I’ve only recently started flying with the Jetstar group, but in the past couple of years they’ve become my airline of choice when travelling to/from Japan. Attractive fares have played a key part in that rise, but a more important factor is the increase in the number of Japanese cities they now serve directly out of Manila, along with schedules that suit my preferences (morning arrivals in Japan and afternoon/evening departures for the return). Today, we’ll see what it’s like to travel with Jetstar Asia (IATA code: 3K) on their Manila-Ōsaka route.
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 outbound leg (MNL-KIX) of a MNL-KIX-MNL round trip journey. You can read my review of the return leg (KIX-MNL) by clicking here.
Airline and flight number : Jetstar Asia (3K) 763
Route : Manila (MNL) to Ōsaka-Kansai (KIX)
Date : Monday, 01 May 2017
Scheduled departure time : 0655
Actual departure time : 0718 (source)
Scheduled arrival time : 1150
Actual arrival time : 1143 (source)
The Jetstar group flies out of Manila through Ninoy Aquino International Airport (IATA Code: MNL) Terminal 1. I’ve written about this place before: small, ancient, and hopelessly outdated, though perhaps no longer the worst amongst MNL’s four awful terminals (thanks to a major refit completed more than a year ago). I didn’t take a lot of pictures this time around, but here’s a small gallery of images taken back in mid-2015 when the renovation was winding down.
Boarding was done from Gate 14. Just a single queue – all-economy flight after all – with passengers called up in turns starting from those seated in rows further aft and moving towards the front. Priority was given to those in the first two rows, with special needs, and transiting from Singapore; note that Manila is just a transit point for 3K763 with additional passengers (myself included) collected en route to Ōsaka. I was concerned that boarding would quickly dissolve into the usual scrum, but I needn’t have worried. The gate staff enforced the row-by-row turns strictly, with passengers seated in rows not yet summoned for boarding politely asked to step aside first when their boarding passes were inspected. (As should always be the case, in my view. Quite frankly I’d be well pleased if fines/penalties were imposed on any clowns forcing themselves into the queue before their rightful turn, excepting those with special needs of course.)
I wasn’t able to get a good shot of our bird, mainly because the seating area near the gate was set back some distance from the viewing windows (to make room for the arrival corridor). Here’s a less-than-satisfactory side view snapped through a window on the aerobridge.
I neglected to take note of the aircraft’s registration number, but if these records can be trusted, the metal on this particular flight was 9V-JSE. Twelve years old, apparently – and the age was quite obvious on the somewhat outdated and not-so-well maintained interiors.
Jetstar Asia’s basic “Starter Economy” fare class will get you on board with 7 kg of carry-on baggage allowance, limited to one main item and one smaller item that must have a combined weight falling under that limit. Depending on the airport and the staff, enforcement might be more or less stringent at times, but I can tell you that they were quite strict on the return leg out of KIX (someone in the queue ahead of me was even told to reorganise their load just to keep to the two-item rule). I’d suggest not taking any chances: make sure that you’ve got no more than two bags when about to board your plane, which might require some creative repacking if you’ve just done a bit of last-minute shopping.
As for checked baggage, allowances ranging from 15 to 40 kg can be purchased at the time of initial booking, or added subsequently but at a higher cost. Those who’ve elected to pay for “Starter Plus” or “Starter Max” fare bundles are entitled to 20 kg and 30 kg respectively, along with other benefits (described separately in the various sections below). When I booked my flight, I paid for a “Starter Plus” bundle which got me 20 kg each way, far more than enough for my 5-day holiday. In fact, I tipped the scales at less than 11 kg on my return, including items I’d collected/purchased during the trip, and bear in mind that I tend to overpack a bit when travelling overseas (light packers can make do with much less).
Jetstar Asia’s 18 A320s all feature an economy-only configuration, with no cabin partitions in the main seating area. Exit-row seats with extra space can be booked for a fee; otherwise, you can expect the same 29 inches of seat pitch pretty much across the board.
I’ve got no serious complaints about the legroom, but do bear in mind that I’m a fairly short chap. Taller folk may find the arrangements a bit of a squeeze, and might need to consider making the additional investment to secure an exit-row seat.
The “Starter Plus” bundle I added at the time of booking gave me a choice of seat from amongst the standard rows – this of course excludes the exit rows and the prime forward rows. No matter; I simply chose a vacant window seat in row 7 for the outbound leg, which was as close to the front as I could manage (I believe the standard rows go as far forward as the 6th but that was already booked solid). Slightly forward of the wing: a good place to be in terms of stability, and of course it doesn’t hurt the view to not have the wing in the way.
I’ve mentioned earlier that this was a relatively old plane, and not a very well maintained one at that. The seats were clean in the most basic sense of the word, but there was some soiling and tearing here and there, along with smudges on the windows. I do appreciate that turnaround times can be rather tight for LCC flights, but I would expect better than this when it comes to cleanliness, and I even discovered something a bit worse on the return leg (more about that in the next report about the KIX-MNL flight). To be clear, there was nothing to suggest that sanitation was severely compromised, and it was easy enough to ignore the little issues once I’d settled in.
Non-existent (as per LCC standards), apart from the small in-house magazine. In any event, on a flight of just four hours’ duration, I didn’t really have much room for anything apart from sleeping and eating. (I’d also brought along an iPad loaded with a newly purchased two-hour film, which promptly consumed whatever time remained.)
CATERING AND SERVICE
If you’re travelling between MNL and KIX on Jetstar Asia’s “Starter Economy” fare class, food must be either purchased on board or added for a fee at the point of booking. On the other hand, passengers who’ve purchased a “Plus” or “Max” fare class upgrade will be served a complimentary hot meal and a bottle of water, along with their choice of hot beverage (coffee or tea).
My “Plus” bundle allowed me to make a free meal selection at the time of booking. When the in-flight meal service began, the cabin crew served those of us with pre-booked meals first, and only after that did another cart come rolling down the aisle to offer food and drinks to those buying on board.
For this leg, my choice was the airline’s signature dish: “Singapore chicken rice”. That’s how it was labelled on the menu, anyway. Some of us are probably more familiar with the dish under the common name “Hainanese chicken rice”.
The meal as served…
…and with the lid off. Jetstar Asia won’t win any extra points for presentation, but I have fairly low standards on that front (except when travelling in business class), so they won’t hear any howls of protest from me.
The cutlery pack included small sachets of salt and pepper. I didn’t need the salt, but I’ve got a taste for spice and the pepper was much appreciated.
Now I wasn’t expecting much – I never do where LCC meals are concerned – but everything in the container turned out to be pretty good. The chicken was moist, tender, and flavourful, whilst the rice accompanying it was both nicely textured and well seasoned. In fact, my only complaint is that there wasn’t more food on the tray, though that’s airline meal portioning for you.
As for the cabin service … well I haven’t got much to say about it, really. On most of my short or medium-haul LCC flights, there wasn’t much scope for the crew to make an impact – positive or otherwise – unless I made specific requests that warranted special attention. Nothing stood out on this flight in terms of service, and for an LCC that’s pretty much what I’d expect anyway. “Polite but not obsequious” pretty much describes the state of affairs.
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. Best of all, we arrived slightly ahead of schedule, despite a small delay in our departure. I’m not one to demand more than what I’ve fairly paid for, and I certainly believe I got what I paid for.
Oh, but do give your ageing aircraft a good sprucing up, chaps. You can do better on that front at least.
Now then, will I fly with them again on this route? Gladly.