are supplied.

Jetstar's magazine was also of a decent quality, with some interesting reads, although plenty of other people must have thought this too as the copies were a bit ripped and dog-eared.

THE SERVICE Professional but down-to-earth, we found the crew were helpful but background, which I prefer.

As a budget carrier, the airline didn't seem to be trying to be something other than what it was, although they didn't scrimp on anything and were professional.

The check-in staff were also pleasant, which I reckon is important as they are the first "real person" you encounter in your dealings with the airline.

FEEDING TIME Food and drinks aren't included in fares, but a "Jetstar Café" menu allows you to buy food and drinks from the trolley in-flight, using either NZ or Australian dollars, or eftpos and credit cards.

Wraps, toasties, muffins and the like are the most substantial thing on offer, and there are also chips, confectionary, soft drinks, hot drinks and alcoholic drinks for sale. A coffee and muffin combo will set you back about $5, and the beer and wine was in the $7 to $8 area.

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ONE MORE THING Make sure you're near your gate when boarding time is approaching. Jetstar was named NZ's most punctual domestic airline in 2013, and they obviously want to carry this over into their international service.

Boarding was rapid and efficient, which I commented on to the gate crew lady, who quipped "yip, there's no hanging around here," as she shooed us down the boarding tunnel.

THE VERDICT Jetstar has sometimes received a bad rap, but I found no reasons to quibble in what was a hassle-free flight that exceeded my expectations and got us comfortably to where we needed to be, when we needed to be there, which is what I look for in an airline.

Flying direct to the Gold Coast was a distinct advantage too as we would have had to deal with the hassle of getting out of the city to start our holiday had we flown into Brisbane.

Sadie Beckman flew courtesy of Jetstar.

- Stuff

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