Flight check: Auckland to Queenstown on Jetstar

Winston Aldworth flies JQ296 to the South Island.
There were maybe half a dozen seats out of 177 left empty. This is a popular run. Photo / Greg Bowker
There were maybe half a dozen seats out of 177 left empty. This is a popular run. Photo / Greg Bowker

The plane: A320 - The domestic Greyhound of the Jetstar fleet.

Class: Not particularly.

Price: $102, including fees and taxes. One bag of luggage costs $11 extra. In total, flying two adults and one fee-paying child, we saved more than $400 by opting for Jetstar over Air New Zealand.

On time? No problems. We rolled out of Queenstown on time, despite the staff's last-minute flurry at the airport to account for a rogue ownerless suitcase.

My seat: 24C, sitting by the aisle. My preferred spot. I don't like to see the wings wobble.

Fellow passengers: Families. Young travellers and a couple of dozen Asian tourists in a package group. For the rest of the passengers, my busy three-year-old daughter, Zoe, was probably the most annoying person on board.

I got a nosebleed. We were that family.

How full? There were maybe half a dozen seats out of 177 left empty. This is a popular run.

Entertainment: Not much - this is budget travel. Zoe found the emergency instructions card mildly distracting for a while there. I was surprised and impressed by Jetstar's in-flight magazine.

The service: Cabin crew were all pleasant enough. Once the exits have been pointed out, their main job seems to be selling you stuff.

Food and drink: You can buy drinks and food on board - don't expect anything for free. The on-board prices are steep though not outrageous - it pays to be canny and buy your snacks before getting to the airport. And quell the wails of your ear-popped child by having some lollies tucked away ready for landing.

The toilets: Clean. Though not much room when trying to help the 3-year-old with "toilet time" at 9100m (30,000ft).

Luggage: One bag, weighing up to 20kg, costing $11. These guys are pretty serious. Don't go over the limits or you'll pay extra.

The airport experience: When it's not too busy, Queenstown Airport is great. The best coffee is at the first stall as you enter. Window-seats get astonishing views on takeoff, although coming in to land is the bigger buzz.

Would I fly this again? Money talks... until we have a nightmare delay or Jetstar lands us in Invercargill instead of Central Otago.

Winston Aldworth paid for his own ticket.

- NZ Herald

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