Upon exiting out of the plane into the terminal in Nadi, passengers are greeted with signs for transfer. However arriving way before sunrise meant the transfer desk was empty and the security screening machine was just started as I entered the transit area. I was the first passenger to transfer to the departure area this morning and it felt nice to go through a quiet and empty security screening area.
For the next flight, we were upgraded into Business class automatically during the time of purchase. Thus we had access to the Tabua Club lounge during our 3 hour transit in Nadi.
Duty free was already open at 4:30am in the morning while the terminal was still deserted. Nadi’s departure hall is quite small with a central atrium acting as the main waiting area with shops and restaurants positioned around it. That is to be expected with only about 10 gates or so in the International Airport. Fiji Airways’ Tabua lounge was still in its temporary venue across from the Air New Zealand lounge located one floor below the departure hall and boarding gates.
With just one door and a banner indicating the lounge, it gave low expectations and we were amongst the first guests inside. There is a small reception desk on the left side of the doorway where the staff checked our onward boarding passes. On the table there was the wifi password and packaged moist towels for passengers to refresh themselves.
Past the reception desk was a magazine and newspaper shelf along with a rack for guests to hang their coats. There are also shelves for guests to deposit their items but this is all open to the lounge without any door thus the lounge would not bear responsibility for lost items.
The lounge was a window-less room and measuring no larger than 1,500 square feet so that is pretty small. On the left side or the reception, there is a tall workstation area with 2 PCs and wifi is complimentary for guests with a simple password login required.
As I wanted to refresh myself, I enquired for the possibility of a shower room. Turns out there was no private showers yet with the restrooms located outside. A shower room is available in the public restroom area though I was advised only cold water was supplied. After a simple brushing of my teeth, I returned to the lounge to take a look at the food being offered as not all the food was ready when we first arrived.
There was 3 choices of cereals, several varieties of pastries in addition to croissants and toast on the main buffet table.
The cooked food took a bit longer to come out and choices were scrambled eggs, fried rice, hash browns and baked beans. Since I was not that hungry and the food was not appealing in presentation, I passed on them.
Instead I took some sliced fruits from the buffet and got myself a bottle of Fiji water. After all, we are in the country of origin for this bottled water!
Other beverages served in the Tabua lounge includes an open bar with several choices of liqour. Wine choices include a Shiraz Cabernet blend and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
There was also a drinks fridge stocked with common soft drinks, beer and Fiji water. I helped myself to a cup of cappuccino from the espresso machine, though guests could also get brewed coffee from the pot or brew tea from the selection in the buffet.
The lounge gradually became busier as there are a lot of flights to Australia departing in the morning. However before the crowds came, we had our pick of seats. Most of the seats are placed optimally for groups of 4, and there are several armchairs placed around a TV for guests who wants to catch up on news.
Since it was a temporary lounge, there was no segmentation in terms of seating space or any other facilities. That gave it no privacy and with only one type of armchair, there was no choice for guests whether they want to work or just eat or just relax. While the lounge is pretty boring, the artworks was really a nice way of showing one is at a tropical beach destination.
As it got close to my boarding time, the lounge was packed to the brim that nearly all the seats are filled. Though most of the guests left earlier than us since our flight was delayed due to operational reasons. Should Fiji Airways be serious in attracting passengers to fly into Australia and New Zealand via Fiji, they really need to quickly open their permanent lounge and make sure the space is large enough to handle peak hour traffic associated with connecting passengers as this temporary lounge is just plain and forgettable.