Melbourne to Doha, Qatar.
Qatar Airways operates its Privilege Club, and the airline is in the oneworld alliance, which includes Qantas and British Airways. Don't expect big Qatar-to-Qantas earnings: my return journey from Melbourne to Stockholm didn't accrue a single point on my Qantas Frequent Flyer account.
Economy, seat 39A, four rows from the rear of the plane.
The configuration of this Boeing 777-300ER is three by three by three seats across in economy, and the flight is packed. Economy seats are 48 centimetres wide, with an 84-centimetre pitch. All have power via USB, though mine isn't working: nor is the flight attendant control signal or the overhead light.
Qatar's new Oryx One entertainment system has up to 2000 movies. My travelling companion is four years old, so she's pretty chuffed to see Frozen and the Ice Age series on the list. I watch the first-ever Qatari horror film, Clockwise, about djinns (genies). It's kind of funny: everyone wears an awful lot of eyeliner. Kids also receive a colouring-in book and activity pack in a big zip-up case that we use all the time we're away.
What's becoming an industry standard of one carry-on bag weighing up to 7 kilograms plus 30 kilograms of checked-in luggage.
This is a well-timed night flight that gets you into Qatar around 6pm the next day. Get on the plane knackered and employ the socks, eye mask and ear plugs in the amenities kit for a decent sleep.
We push off 25 minutes late and the entertainment system is on the blink, so we all wait 30 minutes for a reboot. Service is swift: those trolleys literally fly down the aisles, so it takes 10 minutes to flag a staff member to fix my seat's failings. I resort to semaphore.
The flight leaves Melbourne at 10.55pm, so we're served dinner and then breakfast. The kids' meal comes in a plastic lunchbox emblazoned with Sponge Bob Squarepants and has chips, jelly cheesecake, a fruit-bar roll, apple juice and a mini Kit Kat, as well as the main meal of chicken nuggets and vegies. Why airlines insist on filling children with sugar, then frown when they go into shrieking hyperdrive, is beyond me. I hide the juice and the chocolate. My dinner is a run-of-the-mill braised beef-and-mushroom casserole with the same cheesecake and chocolate. The drinks trolley comes long after the meals have finished.
ONE MORE THING
Doha's gleaming new Hamad International Airport is great for kids, with excellent play areas, but be prepared for bottlenecked bunfights entering and exiting the fly zone – frustrating for families with sleepy little ones, as these are also no-pram zones.
Named the best airline in the world at last year's Skytrax awards, Qatar is a worthy rival to Etihad and Emirates, great for those who prefer getting the longest leg to Europe out of the way. Qatar should consider a 24-hour transit visa so travellers (especially with kids) would consider a brief Doha stopover to break the journey. Qatar also started flying Sydney-Doha on March 1.
Reviewed by Belinda Jackson, who travelled at her own expense.