A few points about travelling

This trip to Japan was bumpy, but things somehow fell into place. First was the points-jitsu to get the flights, where at first I was a few points short, but I managed to get just enough bonus points added to make it.  Then the days of juggling flights to get a booking; for some reason there were lots of flights TO Japan but only 1 FROM this time of year.  Escaping the cold? Then I discovered that I had booked the return flight for 23 March instead of 23 February (thank you nice Qantas lady for fixing that).

Flying on points means accepting what whatever route you can get. How does sound; CBR – MEL – overnight hotel – OOL – KIX? The Melbourne to Coolangatta to Kansai was on Jetstar, which for points flyers is the back of the bus and only 20kg allowance instead of 23kg (or 30kg now on Qantas international).

Nine hours is short compared to most flights from Australia but this one dragged on forever. It is extraordinary how time stalls when there’s no regular entertainment or meals or screen to indicate position and time to arrival. Or beer on demand.

Oh JAL, your old planes with the small seats made my bum hurt but the service was second to none.   We could be way over our allowance without penalty or even a dirty look.  Starting a flight with a hot towel is the only way to enjoy a flight.  The third beer came with a bottle of water and a smile, not an official warning.  If you want to fly into Kansai – Osaka, you’ve stuck with Jetstar.  (With Tokyo, you have options.)

Comparing JAL with Jetstar is like comparing a fine malt whiskey with yesterday’s coffee gone cold; both are drinks but only one is fit for human consumption.

There is simply no position on those seats that is in any way comfortable; the seat back is the wrong shape, there’s no padding on the armrest, the seat is too soft and too low. I probably can’t single out Jetstar for that, but if I can sit comfortably in the Airport Limousine bus for an hour without numbness or discomfort, then there must be a fundamental design flaw in airline seating.  Somehow I managed to escape permanent disfigurement.

I’ll give credit to the smooth landing 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

Kansai Airport is a vision of cleanliness and efficiency, as usual.  But there’s no concession for foreigners to enter with Japanese family members, so off to the long line for photo and fingerprints for me.  Welcomed in like an old friend, I was.

Fortunately we’re returning in business class and Qantas all the way.  So I’ll carry as much as I can squeeze in my bags, lounge like a lizard, stretch out and order an appropriate amount of fine food and drink.


Jetstar fine print

New vertical takeoff meets mixed passenger response
If someone can show me where it says that a passenger travelling on frequent flyer points on a Jetstar flight gets treated as third class freight, I’ll give them a chocolate fish. My bet is that such print if it exists is buried in a reference to “operational matters”.

In the not so olden days, JAL ran a route from Sydney to Kansai (Osaka) where we would normally go. Either JAL or Qantas would fly to Narita (Tokyo). So codesharing was the norm. And JAL was the best for customer service by a fair margin. It was such a pleasure to ask for beer after beer and the only comment you received was a complementary bottle of water with your third. Sure, it was difficult for me to fit on the seats of their old planes, but I was usually accommodated well.

First minor miracle was that we didn’t have to carry our bags from the second QANTAS flight to Jetstar in when transferring from domestic to international in Cairns. (I must admit that it wasn’t until seeing my bags in Narita that I was sure!) So it was safe to assume that we were being treated as Qantas passengers on a codeshare, right?

Economy gets complicated now that Jetstar is the carrier: Your ticket could be Qantas or JAL, in which case you got fed, or Jetstar where you had to pay for everything but you could pre-pay and show your receipt, etc… The back of the plane gets very complicated. Up to this point we’ve avoided that confusion by flying Qantas or JAL or by being in Starclass on Jetstar.

I do “get” budget airlines; why should you pay for stuff that you don’t want? If I were back-packing around Asia, a discount airline would be an attractive option and I would put those minor hardships into consideration. The problem is where there is no warning that you are subject to these rules.

The first hint of something amiss was no blanket and no pillow, followed of course by no meal or drinks. The flight attendant told us that as we were flying on (Qantas) points, Jetstar was not obliged to honour much more than the seat we were sitting on (which had a broken headrest, while I’m at it!) He couldn’t find the document that explained such things but he was sure that the website had it somewhere. The nice man got us a meal at the end of service when he found two spare, but by that time we had spent a bunch on food and drink.

I cannot recall any such warning. As far as I’m concerned, I was a Qantas passenger on a codeshare. On that basis I think that there was an obligation. Anyway, I’ll raise it with head office.

Fortunately we’ll be returning in business class. To make up for the experience on the way over, I’m going to ask for everything from sleep mask to a sponge bath and I expect to get it!