Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Flying Jetstar Pacific from Singapore To Saigon

Welcome to my latest trip report on Jetstar Pacific, my 2nd time flying on this airline!


*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net




Introduction 

Flying to Ho Chi Minh from Singapore has limited choices especially for direct flights. Currently, the choices are Jetstar, Jetstar Pacific, Tigerair, Lionair, Singapore Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Checking the airfares of all of them a few weeks before my schedule flights, the Low Cost Carriers's airfares were cheaper than the premium carriers by quite a bit so after considering for a while, I decided to book one way with Jetstar Pacific and return with Malindo with a stop-over in Kuala Lumpur. For the return, I considered both Malindo and Singapore Airlines but because Malindo was selling the one way ticket for U.S $67 one way ticket including a stop over, I went for it. It was a good decision too as the following day, the price went up to U.S$ 90 plus. Since I had a bit of time there, I decided to once again do a joyride trip with Vietnam Airlines for the Boeing 777, however that plan was foiled when the airline changed both of my flights aircraft to Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. More information on that on my next trip report. 

I had already flown with this airline on BKK-SGN sector earlier this year, you can check out the trip report over here.

Confirmation email after making my booking 



I chose the morning flight as I could spend some more time on Friday since I had that day off. 

On the day of departure 

I woke up around 6.30 in the morning. Usually not a fan of waking up early, but for flights I won't mind at all even if my flight is at 6 a.m. Grabbed my luggage, I took the bus service 53 to the airport. Had to miss one as it was fully packed. Fortunately the next one came not long after. Once on board, we were off to the airport via express way. I stopped at Terminal 3 and took the skytrain, avoiding the delay along the way by bus to terminal 1. Once there, I did my check in and soon was at the air side. 

The underground bus terminal - the main reason why double decker buses cannot be deployed on airport bus services. 


Terminal 1 

Checking my flight schedule, no status is good news 


I was deciding this or getting the proper boarding pass, I went for the latter.


I went to do my check-in at the early check-in counter. No fees required for it, unlike Scoot you have to pay $5 to check-in early.  


Got my boarding pass 


After that, I did a check on Flightradar24 to check what aircraft I was flying on. I was hoping for the VN-A561 but I got VN-A559 instead, just 2 numbers short. 




For those flying premium classes of the following airlines listed below, you can use this premium check-in lounge. 



Once that was done, I made my way to the air side. 


Air Side 


Checking my flight once again for updates



I settled for breakfast at Coffee bean, main reason is I get the window view of the central apron. 


Once done, I made my way to gate C16.


Signs are everywhere so its hard to get lost 



Here I am, at one of the smallest gates. 


Flight route: SIN-SGN

Miles: 675




My ride: VN-A559

Current livery


Previously, it was in this livery 


Soon it was time to board the aircraft, boarding the aircraft was done by rows. As usual, those sitting near the rear got to board first and I prefer to board early so that I could put my stuff on the overhead bin compartment first instead of searching for space if I board later. 

My ride parking at C16 


Philippines Airlines Airbus A321 was ready for departure 




Date of departure: 24th June 2016 
Airline: Jetstar Pacific
Route: SIN-SGN
Flight: BL656
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Registration: VN-A559
Delivered on 23th January 2014 (Leased from ILFC)
Configuration: Y180 
Engine: 2 X IAE V2527-A5
Gate: C16
Seat: 25A
Terminal 1 (SIN)
Departure time: 1100
Boarding: 1033
Push back: 1106
Take off: 1128
Duration: 1 hr 35 mins
Load: 100%
Schedule arrival: 1205
Actual arrival: 1230
Departure runway: 02C
Arrival runway: 25R

It turned out to be a full flight but luckily it was only a short flight so it was bearable. I wasn't very hungry so I skipped the in-flight meal. 

Economy Class (Y180)


Typical Low Cost Carrier configuration, with different seats from VN-A557, my previous flight experience with this aircraft. The aircraft Jetstar leased used to operate for other airlines so seat product may be different. 

The airline also operates an Airbus A320 leased from Freebird based in Turkey.


Photos of the Economy Class cabin 



My window seat 


Tight legroom space 



Watching the other passengers entering the cabin 




Leather seat is pretty common among narrow-body operators 





Last row of the aircraft usually offers limited legroom space and these seats cannot be reclined 





The working space for the cabin crew based at the rear 


The rear door - do not open unless instructed by the cabin crew 


Most of the crew were in the front, helping other passengers. I feel one should stand at the rear to monitor the activity. 


Tight legroom space 


Obviously no Individual In-flight entertainment system on this aircraft 


View from my seat 


Time to go! 


Last few shots before I left the aircraft 




Emergency rows offer better legroom space but at a price 



What's inside the seat pocket?

2 safety cards of different versions



In-flight experience

There were 2 male and 2 female crew on board my flight. While the female crew were friendly, the male crew were nonchalant. Their mind seemed to be elsewhere. No improvement in their attitude later on during the flight. When I sat down at my seat, the first thing I noticed was the lack of in-flight magazine and the food menu. Only the safety cards were in it, guess there wasn't enough magazines and menu on board. 

We sat at the gate for a while as someone on our flight left her belonging at the gate and the cabin crew had to make an announcement twice before the blur passenger came forward to claim her items. Because of her, the departure time slot was lost and we had to wait for a while before the ATC (Airport Traffic Control) gave us the green light to push back and engine start up. So for the delay, it was not the airline's fault. 

Once engines were started and clearance was given, we taxied to runway 02C which took around 15 minutes. No announcement for the cabin crew to sit down, doesn't matter anyway since they were already seated way before the aircraft enter the active runway. 

After take off, we made a turn towards our assigned heading and for some parts, it was quite bumpy especially flying through clouds. Weather on route wasn't good - gloomy weather until we started our descend and that's when the weather condition improved. The Captain made an announcement to update us on the weather in Ho Chi Minh City, however his speech got cut off for most parts of it and we heard only the 'Thank you for flying with Jetstar Pacific' part. 

For the in-flight service, BOB service was done but most of us were not interested so it was an easy job for the crew. 

Arriving at Ho Chi Minh City was smooth and soon we taxied to the terminal and parked at the aero-bridge gate. I spotted passengers at the gate heading to Bangkok and that's where my aircraft was heading to next. 

Overall, it was a normal flight, nothing much to shout about. The male crew could learn to be more friendly and interactive with the passengers. 

Window-shot photos 

We were suppose to depart before the Air Asia aircraft (old livery) but it went off first. 



Finally, after 20 minutes plus of waiting, we were given permission to push back. 


The weather had improved after the earlier downpour.


Taxiing on November Charlie 3



If runway 20C was in used, we were have reached SGN earlier. 


Korean air's Airbus A330-300 taking off for Seoul 


There were a few departures while we were taxiing 


Air India Express Boeing 737-800 next to go


Followed by Garuda's Boeing 737-800 


After that it was our turn 


Turning into the active runway 



Off we go! 



Take off was powerful 




Off we go and the sight of SilkAir's Boeing 737-800 is getting common. 


Scoot's Boeing 787 Dreamliner being prepared for departure 





When departing from runway 02C, you get this view when sitting on the left side of the aircraft



Take off was smooth as the weather was clearing 




Passing through some clouds along the way which made the ride a bit uncomfortable for some.



At this point we started our descend 



Weather at Ho Chi Minh wasn't good. During our descend, we encountered rain but no turbulence 








On final approach and it was my 8th visit to Saigon! Great to be back here. 



Landing on runway 25 Right, a Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 preparing to take off at the other runway.



Touched down and soon we taxied to the taxiway which led us to the international terminal




The Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 which was waiting at the other runway, took off 



Another Airbus A321 took off while we were on the taxiway 


We were parked at the international terminal, beside this rare beauty - the Boeing 757 of Air Astana 



Taking the cab was frustrating. The driver kept insisting she is right when my goggle map told me otherwise. It took me for a while to convince her and once I reached the hotel, she apologised to me. 



My rating: 

Airline's website: 7/10
Check-in staff: 7/10
Changi Airport Experience: 9/10
In-flight service: 6/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
Cabin interior: 7/10
Cleanliness: 8/10
Punctuality: 6/10
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Enjoyment: 7/10
Overall rating: 72/100

Conclusion

It was a normal flight from point A to B with this Vietnamese Low Cost Carrier. That's what folks want is to pay for what they need and to get there on time. Jetstar Pacific is reliable so book with this airline without worry. Between Jetstar Pacific and Vietjetair, which airline do I prefer? Its a tough call really. The latter is expanding quite a bit especially with a recent order of another 100 aircraft (Boeing 737 Max). I would have to go for Vietjetair - newer aircraft and slightly better meal selection.

This airline also code-shares with Vietnam Airlines on some domestic routes, routes that is more profitable with the A320 than the larger A321 aircraft. For Vietnam Airlines, the gap between the ATR-72-500 and Airbus A321 is massive so for routes that require capacity of in between, it just code share with Jetstar Pacific, as it make sense financially. 

That's it for this trip report! Hope you enjoy it. 

For my other Jetstar Pacific trip report, click here.

Do check out my Vietjetair trip reports at the links below.

Cheers,
Charles 

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