Everyone kept telling me that it was a bad idea to fly with Jetstar. I had no clue why the airline had such a shoddy reputation. However, after spending some time on one of their flights to Phuket, I think I’ve figured it out.

This is not a complaint about the quality of Jetstar’s aircraft, its fare structure, the crew it employs or anything like that. It has to do with the of management their aircraft and schedule.

To set the scene, The Boss and I went to Phuket for our new year’s eve festivities. We decided to give Jetstar a shot since it was one of the few airlines that flew direct to Phuket and it was definitely the cheapest. Boy, was that a mistake.

The trouble started when we received a message from Jetstar warning us of a delay to the flight. This was good as we hadn’t yet left for the airport. I applaud this type of warning for passengers since it can help people relax and not get too flustered before flights.

In reality, I’m not really complaining about the initial delay as such. I realize that running an airline is a complex and difficult job. Sometimes, delays happen because of mechanical issues, bad weather or delays on the return trip. That’s fine, no airline is immune from these events and the earlier you relate this to passengers, the better, which is why I thought the early warning was a good thing.

The problem arose when we arrived at the airport and instead of a two hour delay, it turned out the plane would run four hours late, but with nary an explanation apart from weasel words like how our “safety and comfort is Jetstar’s first priority”. Seriously, in the modern era, if safety wasn’t a top priority, I doubt you’d have a business to run.

Finally, after boarding the plane, the Captain related his frustration. Turns out that we were on a plane that wasn’t supposed to be flying due to a late scheduling change. Like I said earlier, that’s perfectly acceptable given the things that can happen on international flights. However, once the scheduling change happened, nobody told the catering or laundry services what had happened and so, what we were waiting for hours for was food and pillowcases. I can honestly say that I’d be perfectly happy without pillowcases if I could arrive at my destination earlier. Thanks for the four hours I spent waiting at the damned airport, Jetstar management.

What I don’t understand is why Jetstar, owned by Qantas of all airlines, is just so bad at this. Qantas is nearly one hundred years old and its staff should know better. For all its high technology services like online check ins, electronic boarding passes and passenger early warning systems, it seems something is still not quite right in the organization. I just hope the kind of silly, frivolous error that plagued our outbound journey doesn’t also happen on our way back home.

Let this be a warning for my fellow travellers. Jetstar is most definitely cheap. But that cheapness obviously comes with some lashings of sheer incompetence. Travel with the Flying Wombat Kangaroo’s cheap cousin with caution, because you may not end up getting there.


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