Sydney to Johannesburg
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Qantas Frequent Flyer (Oneworld alliance)
Economy, seat 60H
Thirteen hours, 10 minutes
Six flights a week.
The cabin layout is 3-4-3. My seat has 31 inches (79 centimetres) of pitch and is 17.5 inches (44 centimetres) wide.
One piece of checked luggage up to 30 kilograms and one item of carry-on luggage up to 7 kilograms.
Although the Qantas 747 is now getting on in years, the interiors have been updated and are quite comfortable. I'm sitting at a bulkhead behind the galley and while this means there's no seat in front of me to stretch my legs under, the extra room for my knees, which normally press against the next seat, is an agreeable trade-off. These seats also feature fixed armrests and fold-away entertainment screens (so you can't watch during take-off and landing). A pillow and blanket is provided.
The touchscreens are sharp though perhaps not as responsive as they could be – I feel the telltale tapping at the back of my head while trying to get some rest. The selection is excellent with a great range of movies and television shows, including programming from HBO such as Game of Thrones and Veep.
The crew is friendly, efficient, helpful and happy to have a chat. Despite the length of the long-haul, there's never a point where it's difficult to find someone to assist with a drink or snack request.
Qantas has worked hard to improve its inflight meals and it shows. My spiced, crusted kingfish with eggplant and capsicum relish, served with green beans and rice is among the best meals I've ever had in economy class. It comes with garlic bread and an apple crumble. The second meal is just as good – I choose chipotle pulled pork, bean and apple salad. To top it off there are Tim Tams and muesli bars available for self service at any time at the rear of the aircraft or you can order a packet of M&Ms or cheese and crackers at any time. We're also given a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
ONE MORE THING
The best seats on these old 747s are right down the back on the window, where the cabin tapers to 2-4-2 instead of 3-4-3. There is a gap between the seat and the fuselage, allowing you to stretch out a bit. Qantas charges $30 to select your seat, but it's $180 if you want the exit row.
Departing Sydney before midday, the sun never sets on this flight. Despite flying an older aircraft on this route, Qantas still deliver a high standard of service and quality food throughout.
The writer flew at his own expense.
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