Every month is a Review Time blog and vlog (as you see below) today’s Review Time is about flying to Tokyo Narita with Jetstar Airways.
FLIGHT: Jetstar flight JQ11
ROUTE: OOL – NRT
DURATION: 9 hours 10 minutes
FREQUENCY: 1 flight daily from OOL
WHO IS JETSTAR?
Jetstar (JQ) are a low-cost carrier (LCC) whose parent company is Qantas Airways. It is one 2 Australian based LCCs that fly overseas with Virgin Australia being the other – however they have changed more into a full-service airline in recent years.
Tiger Airways, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines used to fly to Bali, but in recent months they no longer fly to Bali due to recent changes in Indonesian Aviation Laws.
BOOKING WITH JETSTAR
I flew to Tokyo Narita from the Gold Coast terminal on 19 September 2016. This flight was a one-way flight as I was also heading to Seoul, South Korea on 24 September 2016. This was booked on 27 April 2016 and I paid including a Plus Bundle (more on it later) and a bulkhead seat selection – $489.00 one way.
If I decided not to take the Plus Bundle, no seat selection nor any added extras, it would of cost me $369.00. I see now that they are advertising a basic one way fare from $320.00
This was booked directly with Jetstar on their website http://www.jetstar.com
If you pay with a credit card or PayPal there are fees however you can avoid this by paying with the POLI bank transfer service if you have an Australian internet bank account.
MEALS, BUNDLES & OTHER EXTRAS
A Plus Bundle is $90 extra. It includes a meal on the plane, 20kg of luggage, no fees if I choose to change my flights (except for fare difference) and 3900 Qantas Frequent Flyer points or I could’ve opted for a $25 rewards voucher from Jetstar instead.
If you do not have a Qantas Frequent Flyer card you can also use Emirates Skywards, Japan Airlines’ JAL Milage or Vietnam Airlines’ Lotusmiles.
Check with your respective memberships earning calculator to see what points you may earn from this flight. Generally, this is an economy flight if you are utilising a Qantas Frequent Flyer membership.
If you wish to purchase a Plus Bundle, you must do it at the time of booking you cannot do it after like you can with luggage and meals.
If you decide just to buy the fare only, please be aware that luggage and meals will be more expensive after booking and will get more expensive the closer it becomes to your flight date.
If you choose to order a meal without a bundle, it will cost you $27 and this includes a pre-landing snack as well, and you can choose which one you like that is on offer. At the time, I ordered the beef teriyaki meal, which I will talk more about later.
If you choose not to order a meal on the flight you can order food from their menu that they have where you have to pay money for food.
Please be aware that if you do decide to order a meal, you do have to pay for your own soft drinks and tea and coffee and if you wish to get more water, you need to pay for that as well.
Jetstar is supplied by Pepsi so if you are a picky Coca-Cola drinker like myself, make sure to bring your Coke on board by purchasing at the store after you’ve passed immigration as you may struggle without it.
Most of the food is predominantly snacks and drinks most of these snacks are quite unhealthy and you will see a very familiar shade of unhealthy yellow throughout the menu book.
Of course, if you are really on a budget, you can actually avoid this by bringing your own food on the plane. Obviously just be aware of liquids and gels before passing security and immigration and remembering to dispose of any unwanted food before landing in Japan, as they have one of the strictest bio security laws in the world.
Australia and New Zealand are the only two other countries in the world with similar bio security laws.
GOLD COAST AIRPORT
Gold Coast Airport is approximately 1 hour from Brisbane City via car or 2.5 hours via public transport. At the time of departure, there was track work on my train line, so I was not able to take public transport to the Gold Coast airport without spending close to $90 to get me in a taxi to get to Brisbane City.
So I decided to purchase a Link Transfer to the Gold Coast from my house, which picked me up at 3:30 AM and we arrived at the Gold Coast airport (after many pickups along the way!) at 6:45 AM.
This cost me $46 from Kallangur, which I thought was pretty good considering a car would cost about the same in petrol from my house to the airport. If public transport was available to me, it would of cost me about $20, but since I have flown to Japan, the Queensland state government has changed the fare prices on public transport so now it would cost me $10.
SMALL FACT: Gold Coast Airport crosses over two states. Queensland and New South Wales.
When I arrived at the airport, I noticed that there were many other international flights leaving from the Gold Coast at the same time as my flight to Tokyo. This included an Air Asia X flight to Kuala Lumpur, a Scoot flight to Singapore and an Air New Zealand flight to Auckland.
Because of the amount of international flights leaving at the same time, plus also the Gold Coast airport is a very small airport – IT GETS BUSY.
I would definitely recommend to arrive when check-in opens three hours prior to departure so you can get through immigration without the risk of missing your flight.
Also, be warned that with the Gold Coast airport being so small, all the food outlets are BEFORE immigration.
There is actually a newsagent and a cafe on the other side of immigration, however, they are very small, has limited options and it does get very busy.
If you think you need to eat something before you depart make sure to do this before you pass immigration.
Obviously, with the Gold Coast being a small airport, it does mean also that you will be boarding from the tarmac, not from an aerobridge, this happens rain or shine, so be aware if you have mobility issues in the wet.
As most of the other flights had cleared by the time we boarded, it became a seamless boarding process down to the 787 Dreamliner.
Jetstar flies long haul on Boeing 787 Dreamliners. They first took delivery of the planes in late 2013. I did find that the interior of the plane was a little tired and a little worn however it was a very good sensory experience to be involved on such a modern plane.
I will admit that I did feel a lot better after landing in Tokyo than I did fly back to Australia on an Airbus A330-300 where I felt quite dry and thirsty.
The great thing is that being the first one on board there were smiles when I got on board, the flight attendants were fantastic and honestly, I couldn’t fault them. There was FAs from many parts of the globe including South Africa, China, Thailand and Singapore.
I chose to take the bulkhead seat, which did cost me an extra $25. It is not included in the Plus Bundle, however; I do believe it was well worth its money to an extent, however, I just felt uncomfortable during the flight and the seat does not recline as far like the other seats do.
We took off on time, taking off from the south, you then realise just how quickly when you take off how close the Gold Coast Airport is from the ocean.
The take-off from the Boeing 787 is actually pretty quiet it’s very similar to an Airbus A380 that you do not hear the engines spool up before going down the runway and it was reasonably quiet for most of the flight.
We flew over the sea then headed north, but being a cloudy day, we did not see much including flying over Brisbane City and Fraser Island.
As I sat on the wrong side of the plane (dopey me!) I did not see the Great Barrier Reef, however, I did see Papua New Guinea and Guam, Saipan & Tinian Islands.
Approximately 90 minutes after take-off, we were served our meals, I ordered the Beef Teriyaki meal which was quite salty, but it still tasted okay. Our meal also came with a (defrosted) bread roll, a white chocolate mousse from Harry and Larry’s and a cup of water.
Mid-flight, I did order a cup of tea and a banana bread then 1 hour before landing, we were served a pre-landing snack, which was a pizza style calzone and a Tim Tam with some more water. I also ordered another cup of tea.
This calzone was delicious and quite cheesy as well I very much enjoy to the calzone and if I got it again, I would eat it again, but I did feel that being on a nine-hour flight, that this Calzone was just not quite enough for a meal, but of course it was just considered a snack.
I did find that after I landed I had to go to the convenience store to buy some rice balls as I was quite hungry.
I did order in-flight entertainment for this flight – It costs AUD$9.00 if you choose to purchase online before flying, however, it does cost a dollar extra more if you choose to pay during the flight, which is what I did and all you have to do, is just swipe your credit card on the TV screen to get in-flight entertainment.
I wouldn’t say it was anything spectacular, there was a lot of movies that didn’t take me fancy but there were older movies, such as Moulin Rouge! which, I watched partially. I also watched the entire season 1 of The X-Files as well, but if you wish to save some money, load your computer or mobile device with some movies and games, or if you’re another vlogger or blogger like me, it’s great to use that time to edit some of your work or get a vlog ready for uploading.
If you’re flying daytime with Jetstar, like I was on this flight, you will notice that there is no particular shutting of the blinds or sleep period like there is with other airlines after meal service during the day.
Although that the most of the cabin was dark during this flight, it was still quite bright and the cabin was quite active during the flight. The flight attendants were made busy by the passengers ordering more snacks and drinks during the flight.
The flight attendants were attentive and happy to serve us. The service was quick and no waiting around for close to an hour unlike some airlines, (ahem Emirates!) and made sure that we were well looked after and hydrated.
When I arrived in Tokyo, typhoon season was in full swing, with Typhoon Malakas hitting Japan 2 days prior. It was pouring down with rain, and it was difficult to see outside when we were landing.
We arrived approximately 30 minutes prior to our scheduled arrival time.
This Jetstar flight disembarks at Narita airport terminal 3, the new low-cost carrier terminal.
You will notice that when you disembark off the plane, you will end up onto the tarmac and then up the stairs into the terminal unlike the other terminals at Narita where you disembark through an Aerobridge.
The process through immigration was very swift, although luggage collection took a real long time, which was very unlike Japanese standards.
Once you have collected your luggage, you will then speak to another customs officer, about your stay in Japan and your biosecurity declaration form and then you will be allowed to enter Japan officially.
If you require transportation into Tokyo you will need to head to Terminal 2, as the bus station and train station for the Skyliner, NE’X, and Keisei trains are at Terminal 2. I took the Skyliner into Tokyo as it was the fastest way to get into Tokyo from Narita – when I visit Tokyo again in October, I will show you all this train.
There is a bus that will take you to Terminal 2, like I did as it was raining, or you can walk the 15 minutes also from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 on the designated walkway.
FARE COMPARISON TO FLYING WITH A FULL-SERVICE AIRLINE
My flight to Japan in October 2017 is with Qantas, a fully serviced airline. It is costing is $467 one way, $20 cheaper than what I paid with Jetstar including add ons, and that includes 30kgs of luggage, meals and beverages plus 5200 Qantas Frequent Flyer points. This also flies out of Brisbane Airport, a major airport, rather than the Gold Coast, which is a regional airport.
The service was great and the staff were friendly and found the whole experience to be great, but my let down was obviously the food, and the hidden catches there are to flying a low-cost carrier.
With Jetstar also flying Dreamliners, it’s a step ahead of the rival LCCs and even full-service carriers with flying such an advanced and modern plane.
If you are looking to fly on a budget without any add-ons, definitely look at flying with Jetstar, however there is a catch to flying LCCs and I would recommend shopping around first, as you may find that a full-service carrier that flies direct from a major airport (Gold Coast is considered regional) may be cheaper than flying with a LCC.
Lauren flew with Jetstar at her own expense.