Airline review: Qantas premium economy, Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth

THE AIRCRAFT

Airbus Industrie A380-800

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Qantas Frequent Flyer (Oneworld airline alliance).

CLASS

Premium Economy, seat 27J

DURATION

15 hours, 25 minutes

FREQUENCY

Qantas flies from Sydney (and from Melbourne via Sydney) to Dallas/Fort Worth daily.

CHECKING IN

We had checked in online before arriving at the airport but, since we were premium economy, we could join the priority queue, so had just three people in front of us. As a result, check-in took only eight minutes and, with the higher baggage allowance, no last-minute repacks.

THE SEAT

The layout is 2-3-2 in the upper deck premium economy cabin  which has just 35 seats, making it pretty cosy. Not too cosy, though, with the seats 19.5 inches (49.5 centimetres) wide – 1.8 inches (4.5cm) wider than in economy – and each  with a side console,  so everyone has their own armrest. The seats also have a recline of nine inches (23cm), against economy's six inches (15cm) and plenty of leg room; there's 38-42 inches (96.5cm-106.5cm) between the back of your seat and the one in front (economy has just 31 inches, or 79cm). The joy of the window seat – apart from the view – is the storage bin at the elbow, perfect for the laptop, book, glasses, lip balm and all the other rubbish you can't possibly do without. There's also in-seat power, vital on such a long journey if you're going to work.

BAGGAGE

You can check in two bags, weighing up to 23 kilograms each, via priority check-in (and then board separately, too).

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COMFORT

For 18 months, this was the world's longest non-stop commercial route, until being pipped at the post in 2016 by Emirates' flight from Dubai to Auckland, at 17 hours and 15 minutes, and it's now the seventh longest flight.  Even so, you'd imagine 15-ish hours would be mind – and bum—numbing enough, but actually, it wasn't. With plenty of leg room, the entertainment system and great service, the time flew by as quickly as the continents. And as a passenger who drinks her own weight in water, it was very pleasant to note how often the nearest toilets were cleaned and doused in air freshener.

ENTERTAINMENT

There's an adjustable 27-centimetre touch screen with a vast array of new release movies, TV series, classics, CDs, games and radio – the same choices as throughout the plane.

SERVICE

By the first drinks service, I felt the steward was my best friend, and his sole purpose in life was to keep me happy. Nothing was too much trouble, and the constant offering of snacks, for someone who loves grazing, a joy. Happiness is an unexpected packet of M&Ms and an ice-cream at midnight. One passenger bemoaned missing her birthday because of the loss of a day on the way back, and was quietly bumped to first class for breakfast to celebrate.

FOOD

An advantage of premium economy is that you can pre-order from the Neil Perry-inspired menu in advance from home, and have a fourth choice in addition to the three on offer in the cabin – dishes such as chipotle pulled pork, bean and apple salad with coriander and lime dressing, and chicken with tomato, caper and olive sauce, green beans and polenta. It's so much more enjoyable, too, when served on starched white linen with stylish crockery and cutlery.

ONE MORE THING

This is a great way to get to the US, particularly since Dallas is the hub of Qantas partner American Airlines, so connections are easy to almost everywhere in the US.

THE VERDICT

What bliss to avoid LA International Airport and get to the heart of the US in one fell swoop, especially in the comfort of premium economy, either by paying or, even better, by upgrading on points.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

4

Tested by Sue Williams, who flew at her own expense.

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