Thursday, April 21, 2011

The uncommon joy of flying with JetStar from Hong Kong

JetStar isn't the best choice for a flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, but it was all we had for this weekend (that, or pay the Cathay Pacific tax - two more tickets on JetStar). So we wandered through the appendage that is Terminal 2, a ghost town of check in desks and deserted luggage shops.

When we checked in, the two people in front of us seemed to have four passports. That didn't seem like somebody was correctly checking IDs, unless the invisible man and his brother were going along with them. Charitably, half those passports could have been expired and carrying unexpired visas, but none of them looked like that. Still, it wasn't like we'd paid for a ticket on a big airline, was it?

Jetstar only seems to fly to Singapore from Hong Kong, which makes it a minnow compared to all the giant airlines flying to lots of places. And Singapore. Consequentially, we get shunted to gate 523, a floor below all the shops and restaurants, the only amenities a toilet and a water fountain. With an hour to the flight, we navigated our way back to the surface, found Pizza Express was full, bought some overpriced books in Relay and some chicken nuggets at McDonalds, then wandered down again.

If you ever want to put a bit of glamour into your travel, don't start with chicken nuggets. That is all.

Almost all. We get to the gate half an hour before the flight, to find it's closing. Of course. Because JetStar are doing it on the cheap, we don't walk through an air bridge to get on the plane, there's a bus to drive us as far away from the terminal as possible, to where the plane is parked. Hence they need to close the gate half an hour before the flight, to have time to get everybody aboard the plane.

Bizarrely, while we stand on the bus waiting to go (for as is the way of all things, the bus's departure is delayed) the two men who checked in ahead of us get on, now both accompanied by their girlfriends. So maybe you can check in for somebody else after all. (Or perhaps getting a bored worker on a check in desk to scrutinise identity documentation is fairly meaningless after all - maybe they were just super efficient and ahead of the game.)

I've flown with JetStar before (Sydney to Gold Coast and back again) but I hadn't remembered how cramped the cabin was, nor how gloomy it would be, with the dark faux-leather upholstery on the tight-packed chairs. It feels like AirAsia with a hangover. Or Ryanair in a straitjacket. Still, only three hours stuck in this little seat to go...


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