Airline review: Jetstar business class

THE ROUTE Melbourne to Phuket.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME None unless you pay an additional $200 for a Business Max bundle, which earns points with Qantas Frequent Flyer or Emirates Skywards Miles and gives access to the Qantas Club lounge.

CLASS Business class, seat 3C (aisle).
DURATION Eight hours and 50 minutes.

FREQUENCY  Jetstar began flying three times a week between Melbourne (Tullamarine) and Phuket on the Dreamliner on February 9.

THE SEAT 38-inch (92.5-centimetre) pitch, 19-inch (48-centimetre) width. There are just 21 business class seats with a 2-3-2 layout, and it's fully booked.

BAGGAGE Checked luggage up to 30 kilograms and two carry-on bags, each up to seven kilograms.

COMFORT  It's a low-cost carrier, so don't expect lie-flat beds. The grey leather recliners are like business class of yore: they're broad and tip back to a snooze-worthy level, though it does become squeezy for the passenger behind, working on their laptop. The Dreamliner offers decent 27 centimetre (10.6-inch) screens, big overhead lockers that I can actually reach and windows that are nearly half as big again as other aircraft. Instead of shades, Dreamliners have an electronic dimmer which, when the afternoon sun hits the window, turns the cabin a curious aquamarine colour, surely like snoozing in a fish tank? Despite the captain's warning of some bumps, the flight is mostly smooth, another Dreamliner feature.

The middle seat: Jetstar business class.
Jetstar's Dreamliner business class seats.
ENTERTAINMENT  Even at 40,000 feet, you can't escape Two and a Half Men reruns. The new releases selection is extremely modest in size and the "summer blockbuster" section is dated (Avatar was released in 2009). Still, I'm happy with a new Maggie Smith film, My Old Lady, and even test out the "health videos", a blend of natural sounds, orchestral music and seascapes of NSW's Wattamolla Beach – a sort of Enya-meets-Sharon O'Neill clip. I'm very surprised to find the R-rated Game of Thrones available. I think I've selected one episode without full-frontal nudity but I'm mistaken. Luckily, there's a bulkhead between me and the small children behind. I could turn on the "Seat Chat" feature to see if someone wanted to chat online with me, but perhaps not …

SERVICE  We're stuck on the tarmac for 25 minutes awaiting late paperwork, but it's no hardship in business class, where the Piper-Heidsieck champagne is making a showing. The flight touches down just a shade off schedule. Staff are informative (but not too chatty), though obviously still becoming familiar with the new aircraft's features.

FOOD We're served dinner and supper on this afternoon/evening service. The appetisers, two little savoury tarts, are dry and pretty unappealing but the Chinese spiced duck leg tastes as good as it smells. The Australian cheese plate finishes me off. But wait… the staff circle again, this time with Baileys or a Rutherglen muscadelle and chocolates and shortbreads. Bizarrely, supper arrives just two hours later, and still only 4½ hours into the flight, for those who didn't eat a three-course lunch. The chicken BLT is so large that eating it just isn't ladylike, but I persist and it's a winner. The Eden Road chardonnay from Tumbarumba is a welcome respite from the sauvignon blanc.

THE VERDICT Jetstar's business class prices reflects the fact that it's a low-cost carrier, with seats priced from $949 one-way ($399 in economy). The convenient day flight to Phuket departs 3pm and arrives at 8pm. However, I pity those who draw the short straw and get the middle seat in the 2-3-2 formation: it seems to defeat the purpose of flying business.

Tested by Belinda Jackson, who flew courtesy of Jetstar. See jetstar.com.

This review by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sun-Herald newspaper's Traveller section.

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