Tracey Bond flies QF63 from Australia to South Africa

The plane:

A Boeing 747-400. The Queen of the Skies.

Class: Economy.

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Price: Return Economy Class flights from Auckland via Sydney start from $2746.

Boarding: At Sydney International Airport there was a lot of confusion at the gate with several flights boarding at once and queues stretching back beyond the gate area.

Flight time: 13 and a half hours on this flight but scheduled time was 14 hours and 10 minutes.

My seat: 53F - I arrived to find my seat occupied by a smiling lady who wasn't eager to move; she asked if I wanted to box for it. To be fair 58F looks a lot like 53F.

Fellow passengers: A friendly bunch heading back to see friends and relatives, with a sprinkling of tourists.

How full: There was a sprinkling of empty middle seats throughout the plane and my fellow row mate and I got lucky with a spare seat between us.

Entertainment: The Qantas interactive was unavailable for a lot of passengers in our section. In my seat there were 14 recent releases playing on a loop, so if you fell asleep midway through your movie you were out of luck. I was glad I had taken advantage of the free Wi-Fi in Sydney Airport to download a few new books on to my Kindle.

The service: The Qantas staff on this flight were friendly, good natured, thoughtful and attentive throughout the duration of the flight. Bottles of water were distributed shortly after take-off and the excellent service continued in the same vein throughout the flight.

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Food and drink: Economy passengers get a welcome Beresford drink, with plenty of choice for dinner and lunch and lots of snacks throughout the flight (pretzels, ice cream and pizza).

Pleasant surprise: Delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows.

The toilets: This was a long flight and the loos were basic and clean.

Luggage: 30kg in economy.

Would I fly this again? Not unless the plane is upgraded. My heart went out to the couple seated in front of me, not only did they not have the entertainment system available, one of their seats was broken as well as their reading lights. Whenever the man tried to crack open his window shade slightly to read his book, he was told off, first by a stewardess and then by a fellow passenger who said the light from the window was blinding her from across the aisle. Throughout the flight various Qantas staff came to try to reboot the system and talk to the couple, to no avail. The lady sitting across from me had no entertainment system and the broken seat in front stuck in a permanently reclined position. All said they had chosen the flight because it was direct to South Africa and was more convenient. All said they would not fly with Qantas on this route again.