We’ve travelled with most of the domestic airlines within Australia and honestly, we’ve had good experiences with them all. Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have all looked after us well. BJ’s wheel guards were damaged on a Qantas flight, but replacements were paid for promptly. This is the only damage we’ve encountered (touch wood!).
We’ve been able to take BJ’s manual wheelchair to the door of all airlines, except when there’s been no air bridge. And we’ve used the companion discounts with both Qantas and Virgin Australia. But, there are times when Jetstar beats them all on price. And with four of us travelling, that affects our travel budget, which means the savings allow for more fun on the ground when we get to our destination.
Recently when flying with Jetstar I saw many fellow passengers making avoidable mistakes which clearly caused them great stress and ultimately hit their hip pocket with extra charges. So, I thought I’d share some tips, insights and a review of flying with the budget airline. Here’s what you need to know if you’re lured by Jetstar’s cheaper airfares.
When shopping around for airfares, it’s important to check the inclusions. Sometimes Jetstar airfares appear to be cheaper, but when you drill it down and add luggage, often other airline’s fares may be the same or similar.
Like many airlines, Jetstar has restrictions on the number of wheelchairs which can be transported on a flight due to aircraft size. It’s therefore essential to contact the airline early to make your booking. As always, it saves time if you have information at the ready. If travelling with a wheelchair ensure you have the dimensions of the chair, weight and advise the airline of your needs regarding access. If travelling with a power wheelchair advise the battery type and dimensions.
When you make the booking you’ll need to consider your luggage requirements. While airlines are accommodating of mobility devices, your regular luggage will be subject to the same restrictions as other passengers.
The airline is strict on the weight of hand luggage, often weighing it at check-in or at the gate. If it’s under, or just on the allowance, an orange tag is attached to let flight crew know it’s been checked. When the airline says 7kg of hand luggage, they mean it. And keep in mind this is the combination of you hand luggage. For example, you’ll be asked to put your hand luggage and your handbag together to be weighed. My advice is to stick to the limit or expect to pay and have your luggage taken to be stowed under the aircraft if it exceeds the weight limit.
The baggage allowance restrictions are made clear on the Jetstar website and there’s the option to add an additional 3kg to hand luggage (at a fee).
Checked luggage limits are also carefully monitored and followed, so if needed, purchase additional luggage allowance. The options are shown online, or if booking over the phone reservation staff will assist.
Checking in at the airport
Allow plenty of time for check-in at major airports like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Jetstar is popular and on our last trip I’d have needed a wide angle camera to capture the enormity of the cattle grid queue. Keep in mind, we had checked in online so only joined the queue for bag drop. It was a long process.
Particularly in peak travel periods like school holidays, allow plenty of time if travelling Jetstar.
To share the difference in wait times and congestion between airlines, I took a photo of the Virgin Australia bag drop (below) on the same day at the same time. It was far more manageable.
The difference is something to keep in mind when travelling.
On the plane
Unless you’ve purchased food as part of your airfare, all food and drinks need to be paid for once on board. Jetstar is cashless so a credit or debit card is needed for these purchases.
Download some entertainment on your phone, iPad or laptop as there is no in flight entertainment.
As with all Australian domestic airlines, there’s sadly no accessible bathroom on board.
As I said earlier, we’ve travelled Jetstar many times and the staff and airline provisions have met BJ’s needs. However, the airline makes it clear on their website that they do have some access limitations.
Power wheelchair users will need to transfer to an airline chair at the check-in counter. Power wheelchairs cannot be taken to the door of the aircraft.
Slide boards are offered for transfers from a wheelchair to the aircraft seat. Eagle Passenger Lifters are not used by Jetstar.
We find it’s usually quite a distance to the Jetstar gates at major airports (I call it the naughty corner of the airport).
Jetstar can only take two customers requiring wheelchair assistance on each A320/A321 flight, Q300 flight or domestic/trans-Tasman Boeing 787 flight. For flights operated by a Q300 aircraft Jetstar can only accept one electric wheelchair to be checked in. Where there are already two bookings made for wheelchair assistance on the flight the passenger wishes to book, Jetstar will contact the passenger to make alternative arrangements.
Aircraft hold doors also restrict the size of wheelchairs/mobility devices which can be accommodated as follows –
- flights on a Q300 aircraft – 1.3m (height) by 0.85m (width) by 1.15m (length)
- flights on an A320/A321 aircraft – 1m (height) by 1.4m (width) by 1.4m (length)
- flights on a Boeing 787 aircraft – 1.6m (height) by 1.5m (width) by 1.5m (length)
The Jetstar and Virgin Australia terminal at Sydney Airport has announcements and it’s very busy compared to the Qantas terminal which has no announcements. Something to consider if travelling with someone who is sensitive to noise.
Jetstar is a budget airline and as a result they don’t offer all the bells and whistles. Knowing the limitations of the airline and the rules around luggage in advance will hopefully assist in passengers making an informed decision about the best airline. Jetstar has served us well but it’s not right for everyone.
We also share our tips for making plane travel more comfortable here.