Winston Aldworth heads for the snow with the kids in tow aboard JQ297.

The plane:

We're aboard an A320-200, the cornerstone of Jetstar's domestic fleet. They fly 99 of these things around New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the Pacific. From March, they'll be winging their way from Auckland to Rarotonga.

My seat: I'm in 4D. The seats are 17.88 inches wide, with a pitch of 29 inches. It feels on the snug side of industry standard.

Price: One-way online fares start at $79 and checked baggage is available from $11 for 20kg.


On time? We cover the 1024km route in bang on 1hr 55m, the scheduled time.

How full? There are 160 passengers on board, with capacity for 180.

Fellow passengers: Annoyingly, I'm seated next to a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. They whine and wriggle all the way through the flight, demanding snacks and drinks, yelling about taking turns to look out the window and scrambling around on the floor looking for colouring-in pencils they've dropped. Such awful people to sit next to. They call me "Dad".

Entertainment: The Jetstar magazine - called, imaginatively, Jetstar Magazine - is always worth picking up. Otherwise, there's bags of fun to be had scrambling around looking for colouring-in pencils.

Food and drink: It's strictly pay as you go on these flights. The prices aren't too bad, but I've brought sandwiches and bananas from home. A cup of awful coffee and a muffin is $5. If you do want to buy something, beware that you'll need low-denomination currency or a credit card.

Service: The cabin manager Rachael and her team - Sunaira, Vikas and Kora - handle things with a smile. When I have to take my daughter, Zoe, into the toilet at the rear of the cabin, I ask a couple of the crew to watch my son, Baxter, as he waits outside. When we emerge, he's proudly clutching a chocolate bar that he charmed out of them.

Luggage: We paid extra to take two large bags in the hold. Otherwise, like everyone else on board, we eked everything out of the carry-on allowance.

Airport experience: Got out there with plenty of time so we could buy colouring books for the kids and a share a cookie as a treat. With the kids properly breakfasted, I lined myself up one of those Tank smoothies ($7.90). Trick for young players: those smoothies take a while to make. You wouldn't want to be waiting for one too close to your boarding time. You won't get it past the security check.


Would I fly it again? In a flash.