I’ve just taken my first long flight on a Boeing 787, in this case Jetstar’s 787. I have previously experience the 787 on a short 1 hour hop between Sydney and Melbourne. The most recent flights were part of a trip from Melbourne to Bangkok and return. Much longer flights on the 787 from Melbourne to Singapore (approx 7 hours), and Bangkok to Melbourne (approx 8 hours).
Being Jetstar there are numerous add-ons to purchase with the base airfare. I added the Plus Bundle which included pre-selected meals, standard seat selection, flexibility to change flights and earning of Qantas points. about 4 weeks after I booked Jetstar added 20 kg of checked in luggage to the Plus bundle, along with a price increase. The bundle is fairly good value with the inclusions, but the airfare starts to get upto the same cost as the cheapest flights with Qantas, or perhaps other full cost airlines. The one key difference is that the Jetstar Plus bundle fares are rated as Economy when earning Qantas points, whereas cheap Qantas airfare are rated as discount economy. Of course, Qantas don’t have Boeing 787s, as all the shiny new planes were given to Jetstar instead.
I also took the option to pay for an upfront seat on my long Jetstar flights. 10G on both flights. Boring maybe, but that is the name of the game. This seat has ample legroom, which had both positives and negatives as I later found out. This is the front row of the economy section of the aircraft. In front of row 10 is the wall to keep the riff raff out of the business cabin. The different seat set up in business means that 10G, and 10C don’t have a wall all the way in front of them. There is a bit of extra stretch out room. Overall, the seat was well worth the $25 fee.
The rest of the row 10
Aside from the excellent legroom row 10 is in a mini cabin in with the business section. There are the 3 business class rows, then there are about 27 seats, in staggered rows and there there is a galley area behind that with aircraft doors. The doors are the most interesting aspect. Jetstar often uses the door behind this mini cabin to do boarding and disembarkation. They also hold the rest of economy to allow business class to get off the plane. That means those people in the mini economy cabin have to get off the plane, first, to let business passenger to get off. Who doesn’t love a quick exit from the plane. If they use the very front doors there is still a pretty quick exit.
Of course, row 10 is one of the last rows to actually board the aircraft. Perhaps that is a slight negative but you have to take the good with the bad. A more significant negative is that Jetstar seem to like to store their crap in the overhead lockers above row 10 – headphones, amenity packs, blankets. This wasn’t an issue on either of my flights as the overheads are pretty big.
That’s the thing about a 787, it is a wide body aircraft. It also has plenty of overhead storage as a result. The marketing material also tells us that the aircraft is made from the latest composite materials, making it lighter and stronger. The strength means that it can be pressurised at a lower altitude which makes for a better environment for passengers. I’m not an engineer, but I did step off the overnight flight feeling semi-decent.
The engineering with advanced materials also gives us much bigger windows. They are at least double the size of other equivalent aircraft windows. This gives a much better view to the outside.
There windows don’t have the old pull down window shades, instead there is an electronic filter built into the window. This is pretty cool because it does block out the sun, while also allowing people to look outside if they wish. Not to mention so pretty spectacular effects with full sun shining in.
The aircraft and the hard product together make for a good flight, even on an 8 hour overnight return from Bangkok. Jetstar offer buy on board entertainment with latest release movies, the usual 3 episodes of TV shows plus music. There were free radio stations available. It all seems to be pretty good value for $10, this might even be cheaper if purchased in advance. I didn’t try the entertainment as I have plenty of material on my iPad. The point of using low cost carriers is to be low cost. The couple of times that I have compared Jetstar with a full cost carrier like Qantas adding all the extras often gives a very similar cost. Unless you’re flying to be on a particular type of aircraft, like a 787, it is always worth checking out the full cost comparison between airlines.
The Jetstar included meals were of decent quality. Meals must be pre-ordered. The funny thing about the meal is that it comes with a “cold beverage” and a hot drink. It turns out the cold beverage is just a crap little tub of water. Water is provided free on the flight anyway. I would’ve expected at least a soft drink as a free cold beverage.
There are a range of snack foods available, not to mentions drinks. Some of the other passengers might have spent more on drinks and snack that the extra cost of flying with Qantas.
That gets me onto some of the travel companions on the flight to Singapore. They were clearly excited to be starting their holiday in Singapore. This was rather a negative really with all the yelling with each other about the food to order, the movies to order, who paid for what seat, which magazine to read now. This gets into another negative of my seat, there was a group of people who decided it was a good idea to stand in that nice space and have a discussion for a couple of hours. It’s hard to be down on the excitement of holidays, but it really would’ve been nice if they waited patiently for the 7 hour flight to finish.
Still the excitement lift the mood on the flight to an enjoyable party atmosphere. The 787 is a great aircraft, even that would be worth flying with Jetstar again.