JETSTAR, MEL - BNK

Date: March, 2016
Flight Path: MEL - BNK
Seat: 12D - Exit row.
Class: Economy.
Alliance: You can add a saver pack that gives you 15kg of checked luggage, Qantas points/status credits and a $5 voucher to used towards food or beverages on board.

CHECK IN: The easy to use kiosks allow you to bring up your booking, print a boarding pass and drop your bags efficiently. The machines are all in order and there are staff to assist if needed.

PLANE: The Airbus A320 is clean and new. The seat's pitch is 29 inches with a width of 17.9 inches. I asked for an exit row and got plenty of leg room.

ENTERTAINMENT: None provided. The Jetstar magazine has on-point travel stories and the flight is only 2 hours long so in-flight entertainment isn't missed.

FOOD: Water is provided and snack are available for purchase. Jetstar's in-flight menu uniquely has healthy options from Sumo Salad, which is a big tick.

SERVICE: The staff have the procedure down pat and happily accommodate water requests. They're strictly professional when it comes to tarmac boarding which is reassuring.

LOUNGE: If you're a Qantas Club member your ticket gives you access to the Qantas Lounge.

CONCLUSION: Jetstar is offering incredible deals on this route at the moment so Byron Bay has never been more accessible. It's a short flight and the seats are comfortable. For the price, there's no down side.

I travelled courtesy of Jetstar.
www.jetstar.com

REX AIRLINES, ADL - KGC

Date: November 2015.
Flight Path: ADL - KGC
Seat: 7A.
Class: Economy.
Alliance: None.

CHECK IN: Swift. No queues and you're given a choice of seat if the aircraft isn't fully booked. One piece of checked luggage is allowed, up to 15 kilograms.

PLANE: The Saab340 twin engine turboprop plane is just right for the short journey. The seat, small at only 18.5inches width, is comfy enough for the 20 minute flight. There's one toilet if you should require.

ENTERTAINMENT: Some reading material on the local attractions. Best to keep your attention fixated on the views.

FOOD: Water is served alongside a snack of mentos and crisps.

SERVICE: The staff have the procedure down pat. Safety information is delivered clearly and they're extremely efficient. The host was attentive, particularly with bag assistance and water top ups. Above all, they're incredibly friendly, which reflects well as a regional airline.

LOUNGE: If you fly regionally on a regular basis it might be worth investing in a REX lounge membership. There are outlets in both Sydney and Adelaide. 

CONCLUSION: My travels were taking me to Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island and it was an easy decision to choose a short flight over driving. It's quick, eliminates stress and is quite a pretty journey. Coupled with REX's efficiency, I'd say its the best form of travel to Kangaroo Island.

I travelled courtesy of REX airlines.
www.rex.com.au

 

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, SYD-HNL

Date: August 2015.
Flight Path: SYD-HNL
Seat: 14E/11E.
Class: Extra Comfort.
Alliance: Hawaiian Airlines/Virgin.

CHECK IN: Electronic booths are available for you to print your ticket then drop your luggage. Very smooth and efficient.

PLANE: Airbus A330-200 with 294 seats. The extra comfort section was launched in January 2015 for flights exiting Australia. I picked the front rows 11 and 14 (return) where I was able to fully extend my legs.

ENTERTAINMENT: The extra comfort seats come with the "Unlimited TV & More" entertainment pack. There was a great range of sitcoms, new-release movies and educational programs.

FOOD: Extra comfort gives you an upgraded meal. Hawaiian chicken with vegetables was satisfying and fresh. Served with a side salad and cake, it didn't leave me feeling heavy like regular airline food. A sandwich and crackers was served an hour before landing to keep you going during the ten hour flight. Alcoholic beverages, juice, coffee/tea and water were all on hand throughout the flight.

SERVICE: A big draw card for Hawaiian airlines is it's service. You really feel like your Hawaiian holiday starts when you step on the plane. There's an air of retro-cool about the hosts. Accommodating every need from water refills, extra blankets and replacing a seat cushion when I spilled my bottle of water were all met with grace and a smile.

LOUNGE: Hawaiian airlines has just opened it's first International Business Class Lounge in Honolulu. The Plumeria Lounge gives Business Class travellers free wifi, comfortable lounging and complimentary wine, local beers and snacks.

EXTRA COMFORT BENEFITS:
- Priority boarding
- More legroom
- In-seat electrical outlets
- Extra entertainment pack
- Pillow and blanket
- Upgraded meal
- Amenity kit - including eye mask, lip balm, facial mist, hand cream, toothbrush/paste, comb, ear plugs and headset.

CONCLUSION: There's a secret about Hawaiian Airlines which few know about: you can stop over in Honolulu and it doesn't cost you any extra. Fancy going SYD - NY with some downtime in between? Do it in Hawaii. The newly launched extra comfort makes long haul flights that much better, with ample leg room, entertainment and cuisine. The upgrade cost of an extra comfort seat is only around $140 per sector. Excellent value compared to a Premium Economy seat on any other airline. With service that is truly Hawaiian, it's win win win.
 

I flew courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines.
https://www.hawaiianairlines.com.au/

SRI LANKAN AIRLINES, CMB - MLE

Date: July 2015.
Flight Path: Colombo - Male
Seat: Window.
Class: Economy.
Alliance: One World.

CHECK IN: Fast and efficient. I was running late due to Colombo traffic and the staff issued tickets and checked luggage swiftly. Bags arrived with no issues.

PLANE: Airbus A340-300. Seats were new and comfortable for the short flight, with 275 seats in economy and 24 in business.

ENTERTAINMENT: The selection was limited, with only a few sitcoms, but enough to be entertained during the 1 hour flight. USB input was available for phone charging and the touch screen system was responsive.

FOOD: A full meal was served with curry, rice, bread and cake. It was ok, but lacking something fresh - a piece of fruit would have done the trick. A snack would have sufficed considering the one hour flight time, but being a midday service and with check-in required three hours prior to take off it is understandable lunch would be served. Drinks and Ceylon tea were available throughout.

SERVICE: Alert and friendly. The hosts were smartly dressed and impeccably presented. Water refills were remembered and the service was warm and professional. Our flight was delayed 30 minutes waiting for an incoming flight with connecting passengers but as soon as they were boarded we were off, with the captain keeping us updated along the way.

CONCLUSION: The full service airline has a tight operation in chaotic surroundings. Their flight routes operating from Colombo to the EU and Asia shouldn't be overlooked, because new planes and good service make them a viable choice in a growing market.

I flew with the assistance of SriLankan Airlines.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES, MEL-KUL

Date: July 2015.
Flight Path: Melbourne - Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur - Colombo, Male - Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur - Melbourne.
Seat: Between row 20-30, aisle for each segment.
Class: Economy.
Alliance: One World.

CHECK IN: Queues were long but the wait time was minimal with plenty of staff moving us through quickly. Service was grumpy. Playful banter was met with an abrupt response bordering on rude. Not a great start. Bags arrived at every destination though, so the task was met adequately.

PLANE: Airbus A330-300. Width - 17.5, pitch 32. The seats felt tight, compared to Singapore airlines where the width is a few inches more. The recline was adequate and blankets and pillows were plentiful.

ENTERTAINMENT: The movie selection had limited new releases, but enough for medium haul flights. Sitcom selection was poor, comedies in particular. The entertainment system was responsive and equipped with USB ports.

FOOD: Average. Really below full-service airline standards. Options were beef curry or fish. Beef was dry and tasted old, served with rice and a handful of beans. A side of a bread roll was stale and a sickly sweet cake really left me hankering for something fresh. No fruit is available either. Water is hard to come by, leaving you feeling dehydrated. It's a big step down from other airlines where there usually a decent snack bar on board.

SERVICE: Blunt and aggressive. There were very few smiles and everything seemed to be an effort. Requests for water were repeatedly forgotten and many fliers were asked to changed seats to accommodate large families who weren't seated together. I was fortunate to have 3 seats between myself and companion giving us room to spread out. I lay my head down to nap which was an inconvenience to the hostess during service. I got a smack on the head with a brutal "UP!". It was unnecessary and I felt like I was on a school excursion.

CONCLUSION: Some flight paths are difficult to co-ordinate and you're left with very few options. Malaysia Airline's safety record is less than stellar lately so their fares are very reasonable. This is attracting all sorts of fliers. In particular, families. And why not? It's tough to take a brood on holiday and Malaysia Airlines is making this feasible for a lot of people. I'm sure tending to a significant amount of parents and children overworks the staff. From what I could see on all four of my Malaysia Airlines segments, the staff were stressed and exhausted, I assume to cope with the demand (lots of mess in every aisle from kiddies). Unfortunately the staff attitude makes it difficult for me to consider booking with them again because my flights were mostly unpleasant. In reality, Singapore Airlines was only $150 more and in the scheme of things probably worth it. Malaysia Airlines now feels more like a low cost carrier than a full-service airline, and while their fares are discounted, it's not quite enough.

I flew at my own expense.