Flight test: Qantas 747 jumbo jet

Route Melbourne to Los Angeles.

Aircraft Boeing B747-400.

Class Economy, with child. At check-in we're told the plane is not full and are offered three seats on a side or four in the middle row. Yippee! We're assigned 51D and 51G, amidship, leaving E and F empty between us as wriggle room for our 21-month-old son.

Flight time 13hr 36min. Departure is delayed by 1hr 40min, which means we miss our connection in LA, resulting in a six-hour layover at the airport and a midnight arrival at our ultimate destination, Washington DC. Ouch.

Seat width and pitch Seats are 17 inches wide with a 31-inch pitch on a 3-4-3 layout. Crucially, the middle armrest in the middle rows can be raised so our toddler gets a flatbed (when he finally sleeps) on one of the world's longest non-stop routes. Almost every row has empty seats.

Service We have more requests than most passengers, and the crew is most obliging. They bring full-cream milk and offer to rinse baby bottles in scalding water. An attendant holds my meal aside until our son has finished his.

Food and beverages The toddler meal of roast-vegetable tortellini is "mmm" (translation: yummy), and served first. My choice of braised beef is equally comforting, and the tray is full of quality touches (Lurpak butter, Cadbury chocolate, a 60-gram tub of delicious tiramisu). This is economy airline food at its best.

Luggage One 23-kilogram bag to check in, one carry-on bag and three checked-in infant's items. My partner and I check in two suitcases and a car seat, and are allowed to carry a collapsible stroller, which is stowed in a business-class overhead bin.

In-flight entertainment Watching our boy stand (barefoot) on his seat enraptured by Thomas the Tank Engine on the Kids TV channel on a 16.3-centimetre wide in-seat screen is entertainment enough. When he sleeps, I watch Senna and Bridesmaids from 60 movie selections.


Comfort Remember, we're in economy, with a toddler. But having an extra two seats means everything on a long flight. Our boy weighs 13.5 kilograms at check-in. Imagine that on your lap all the way to LA.

Flight frequency Qantas flies twice a day from Sydney to LA and twice a day from Melbourne (one non-stop, the other via Auckland). The fare is about $1250 low-season return, including tax; an infant's fare is 10 per cent of the adult fare, plus taxes.

Online See qantas.com.au.

Tested by Dugald Jellie