Aircraft Qantas Boeing 747-400ER.
Route This is the return service of the new Sydney to Dallas flight, the world's longest 747 route at 13,800 kilometres. It requires a fuel stop in Brisbane on the way back — Sydney is beyond the aircraft's range against the prevailing westerly headwinds and Brisbane is 440 kilometres closer to Dallas than Sydney. The cabin crew insists on a head count prior to departure to ensure the number of passengers does not exceed 280, the maximum allowable payload weight calculated to enable a non-stop flight to Brisbane.
Class Business, seat 24D.
Seat pitch and width 60 inches between rows of seats, 21.5 inches between armrests.
Seat configuration 2-3-2 layout.
Luggage allowance Two checked bags up to 32 kilograms each; two carry-on bags plus a garment bag, up to 7 kilograms each.
Scheduled flight time 16 hours.
On-time performance 36 minutes late.
Aircraft condition Qantas's six 747-400ERs are the only examples of the ultra-long-range type in existence, built specifically for the airline by Boeing in 2002-03. Seats and fittings on this flight are in excellent condition.
Console/entertainment Touchscreen video in each seat-back, video-on-demand access to 60 movies, 250 TV programs, 250 CDs, 10 interactive games plus flight-path tracking and map.
Comfort The seat can be adjusted with various lumbar options and reclines to a flat bed.
Service Uniformly timely and cheery.
Communications Pay-per-use phone and reply text messaging, 110-volt AC power outlet in each seat. On-board auxiliary power does not work on a 240-volt Australian laptop. The only way to make use of it is to remove the laptop battery and let the on-board power run the laptop.
Food and beverages My choices from the Neil Perry-designed dinner menu — seared sea bass with herbs and pine nut salsa, with a glass of Cape Mentelle sauvignon blanc semillon — and from breakfast menu — free-range scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and steamed spinach. Meals by Rockpool are simple and exceptionally good.
Amenities Kit includes toothbrush and toothpaste, Malin and Goetz skincare products, ear plugs, eye shades and travel socks.
Flight frequency Four times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday). Return business-class fares from $9450 including tax.
Tested by Clive Dorman, who flew courtesy of Qantas and its US partner, American Airlines.