Airline review: Qantas premium economy

THE PLANE

Airbus A380-800, of which Qantas has 12, with a further eight on order. They are used on long-haul flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Dubai, Dallas, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and London.

THE ROUTE

Melbourne to Dubai.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Qantas Frequent Flyer.

CLASS

Premium economy, seat 26J.

DURATION

13 hours from Melbourne to Dubai.

FREQUENCY 

Daily.

THE SEAT

42-inch (107-centimetre) pitch, 19.5-inch (49-centimetre) width. There are 35 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 layout.

BAGGAGE

Checked bags up to 40 kilograms in weight, two carry-on bags each up to seven kilograms in weight. One additional personal item may be taken on board.

COMFORT

Situated upstairs behind business class, premium economy proves much more comfortable than economy. In many ways, it's similar to business class, with tables and video screens hidden beneath fixed armrests, which then swivel up as required. The seats are wide enough to comfortably seat me and my wife, both large people who struggle with the tight conditions in economy. The seats are firm and Qantas' pillows are a bit thicker than I would prefer, but there's plenty of legroom. Even though the passenger in front reclines the seat as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off, the pitch between seats leaves me with a good amount of space.

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ENTERTAINMENT

The premiere section of the entertainment system offers 16 of the latest movies, including two popular superhero sequels and a selection of drama and comedy films. In the smaller family section, The Lego Movie catches my eye and proves the perfect movie to watch on a flight. There's a good television section, with a strong choice of dramas, including House of Cards, Game of Thrones and two flavours of Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock and Elementary. The broad selection of music includes a generous number of soundtracks, and radio channels ranging from classical to Cantonese pop. A games section rounds out the offering, with my old enemy, Tetris, among its options.

SERVICE

I'm impressed by the efficient and friendly cabin staff. Early in the flight, a crew member moves through the cabin, greeting us individually, setting a positive tone for the journey.

FOOD

Dinner is served an hour into this night flight, and comes on crockery rather than plastic. My smoky chilli braised beef isn't particularly spicy, so I'm a little envious of Narrelle's choice of barramundi with yellow curry. She says it's a nice piece of fish, perfectly cooked, and the curry is a tasty accompaniment. Dessert is a delightfully gooey dark chocolate mousse with salted caramel fudge. As it's nearly 1am Melbourne time, we both skip the Australian wines on offer and order tomato juice, a beverage I drink only on flights. In the middle of the night, I request one of the on-demand snacks, an excellent bratwurst sausage roll in harissa pastry with sauerkraut. Breakfast is a tasty spinach and feta omelette.

ONE MORE THING

The online Select on Q-Eat service allows premium economy passengers to order meals before flying, with the choice of an otherwise unavailable extra dish. It's a great way to avoid the possibility of a favoured choice running out before the flight attendant reaches you.

THE VERDICT

Qantas premium economy is a definite cut above economy, with many elements you would associate with business class. It's ideal for extra comfort on long-haul flights.

Tested by Tim Richards, who was upgraded to premium economy by Qantas.

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