Review: Jetstar International Airways and Vietnam Airlines


Jetstar International Airways:

In Air:

I flew between Sydney, Australia and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with Jetstar International Airways (Qantas’ no frills second airline).

The international flights were interesting from a nostalgic point of view. Jetstar’s business class is like business class as it was on most international carriers in the late 70s. I slid into a big leather seat with a moderate recline and immediately wanted to watch repeats of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. IFE was provided via one of those funky little hand held video players. A small latch on the back of the player acts as a prop. If you use both hands to eat, there’s really not enough room on the seat back table to hold both the video player and food tray simultaneously, a serious oversight.

Jetstar charges a fair whack for its business class fares, particularly on routes where it has withdrawn its premium Qantas service, such as between Australia and Vietnam. When I randomly asked other passengers what they thought of the service and value for money, the responses were overwhelmingly negative, some quite indignant. Two passengers seated across the aisle from me were treated shabbily by one female flight attendant. When they politely asked for more water, they were told to ‘Wait your turn. I’m busy!’ This was rudeness on a large scale, even by Jetstar’s standards.

The Jetstar Airbus A320-200 business class cabin is small. On that flight is was half empty. The two passengers weren’t asking for water out of turn. The meals service had finished thirty minutes before and the cabin attendants were clearly unoccupied. It seemed a case of one flight attendant having a really bad day and taking out her frustrations on polite passengers.

Meals on board the flights between HCMC and Sydney in business class were absolutely forgettable though I vaguely remember being served similar food in my college canteen provided by a catering company that was subsequently dismissed for over-charging its clients while serving dodgy meals from questionable ingredients.

On a final note, business class passengers were offered a post meal drink, Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur. I haven’t drunk a Bailey’s since I was about 16 when I sneaked a sip from a sticky half empty bottle hidden in the back of my parent’s liquor cabinet. I had not yet got over a teen-age fondness for milkshakes.

Another retrograde view of Jetstar’s service provision. I mean really. Bailey’s is Jetstar’s sole choice for an after dinner drink?

Welcome to Bogan Air.

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Vietnam Airlines:

Up in the Air:

I flew two domestic flights with the national airline, Vietnam Airlines, between HCMC and Dalat, which incidentally has a monopoly on domestic services.

Vietnam Airlines runs an efficient service. It’s a no frills airline with pay as you go inflight catering but its safety standards are reputedly above average and my flights departed and arrived on time. The cabins were clean, the aircraft modern.

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