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Did you know that you can enjoy Qantas' award-winning international first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne when travelling on a domestic Jetstar flight?
Imagine being able to sample the lounge’s superb Rockpool-inspired seasonal menu, soak up the relaxed ambience and maybe even snare a free treatment at the day spa before you jet off on a quick 90 minute inter-capital trip.
It's a favourite trick of savvy travellers, but anybody with a top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyer card can play.
All you need to do is find one of the handful of domestic Jetstar flights which depart from the international terminal at Sydney and Melbourne airports – and hold a Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum or Platinum One status, which is your pass into the Qantas First Lounge.
But 'handful' is the operative word: while Jetstar runs as many as a dozen daily flights each way between Sydney and Melbourne, those leaving from the international terminal are seen only once every few weeks.
Finding your flight
There are very few (if any) Sydney-Melbourne Jetstar flights which meet this criteria, although every few weeks you'll find JQ27 doing a Melbourne-Sydney leg before it continues to Phuket.
This domestic leg allows Jetstar to pick up an extra load of holiday-minded passengers from Sydney before continuing to Thailand; but because this is an international flight, it begins out of Melbourne Airport's T2 international terminal instead of Jetstar's home at the T4 domestic terminal.
But passengers don't have to be going all the way from Melbourne to Phuket – you can book just the Melbourne-Sydney segment and treat this as a domestic flight, even though it uses the international terminals.
The same goes for JQ5, which usually flies Brisbane-Honolulu but every now and again tacks on a Sydney-Brisbane leg which departs from Sydney Airport's T1 international terminal.
We're the first to point out that you'd be unlikely to plan a business trip around those particular days or flights – but if the dates happen to match up to your schedule, you may as well take advantage of this clever travel hack.
(This trick doesn't apply if you'd rather fly Qantas. Unlike its low-cost sibling, Qantas has 100% separation between domestic and international flights, compared to a few years back when for example there was a regular Sydney-Brisbane-Manila service which began its journey at Sydney Airport's international terminal.)
What to look for...
So how do you find these international Jetstar flights with a domestic leg for your next business trip?
Start by punching your travel plan into the Jetstar website.
As usual, you'll see the list of flights for your desired day of travel.
Let your cursor hover over the small information icon next to the flight duration – a pop-up flight box will show details of the flight, including the departure terminal.
Most of these flights will show the aircraft departing from the domestic terminal – needless to say, those aren't the flights you're looking for.
If you're lucky – or if your schedule has a little flexibility, so you can select a different day of travel – you'll spy a flight emblazoned with the blue Dreamliner graphic.
That's one of the give-aways that you've found a Jetstar flight with a domestic leg which departs from the international terminal.
Click the information icon and the pop-up window confirms this:
There are in fact two quick give-aways as to domestic Jetstar flights with leave from the international terminal: the Dreamliner graphic (most international Jetstar flights are on Boeing 787 Dreamliners) and the sudden appearance of business class fares (Jetstar's regular domestic flights use economy-only aircraft, unlike the two-class Boeing 787s).
For example, here's an upcoming Sydney-Brisbane flight which departs from Sydney's international terminal and as such provides access to the Qantas first class lounge.
And as you can see those happen to be quite competitive fares, even compared to the other Jetstar flights which leave from the domestic terminal.
There's no small dash of irony in using a super-cheap Jetstar flight to bask in Qantas' very best lounge!
While Jetstar fares don't include checked luggage, most business travellers happily belong to the 'carry-on only' brigade.
If you want to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits for your Jetstar flight, upgrade to the Plus bundle.
Before you book...
There are a few other caveats for hitching a ride on these 'international' flights.
As we've already pointed out, you’ll need to be flexible with your travel schedule and hunt through the Jetstar schedule deliberately seeking out the right flights as we've shown above.
Because these flights leave from an international terminal you can't pack any liquids, aerosols or gels more than 100ml in your hand luggage.
You'll also need photo ID to checkin and obtain your boarding pass. And no, you can't buy duty-free at the airport.
There’s no online checkin for the domestic legs of these international flights and your your Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum card doesn’t qualify you to use Jetstar’s business class checkin counter (although it never hurts to ask with a smile).
We suggest turning up at the airport as early as you can (checkin opens 3 hours before departure) to avoid the queues and make the most of your time in the Qantas First lounge.
[This article has been revised and updated from the original version first published in 2012]
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