To "Venice of the East" with no-frills

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by littl_flier, Jun 27, 2007.

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  1. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    I've noticed a few people have been asking about Jetstar and the media has beat up JQi a little bit so I thought I would share my experiences. It's all in whY so not quite StarClass but I hope you enjoy. :p
     

  2. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    Introduction

    Introduction

    After booking one of Jetstar’s launch sale fares back in July, it was finally time to take my father overseas for the first time in 10 years and quench my ever-growing travel bug. We were in for some great times ahead and new experiences, my first trip to continental Asia, flying a low cost carrier long haul and the joys of bartering and drinking bottled water.

    Unusually, I was under prepared for this trip having left a lot to chance and fate. We had booked accommodation and a two day tour but otherwise we had five days to fill. Surely this couldn’t be too hard in a big city.

    I had avoided packing and threw together some items the night before because it was going to be an early morning.
     
  3. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    To Bangkok

    Sunday 8th April 2007

    Alarms were set for the unearthly hour of 5:30am. Surprisingly I was refreshed and excited and was through the shower and dressed within 20 minutes. Throwing together some last minute items for the trip, I sipped coffee and made sure my travel partner was in order. After swapping Easter eggs with the rest of the family, it was to climb into the car for the hour trip to the airport. As expected at the early hour on Easter Sunday, the roads were clear and we were at the airport around 7:30. Walking straight to the CSA at the International Transfers Desk, we were quickly tagged ‘priority’ through to Bangkok. We received our boarding passes for the Qantas flight and were told we would need to collect our Jetstar BP’s in Melbourne. Unusual I thought, but we had plenty of time for connection.

    Dad and the rest of the family headed upstairs through security for a coffee whilst I battled the lines at the Ticket Desk to enquire about the purchase of the Star Class on departure upgrades. Finally at the front of the line, the CSA was fantastic and quickly rang JQ having never heard of the ODU’s. She politely informed me that I would need to approach Jetstar when we got our BP’s in Melbourne as Qantas can’t receipt money for Jetstar. :confused:

    A little disappointed as I would have liked Business Class to Melbourne, I headed upstairs avoiding the Bomb Testing but surprised the shoes I had worn through security 15 minutes ago, needed to be taken off this time. Must have been an ultra-sensitive machine. Mum and my sister decided that they would go plane spotting so Dad and I took the opportunity to visit the Qantas Club where I had the mango-nectar coated fruit salad, coffee, juice and read the newspaper. Intending on farewelling the family, we left on the first boarding call and headed out to Gate 19. Saying goodbye, it was time for the adventure to begin.

    Onboard, we were welcomed by a very cheery CSM and flight crew who were certainly enjoying Easter and may’ve had too many Easter eggs. The Captain advised us that we would have a smooth journey and that our routing would be the usual for the trip from Brisbane to Melbourne. Push-back was on time and ten minutes later, we were airborne. Onboard, we were served some bickies with tea, coffee and juice. I also made sure I asked the FA for an extra apple, some fruit was going to be very nice for the next flight. ;) After a smooth 1hr, 55mins we glided into Melbourne from the south after turning over the bay and giving those on the right side of the aircraft, a lovely view of the city. Disembarking five minutes ahead of schedule, it had been a good flight indeed.

    Leaving the Domestic Terminal and making our way through to the international, we headed down to the Jetstar check-in area where I refused to line up behind the 50 people in the economy line when the Star Class CSA was not serving anyone and I was already checked-in. Unsure whether flying Jetstar gave me the Business Class check-in service, I walked straight to the CSA anyway at Star Class where the she greeted us and handed us our BP’s. Originally assigned into 30A and 30B, she informed us that we were able to have a row of four to ourselves if we were happy to move back. More than happy to move for some extra room, we were assigned 49 DEFG. Yay, some room to spread out!

    It was here that I got my first understanding of the LCC model and the arrogant Jetstar customer service manager (female I might add) argued with a passenger who had connected from LAX with QF and was on his way to BKK. The passenger was arguing that he shouldn’t be charged for the 3kgs excess baggage (above 20kg) as he was on an international itinerary. The prompt reply from the CSM was that if he wanted extra baggage he “should be flying with the other airline”. Harsh but fair I guess.

    Through emigration and security, we made our way to the Qantas Club via the duty free stores. Having never been to this Qantas Club before, I must say I was a little disappointed that there were no windows like the domestic terminal. At first, it was quite full due to the LAX flight being delayed for a few hours. Five minutes after we found seats, their flight was called and we could spread out. Food was the usual- sandwich wraps, biscuits and dips and a good assortment of drinks, all self service. With a long flight ahead, I had some lunch washed down with a few rum and cokes. Boarding was called late in the lounge and we dawdled for a couple of minutes before making our way up to the gate.

    Having heard of JQ’s catering, I purchased an overpriced salad wrap on the way to the gate. Leaving later in boarding appeared to be a wise decision as we walked to the front of the line and straight onto the aircraft. Despite most passengers being boarded, we still sat at the gate for another half an hour as “paperwork” was finalised. Having only flown Jetstar once before, I’m not sure if its common for a very annoying soundtrack to loop for the entire boarding and take-off process but by the end, I was thinking seriously that instead of “Let’s fly Jetstar” maybe we could “ground Jetstar”. ;) Then, at 1:18pm, we were pushed back and the engines purred into life. After a long taxi to the Port Phillip Bay end, we held for two incoming aircraft before we roared along the runway and into the skies beyond. It was a little turbulent as we appeared to maintain flight level 300 before we climbed higher into the sky.

    As has been much reported on AFF, the cabin crew were largely Thai and Malaysian with the exception of the CSM. Hence, I was pleasantly surprised that we had two very Australian pilots for our flight today. They informed us that we would have a smooth journey up to Bangkok with our flight path crossing Ayres Rock, north of Broome, over the top of Denpasar and slightly west of Singapore before descending into a hot and humid Bangkok. Flight time today was 8:52 mins- a rather precise prediction I thought. :confused:

    The crew began dispensing the amenities for our flight, first distributing the handheld AVOD and comfort packs. Lunch was later offered to all customers and we began to settle in for the short flight up to Thailand. The main screen video offered IMHO excellent quality programming. Features included Meet the Fokker’s, Kath and Kim and Thank God You’re Here among others. When these weren’t being featured, the Airshow provided up to date information of our location.

    Having a row of four to ourselves, I spread out over three seats and attempted to have a nap and wear off my consumption of Rum from the Qantas Club. A little over two hours in, the Pilots came over the radio to inform us that if passengers moved to the left hand side of the aircraft, we would have an excellent view of the Ulga’s. Consequently, most of the plane moved and jammed the window seats in scenes akin to an Antarctic sightseeing flight. Once everyone had settled down, people mainly kept to themselves watching their DigiPlayer or the main screen.

    About two and half hours out, dinner was offered to passengers with a Meat Pie being served (at $10 I might add). Whilst I though the prices of the food was quite reasonable, I could not justify $10 for a pie and opted for the $3 noodles. Once dinner was finished, the crew quickly collected the trays and snapped the AVOD devices up. About an hour out, the Captain updated us for arrival and an excellent arrival video began showing. Around 7:30pm we began a circle of the Thai capital before we made our way into the new airport landing at 7:41. A short taxi to our gate and we de-planed at 7:45. So, we did it, we flew Jetstar! Not so bad so far.

    Immigration was fast as we walked straight to the front of a new counter. After quickly flipping through the pages in our passports, we were given the all clear and were processed. The first to baggage claim, we thought we may have been lucky but despite being tagged priority, our bags were last. (Admittedly, it is Jetstar so Priority doesn’t mean anything.)

    Having never been to a country where haggling was common, we were bombarded immediately by rude, arrogant men insisting on us taking a limousine into the city. Eventually we found the taxi rank for normal passengers and 30 minutes and 450 baht later, we had arrived at our home for the next week.
     
  4. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    #4 littl_flier, Jun 27, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2007
    Hotel & Tours

    Sofitel Grand Sukhumvit Bangkok

    As with many Thai hotels, it’s possible to live like kings and pay peanuts. I’m not going to say much about the hotel or Thailand itself BUT…. this hotel was relatively central, was fairly inexpensive, had a great pool and the bathroom was entirely glass from the waist above with stunning views of the city from the shower. For those who have not been to Bangkok before, having learnt the hard way, I believe two days is sufficient to do the major tourist attractions before heading off to the rest of Thailand.

    World Travel Services- 2 Day Tour River Kwai Tiger Temple and Elephant Ride

    In this case, we had only booked a two day tour but this was by far the highlight of the trip. The tour co-ordinated by World Travel Services saw us head north to Kanchanaburi where we visited the Allied Prisoners War Cemetery before lunch at the bridge made famous in the movie “Bridge Over the River Kwai.” The cemetery has a museum that pays tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives building the Burma Railway. Leaving, we made our way to the bridge over the River Kwai where we walked over the steel structure and witnessed the daily train from Bangkok cross the historic structure. After a delicious lunch, we headed of to the TigerTemple.



    Leaving the tiger temple, we made the journey to HellfirePass, the deepest cutting made by the Allied Soldiers and 21 metres deep at its greatest where thousands of soldiers lost their lives. After the kilometre walk down into the jungle as the storm clouds approached, our guide treated us to a Singher beer before we headed to our home for the night, the River Kwai Village Hotel. This hotel was absolutely breathtaking, set into the mountain side overlooking the River Kwai, the hotel offer two amazing pools to relax by. A couple of cocktails by the pool followed by dinner meant an early night indeed! The rooms were nothing special, but the surrounding were priceless.

    We woke the next morning to the sounds of the monkeys calling in the trees and the birds chirping in the jungle outside. After breakfast we headed off for a day of activities before our return to the capital. After feeding the monkeys, we made our way down the river of a bamboo rafts taking in local families washing in the river before we arrived at our destination, the Elephant camp.

    Of the entire trip, this was the most exciting part. After lunch, we drove back to Bangkok and arrived back into the craze on Songkran. Wow, this giant wet t-shirt competition was starting to look like fun. ;)
     
  5. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    Home Time

    Sunday 15th April 2007- The Journey Home

    After filling the last two days with some shopping and more sightseeing, it was time to head home. As I surfed the net and checked AFF on the Sunday morning of our flight home, I logged onto Google and checked the news for the day. I noticed headlines that 500 Jetstar passengers were stuck in Honolulu after their aircraft went US. Mmmm, interesting. My instant reaction was to log onto airlinestats.com and check the status of JQ29, the flight that would leave MEL and then take us home. The inside of me suddenly dropped, scheduled departure was 4.5 hours later or at 5.30pm Melbourne time. The scheduled departure of JQ30 has been moved to 00:10 from 21.00. Instantly I logged onto seatcounter where I knew the JQ flight was showing J0 Y0, and I checked the flight MEL-BNE on QF. Unfortunately the 1pm and 2pm were both Y0 and the 3pm was Y5. This was not looking good and it was time for my backup plan to flow.

    I rang JQ and using my knowledge (thanks AFF) about what Y0 meant, asked them about whether we could move to either QF2 or BA9 later that day as the flight must have been full and maybe overbooked. The CSA was excellent but insisted that he was unable to re-book onto a QF or BA flight unless they were forced to cancel. Oh well, worth a try.

    Five minutes later, my phone started ringing. I was surprised to hear that it was actually JQ themselves to let us know about the delay and inform us that departure was now scheduled for 23:50 and we should arrive at the airport 2 hours earlier. He also informed me that our onward connection in MEL would be managed and we would be advised at a later point as to which flight we would be re-booked onto.

    The hotel was fantastic and gave us complimentary late check-out until five. After going out, we returned and had a quick shower in the room before check-out. We had decided that rather than sit in the hotel lobby bored out of our brains, we would leave for the airport and sit in the QP instead. About 5:30pm we climbed into our taxi and negotiated our 300 baht trip to the airport. It wasn’t until now that I appreciated the beauty of Bangkok. As the sun was lowering, the sunlight shimmered over the golden capital.

    As we arrived at the airport, we checked-in and paid the departure tax. After waiting forever to be processed by emigration, we proceeded downstairs where we managed to get lost and go through security twice. The QP IMO wasn’t easy to find but thanks to some helpful Thai’s we were pointed in the right direction. A quick show of our boarding passes to the so-called BA dragons and we were in. The lounge has been extensively reported on so I won’t go into too much detail. There was a reasonable selection of drinks on offer but I was quite disappointed by the food selection. Magazines consisted of top label mags from both Australia and the UK and an excellent selection of newspapers from Aust and the UK were on offer.

    I passed the hours by reading and surfing the net thanks to the complimentary internet connection. Around 10.30pm as the passengers travelling to LHR on BA10 & QF1 started arriving, the lounge became very overcrowded. It was an interesting sight to see families sitting on the floor in the QP but there was simply not enough space for everyone. This was compounded when the passengers from SYD arrived and the place turned into a zoo. I swear half of JQ30 had access!

    Around 11.25pm we made our way down to the gate even though no call had been made in the lounge yet. We were the first to move but when we got to the gate at 11.30 the staff were telling passengers to “hurry up” so they could get away quickly. Ironically, the line at the gate was still huge and there was a long line of people behind us. At the gate, our bags were searched poorly for liquids. There is no way this search was adequate for the current liquid bans and proved more as a joke. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

    Onboard we found our seats in our pre-assigned exit rows, allocated thanks to a glitch in the JQ system some weeks earlier. ;) Once onboard we sat at the gate forever before pushback at 12.03am. We made our way to the runway where the engines powered up at 12.15am. A three hour delay was not so bad after all.

    Once we levelled out, I put my mask on and fell asleep. I’m sorry but I don’t have much to report on because I slept until 90 minutes out- not bad for an economy flight I though. As I woke, I felt absolutely wrecked, due mainly to dehydration and a lack of food. I quickly polished off some rockmelon and pawpaw for breakfast that I had bought in Bangkok. A coffee made things better too! I then noticed at my feet a powerpoint. Grabbing my USA adaptor from by bag, I plugged in and watched a movie for the next hour. Whilst it worked fine for me, I now advise against this (Thanks NM) because we don’t need any frizzled d15.in.oz’s onboard, although this may be an easy way to upgrade to star class if it’s anything like BA……. ;)

    The captain informed us at 11.30 that we were over Swan Hill and we were expecting land just after 12pm. The CSA then informed us that all passengers with connections should see staff waiting outside the gate. I was hoping like anything that some seats may have opened up and we may have been booked onto the 2 or 3pm flights.

    At 12.04pm, we landed into an overcast Melbourne but it was very nice to be home. At 12.15 we disembarked and were greeted warmly by the JQ staff. Unfortunately, we had been booked onto the 4pm (I would normally be stoked as there is free wine and beer on Cityflyer services after 4pm but that wasn’t a priority) and at this point I was just grateful that it’d been done for us and I wasn’t fighting with anyone at the transit desk. I must say, I am extremely impressed by the way Jetstar handled this process. From the outset we were informed of the delay and then we were looked after right through to BNE. Knowing we had plenty of time, we ambled through duty free and made sure we made use of our 4.5l duty-free allowance. The bargain of the day was a 1L Smirnoff Red Vodka for $13. That will go down very nicely with some red-bulls to get the party started. ;)

    At immigration the line for manual passports was probably 100 deep so I proceeded to the Smart Passport lane which only had 5-10 people in it. We were quickly through, even after Dad (being a superman look-alike) had to remove his glasses. After collecting our baggage we were advised we would need to be X-Rayed so they could check out of wooden frogs that croak when stroked.

    Of course, they didn’t find any nasties today so we thanked our quarantine officer for his help. In my half sleep-walking state, it didn’t even occur to me that we should check our bags at the Transit desk so we went upstairs and checked our bags in the QF domestic terminal at the QP line. The CSA was very helpful and tried to get an earlier flight for us but without routing via Sydney, this wasn’t going to happen. Thanking him, it was upstairs to my favourite Qantas Club. Finding four seats in my usual spot, I proceeded to fill-up on food. The last thing I felt like was alcohol, but what the hell, it was after 1pm and I’d missed breakfast so it was back into the Rum and Coke. I passed the next few hours plane spotting and surfing the net.

    At 3:50pm, the boarding call was made and we were finally on our way home. Onboard, the flight was packed but we were greeted kindly by the CSM who apologised for our delay. A lowly Silver getting a greeting was surprising but we soon settled back into our seats and dozed. There were a few bumps on takeoff before we smoothed out and were served a muffin to soak up the alcohol. Re-hydrating, I opted for the wine, juice and water but the wine didn’t go down very well and I definitely wasn’t after seconds (or thirds) today. Around 5.40pm we began our descent in Brisbane. There was a storm over the ranges which made things quite bumpy and exciting.

    At 6.02pm we touched down and made our way to Gate 24. After hugs and kisses from the rest of family we went downstairs and collected our baggage. Tonight priority tagging worked and we were quickly in the car for the hour journey home. Bed never looked so good that night.

    Overall, the JQ experience was surprising and for what we payed, I was very pleased. The bonus out of the delay was that we even scored FF points on the MEL-BNE flight because we were re-booked onto a QF flight number.

    Would I do it again?
    If JQ have another cheap sale- absolutely. I’m hoping for some very cheap flights to Vancouver and Rome in the future but we’ll see what happens.
     
  6. Keith009

    Keith009 Established Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    4,432
    244
    Brisbane / Sydney
    Cheers for the report littl_flier - a top read. :)
     
  7. straitman

    Moderator

    Apr 27, 2003
    16,604
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    littl_flier,

    Great report.

    Thanks.
     
  8. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    39,955
    8,524
    BNE, SYD and CNX
    Nice trip report.

    Reminds me I must do the River Kwai tour on one of my upcoming trips.
     
  9. serfty

    Moderator

    Nov 16, 2004
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    Nice report. Brings back a memory or two ...

    I note your Taxi ride cost THB450; I guess you accepted a quoted fare.

    I did some research on the Bangkok FT forum before heading to 'Land-of-Smiles' late last year. The taxi drivers are supposed to use their Meter. There is also a THB50 for for using a taxi from the airport and you get to pay the tolls (THB25 & THB40) at the booths (hand the money to the driver who pays the booth operator and hands you back any change).

    However, most drivers like to play the "value adding game" on Farangs and get some more "bucks for their bang" by quoting a flat fee, generally well above what it would normally cost.

    The metered for a taxi to Sukhumvit from the airport should be no more than THB180. Adding the airport fee and tolls brings the cost to under THB300.

    So when I get into a taxi at Suvarnabhumi, I always ensure they put the meter on; taxi drivers will often try to drive off without doing so. Be prepared to get out if they refuse. (It helps not to put any luggage in the boot if possible.)

    Here's a post I made in my December trip report: Star Class Impressions

    Another Lurk I've had had tried on me the last two times when going TO the airport is for the drivers to also ask for the THB50 airport fee. This is only payable when traveling from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
     
  10. spiggy_topes

    spiggy_topes Member

    Nov 9, 2006
    159
    1
    Sunshine Coast
    I arrived at Bangkok at midnight last year after a very long day's trip from Chennai. The queue for taxis was by far the longest I've ever seen (lots of long-haul arrivals from Europe probably) so I accepted a tout's offer of THB400 to Sukhumvit, knowing full well that the fare should have been around 300. Four dollars to avoid an hour's queueing is good value at any time.

    I've never had problems with this sort of arrangement, but would never do it without knowing what the fare should be, and agreeing it before getting into the cab.
     
  11. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
    898
    0
    Brisbane
    Thanks for the feedback guys, glad you like it. :D

    Yes Serfty, we were quoted by a lady on the downstairs level who was liasing with all the taxi drivers and telling them the fee to be charged. I'm positive we were ripped off but we weren't equipped to argue at this stage.


    I think we may have avoided this one, our bell boy at the hotel organised it for us.

    You'll love it John- I highly recommend it.
     
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