Winston Aldworth flies from Auckland to Sydney aboard Qantas' QF144.

The plane:

A classic Boeing 737-800, the hard-working stalwart of short-haul fleets the world over, and a familiar face to regular Qantas flyers on the transtasman route. Management at the Flying Kangaroo are aware that regulars — many of whom are flying for work — have been feeling the 737s are getting a bit dusty. Hence the occasional arrival in these skies of the dashing Qantas A330s (one of which I flew home in; more on that in a future Flight Check).

The trusty 737s do the job on a 3hr 30m route.


Class: Economy. There are 162 seats back here, and 12 recliner seats up in Business.

My seat: 17C. The pitch on these seats is 30", while the width clocks 17.2". This compares pretty well with Economy seats in the Qantas A330s (31" and 17.2") and the Air New Zealand A320s that work the route (30"-34" and 17").

Flight time: We were there and down in a sharpish 3hr 37min. Or, to measure it in human terms: One movie, one meal, one beer, one wine and a bit of work. With the plane late coming in, we'd been delayed by 30 minutes getting out of Auckland, but slid into Sydney's Gate 37 just 17 minutes late.

How full: There were one or two empty seats dotted around the Economy Class cabin, while the Business was chocker.

Fellow passengers: Flying late-afternoon midweek, I was surrounded by the regular transtasman haulers, with plenty of working stiffs on board. Laptops up all round. Shout out to the big dude right in front of me who was of the seat-goes-back-immediately frame of mind (for more on that, see Vera Alves' column on p29). One old bloke wearing full Scottish Highland marching kit was waved forward to use the Business Class loo. (Note to self: Might try dressing like that next time I'm trying to blag an upgrade.)

Food and drink: A nice chicken with vermicelli, otherwise there was beef or a mushroom pasta.

Service: The crew are great, and cabin boss Natasha is a total goddess.

Luggage: You're allowed 30kg, which was about 25kg more than I needed on a three-day work trip.


Final word: Nice one, diggers.