Thousands of lucky Jetstar passengers received a pleasant surprise on their flights to or from Hawaii over the past few weeks. Instead of flying on a cramped Jetstar Dreamliner, passengers booked to fly between Sydney and Honolulu have instead been flown on a Qantas Boeing 747 and received the full Qantas service.
Some lucky passengers booked in Jetstar Economy have even been upgraded to Qantas Premium Economy or Business class seats.
Since the start of April, Jetstar has been using chartered Qantas Boeing 747s to ferry passengers between Sydney and Honolulu. Ten return flights on this route have been operated by Qantas jumbo jets so far this month. Jetstar normally operates the route five times per week.
This situation is a result of one of Jetstar’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners being grounded in Osaka since the 29th of March with engine problems. With Jetstar down a wide-body aircraft during the busy school holiday period, Qantas has stepped in to help.
Qantas was due to retire VH-OEB, its oldest Boeing 747-400, this month. But it seems the life of VH-OEB has been extended just a little bit further as a result of Jetstar’s current aircraft shortage. VH-OEB has operated most of the Jetstar charters to Honolulu over the past fortnight and is the only remaining Boeing 747 in the Qantas fleet which has not been refurbished with fully lie-flat SkyBeds and updated entertainment systems.
A Jetstar spokesperson confirmed that the aircraft changes were due to “unscheduled maintenance requirements” and thanked customers for “being flexible with their seating arrangements during this time”.
Jetstar’s Boeing 787-8 has 314 Economy and 21 Business class seats. The replacement Qantas 747-400 has only 255 Economy seats, but also has 32 Premium Economy and around 66 Business seats. Passengers originally booked in Jetstar Business Class were rebooked in Business seats on the Qantas 747-400 service. (This is a decent upgrade over the reclining Business seats on Jetstar!) Some Economy passengers were also upgraded to Premium Economy or Business seats on a random basis.
It is not known how long Qantas will continue operating Boeing 747 charters in place of Jetstar flights JQ3 and JQ4 on the Sydney-Honolulu route. Jetstar’s Melbourne-Honolulu route is unaffected.
AFF member Pushka had a family member on one of the Qantas 747 charter flights operating on behalf of Jetstar to Honolulu. They reported that they received full Qantas service on board and had a positive experience.
This is not the first time Qantas has operated charter services on behalf of Jetstar on the Sydney-Honolulu route. Qantas has occasionally done so on an ad-hoc basis over the past few years, but usually only as one-off flights.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QF B747s operating for JQ SYD-HNL