As I mentioned in the weekly review, this week I’m finally taking the trip on Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti Nui that I had booked earlier in the year. I’m now in Fiji, after having taken the Saturday night flight from Los Angeles to Nadi.
It goes without saying that I’ll have a full trip report soon, but in the meantime here’s my typical “10 pictures” teaser post, with my initial thoughts on the experience. As a reminder, I redeemed 55,000 Alaska miles for the one-way journey in business class, and part of what makes this such a great value is that you can fly from the US to Australia or New Zealand with a stopover in Fiji at no extra cost. It’s a great way to visit a new destination on a stopover.
Fiji Airways’ A330s feature 24 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. These are the same seats that Singapore Airlines and China Airlines have on many of their A330s, which are primarily flown regionally.
These seats are angled, and quite tight, so not ideal for the long 10hr30min transpacific flight. I’m a morning person nowadays, so the 11:30PM departure was already wayyyy past my bedtime. So thanks to the late night departure and my exhaustion, I still managed to recline for about six hours. I phrase it that way because I don’t think I got any “real” sleep, given that the bed wasn’t fully flat, but rather just dozed here and there.
That’s not me trying to sound like a diva, but rather I’m just someone who doesn’t need that much sleep and also really struggles to fall asleep in general. Conditions have to be perfect for me to fall asleep on the ground, let alone in the air.
So the seat certainly wasn’t as good as a fully flat bed, but then again, there’s not all that much competition between the US and Fiji, so they can get away with it. Fortunately business class was only about half full, so I had an empty seat next to me, which really helped.
The meal service on the flight wasn’t that elaborate, given the very late night departure and very early morning arrival. That’s totally fine, as I don’t want a five course meal after midnight. However, the quality was exceptional.
There were virtually unlimited bottles of Fiji water (as you’d expect), and I had their signature cocktail, with Fiji rum and coconut liqueur.
The sesame crusted tuna starter was fantastic.
The same was true of the coconut crusted sea bass with orange beurre blanc, which I had as my main course.
The mango lime and ginger cheesecake was delicious as well.
The amenity kit was simple, though I liked the branding of it. For that matter, I loved Fiji Airways’ branding in general, as there were so many “local” touches to the service.
Speaking of the service, that was probably the highlight of the flight. Based on the places I’ve traveled so far, I’d say Balinese people are the friendliest I’ve encountered anywhere. Fijians are giving them a run for their money. The crew was genuine and so sweet. When we landed the purser announced “we warmly welcome you to our home,” and it really felt that way.
Upon arriving in Nadi there was an outside walkway, so we had a great view of the plane. There was also a band playing local music in the immigration hall, despite it being 5:30AM. The Fijians are proud of their country, and that was reflected in every aspect of the service.
I had to laugh when I heard the announcements from the captain, though. I’ve certainly had American pilots on Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, etc., though for whatever reason I was expecting that Fiji Airways pilots would be Fijian. Nope. “Hi folks, captain Doug here…” I asked the crew about it, and they said they indeed have quite a few American pilots, though they’re still based in Nadi. Not that it matters, but I just found it amusing.
All-in-all I’d say Fiji Airways met my expectations. The soft product was great, from the delicious food, to the exceptional service, to the local flair. The seat obviously isn’t ideal, though at least as far as angled seats go, this is one of the more modern and comfortable ones out there.
So would I recommend this as a way of getting to Australia or New Zealand if you’re not planning on stopping over in Fiji? Ideally probably not, since a flat bed on a nonstop flight would be better. But those award seats can be really tough to come by.
Based on my impressions so far, I think redeeming Alaska miles to be able to do a stopover in Fiji enroute to Australia or New Zealand is a fantastic option, which I’d highly recommend.
How does this compare to what you were expecting from Fiji Airways?