Oliver Pelling flies aboard United’s UA98 from Los Angeles to Melbourne.
The plane:

Boeing 787-9.

Class: Economy.

My seat: 32A, a window seat. It would've been a good seat for anything less than six hours, but my 6ft 5 frame didn't cope well with the 15-hour flight time.

Price: You can fly Los Angeles to Melbourne with United from $1211 one-way.


On time: A few minutes late. But, considering I was supposed to be on the same flight 24 hours earlier (I missed it due to a late connection from Denver and spent the night and day in Los Angeles), an extra 15 minutes was no big deal.

How full: Full!

Fellow passengers: Agreeable. I was sitting next to an American couple - Frank and Barb (names I gave them; I didn't get their real names) - in their mid-60s who I didn't talk to until the last hour of the 15-hour slog. I think they were from North Carolina, but I might be wrong. Anyway, they were heading to Australia on a two-month trip. How exciting! I said. They were going to Melbourne, then Alice Springs, then Sydney, then New Zealand, then back to Sydney, then taking a 40-day cruise back to the US. They said they liked cruises because they only have to unpack once. Sometimes they don't even get off the boat! "What's the difference between Auckland and New Zealand?" said Frank as he studied the flight path on the screen in front of him. Silly Frank! I thought.

Entertainment: Frank and Barb were good value for the last hour. Before that, I listened to a band from Sydney called Gang of Youths on my iPhone (one particular song, their latest, What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?, makes for exceptional aeroplane listening). I drifted in and out of consciousness for most of the flight, thankfully, then opted to watch a film called The Intervention because I fancied something easy. It was absolute dogs*$#. Probably one of the worst decisions I've ever made.

Service: Good, not great. Though owing to my varying degrees of consciousness throughout the flight, I feel I didn't really get to make the most of it.

Food and drink: I had chicken quattro formaggi (chicken with four cheeses) for dinner. It was nice enough, but tasted suspiciously like there were two cheeses, max. I got the sweet pancakes for breakfast. They came with a surprise sausage, which was a nice touch.

I wouldn't have thought to have put a sausage with berries and pancakes, but what do I know?

Toilets: Fantastic.

Airport experience: The United wing of LAX is where all good things go to die. It's a particularly depressing place to be if you're coming off the back of an amazing trip: reality sets in like a slow, gloomy heart attack. That said, I did manage to find some delicious tacos. Rough with the smooth, baby.

Would I fly it again? Yes, but I would take great pains to secure an aisle seat.