When flying domestically within New Zealand, there are two main airline choices: Air New Zealand or Jetstar. As you’d expect from a low-cost carrier, Jetstar offers typically low fares and a no-frills service.
I recently found out what the Jetstar A320 Economy class experience in New Zealand is like on a short flight from Auckland to Wellington.
|Route||Auckland (AKL) to Wellington (WLG)|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A320|
|Class of travel||Economy|
|On-time performance||We arrived on time.|
I booked this flight using Qantas Frequent Flyer points. The cost of a Classic Flight Reward ticket on this flight is 6,400 Qantas points + $20 in taxes & carrier charges.
As this was a Classic Flight Reward booking, my ticket included a 20kg baggage allowance and I would have been able to cancel the booking for free if needed under Qantas’ Flexible Classic Flight Rewards offer.
Normally, Jetstar tickets on this route start from anywhere between NZD39 (~$36) and NZD165 (~$154), with add-ons like checked luggage costing extra. However, all paid Jetstar domestic airfares in New Zealand earn Qantas points.
I had checked in online and printed my boarding pass at home. If you were checking in at the airport, Jetstar has a small check-in area at the end of Auckland’s domestic terminal with plenty of self-service kiosks and staff available at the bag drop counters.
From there, it took all of two minutes to clear security and arrive at gate 21.
Qantas Club members and Qantas Frequent Flyers with Gold or higher status can normally use the Qantas lounge when flying Jetstar. But no Qantas lounges are available in the domestic terminals of New Zealand airports.
Before boarding, there was an announcement at the gate that all passengers with hand luggage needed to get their bags weighed and tagged (if they hadn’t already done so at check in). There is a 7kg carry-on baggage limit, and this was strictly enforced. Nobody was allowed on the plane without an orange tag on their bag, and fees applied for overweight bags.
Unlike in Australian airports, it is not compulsory to wear a mask inside New Zealand airport terminals (and most people did not). But it is mandatory on board flights, and Fly Well packs containing the usual face mask and sanitiser wipes were made available at the boarding gate.
Boarding commenced 35 minutes before the scheduled departure time (which is unusually early) and we departed on time. During boarding, everyone was respectful and queued up politely.
The Hard Product
The Jetstar A320 has 186 Economy class seats in a typical 3-3 layout. The black leather seats are of the Recaro slimline variety, which is a seat commonly used by European airlines. The seat itself is very narrow, but there is (just) enough padding for comfort.
When checking in online, I was allocated 24E. I didn’t really fancy sitting in a middle seat, so decided to pay a little extra to choose a different seat. Regular seats were available to select for $5, while up-front seats (rows 1-5) cost $8 and extra legroom seats (the front and exit rows) cost an extra $15. I ended up choosing 5A for an extra $8.
The seat pitch is rather tight in Jetstar’s A320 Economy class, and the legroom wasn’t amazing. I did feel a little cramped in my seat, but admittedly I am quite tall and it was acceptable for a 1-hour flight. Next time I would consider paying the extra money to sit in an extra-legroom seat.
There is no in-flight entertainment or wifi of any kind, and nothing in the way of extra amenities available at the seat. It’s a no-frills service and you get what you pay for.
The Soft Product
The cabin crew conducted a trolley service promptly after take-off, offering drinks and light refreshments. This was the menu in the seat pocket:
And the other side:
There were only a few takers. I wasn’t one of them as I wasn’t desperate enough to pay $5 for a packet of chips on a 45-minute flight.
Alcohol was available for sale as the flight departed after 8am, although passengers were specifically warned not to consume their own alcohol on board.
The crew also announced at the start of the flight, “We thank you for respecting each other and our crew. We ask that you report any unacceptable behaviour during the flight to a crew member.” That’s not something I’ve heard on other airlines before.
Speaking of the crew, they were really nice and did their jobs efficiently.
Jetstar A320 Economy Class
Given the low prices, Jetstar provides reasonable value for money.
Jetstar often gets a bad wrap – including, occasionally, from me. But all in all, this was a pleasant and uneventful flight – just how it should be.
To be fair, the true test of budget airlines like Jetstar is what happens when things go wrong as the service recovery can be woeful. As nothing went wrong during my journey, I (thankfully) didn’t need to test that on this occasion. But when things go right, flying Jetstar isn’t that bad. Just be prepared to pay for an extra legroom seat if you’re tall and want to fly in some level of comfort.