JetStar International Airlines was a virtual airline created by US airline enthusiasts complete with an orange star logo and silver livery that started in 2000. In 2001 Qantas relaunched Australian Airlines as a low cost subsidy and transferred routes, passengers and aircraft to this arm, however it failed dismally to create an identity of its own or turn a profit and was unceremoniously buried in 2006. Qantas then chose to essentially steal the model of JetStar by launching their own Jetstar in 2003. The angry JetStar International Airlines sued Qantas and the matter was settled out of court in JetStar’s favour. From the airlines dishonest beginnings it has grown to become a semi-full service carrier with routes around the Pacific from Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Hong Kong while having a comprehensive domestic network throughout Australia and New Zealand. In 2007 Jetstar was first voted Australia’s worst airline and has been regularly nomiated in subsequent years. Staff and passengers are suspicious that Qantas intends to replace itself with its unpopular subsidiary Jetstar, which it appears to be doing. Jayne Hrdlicka's appointment as CEO in 2012 has done nothing to remove these suspicions however Qantas' alliance with Emirates in 2013 and cheap oil prices have stalled Jetstar's cannibalization of Qantas.
Jetstar does employ young and often enthusiastic crews on very low wages. Most of the staff have not had enough time in the industry to become fully jaded and when they do, they typically leave the industry rather than retreat to the galley and whinge, the way they staff can be observed doing during Qantas flights. As a result crew can be very pleasant and even playful. The primary job of crew is to sell passengers snacks, blankets, entertainment units and drinks so they can meet their sales targets. A Jetstar flight is like a flying 7-11. But surprisingly, their cheap polyester uniforms are quite fetching and look better than many rivals.
Jetstar’s network is constantly expanding at the expense of Qantas, as well as flying into new locations in Asia through subsidiaries in Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan. The airline also has a good domestic network in Vietnam and serves some daring destinations like Yangon (Rangoon). On long distance flights the airline provides full services whilst its shorter ones are no-frills; there is quite a difference.
The airline provides crap service and charges for extras so is often poor value when compared to rival airlines who throw in a meal, blanket and smiles for free. For example, Fiji Airways provide better value to Fiji, Garuda Indonesia better value to Bali or Hawaiian Airlines is better value to Honolulu. These are all holiday destinations so why ruin your holiday with a terrible flight when better airlines exist at similar prices? The airline cancels and delays flights usually without explanation or apology so business travellers can find a Jetstar flight a big risk. Jetstar is usually beaten by even cheaper, and even nastier rival; Tigerair.
Passengers need to pay for meals, however Qantas code-share passengers receive a free meal on the airline. But to describe it as a meal is stretching it. Jetstar catering is truly appalling. It resembles Homebrand TV dinners and even in Star Class, Jetstar’s Business Class passengers are served the same stuff. Premium passengers are also offered ‘champagne’ in plastic glasses and are served meals on plastic trays with aluminium foil. Both classes will be served the same poor quality coffee. It seems odd that an airline trying to make money from on-board food sales would have such an unappetising selection. While passengers can buy meals on-line before flying, others purchase on-board. The airline has been known to run out of catering on very long flights between Australia and Hawaii and Australia and Japan!
The airline has a very boring in-flight magazine which looks and reads like junk mail. Other than that the airline also rents small DVD players and movies on board. They have only a small selection of films and often preferred choices are not available.
When Jetstar started many Qantas staff were transferred to the new airline and instructed on how to provide a lower level of service than that given in Qantas. Staff can be rude and managers even ruder, but generally most of the young low paid staff are naturally pleasant. Baggage dramas can take ages to sort out while on some flights the airline fully interlines baggage quite efficiently. Jetstar’s answer to everything seems to be ‘you get what you pay for’, but they forget many passengers have booked on Qantas and didn’t pay cheaply. Travel Insurance is a good idea as jaded staff can be unsympathetic when tracing missing baggage which is becoming more regular.
Jetstar only agreed to describe calling Star Class as a Business Class after legal action when unhappy Qantas passengers were transferred to Jetstar and slotted into Star Class. If Staff Class indeed is a Business Class then it’s amongst the world’s worst. It would be more accurate to describe it as a Premium Economy. Seats are considerably larger, but lack entertainment units and meal service is dreadful. Passengers have been known to bring their own food even in Star Class. Premium passengers use the Qantas Club where available which is quite nice, but regularly crowded.
Japanese tourists who come to Australia on Jetstar typically hate their experience on the airline. It is no exaggeration to claim the airline is contributing to the decline in Japanese tourist numbers to the country. Other passengers find seats small, meals shocking, entertainment practically non-existent and the baggage Nazi’s at check-in will not let passengers get away with anything more than 1kg as they get commission on excess baggage charges. For short flights without baggage, Jetstar’s Economy is fine; but for everyone else the experience is not good. For domestic travel Virgin Australia is usually similarly priced but provides a superior service while Air Asia is both cheaper and better than Jetstar for flying around Asia.
The airline uses the Qantas Frequent Flyer programme and clearly specifies which tickets give points and which do not. Basically only pricey tickets accrue Miles. As many flights are codeshared with Qantas, most Qantas redemption tickets are pushed towards Jetstar. Gold Frequent Flyers are often horrified to find out they will be flying Jetstar.
Jetstar shares the same disreputable corporate culture as its parent, Qantas. Nepotism, corruption, favouritism, incompetence and an old boy’s network all flourish within the Jetstar Club. Managers are out of touch with staff and there is a ‘them and us’ mentality throughout the company. Managers ignore real issues within the airline and tell staff to leave rather than fix problems. Jetstar work experience can leave many highly employable people scarred from their hostile work experience within Jetstar. Jetstar’s former boss, Alan Joyce has gone on to become Qantas CEO and despite being openly Gay himself, he still allows homophobia to continue within the company. Jetstar has a nice colour scheme, logo and image (which it copied) but is not a nice company to be involved with. Some of the names it’s earned from customers include Onestar, Pornstar and Shitstar.
In Qantas’s upside down world, new aircraft go to its discount subsidiary Jetstar, while old planes requiring a lot of maintenance remain with its premium parent Qantas. When Boeing 787's looked like a good idea Jetstar ordered many, however now that the aircraft have had a worrying number of potential catashrophes they are a marketing and maintenance nightmare. This helps explains Qantas’ recent appalling string of incidents and poor financial performance, and Jetstar’s relatively clean record. Jetstar’s low paid pilots maintain the highest standards of their profession and do not compromise safety.
Cheap, nasty and awful slowing taking over Qantas’ network and spreading through Asia.
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