In my previous post, I’ve set out my thoughts about what it’s like to fly with Jetstar Asia from Manila to Ōsaka-Kansai. Now let’s take a look at their performance on the return leg, flying back home from Japan.
Note: Schedule/route information, equipment type, and other details are accurate only for the specific flight reviewed here. This information may not necessarily apply to previous or future flights, even by the same airline under the same route and flight number.
This report covers the return leg (KIX-MNL) of a MNL-KIX-MNL round trip journey. Click here to read my post covering the outbound leg (MNL-KIX).
I’ve also got an older report here documenting a previous flight I took with the same airline on the same route.
Airline and flight number : Jetstar Asia (3K) 764
Route : Ōsaka-Kansai (IATA code: KIX) to Manila (IATA code: MNL)
Date : Wednesday, 06 December 2017
Scheduled departure time : 1320
Actual departure time : 1328
Scheduled arrival time : 1640
Actual arrival time : 1624
EQUIPMENT AND CABIN
Aircraft : A320-200
Manufacturer : Airbus
Registration number : 9V-JSM
Passenger capacity : 180, all-economy layout
Cabin configuration (seat maps) : SeatGuru
Travel class flown : Economy
Here’s the aeroplane, comfortably berthed at our assigned boarding gate. Note the difference between this newer plane’s livery and that of the older bird used on our outbound flight, particularly as regards the size and positioning of the airline brand.
PRICE AND FARE CLASS
The total amount we paid for the round-trip flight was PHP 23,020.15 per person, including a Starter Plus bundle upgrade. This tag is all-inclusive, save for the travel tax of PHP 1,620.00 that Filipino citizens – with certain exemptions – must pay when flying out of the country. (Most airlines, Jetstar included, don’t offer the option to pay this tax upon booking, so it’s often paid right at the airport before check-in.)
At the moment, only Economy seats are offered on Jetstar Japan flights between MNL and NRT. Two levels of fare upgrade are available, both conferring additional benefits over the basic fare: Starter Plus and the more expensive Starter Max. I went with a Plus upgrade, which came with 20 kg of checked baggage, standard seat selection, a hot meal, frequent flyer rewards (either miles or a redeemable voucher at your election), and a change fee waiver (fare differences still apply). I’ll drill into some of these benefits in more detail below, and the fine print can be consulted on the Jetstar website.
The fare isn’t the cheapest one can get from Jetstar or its competitors on this route. In fact, I’ve purchased all-inclusive tickets for less than half the sum we paid this time – under PHP 10,000.00 in some cases (see here for example). That said, the price of our ticket (whilst approaching full-service airline territory) is quite reasonable for non-discounted fares on this route, especially considering that our holiday wasn’t booked very far in advance.
With the Starter Plus fare bundle, I was entitled to a checked luggage allowance of 20 kg each way. As for carry-on bags, the rules permitted me a total of 7 kg, maximum of two items. Bear in mind that Jetstar staff tend to strictly enforce these limits at the gate (in terms of both weight and quantity), so even if your carry-on luggage passes initial inspection at the counter, you may be forced to do some creative repacking should you choose to raid the duty-free shops just before boarding. For the fine print and other details, read the guidelines on Jetstar’s website here.
CHECK-IN AND BOARDING
The KIX-MNL leg of our flight departed from Terminal 1 of Ōsaka’s Kansai International Airport (IATA code: KIX). Although KIX’s Terminal 2 was designed from the start as a bare-bones hub for low-cost airlines, it’s currently used only by Peach Aviation and for international flights of Spring Airlines; all other carriers – including LCCs like Jetstar – use the larger Terminal 1.
Unlike at MNL, there was no dedicated queue or desk for senior citizens in evidence at KIX. Just a single, snaking queue leading up to the check-in counters.
Now then, off to the gate. All of the Jetstar flights I’ve taken so far from KIX have used boarding gates near the very distant ends of Terminal 1, requiring the use of the airport’s people mover in order to reach them. That said, even those fairly isolated sections were fully equipped with the necessary facilities, though bear in mind that shopping and dining options are extremely limited over there. If there’s any buying or eating to be done, it’s best to do them in the central section of the airside zone – or better yet, over in the public area before security and immigration.
Right, here we are.
As at MNL, boarding was done according to a predetermined order: back of the plane first and moving forwards. The process was fairly smooth and the sequence properly observed, although there was a wee bit of crowding and confusion (partly because the announcements were not as clear as they should have been).
Jetstar Asia’s A320-200 aircraft are configured in a standard all-economy layout, featuring 180 seats arranged six to a row (3 abreast on either side of a single aisle). Standard seat pitch is rated at 29, width at 17.9 – perfectly adequate for my needs but possibly a tight squeeze for larger folk. If you’re looking for more space, consider investing in an extra-legroom seat along the exit rows or at the very front of the cabin.
As noted earlier, our Starter Plus fare bundles came with the option to choose standard seats at no additional cost; forward and extra-legroom rows are not included. With many standard seats in the forward part of the plane already taken, our party could only manage rows 10 and 11 on this occasion (as opposed to row 8 on the outbound leg). On top of that, those of us seated in row 11 couldn’t recline because there was an exit row just behind – of course it wouldn’t do to have seat backs blocking the point of egress in the event of an emergency.
I wasn’t too displeased with our position, though. We were still in the best part of the aeroplane where stability is concerned: that is, above the wings or forward of them. And the views, intrusion of the wing and engine aside, weren’t half bad. (If anything, the smudges on the window were a far greater annoyance, indicative as they were of Jetstar Asia’s rather cavalier approach to cabin maintenance between flights.)
Here’s a wider shot of the cabin from my seat.
Though the planes used on the two legs of this round trip were both Airbus A320-200s, the one we rode on the return (9V-JSM, shown in this post) was clearly a newer jet than the one we flew into Japan on (9V-JSE, shown in the previous post). I’ve already mentioned the difference in livery, but the variances are even more apparent inside, with the decorative scheme and fittings clearly those of the present generation of this aeroplane. There was also a lot less wear and tear on the upholstery and equipment, although the not-quite-spotless surroundings resulting from Jetstar Asia’s not-quite-perfect approach to cleanliness were still in evidence here.
One other thing to note is the interesting design of the seat pockets. Instead of the flexible pouches or netting that I’ve seen on most other aeroplanes (including the one we’d flown to Japan on just a few days earlier), these are more like compartments built straight into the hard-shell casing of the seat backs. The only aircraft I’d previously seen this type of seat pocket on were those of Jetstar Asia’s sister company Jetstar Japan, which – having been founded 8 years after the former – appears to have a younger fleet overall.
I remember the first time I flew on a Jetstar Japan aeroplane equipped with this type of seat pocket. I was quite pleased on that occasion, since I was using a folding tablet case and found that I could hang the device by means of its cover flap (inserted deep into the seat pocket), which positioned the screen at much closer to ideal eye level than, say, propping it up on the tray table would have done. Alas, I now use a slipcase for my tablet so the design was of no advantage to me this time around.
I’d advise a bit of caution when dropping tiny articles into the seat pocket, though. There are gaps in the lower section that leave the pocket interior partly exposed when the tray table is lowered (see below), so anything small enough to fit through those holes is liable to fall out. On the other hand, the gaps can be quite helpful when double-checking that one hasn’t inadvertently forgotten to retrieve something stowed inside the pocket.
In any event, I’m glad to see that Jetstar Asia are also introducing newer aeroplanes on their routes – fresh interiors and seat pockets and all – and I hope to see more of these in the years to come. (In addition to greater diligence as regards cleanliness, of course.)
CATERING AND SERVICE
On top of free checked baggage and standard seat assignments, Standard Plus bundles also come with a complimentary hot meal. Here’s a shot of the pre-order selections that were on offer at the time of our flight:
If none of those will suit, or if one has chosen not to pre-book a meal for whatever reason, other options are available for onboard ordering:
I chose the black pepper chicken for our return flight, same as for the previous leg. Here’s the meal as presented…
…and with the wrapper off.
Note the use of a high-sided disposable paperboard tray to hold the food container, instead of the shallow reusable plastic tray I’ve seen on most other flights. I’m not certain why the substitution was made, but it’s not hard to think of possible reasons: to save weight and thereby economise on fuel; to cut down on the expense of cleaning or replacing plastic trays after use; to create yet another vehicle for earning advertising revenue (Coca-Cola was the featured product in this particular case) … and so on.
Now then, a few words on the food. The main dish consisted of irregularly-sized chunks of boneless chicken meat doused with black pepper sauce. Potato wedges on one side, sliced carrots and green beans on the other. The meat was nicely cooked, tender and juicy, rather than the dry rubbery mass one might have expected from a budget airline meal of this sort. The slightly sweet sauce was rich and flavoursome – perhaps less peppery than on the previous flight, but not much different otherwise.
The portion size was reasonable. Not something that would satisfy a hungry chap with a substantial appetite, but on the generous end of the scale for a relatively short LCC flight.
The meal was served with bottled water and a choice of hot beverage (coffee or tea).
Now then, regarding the onboard service. As with any budget airline flight, there really wasn’t much scope for the cabin crew to demonstrate excellent service on the one hand, and gross incompetence on the other. I’m a not a demanding passenger and I tend not to make any special requests, so I can’t say how efficiently any such requests would have been attended to. That said, the cabin crew appeared to be reasonably polite (though not obsequious) and well-groomed. All of them seemed proficient in English – as one might expect given that the flight was ferrying mainly Singaporean and Filipino passengers – and there was at least one member of staff fluent in Japanese (no doubt appreciated by the Japanese speakers on board).
If you’re the sort of passenger who insists upon individual IFE units and a wide assortment of reading material, then you’re flying on the wrong sort of airline where the Jetstar group are concerned. Like most other LCCs, 3K outfitted their A320 with … well, absolutely nothing in the way of built-in IFE. Then again, that’s par for the course where budget carriers are concerned, and the not-particularly-long duration of our flight (four hours more or less) meant that it was easy enough to go without onboard diversions.
Now then, if it’s simply beyond the realm of possibility to do without some form of digital distraction whilst on this fairly short hop between Manila and Ōsaka, I’d advise you to simply reach into your bag and pull out a tablet or smartphone. No need to wait for the airline to oblige when the answer is sitting right inside one’s pocket. (^_^)
Alternatively, I’d like to propose one more option for killing time whilst en route: namely, sifting through the multifarious contents of the overstuffed seat pocket. (Oh come now, I don’t see nearly enough ads and junk mail in there. Have at it and ram a few more reams of brochures into that slot!)
A few lines I wrote for an earlier report covering another flight with the same airline, which still accurately reflect my present assessment of the experience:
I try to manage my expectations appropriately when flying with an LCC, and I keep these adjusted standards in mind whilst rating their performance. With this taken into consideration, I’m happy to report that Jetstar Asia’s performance on this particular flight was more than satisfactory. Cramped seats, but adequate; small meal portions, but adequate (and quite tasty to boot); basic cabin service, but adequate. […] I’m not one to demand more than what I’ve fairly paid for, and I certainly believe I got what I paid for.
On the whole, I’ve got little to complain about. That might seem unremarkable in itself, but we’re speaking of a low-cost, no-frills, base-service budget airline here: if anything, the absence of major complaints is already a large vote in its favour. Add the on-time arrival (slightly ahead of schedule in fact), another point that LCCs aren’t exactly famous for, and what you’ve got is a positive experience overall.
All things considered, I’m happy to recommend Jetstar Asia for this route and will gladly fly with them again.