Flight test: Qantas A380 economy class

Aircraft Qantas A380.

Route Sydney to Los Angeles.

Class Economy, seat 81F.

Seat pitch and width 31 inches (distance between rows of seats, same as Boeing 747) and up to 18.1 inches (between armrests, slightly better than a 747).

Seat configuration 3-4-3.

Luggage allowance Two pieces of checked baggage up to 23kg each, plus one piece of cabin baggage up to 7kg.

Scheduled flight time 13 hr 40 min.

On-time performance About 20 min early.

Aircraft condition Clean and fresh.

Mission To fly with minimum fuss with our children: Joseph, 7, Julia, 5, Anna, 8 months.

Flight preparation Children under two can fly on your lap for a fraction of the full fare, but 13 hours of this can be arduous. Ensure you book a cot, which hangs securely from the bulkhead, when finalising tickets online. Youngest babies get preference.

Console/entertainment The easy-to-operate touch screen (26.9cm) gives access to a huge entertainment library (18 new-release movies out of 100 titles, 500 TV shows, 1000 audio CDs, 20 radio channels). Our seven-year-old spends hours playing arcade games (80 titles). The five-year-old is hooked on one of six family movies. Children are locked into the kids entertainment section so we don't worry about them stumbling on to inappropriate content. Both receive a kids' pack with colouring-in books and crayons.

Comfort Take-off and landing are smooth and the A380 is quieter than the 747. Improvements include a seat that pushes forward as you recline, "wings" that support your head and a netted footrest.

Service Outstanding and especially supportive of parents. For example, a flight attendant offers to give me a break from settling the baby. She returns with a sleeping babe and places her in the cot.

Amenities Eye shades, socks and toothbrushes are handed out.

Food and beverages Appealing and plentiful. Lunch includes chicken in wild mushroom sauce with sweet potato puree or braised beef in a smoky tomato sauce, and a selection of beer and wine. The children's meals include pasta with meatballs or macaroni cheese (as well as fruit and jelly) and enormous baby meals (cereal, formula milk, biscuits and soft fruits and vegetables). Snacks keep coming (cookies, ice-creams, hot chocolate), while a self-service bar at the rear of economy stocks fruit, cookies, crackers and soft drinks.

Flight frequency Daily A380 service between Sydney and LA.

Online qantas.com.au.

Photos: Qantas A380 interiors

Tested by Daniel Fallon.

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