Flight test: The budget business class seat that's a pleasant surprise

THE FLIGHT

Jetstar Airways JQ43, Melbourne to Denpasar

THE PLANE

The Jetstar B787 takes 335 passengers, is 56.7 metres in length with a wing span of 60.1 metres.

THE SEAT

It's business class but not as you might expect from a full-service carrier. A subsidiary of Qantas, Jetstar describes itself as operating in a "value-based market" and in a 21-seat business section that translates to a two-three-two seating configuration, as opposed to a two-two-two layout. My seat, 1D, is on the outside of the row of three and the seat next to me is empty. The leather recliner seat width is a decent 19 inches (48.2 centimetres) and pitch is 38 inches (96.5 centimetres) with in-seat power and USB power for personal devices. Compare that to the economy class passengers with a width of 17 inches and pitch of 30 inches.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Club Jetstar costs $49 to join with an ongoing annual fee of $49 after the first year. Membership provides discounts on seat selection and checked baggage, among other offers. Depending on the fare type you can earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points.

DURATION

Six hours, which is the upper-end of a medium-haul flight. A civilised departure time of 9.55am, minus delays at Denpasar Airport and efficient transfers, means I'm poolside by late afternoon.

FREQUENCY

Jetstar flies Melbourne to Denpasar 10 times a week.

BAGGAGE

Two carry-on bags, maximum 7kg, each plus 30kg of checked baggage, are included in the fare as are in-flight entertainment, meals, drinks, seat selection and an amenities pack. In economy you will need to pay for these comforts in the array of Starter Bundles to add to the base fare.

COMFORT

In this cloistered but spacious business class area it's easy to forget there are hundreds more travellers onboard. There's an amenity pack of pen, socks, eye mask toothbrush and Milk and Co hand cream and lip balm plus a faux fleece rug.

ENTERTAINMENT

Watch from 64 hours of entertainment (that's 14 movies and 66 television episodes) on the 10.6-inch in-flight screen or there's 85 hours of audio to choose from. Also, as part of the fare comes comfortable noise-cancelling headphones, which go some way to tempering the chatter of the self-professed nervous flyer sitting behind me, even when the cabin lights have been dimmed to soft purple after meal service. Entertainment is updated every two months.

SERVICE

Of the standard you would expect in the business class of a full-service carrier and consistent for the entire flight from the crew who are dedicated to business class. Hot towels and a glass of sparkling arrive soon after I am seated, flight attendants make eye contact often with passengers and water glasses are filled regularly.

FOOD

Flavours at altitude are a pleasant surprise. There's chargrilled capsicum and eggplant with Persian feta and walnut, a hearty serving of vegetable risotto topped with fresh rocket and an Australian cheese platter. On the wine list during this flight and served in glassware is Gramp's cabernet merlot, a Rymill shiraz, Pocketwatch chardonnay and Devil's Corner pinot noir. There's also Fat Yak beer and French press coffee.

ONE MORE THING

A block of the economy cabin in rows 10-13 behind business class is part of the Upfront Seating section. For $26 you're close to the exit for a speedy departure from the plane and slightly demarcated from the rest of economy .

THE VERDICT

A premium offering for travellers, boosted on this flight by attentive service. One-way fares cost from $734 so if you're going to splash out on a international business class flight this might be the one that hurts the hip-pocket the least.

Jane Reddy travelled courtesy of Jetstar Airways and Alila Hotels and Resorts.

Rating 4 out of 5