The flight

Jetstar flight JQ3; Boeing 787 Dreamliner, economy; Sydney to Honolulu; departs 8.17pm (one day, three hours and 47 minutes late); scheduled flight time is 9 hours and 30 minutes.

Frequency

Daily, except Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The loyalty scheme

Club Jetstar has an annual membership fee of A$55 (NZ$59.50), which entitles members to early access to sales, exclusive fares, partner offers and 20% off the cost of bags and seats. Qantas Frequent Flyer members can earn points and status credits on Jetstar flights depending on the fare booked.

Carbon emissions

1.3 tonnes for one economy passenger. The Qantas Group’s Fly Carbon Neutral program is one of the most significant offsetting programmes of any airline, geared towards a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Checking in

At home, phone in hand, I’m ready to request an Uber to the airport when I receive this dreaded text message from Jetstar: “Your flight has been cancelled. We’ve moved you to a new flight.” It means we’ll miss at least 24 hours of our six-day Hawaiian holiday, affecting plans and reservations. It’s not the first time Jetstar has cancelled an international flight I’m booked on.

The next day, we reach the gate at boarding time to learn there’s a new, indefinite delay due to “maintenance issues”. Patience, tested.

Delays mean we’ll miss 25 hours of our six-day Hawaiian trip.

The seat

Travelling with my sister, we’ve taken advantage of the very low-cost fares (A$315 per person, one-way) to guarantee an empty seat between us: we’ve booked three seats, 11D-F. Known as a ‘comfort seat booking’, it can be done online by reserving one seat in a passenger’s first and last name, and another seat in that passenger’s first, middle and last name.

I call the Jetstar customer service centre twice to make sure the appropriate notes are on the booking and I’m assured it’s all good. However, at the airport, there’s confusion and questions at bag drop and again at the gate. Eventually, we board and settle into seats 11D, 11E and 11F.

It’s worth paying the extra A$30 per seat to sit in the Upfront Economy cabin, in rows 10-13, a semi-private and relatively tranquil section of main cattle class. Seats are in a 3-3-3, two-aisle configuration. Seat width is 17 inches (43 centimetres) and pitch is 30 inches (76 centimetres).

Baggage

Starter Economy fares permit a carry-on item, not exceeding seven kilograms. My handbag is weighed at check-in. As we have three seats between the two of us, we are entitled to combine 21 kilograms of carry-on baggage.

I pay A$36 (NZ$39) online to check one suitcase, up to 20 kilograms. The earlier you purchase checked baggage, the cheaper it is: at the airport, a 20-kilogram checked bag costs up to A$195 (NZ$211). Jetstar’s zero-tolerance policy for overweight bags is strictly enforced.

Entertainment

Seatback screens show new-release movies, TV and games, at a cost of A$10 (NZ$10.80) if paid for online pre-flight. We opt to watch downloaded content on our iPads.

It costs an extra A$10 for inflight entertainment so we bring iPads. Nothing is complimentary.

Service

The onboard crew is Thailand-based and exhibit all the grace and courtesy I’d normally expect on Thai Airways. The Aussie crew at the gate do their best to handle the complaints from a plane-load of grumpy passengers who have missed a day in Hawaii. They hand out vouchers for airport refreshments.

Food

The on-board menu includes meals (quiche, butter chicken, noodle soup), snacks (banana bread, cheese and crackers, popcorn) and drinks for sale. Nothing is complimentary.

One more thing

I’m pretty sure my tombstone will read, “She loved a bargain”. As I travel between the US and Sydney via Hawaii several times every year, Jetstar’s low international prices appeal. At some point, however, my patience with cancellations and delays will run out.

The price

From A$305 (NZ$330) for a standard economy seat, one way.*

The verdict

Not the best start to our Waikiki beach holiday.

Our rating out of five

★★★

The writer travelled at her own expense. See jetstar.com

* Fares are based on those available for travel three months from the time of publication and subject to change.

– traveller.com.au

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