Flight test: Royal Brunei Airlines

Route Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, to Melbourne.

Aircraft Boeing B777-200ER.

Class Economy, seat 37D.

Scheduled flight time Six hours, 55 minutes. We land 15 minutes early.

Seat width and pitch The 17½-inch seat width and 33-inch pitch is more spacious than the economy-class seats of some other airlines.

Seat configuration 3-3-3 layout, for a total of 255 economy-class seats.

Luggage 20 kilograms of check-in and seven kilograms of cabin luggage.

Console/entertainment A fair selection of movies, audio, games and television shows on demand, on a 54-centimetre seatback screen. Still, I end up watching the depressing Rabbit Hole, which is an indication of the limited choice.

Comfort I find the seats are comfortable, with slightly more leg space than economy seats on many other airlines I've flown.

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Service Like their Malaysian and Indonesian neighbours (with whom they share a language), the flight attendants are polite, efficient and ever-friendly, even when two passengers decide to get up and fiddle with their luggage just as we begin our descent. The care and attention might have been enhanced by the relatively small number of passengers (flights from Melbourne began in April).

Food and beverages Only one meal — dinner — is served during this flight, which is adequate as airline food goes but not a standout: beef steak or chicken casserole. (I ordered an Asian vegetarian, which — traveller's tip — is usually the best inflight meal. This one was rather ordinary.)

Stopover For all the charms of Brunei, the main reason many passengers would take this flight is as stage two of a currently inexpensive flight to or from London via Dubai and Brunei. On my flight from Dubai to Melbourne (a necessary part of the London return journey), there is a long time — 12 hours — between connections in Brunei. This can be tedious, given the departure lounge at Bandar Seri Begawan, the nation's capital, doesn't have an ATM. Even the free city tours (if you can somehow find $5 in Brunei or Singapore dollars for a transit visa) leave you with plenty of time to spare.

Flight frequency Four times weekly. A low-season return fare from Melbourne to Brunei costs about $625 including tax. A low-season return fare from Melbourne to London (via Brunei and Dubai) costs about $1850 including tax. Sydney passengers buy a separate fare to Melbourne to connect.

Online bruneiair.com.

Reviewed by Mark Juddery

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