The poor man's business class

17:00, May 31 2014
Jetstar Landscape
JETSTAR BUSINESS CLASS: Jetstar offers business class on flights from Melbourne to Tokyo.

It's a far cry from the lie-flat seats business travellers now expect, but it's a lot cheaper too.


THE ROUTE Melbourne to Tokyo.

THE PLANE A330-200.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME The airline launched Club Jetstar last year, giving members exclusive access to airfare sales and discounts on travel insurance and car rental, but there is no loyalty scheme with points.

UP THE BACK OR AT THE POINTY END? Business class, seat 4B.


TIME IN THE AIR Nine hours, 55 minutes.

THE SEAT STUFF There are 38 dark-leather business-class seats with a pitch of 96 centimetres and a width of 50cm. The business cabin has a two-three-two configuration. The best seat is 2D (aisle), which has more leg room because there is no seat in front. The best window seats are 1A and 1K. They are at the bulkhead, and there is space to get around the aisle passengers.

BAGGAGE Two items of carry-on up to 10 kilograms and 30kg of checked luggage.

COMFORT FACTOR Compared with Qantas business class on 747s that fly from Sydney to Tokyo, the Jetstar offering is tighter on space and closer in dimensions to Qantas premium economy.

The Jetstar seats have leg and foot rests and adjustable lumbar support, but they recline only 20cm, a long way from flat-bed seats demanded by business-class travellers these days. Pillows, blankets and an amenities kit, including socks and eyemask, are supplied. There are two toilets at the front.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT Business class passengers are offered video on demand iPads and headsets. The units are loaded with movies, television programs, games, e-mags and music, but the choices are noticeably smaller than on other airlines. It's a juggling act with the unit when the tray table is full during meals.

SERVICE My seat pocket is missing an in-flight magazine. When the menus are handed out, I am overlooked. Consequently, I order last and cannot get my first-choice meal. I feel unloved. However, these are minor kinks in otherwise good, friendly service.

FEEDING TIME My first-choice meal would have been wok-fried spicy sour chicken. There is also pumpkin soup and a multigrain sandwich with sunnyside-up egg, tomato relish, bacon and more. The sandwich is difficult to handle; is there anything worse than dropping food or drink in your lap during a flight? On the return leg, beef sukiyaki and sushi are the star plates.

ONE MORE THING The first flight on this new route took off on April 29. Jetstar also flies direct to Tokyo from the Gold Coast and Cairns, but the only other direct flights from Australia to Tokyo are with Qantas and Japan Airlines, both out of Sydney.

THE VERDICT The seating is not as generous as business class on other airlines and the entertainment options are more limited. However, this is a comfortable journey that is well-priced, with a lead-in business fare of $860 one-way. It is the poor man's business class.

FREQUENCY Four times a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with connections on Jetstar Japan to nine other cities.

Tested by Robert Upe, who flew courtesy of Jetstar.