Chris Grantham flies JQ371 south . . . and then north again.
A Dash-8 Q300.
Class: I wouldn't call this class. But if you must, Economy - one size fits all.
Price: $60 return.
Flight time: Two hours in the air, plus an hour's delay for toilet reasons (see below).
My seat: 4D, comfortable leather. Non-reclining (that didn't stop the flight crew from instructing us to return our seats to the upright position).
Fellow passengers: A range of leisure passengers, all ages. Not a suit in sight.
How full: 90 per cent full.
Entertainment: Captain Mumble Mumble, shortly after take-off from Auckland apologised for our late "departure from Nelson", and our expected "arrival time in Auckland". Some of us laughed at the reversal of the expected flight. But it was to prove prophetic.
The service: Ben was the hot-off-the-press cabin crew, reading most of the safety stuff, including "not smoking in the toilets plural" (they aren't plural). "The doors plural will shortly be closed." Just the one, actually. The flight to Nelson was pleasant, the only thing lacking was actually stopping in Nelson, which had closed for weather reasons. If we'd left Auckland on time, we would have landed. Instead we flew back to Auckland. They said we'd be going on the next flight in an hour or two. No thanks.
Food and drink: You must buy your meal (a bottle of water and muffin or similar) voucher prior. Didn't see anyone who had bothered. Shortly before landing back in Auckland, I took my seat-mate's cue and also asked for a free water. Got one! And on landing they gave us all two $8 food vouchers.
The toilets: The woman behind me said she couldn't turn the tap off. Oh dear, would it mean this aircraft, a replacement for our scheduled aircraft whose dunny wasn't working (causing the one-hour delay) would also be parked up for reasons of "convenience"?
Luggage: As I was on a day return, I didn't bother.
The airport experience: I was at the boarding gate 30 minutes early, knowing Jetstar punishes non-compliance severely. I noted the electronic sign had changed my scheduled flight time from 8am to 8.05am. But what's five minutes between friends? (Unless of course you change it by five minutes. Then you may be shafted). Boarding procedure was okay when it finally started - speedily on to the airbridge. Then down the stairs and a walk to the shuttle bus for the 100m remote-gate journey. Just one almost-seatless bus, and it waited more than 10 minutes for everybody's arrival before moving off and disgorging a whole plane-load in one go, instead of getting half seated and settled.
Would I fly this again? No.