Louise Taylor flies QF42 from Jakarta to Sydney.

The plane:

A330. You'll start to encounter these birds on the Qantas transtasman services — meaning, hopefully, fewer flights on those rundown 737s.

Class: Ecomony.

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Flight time: Scheduled for 7 hours, the captain was able to get us there in under 6hr 30min, arriving just after 6am. We were the first international flight to land at Sydney airport that morning, just after the 6am flight curfew was lifted.

My seat: 48k — window seat near the back of the aircraft. The seat length and pitch felt pretty squashy for a long-haul flight and was definitely not as comfortable as the B787.
Fellow passengers: Many Indonesians and a few Australians coming home to join the Australia Day celebrations for the long weekend.

How full: Very. The only spare seat was the one next to me, which was vacated by the lady next to me directly after take off — she was never to be seen again. All the better for me to put my feet up and enjoy the space.

Entertainment: A small screen with a well-chosen selection of movies and TV shows.

The service: Friendly and proactive. Asking if I wanted water and another glass of the shiraz (they even remembered which type) before I could ask. "Are you going to eat that?" a cabin crew member asked loudly, pointing at my muffin. "It's only got 12 grams of fat and eight teaspoons of sugar in it." "In that case, I will have two," I replied. Needless to say, my muffin remained untouched.

Food and drink: A menu was handed out at the beginning of the flight with the three dinner options as well as the food schedule for the flight. It's useful to know what food's coming up next and to properly consider your choice from the beef noodles, chicken rice or vegetarian pasta. All were served with garlic bread and a raisin cake. Not the most sophisticated fare but the chicken was good. Menu suggested pre-dinner drinks — vodka and ginger ale, anyone?

The toilets: Smelled of wee.

Luggage: Travelling light, so no check in.

The airport experience: Jakarta airport has a quaint oldfashionedness about it that makes you feel like you are still in Indonesia, right up to the minute you board your plane, unlike other modern airports, which all have the same indistinguishable chain shops and bright lights. The lack of proper air conditioning means you can feel and smell the moist tropical heat. Lots of shops selling batik clothes and trinkets. It's not crowded and you can see outside to the grass and fragrant frangipani trees. A mixture of shiny new buildings and jumble of the old, which is just like Jakarta itself.

The bottomline: A decent way to get to one of the busiest cities in the world.