For my recent trip to Tokyo I had not intended on flying JETSTAR AIRLINES* mainly because at the time they did not fly to Okinawa. It was by chance, however, that I read an article which informed me that in July they would be flying out of Okinawa for the first time so I jumped at the chance to get a competitive rate on a flight to Narita. This turned out to be a financially good choice because the flight was much cheaper than the other airline I had planned on using for my flight.
Purchasing a ticket is really easy. The website is formatted with step by step instructions on how to purchase your tickets which also includes information regarding the choices you make and because they operate out of English speaking countries the site is also available in English which makes the booking stress free. It is important to remember when booking flights through most non-American discount airline websites that the tickets are sold one way only. Although this might be a turn off for some people it's still extremely affordable and extremely easy to do.
Once you have decided when and where you would like to fly to you will then be asked about options for your flight. For me I chose the cheapest option which means that I do not have a refundable or changeable ticket but because I wanted to be safe I chose to pay a bit extra for heavier luggage. This comes at a discounted rate if you do this online as opposed to at the airport once your luggage is weighed. Overall it was still extremely affordable and worth the extra money in my opinion but that's because I do my best to shove as much as possible into my bags and I want to avoid hefty fees later on (at this time I do not know what the extra fees are once at the airport).
Once you have completed the booking process you will then have the ability to pick your seats. In some cases some seats, based on location, come with an extra fee. The fee is extremely small and worth the money if you want a bit more leg space. During the time of my booking none of these seats were available and so I skipped this option. Now that you have completed this process you will review the information and pay for your flight. Enter your credit card information and you will receive a confirmation of payment. Within the next 24 hours you will then receive an itinerary/confirmation email. This will include all the information that you need including your itinerary, in flight services (to including seat numbers that you chose) and all of the information based on what you have to do in order to have a smooth flight.
According to the information (as of July 8 2012) to have a smooth flight JETSTAR AIRLINES* opens web check in 48 hours before your flight, you should arrive at the checkin counter 2 hours before your flight, web checking closes 60 minutes before the flight and the check in counter is closed 30 minutes before the flight. They also ask that you are at your boarding gate 25 minutes before the flight so that you are ready to go. Your itinerary/confirmation email will also include information regarding cabin baggage as well as information regarding checked baggage. From what I can see it looks like your standard airline information so I won't go too much into it.
Making Changes/Web Checkin
The one thing that is super noteworthy about JETSTAR AIRLINES* is that you have the ability to change and make updates to your flight without jumping through hoops. When you do your booking you will put in your email and a password which will essentially become your login information for JETSTAR AIRLINES*. When you type in this information you can check out all of the information about your flight, status, what you purchased and change anything if necessary. I do have to say that I did not require any changes to be made so I do not have first hand experience of this process but I do know that you are capable of changing your seat or upgrading to one that will give you more leg room, upgrading the weight of your luggage or converting the tickets to refundable or transferrable.
Getting To The Airport
Being that I would be on the first JETSTAR flight out of Naha I got to the airport early to ensure that I had enough time to get things figured out if there was any confusion. When I found the counter there was a large area which was being used for the press events that had been happening presumably throughout the day. There was also music, television cameras as well as other media outlets there who were documenting this flight. When the counters were finally opened and I could check in it was speedy even though the staff were clearly new. JETSTAR representatives were assisting the new staff members ensuring that everything that taken care of. I ran into a slight issue with my online check in information. The staff were not familiar with the way that this pass had looked and I was most likely the first one that they had come across but it was acknowledged right away and before long I was on my way to the gate. Once arriving at the gate it was clear that we were one of the first flights out of Naha.
There was a large table with the signature JETSTAR banner as well as an orange carpet which was rolled out. While we were waiting staff members gave us a special JETSTAR bag which included some items to commemorate our flight. Each bag contained some flyers, mouse pad, hat, certificate of boarding (showing the information about the flight) and a stress ball JETSTAR airplane. It was really cute and a nice touch. Finally a woman came by and took our picture which we were allowed to keep also.
The flight out of Okinawa was special but so was the flight that was arriving. In fact is was so special that Miss Okinawa came to welcome the passengers of the first flight arriving in Naha. When the plane arrived it was very exciting. Many people were on their feet looking at the new jet. In fact if you had not known any better you might have through that we were the first people to fly to a mysterious new land on a new type of aircraft that no one had ever used before. There was a lot of excitement!
When finally boarding the flight we were also each handed a teddy bear which had a JETSTAR t-shirt and pilot's coat and goggles. It is incredibly cute and again just another way to excite all of those who were on board, even the adults who were all (well mostly) excited about the stuffy too.
To be completely honest the flight was your typical flight. There are some things to note about the flight, however. There are no free refreshments but you can pay for a variety of drinks and snacks. There is a large assortment also from rice balls to instant ramen to pocky. In my personal opinion the prices were a bit high (pocky and juice box for 500yen or Kirin Chi-hi for 450yen) but I suppose that if you need a snack you can purchase it. You were permitted to bring snacks on the plane so that was good and much more affordable which is what I chose to do. The service was great and the space for each passenger was than of any other plane.
Arriving At Narita
Arriving at Narita (which was our destination) was a bit of a surprise for me. We all got off the plane while it was still on the runway using mobile stairs rather than pulling up to a sky bridge like a typical flight. Once off the plane we then took busses to the terminal where we could retrieve our luggage. This was not a problem and was easy enough although I think that it would have been helpful to know ahead of time if you were flying with young children or a great deal of carry on luggage.
Flight Back To Okinawa
Although the flight out of Naha was very simple and straight forward I feel that it is important to mention the experience I had flying back to Okinawa. Checking in was simple, although it must be done no more than 2 hours before your flight. Once checked in you will then need to bring your luggage to a separate area which was 80 meters from the check in counter and located outdoors. This was inconvenient but easy to find. Once the luggage was taken care of it was time to move to the gate. Much like the arrival in Narita the gate led us to a buss which would then take us to the plane and we would board again on the portable stairs. Once again we were not notified of this ahead of time and I think it would have been appropriate for the airline to let us know especially those with small children and large carry on items.
I give the flight out of Okinawa a 9 out of 10.
They did a great job, however, the only area I felt they could have improved on was being aware that customers could check in online. As I mentioned above I was stopped twice and told to check in again but had to explain that I already had online.
I give the flight out of Narita a 7 out of 10.
There was a slight lack of organization at the bag check in counter which caused delays. Two computers were working and only one person was actually taking bags while 2 others were simply standing around supervising.
Overall JETSTAR gets a 9 out of 10 rating from me.
I would have liked to see water or tea at least complimentary or slightly lower prices on refreshments.
Overall the service was wonderful and there was honestly nothing to complain about. For the price I will SURELY fly JETSTAR again and I definitely recommend them to anyone wanting a low cost flight out of Okinawa.
*JETSTAR AIRLINES is not affiliated with OkiNinjaKitty. This is not a paid endorsement.