Flight Test: Qantas 747 economy class

Route Dallas to Sydney, via Brisbane.

Aircraft Qantas Boeing 747-400ER (extended range).

Class Economy 46A, exit row to Brisbane; 53C aisle seat to Sydney. A beep at the gate, the issuing of new tickets and my 192-centimetre companion and I have been popped in an exit row for the extra leg room. Usually, that would be great except the exit row's fixed armrests leave no prospect for wriggle room while sleeping. Gone is the extra half-seat each we thought we'd secured upon check-in with A and C seats further back.

Flight time 19 hours, 15 minutes including transit time in Brisbane.

On-time performance We take off from Dallas 20 minutes late but touch down in Sydney on time at 8.10am.

Seat pitch and width 31 inches (distance between seat rows), 17.7 inches (between armrests) and a six-inch recline. Qantas will finish reconfiguring its 747-400s with A380-style seating by the end of October. The ergonomic economy seats include a netted footrest that I discover on the Brisbane-Sydney leg when we're re-seated in a regular row. Perhaps it's the long flight and little sleep, but the nets bamboozle me. Are they for my feet or extra storage?

Seat configuration Mostly 3-4-3, narrowing to 2-4-2 towards the back, for a total of 270 economy seats.

Luggage allowance Two checked pieces up to 23 kilograms each; one carry-on bag up to seven kilograms.

Entertainment The reconfigured aircraft has triple the entertainment options (1500-plus) of a non-reconfigured aircraft, accessed via a 26.9-centimetre touch-screen monitor. Particularly pleasing are the Oscars classics from 1970 to 2011.


Service Efficient, although no one quite matches the charm of the attendant on the flight to Dallas, who cheerily asks her bleary-eyed economy passengers, "Ready for breakfast in bed?"

Food and beverages Supper is beef Provencale with red-skin potatoes and vegetables, or Texan chicken with a creamy tequila sauce, rice and fire-roasted corn. The Texan option is tasty. There's an apple-crumble pie and hot beverages extend beyond coffee and tea to include hot chocolate and peppermint tea. A snack bag includes water, crisps and chocolate. Breakfast is either cereal or scrambled eggs on cornbread with bacon and mushrooms, served with a muffin and melon on the side.

Flight frequency There are daily non-stop flights from Sydney to Dallas and via Brisbane inbound. Return economy-class fares from Sydney and Melbourne cost from $1840 including tax.

Online qantas.com.au.

Tested by Katrina Lobley, who flew courtesy of Qantas.