Here’s something for Jetstar sufferers to get their heads around.

In a deal just announced in Singapore, oneworld alliance passengers flying economy who make connections from full-service airlines to Jetstar will continue on “selected” flights to get meals and the same free baggage allowance as they took for granted on their non-Jetstar flights.

Let’s set the scene. You’re a frequent flyer for your company and it books you on Qantas group carriers.

You’re squeezed in your suit into the no-service Jetstar format because at times there is no Qantas alternative, or the company can’t resist the savings.

And the guy in the kaftan and sandals intimately inserted into the torture tube next to you and who began his journey in Jordan (Royal Jordanian), Helsinki (Finnair) or Manchester (British Airways) gets a complimentary meal delivered to him.

You go hungry, or pay up if there are any crackers left, and later input the receipt manually into your expenses report if your travel account rules permit such extravagance.

The announcement, that Jetstar will preferentially behave as a full service carrier to capture the business of travellers flying part of the way on full service economy itineraries, could point to a bigger plan to set up Jetstar to take over more Qantas routes to lower average costs across the carrier’s international and domestic networks.

This has long been an obsession with Qantas pilot and flight attendant unions, which has been inflamed recently by the removal offshore of Qantas assets in the form of Australian-registered Jetstar A330s to Singapore to be flown under Singaporean pay and conditions standards on routes that used to be operated from Australian bases.

This is what Jetstar group CEO Bruce Buchanan said about the changes this morning in Singapore.

“From February 1 Jetstar operated flights sold under the Qantas codeshare will be saleable by oneworld carriers and travel agents globally as part of these oneworld itineraries. Qantas codeshares on virtually every Jetstar flight, so this arrangement covers almost the full schedule of Jetstar Australia and New Zealand operations.

“Jetstar continues to break new ground by introducing innovative product for its customers not traditionally offered by low cost carriers.

“For passengers travelling on these fares, Jetstar will provide baggage allowances comparable to other participating airlines, through check of baggage between all international flights, through check of passengers between Qantas and Jetstar international flights and on select services, complimentary in-flight offerings such as meals and comfort packs.”

In a broader context, these changes might be a shot across the bows of Virgin Blue’s intention to migrate its product range to appeal more to business account flyers.

A “full service” option for all on top of Jetstar’s lower cost base fares could be as deadly for Virgin Blue as it could be for a Qantas that the current management keeps diminishing.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey