If Singapore Airlines claims it’s not the least worried by Jetstar’s presence, then recent ads on TV advertising flights to Melbourne and Auckland are clearly giving it away.
Perhaps the airline’s official indifference stems from a different set of problems downunder. Through its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, it has been given authority to restrict the use of the Virgin brand, causing a headache and a marketing nightmare for Australian domestic carrier, Virgin Blue, which also operates as Pacific Blue for flights to Southeast Asia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, and V Australia, which operates flights to LA. Virgin Blue wants to be a full-service carrier now, and hopes to rebrand itself, with or without Singapore Airlines’ support. This seemingly unrelated issue would be fine in any other situation but it’s not. The Asian carrier is under pressure to perform its role as a responsible Star Alliance member, a responsibility that it hardly fulfills, to ensure that the rebranded airline does not fall into the hands of a rival alliance.
But back to Jetstar.
Things are only gonna get more interesting as Jetstar opened up its Singapore-Auckland flights up for booking this morning. Now, you’ve gotta note that the fares I quoted from Jetstar are regular fares, and does not take into consideration of the airline’s weekly sale offers, which means these fares here are the highest you’re probably going to find.
3K 401 SIN 1950 – 0955+1 AKL
3K 402 AKL 1125 – 1800 SIN
Jetsaver Light – SGD 728.68
Jetsaver – SGD 768.68
Star Class – SGD 1978.68
*JetPlus fare is not available
Looks expensive right? Now, let’s take a look at Singapore Airlines’ fares…
SQ 285 SIN 2105 – 1115+1 AKL
SQ 286 AKL 1325 – 1855 SIN
Economy Class – SGD 1893.70
Business Class – SGD 6519.80
First Class – SGD 10 848
Sure, Singapore Airlines is considered one of the best airlines in the world, renowned for its extraordinary service and quality, yada yada…but a stark ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS difference is too great to ignore, especially for price-sensitive travelers and people who have no alliance allegiance, literally, as in being a frequent flyer member. But instead of comparing apples and oranges, let’s compare something that objectively CAN be fairly compared with…
According to the Jetstar website, this is what you can expect when you fly on Star Class:
…The StarClass cabin offers 38 leather covered seats, offering more personal space and comfort than Economy class. Each seat is equipped with in seat power allowing passengers to plug in a laptop or recharge personal music players. The seats also have adjustable lumbar support and headrests with wings on the side of the head rest to ensure you can rest comfortably…
…The seat pitch on the Airbus A330 aircraft is 38 inches in StarClass…
…StarClass passengers will have an unlimited beverage and snack bar, as well as all meals, included as part of the StarClass personalised service. For each meal, StarClass passengers will be able to select from three meal choices, one of which will be vegetarian. The number of meal services will differ depending on the length of your flight. Beverages will include water, juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee and a range of alcoholic drinks…
…After take off, each StarClass passenger will be offered a Video on Demand Unit (read: Apple iPad by 2011) and headsets. Each unit is programmed with a range of movies, TV programs, music videos and children’s programs. StarClass passengers can also plug headsets into their seat to enjoy a range of audio programs…
…StarClass passengers will have a comfort pack available on their flights. The kit includes a blanket and pillow, plus an amenity kit containing eye shades, a tooth brush and toothpaste…
Why do I bold “seat pitch”?
Well, the word might not seem much to you but it’s actually the most important thing you value whenever you fly; ‘seat pitch’ refers to the distance from your butt to the seat infront of you, a.k.a., your own personal space! 38 inches offered on Jetstar’s Star Class is a big issue, especially since it’s the amount of space some airlines offer their Premium Economy Class passengers or even Business Class. But more than those facts, 38 inches is a whole 6 inches longer than Singapore Airlines’ Economy Class seats. So in conclusion, if you’re willing to pay over SGD 1800 for a roundtrip to Auckland, Jetstar’s Star Class is a competitive option, especially if you value personal space over a robotic smile. And might I add that it’s a good deal! Paying Economy Class prices for an excellent Premium Economy seat along with service? You can’t get that anywhere.
Flying Jetstar’s regular Economy isn’t that bad either from a seat pitch point of view. If you’re accustomed to flying Jetstar A320s intra-Asia and you’re afraid legroom is going to be just as narrow, don’t fret because it’s not. Unlike AirAsia X’s Airbus A330 long-haul planes which seat 9-across, Jetstar’s A330s will seat at a comfortable 8-abreast, which full-service carriers like Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways adopt for their own Airbus A330s.
*receives a bag of money from Jetstar” 😀