Stephanie Holmes flies JQ295 to one of New Zealand's most stunningly-situated airports.
The Plane: A Jetstar A320.
Class: Economy Starter seat, plus a checked bag.
Check-in experience: Excellent. I'd already checked in online the day before I travelled, but hadn't paid to select my seat. I was allocated a pesky middle seat. At bag drop I asked the immaculately presented Jetstar crew member if I could swap to a window seat (no point flying to Queenstown without being able to see the view, right?), and she happily obliged, moving me to an exit-row seat with extra legroom for no additional cost (usually $15).
Flight time: One hour and 35 minutes.
On time: Yes, we left on time, and landed about 10 minutes earlier than scheduled.
Seat: 13F — an exit-row window seat with extra legroom. Comfortable and plenty of room, especially as there was no one in the middle seat.
Fellow passengers: Mostly international tourists heading to Queenstown on holiday, plus a corporate group on their way for a team-building away day.
Entertainment: Just the in-flight magazine and the view, which of course gets progressively more stunning the closer you get to Queenstown.
Service: Our crew of four female flight attendants, led by Stevie, were all friendly, helpful and efficient.
Food and drink: Complimentary tea, coffee or water for all passengers, plus a menu of snacks and drinks for purchase. I had a $10 voucher, so chose a banana loaf and peppermint tea, which were you to buy it, would cost $6.50 as part of a meal deal. Otherwise, the food and drinks seemed reasonable — although if I had to choose between a $4 cuppa or a $9 wine, I'd probably go for the latter. It's more cost-effective, right?
Toilets: Clean, tidy and smelt of strawberries.
Luggage: 20kg of checked baggage, plus 7kg hand luggage. Ample for a week away.
Airport experience: Auckland Domestic terminal has greatly improved in recent years, with more hospitality options, but there's still not a great deal to do, which the girl next to me at the cafe was complaining about: having to wait there for five hours in transit after a 20-hour international flight. The gate was another story — rather packed with not much seating as three flights left at a similar time.
Queenstown airport is very well-appointed — I had an hour to wait before my pick-up to Aro Ha Retreat, so I found a comfortable chair and caught up on some work using the free Wi-Fi. People-watching was great, too with so many tourists about to start their Queenstown adventure.
Would I fly again? Absolutely. I'm no snob when it comes to carriers and Jetstar prices are great for quick weekends away.