Flight test: AirAsia X economy class

Aircraft: AirAsia X A340-300.

Route: Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur.

Class: Economy, seat 45A.

Seat configuration: Two-four-two.

Seat pitch and width: 32 inches between rows of seats; 17.98 inches between armrests.

Luggage allowance: For checked-in luggage you pay for what you use. On this route there are four options, starting at 15 kilograms for $10. For those who don't know the meaning of travelling light, you can pack as much as 30kg for $69. The allowance for carry-on is 7kg.

Scheduled flight time: 8 hours and 15 minutes.

Lounge access: None.

Check in: Queue for 10 minutes.

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On-time performance: The flight lands 10 minutes early.

Comfort: For a budget carrier the leg area is surprisingly large. This plane had been used briefly by Air Canada and the seat configurations have been left unaltered. A comfort kit — including blanket, inflatable pillow and eye mask — costs $10.

Console/entertainment: You can hire the airline's ePlayer for about $10. There are only seven films but a good choice of TV programs.

Aircraft condition: Very good. AirAsia X's fleet is one of the youngest in the skies.

Food and beverages: All food and drinks have to be paid for. Book a meal in advance for $7 and get a hot dish, bar of chocolate and a drink. The choice is fairly basic: international (barbecue chicken), vegetarian (pasta) or Malaysian (curry). If you don't book in advance the hot meal costs about $6 on its own, a hot dog $4, bottle of water $1.60 and a beer $3.25. Given you are paying for the food, the quality is a little disappointing and the portions seem smaller than on premium carriers.

Service: The crew is friendly, chatty and helpful. When an elderly couple boards, a steward carries their bags down the aisle before helping them to their seats.

Flight frequency: AirAsia X flies 11 times a week between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur, with one-way sale fares from $119. Flights from Sydney to KL are expected to start next year.

Tested by Tom Reilly, who flew courtesy of AirAsia X.

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