Flight check: Auckland to Sydney on Jetstar

Tristram Clayton flies JQ204 from New Zealand to Australia.

A Jetstar Airbus A320. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A Jetstar Airbus A320. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The plane: Airbus A320

Class: It's Jetstar - so just the one.

Price: Cheap. Just $590 for a return flight - and that included a long list of taxes and fees ($61 "bag fee" anyone?). Jetstar's Auckland-to-Sydney prices for one-way, tickets with just carry-on luggage start at $189.

On time: Bang on time - in fact a couple of minutes early. Return leg from Sydney was equally prompt.

My seat: Fortune favours the long-legged - I was in 1F. Great leg room.

Fellow passengers: Eclectic mix of foreign backpackers, families with pre-school children, league fans (it was the day before Origin II) and quite a few huge blokes who looked like Kiwis commuting to jobs in Aussie mines.

How full? We flew at about 90 per cent capacity.

Entertainment: When you're paying less than $300 to get to Sydney - come prepared. No screens (in either the seats or luggage rack), so bring your own. Most people on board seemed to know this and had their own iPads. I wasn't prepared, so for the first time paid $12 and rented one. I've always been reluctant to do this, but in the end paying 12 bucks to watch the brilliant Grand Budapest Hotel and have the three-hour journey pass in the blink of an eye was well worth it.

The service: The young, cool and relaxed service style can sometimes get my goat - not so on this trip. Yes they were young, cool and relaxed but they knew their stuff. Well done.

Food and drink: Again, come prepared (but don't try and bring more than 100ml of hummus as one woman on our flight tried). As with the iPad, I swallowed my pride and for the first time ever paid $12 for the cheese-and-ham toastie and Peroni beer combo. Not a bad price.

The toilets: The film was so engrossing I didn't go.

Luggage: For my third and final "first" I flew with no checked luggage - what a dream. Nineteen minutes from paying for my cab outside the terminal to sitting in the Qantas lounge eating a lamb curry and drinking a Fat Yak Pale Ale. And it was the same at the other end. Even after buying some duty-free, I was getting into my taxi just 22 minutes after touching down in Sydney. Now that's international travel.

The airport experience: That Qantas lounge I just mentioned - well, I'm not a member. In an age where you can no longer charm your way to an upgrade, a smile and some polished banter can still get you into a lounge. So taking into account my 19-minute check-in, customs check and luggage scan and my generous lounge encounter, you could say my "airport experience" was about as good as it gets.

Would I fly this again? Absolutely. Especially if I remember to take my own iPad and hummus, and get the same staff on the counter at the Qantas lounge.

The writer travelled as a guest of Jetstar.

- NZ Herald

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