Introduction: A Very Short Trip To Fiji
Review: Los Angeles International Lounge LAX Airport
Review: Fiji Airways Business Class A330 Los Angeles To Nadi
Review: Sheraton Fiji Resort
Review: Fiji Airways Lounge Nadi Airport
Review: Fiji Airways Business Class A330 Nadi To Los Angeles
Fiji Airways 811
Los Angeles (LAX) – Nadi (NAN)
Saturday, August 13
Arrive: 5:50AM (+2 days)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 4J (Business Class)
After taking a bus to our remote stand, I boarded through door L2, where I was greeted by the purser with a “bula” (the typical Fijian greeting), and pointed left towards business class.
Fiji Airways has four A330s — three of them are A330-200 aircraft, while one is an A330-300 aircraft. I ended up on the airline’s one A330-300. While the business class cabins on all their planes are identical, there’s more room between the first and second door on the -300 version (since it’s stretched), so Fiji Airways puts a small economy cabin there with three rows of seats. They call this the Economy Quiet Zone, and it’s for passengers 18 and over only. You can only buy-up to this area at check-in, since I don’t believe Fiji Airways consistently schedules this larger plane on a specific route.
Fiji Airways’ business class cabin consists of a total of 24 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.
I loved the cream colored finishes of the cabin and the pillows which provided nice contrast. The cabin felt very cheery and tropical, which is fitting for the airline.
While the cabin looked fairly nice, unfortunately the seats are only angled. Fiji Airways doesn’t have much competition in the markets that they operate in, so I guess they can get away with it. These are the same seats I recently had on China Airlines’ regional A330, and you’ll also find these seats on Singapore Airlines’ A330s.
I had assigned myself seat 4J, the aisle seat in the last row of the cabin on the right side (which is typically my seating preference).
The personal televisions in this configuration are in the seat in front, and in the center section is a water bottle holder, literature pocket, and a couple of storage compartments, big enough for glasses, an amenity kit, etc.
The entertainment controller was located to the left of my seat.
The seat controls were located immediately above it, also to the left of my seat.
There was a center console with some cupholders, as well as some storage units below it.
The power port was also located underneath the center armrest.
I appreciated that there was a fairly large privacy partition between seats. So even if the seats don’t go fully flat, at least you’ll have a bit of privacy while trying to sleep.
Waiting at my seat on boarding was an amenity kit, which was in a pouch that had “FIJI” printed in big letters.
The kit was rather simple, and had eyeshades, earplugs, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and socks.
Also waiting at my seat were headphones, which were okay, though I used my Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones instead.
Since we were using a remote stand, business class only filled up very slowly. One of the flight attendants came by my seat to welcome me aboard, and he couldn’t have been nicer. That was true of the crew in general.
Once settled in, one of the other flight attendants came by to offer me a hot towel, which had a great scent.
I was then offered a pre-departure beverage, with a choice between orange juice, champagne, and the “signature cocktail.” I chose the cocktail, which the flight attendant explained consisted of Fiji rum and coconut liqueur. It was delicious. There was also a bottle of Fiji water waiting at my seat on boarding, which I had with the pre-departure beverage.
A few minutes later the flight attendant came by to offer me the menu for the flight, which was printed on very high quality paper. She explained that dinner would be served after takeoff, and two hours before landing breakfast would be served. She asked me to fill out the breakfast card before takeoff, which I did.
As we waited for boarding to finish, I had a quick look at the personal television, including the airshow for our flight to Nadi.
By 11:25PM boarding was complete, with only 14 of the 24 business class seats taken. The seat next to me, as well as the two seats across from me, were empty. I was very happy about that, since I’d much rather sleep in a window seat, but I also hate selecting it, since I don’t want to climb over someone to go to the bathroom.
At around 11:30PM the captain came on the PA to add his welcome aboard. While lots of airlines have ex-pat pilots nowadays, for some reason I wasn’t expecting it on Fiji Airways. So I was a bit surprised to find we had an American captain and first officer. Captain Doug informed us of our flight time of 10hr25min, and anticipated we’d arrive in Nadi on-time.
I asked the flight attendant about this, and she explained that most Fiji Airways pilots were either from the US or Australia, but that they were slowly increasing the number of “local” pilots.
Moments later the purser added his welcome aboard — “bula ladies and gentlemen, a warm Fiji welcome to flight 811 to Nadi.” He invited us to “sit back, relax, and enjoy island time.” There was also some great boarding music throughout the boarding process, which I really enjoyed. I can’t find it online, so if anyone knows what they play, please do share!
We pushed back next to an Air Canada Airbus A320 at around 11:35PM, at which point the safety video began to play.
It’s worth noting that Fiji Airways doesn’t allow the use of electronics during taxi, takeoff, and landing, even in airplane mode. I’ve gotten so used to the rules in the US that I didn’t realize this was a regulation until after I got “caught.”
At 11:45PM we began our taxi, and we had some rather drastic Christmas-themed mood lighting in the cabin.
We were cleared for takeoff on runway 25R at around midnight (the taxi was long, despite our pilot taxiing with purpose), and had a long takeoff roll and gradual climb out of Los Angeles.
Moments after takeoff the purser shared more information about the flight, including introducing each one of the flight attendants by name. In business class we had Violet and Akanisi as the senior flight attendants. I also liked that the purser announced “flight attendants are here to provide you service, so please press your call button if you need anything.” That’s a far cry from the announcement on US airlines where they say “flight attendants are here primarily for your safety.”
As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection more extensively.
The selection wasn’t great, but wasn’t horrible either. There were roughly 40 movies and 30 TV shows available.
If I weren’t so tired at this point (I didn’t have the energy to read captions), I would have watched the below movie, which sounded… fascinating.
I wanted to sleep after dinner, so eventually decided to watch a few episodes of Impractical Jokers, which is hilarious. I liked that Fiji Airways doesn’t have any ads before their programming.
The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff, at which point the curtains between cabins were closed.
About 20 minutes after takeoff a flight attendant came by to take my meal order.
The menu read as follows:
The drink list read as follows:
It took a while for the meal service to get started, though about 40 minutes after takeoff I was finally served the glass of sauvignon blanc I had ordered, as well as some pretzels (which didn’t taste especially fresh).
After that I took out my tray table so the flight attendant could place a tablecloth on it.
Roughly an hour after takeoff I was served the starter, as well as a selection of bread and some cheese.
The sesame crusted tuna starter was exceptional.
There were a couple of types of bread offered in the breadbasket, and I asked for one of each.
The cheese selection was basic, though I appreciated the crackers, grapes, and dried apricots.
I’m not sure what exactly was in the small container on the tray.
The main course was served about 75 minutes after takeoff, and was truly delicious. I ordered the coconut crusted seabass with orange beurre blanc, and it was bursting with flavor.
Once that was cleared I was offered the dessert, consisting of mango lime and ginger cheesecake. Again, it had a very unique flavor, and was the perfect finish to a great meal.
The meal service was done a bit over 90 minutes into the flight. While Fiji’s meal service isn’t the most extensive out there, I thought the quality was excellent. The portion was also perfect, since you really don’t want more food than that at 1AM, in my opinion.
Service throughout the meal was also extremely friendly and genuine.
After dinner I quickly checked out the lavatory. This is the one big downside of the A330-300. On the A330-200, business class takes up the entire space between doors one and two, so business class gets the lavatory in front of the cabin, as well as one of the lavatories behind the cabin. On the A330-300 there’s an economy section between business class and the second door, meaning business class only has one dedicated lavatory in front of the cabin. That’s also shared with the crew, including the pilots. Fortunately business class wasn’t full, but if it were, that seems like a serious problem.
Once back at my seat I reclined into the bed position, since I wanted to get some rest. The seat was angled and very tight.
I’d note that while the blanket was great, the pillow was on the small side, so they really should have a bigger one for sleeping, in my opinion.
Despite the fact that I can usually only sleep on flat surfaces, I managed to rest for about six hours. It wasn’t the same solid sleep I’d get in Cathay Pacific first class, for example, but I managed to get some rest, even if it wasn’t deep sleep or continuous. The cabin did get a bit warm overnight, and unfortunately Fiji Airways doesn’t have individual air nozzles in business class.
I woke up about 2.5 hours before landing, and browsed the airshow.
While I’ve been to Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii, the rest of the South Pacific is mostly a mystery to me, so I was fascinated by all the islands we had passed, like Christmas Island.
I got some work done on my laptop for about half an hour, and then two hours before landing the breakfast service began. The menu read as follows:
Service began with some delicious orange juice being distributed. I don’t think it was actually freshly squeezed, but somehow the fact that they put an orange slice into it made it taste better. 😉
While the tablecloth was placed on my tray about two hours before landing, the actual meal was only served about 90 minutes out.
Service began with fresh fruit, blueberry greek yogurt, and two croissants.
Everything was tasty, though I was a bit surprised to find that Fiji’s coffee seems to be powdered. It was among the better powdered coffee I’ve had, but still powdered…
The main course consisted of a cheese omelet with chicken sausage, mushrooms, and hash browns, and was excellent.
About an hour before landing Fiji customs forms were distributed.
I watched a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
I was impressed by the number of bottles of Fiji water the crew gave me. Often airlines only cater one bottle of water per passenger, and then pour the rest of the water out of bigger bottles. However, on Fiji Airways I drank almost exclusively out of bottles, and they must have brought me a dozen bottles throughout the flight.
We began our descent at around 4:50AM Fiji time, at which point a video played throughout the cabin, explaining the arrivals process.
Our descent was smooth, as was the entire flight — I don’t think we had any turbulence the entire flight.
At 5:25AM we had a gorgeous touchdown with minimal reverse thrust. At that point the purser announced “bula and welcome to our home, Fiji.”
Our taxi to our arrival gate took only about five minutes.
Upon deplaning there was someone at the door of the plane saying “hello and welcome to Fiji” to each passenger. Further down the hall was a group playing traditional Fijian music, even though it was before dawn.
Nadi Airport has outdoor airside walkways, so I got to walk right past the A330 that just took me from Los Angeles, which was pretty awesome.
Immigration was painless (the officer was even friendly), and within two minutes I was in a taxi headed to my hotel.
Fiji Airways business class bottom line
Fiji Airways’ business class hard product is underwhelming, given what long flights they operate. The cabin itself feels fresh and is in great condition, but angled seats in 2016 just don’t cut it anymore.
I enjoyed everything else about the flight, from the food, to the service, to the cute Fijian touches. I’d definitely recommend Fiji Airways, especially if it allows you to do a stopover in Fiji enroute to Australia or New Zealand.