Qantas economy class.
Queenstown to Sydney QF 122.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Qantas Frequent Flyer (One World).
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?
Economy, seat 15F. This is a window seat behind the exit row.
TIME IN THE AIR
Three hours and 15 minutes.
THE SEAT STUFF
76.2cm pitch, 43.68cm width. A 3-3 layout with 156 economy seats and a 2-2 layout in business with 12 seats.
Checked baggage up to 30 kilograms in weight, one carry-on bag up to 7 kilograms in weight and one personal item. Qantas Club and silver, gold and platinum FF members get more in economy.
I was offered an exit row at the counter check-in but declined as the exit row arm rests do not raise and are slightly slimmer than the average seat, despite the extra leg room. Passengers can pay $25 or use frequent flyer points to secure the seat of choice at online check-in. As the outbound flight had a lot of spare seats I figured the same would be true of the flight back and asked the person at check-in to secure an empty seat next to me. She did even better and I ended up with an entire row. There were empty seats in the rows ahead and behind me so the plane felt very roomy.
Individual back-of-seat entertainment units offer movies, TV shows, audio channels and games. I was able to choose a movie and start watching long before take-off. Television shows are mainstream though not necessarily current. Movies were new release or still in cinemas.
You know those times you dread a flight and everything goes brilliantly? This was one of those times. The crew were clearly experienced but far from jaded and seemed genuinely pleased to have a job and not just any job, this job. Though, that may have been due to the staff passenger ratio on a reduced passenger flight. Newspapers were offered to all passengers and done so with a genuine smile and flight attendants were chatty.
Whether an early dinner or a late lunch, the meal offered was either butter chicken with rice or beef pie with mash. Both came with a roll, salad and dressing, a water and a Whittaker's chocolate. You wouldn't call it Michelin but it appeared edible and my fellow passengers cleared their plates. I don't eat wheat, red meat or sugar and had neglected to order a special meal so I stuck to the chicken, which was standard processed fare but tasty. Those friendly flight attendants wandered the aisle offering chocolate and coconut-dipped vanilla ice-creams once meal trays were removed. The herbal tea ordered was served without a problem.
ONE MORE THING
This was one of the most pleasant flights I have experienced. The only downside was the overhead baggage bins: they could definitely have done with a clean, I was not sure what the brownish red stain was in mine so I chose not to ask. Apart from that, I'd like to know the name of the flight attendants so I can request their flights again.
A short hassle-free flight with enough to keep one amused at 30,000 feet.
Qantas will be offering daily Sydney to Queenstown and Queenstown to Sydney flights for the winter season from July 4 to August 31.
Tested by Rachael Oakes-Ash, who flew at her own expense.