Flying Jetstar? Pack a pashima, one of those highly compressible, super-warm lightweight shawls you can smuggle into your free carry-on allowance.

And don’t forget to fold your double breasted USSR style Siberia-rated winter coat over your arm, that’s legal too, and maybe the odd balaclava or beanie for the kids.

Because if the following complaint is indicative of what’s happening on long-haul Jetstar flights, they may try and freeze the loose change out of your pockets.

A Crikey reader writes:

On a recent flight between Sydney and Honolulu on Jetstar I couldn’t help but notice how cold the cabin was. Without a doubt it was the coldest cabin I had ever travelled in.

In fact, not even a jumper and tracksuit pants were enough to keep me warm in what felt like around 15-17 degree temperatures. Now call me cynical and maybe a little suspicious of Australia’s cut-price international carrier, but this icy temperature wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that blankets can be procured … but “at a price” of around $15?!

They are sold as ‘comfort packs’ and in all honesty would be absolutely necessary if you were to feel ‘comfortable’ on such a flight. I travel both domestically and internationally quite regularly for work and I have never felt anything quite like it. It’s especially bizarre when you consider people associate Hawaii with warm weather and would pack accordingly!

Could Jetstar really be freezing out it’s passengers just to make extra money?! To ensure it wasn’t just an anomaly on that particular flight, I boarded the return leg (this time with extra layers!) and found exactly the same ‘Antarctic Airbus’ conditions. Tell me it isn’t so?! But with Jetstar being the only airline I know that charges for blankets, maybe it is the next level of money-making for the carrier?

A spokesperson for Jetstar, Simon Westaway, fiercely rejected the implication that it was chilling out its passengers for cash.

“There is no relationship between cabin temperature and selling blankets,” he said.

“We don’t even carry enough blankets for every passenger to buy. Merchandise is load limited. Meals, drinks and video players gets priority in that regard.

“This is just one of those things people say on social media. Our cabins are not, repeat not, deliberately kept cool to inspire sales of comfort packs.”

That being so, the cabin temperature on all jet airliners seen in Australia can be varied by at least 5C above or below the usual nominal setting of 18-20C. Those temperature controls that are accessible by cabin crew can also be set differently in several zones along the length of the airliner’s interior, and there is some ability to further modify them in the event of a malfunction using controls in the cockpits of some jets.

Jetstar is believed to be the only long-haul airline serving Australia that doesn’t normally carry at least one blanket per seat, although shortages of blankets on any airline are not unknown.

It is also appears to hold the world record for charging for blankets, with US carriers, who began introducing similar comfort packs in the last year charging $US7.

The best advice is to save the $15 for sustenance, assuming the carrier remembers to load the food, and carry items that efficiently conserve heat around the neck and head in particular and can be easily removed and stuffed in a carry on bag when the doors are popped at Phuket or Honolulu.

Caution: Wearing a roll down balaclava while perusing the duty free shops or talking to border officials may lead to misunderstandings.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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