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Jetstar vs Malaysia airlines – Who is best?

NB: It has been brought to my attention (and I later realised) that comparing these 2 flights may not be fair as one is a full fledged airline and the other is a budget airline. One reader said “its like comparing apples and oranges” and while yes that is very true and I do agree, in the end no matter the amount you pay to go on a flight, you expect it to A) be easy to book B) find friendly staff.

The reason I initially compared these 2 was because when we booked the flight in October 2012 they were so close in price, it never clicked they yes one is budget and the other isnt. None the less the article is now out there and the information is there regardless.

We are often asked who we prefer to fly with and why, not long ago we flew to Bangkok with Jetstar and then flew from Phuket back home to Australia with Malaysia airlines. There is a large difference between the two. The question we will be answer is “Jetstar vs Malaysia airlines – Who is best? ”

Jetstar vs Malaysia airlines

Photo Credit – Sheba_Also Flickr

Jetstar vs Malaysia airlines

Jetstar vs Malaysia airlines

Photo Credit – Aero Icarus Flickr

Booking process –

Jetstar – The booking process on the website is a little all over the place, you  select your flight then the you are given a choices of a bundle (including meals QFF Points etc) then you go through to pay where you are presented with even more choices. It’s clear to me that is a “money grabbing business”, which I guess is fine as the whole point of a business is to make money BUT they could be a business that also provides (and is interested in) customer satisfaction and “making it easy” for customers to book. There are several options which can get confusing. Please Jetstar make the online booking system simple with all choices to be made on one page or provide bundles or flight prices with your inclusions.

Malaysia Airlines – The website is very easy to use, you select the fare you want it provides a confirmation and takes you thought to the payment area. Food, drinks and entertainment are already included in the fare so you don’t have to umm and errr about the different choices.

First Impression & Airline Staff –

Jetstar – Flew from Adelaide to Melbourne at about 7am then spend 6 hours sitting around  Melbourne Airport waiting for our connecting flight to Bangkok. We were very frustrated with some of the staff at Jetstar in Melbourne airport, when we went to check in (after sitting around for 3 hours).At the check in there was 3 sections, First Class, Web check in & Normal check in. Of course the First class passengers got a priority check in (as they should, they are paying a lot more than a regular fare) but so did web check in. We were unable to select web check in online as we had booked the emergency exit seats.  There were 3 people (1 on each check in) serving, so it took about 45mins  just to get through the check in process and there were only about 15-20 people in front of us.  What we found frustrating was there were about 5 other staff members sitting at the service desk chatting and laughing and carrying on…Maybe I was just cranky from getting up early and sitting around the airport for a few hours but if it’s busy at work, everyone drops everything and works through it together until it is manageable, not sure why they couldn’t have a few extra staff jump in and help?
The staff  members on the plane were good although similar to a sales person, always trying to sell more drinks or food.

Malaysia Airlines – There is a short 1-2 hour stop over in Kuala Lumpur . Malaysia Airlines has a good reputation and for good reason. The check in was very professional although a little slow but what check in isn’t slow yet it was quicker than Jetstar. The staff are always happy, it shows that they  enjoy  and love their jobs.  Our luggage was a little over the baggage limit but they “let it slide” without a word.
The staff members on the plane were fantastic, forever bring us food and drinks and making sure we were warm enough or cool enough or just stopping to chat.

Seating –

Jetstar – The seats was not very comfortable which is no big surprise from a budget airline, we did opt for the exit row seat and paid extra for it as we prefer having the extra leg room on longer flights, it makes you feel like cramped. I did feel little like I was sitting on a hard box with a bit of cushioning on it and also thought the seats were very small even for plane seats.

Malaysia Airlines – Airline seats are not generally very comfortable and these were no exception but they were not as bad as the Jetstar seats, maybe extra cushioning? We also paid extra to get an exit row seat. We have booked a flight previously with Malaysia Airlines where we were in a regular seats and found it very difficult to sleep all squished up, it doesn’t help when the people in front of you put their seat down. Some people can sleep on planes, others can’t and to be honest we didn’t get much sleep with the extra leg room seats.

Food –

Airline food is airline food, it isn’t gourmet or magical, it is enough to get you through the flight.

Jetstar –  You have the option of pre-purchasing your meals when you book (choices, choices) or at the time on the plane. If you pre-purchase and want anything extra or additional drinks on the plane you are required to pay for these separately. On our flight, only one of the meal choices were available… this seems to always happens on planes.

Malaysia Airlines – as said airline food is pretty much all the same, but on this flight both choice were available we got the choice of Chicken or Beef (bonus!). The airline staff were constantly offering food or snacks or drinks, it was great we didn’t go hungry and we didn’t have to pay exorbitant prices for a small packet of chips.

Entertainment –

Jetstar – We purchase the Ipad entertainment pack for$15 on the website, which had only a handful of movies and series to watch. It was also difficult having the Ipads on the tray tables in front of you as it they always sat an awkward angle which hurt your neck after a few hours, it was either too close or had too much glare. When there was turbulence we had to put them away until it had ceased.

Malaysia Airlines –  We were interested to see if the entertainment would be set up the same way as Jetstar, but it wasn’t thank goodness! They had the entertainment units that popped out of the arm rests and came to rest in front of you, no achy neck for us!

Price difference –

For the purpose of showing you the difference I have used Adelaide to Bangkok on October 1st 2013 One way for Jetstar and Malaysia airlines I used the 3rd of October as no flights avail on the 1st and Jetstar has no flights on the 3rd)

Jetstar –
$456.77  =  Is the flight (duh!) and 10kg carry on baggage. This includes a stop off in Melbourne (our stop off was 6 hours which is not enough time to go anywhere or do anything but try to find a comfy seat in the airport and people watch). You can purchase an $80 bundle which includes the ability to earn Qantas Frequent Fliers points on the Jetstar flight, seat selection and a meal. Alternatively you can purchase a hot meal and a drink (non alcoholic) for $28 per person in the payment screen.
If you would like checked in luggage, the prices start from $45.50 for 15kg and $52 for 20kg all the way up to $110 for 40 kg. These prices are all per person.
If you would like entertainment for the 9 hour flight, you can hire an Ipad for$15 with limited selection of movies/series. If you choose to hire an ipad while on the plane, I think they require a deposit and your ID (although I’m not 100%).
If you want any other drinks or meals you are required to pay for these on the plane.

Flight $456.77
Meals and points bundle $80
30kg baggage $90 (to match with Malaysia Airlines)
Entertainment $15
Total = $641.77  (or $589 if you purchase the $28 meal rather than the bundle).

Malaysia Airlines –
$896.74, which is almost double the Jetstar base fare price, I’m not really sure why this is so high as previously when we have booked the flights through Malaysia Airlines and Jetsta, they have been fairly similar in price. Malaysia Airlines makes one stop over in Kuala Lumpur(for approx. 1-2hours), you get a 30kg baggage allowance plus carry on(7-10kg), you get 2 meals and all the drinks you want for no extra fee, including alcoholic drinks. The airline (mostly for international flights) has entertainment set in the back of the seats or pop out ones for exit aisles with a fairly good selection of the latest movies, series, games etc.

While it may look like I’m “talking up” Malaysia Airlines or I’m trying to sell you something but it’s not that case at all. If we travelled to Thailand again (or that region) I would check Malaysia Airlines first because I know what services they provide and I know it is worth the money, they provide extra comforts and to me it makes a big difference. Maybe this is because the flight crew are from a country that cares about service and customer satisfaction… Sorry Australia but recently customer service in most places has dropped way below the bar …A customer can walk into a restaurant and be completely ignored, stand in a line for 45mins at an airport check in while other staff members sit there and chat…Maybe its this “new generation” of workers (wow!  I sound old!) or we have become bitter and or lazy? When I worked in hospitality and service based industries we were taught to actually care about our customers, we were told they are your bread and butter and we would go out of our way to make them happy and ensure their stay was memorable so they would come back, not leave and think oh my gosh I’m never going back there again… Sorry I’m ranting now, I’ll get back on track..

Jetstar does have merit for short budget flights, I would fly with them within Australia but I ‘m not sure I would fly with them again on an international flight, unless a lot changes. Although I highly doubt my little article will make much of a difference to this huge company like this but it would be good to see some small changes: Focus on customer service, look to make your booking process easier, have the second food option available, look to install a better entertainment system.

This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid in any form to write this . All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!

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  1. foongpc

    Interesting comparison between Jetstar and Malaysia Airlines! But Jetstar is a budget airline right? Maybe it’s not so fair to compare a budget airline with a full fledged one : )

  2. Travelling King

    thanks for your comment!
    I agree and disagree, Jetstar often advertise to say they are this great airline and while they are a budget airline there are things they can do differently. Good customer service can be done by both budget or full fledged airlines.
    We have previously flown with Virgin who are in between these to (in my books) they often have rates similar to Jetstar and yet they are worlds apart

  3. Travelling King

    Thanks Paul
    But in the end you are paying for the same thing Jetstar just makes it harder.
    I think the dates I used were a bad example, when we flew with them the price was almost spot on, if I recall Malaysia Airlines was having a sale and JEtstar may have infact been more expensive after adding in all the options.

    We certainly dont pay for bad service, surely we all expect to be treated well no matter who we travel with?

  4. Jessica

    I’m from New Zelannd and this is the first time I travel with Malaysian airline but it would be my last time. It can not be horrible more than this. Such a poor service, unprofessional… The flight was delay an hour without apologize which is we can accept. But I nerver ever see staff of any other airline yelling of customer and when we say that “we are not going to travel with u guy a gain” can u guess what they said??? “Ur welcome. That’s up to u” even though my sister has a small baby and she was over weight 2 kg and they gave her such a hard time ever. They make $37 more from her but they lost 10 customer. Because next time we will go with jetstar. Cheaper and nicer. Such an unbelieverable experience.

  5. Travelling King

    Hi Jessica.
    That’s terrible! Its not very nice to be treated badly, I guess we can only talk about the experience we have had with both flight companies.

    I used to work and still work in a customer service based industry, its had to be put in a situation where a customer says they will never stay with you or is leaving, as a “lakie” you dont have much control or can do much other than to say “that is up to you”, maybe they dont have the authorization to approve extra luggage or maybe they just don;t know what to say in that situation or maybe the company has trained them to say this, I have head this done before. But I do feel for the staff put in that situation with that said I can understand your frustration as a customer because I am often put into disappointing situations.

    I would recommend shopping around and not just flying with Jetstar because they are cheap, we didnt feel very valued by Jetstar and therefore will go out of our way to not fly with them unless we have to.

  6. Tracy N.

    Thank you for such a wonderful article. We are flying from Singapore to Guangzhou in October 2013, and it’s only a $40 difference in fare, but based on your article, we will for sure take Malaysia Airlines. We are traveling from the US with lots of luggage, so don’t want to be hit with all the added baggage fees either.
    We flew Ryan Air, a budget airline, from Spain to Italy a few months ago, and it was a complete nightmare. The few dollars we saved on the airline ticket was triple-fold charged for excess baggage fees, and actually we needed to purchase a new airline ticket as well because they were sticklers for everything!!! Not worth a penny saved.

  7. Travelling King

    I’m glad we were able to help Tracy!!
    Having to pay a little extra for best service and more understanding can make a big difference!
    You will have to tell me about your trip!

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