As I mentioned in my previous post, there was a set of stairs to access the gates area from the lounge and gate 2 was located another floor down so after going up, it was back down another level by stairs or the elevators. This has got to be one of the most convoluted airports in terms of layout. Boarding was called just right on time when I arrived at the gate so I still managed to be one of the first few passengers on the plane!
FJ410 Auckland International AKL – Nadi International NAN
Airbus A330-200 DQ-FJV ‘Island of Yasawa-i-Rara’
Gate 2 Seat 2B
Fiji Airways’ Airbus A330 are all configured similarly like Singapore Airlines’ A330 that services the regional routes. This means an angled flat seating that is acceptable for flights of between 3-6 hours. Bulkhead seats naturally have the most spacious layout as all the other seats have a recess in the front seat for your leg and that the foot well can be slightly restrictive when the seat is in an angled flat mode. But the bulkhead seats means less storage space and the screen can be a bit far for optimal viewing. Since we had the bulkhead seats last time around, I picked seats in the second row for this flight.
On reaching my seat, a pillow and blanket was already on the seat. As I placed my hand carried luggage overhead,
I got seated by the window while my friend took the aisle seat. A divider can be raised in between the seats for privacy if required.
Other items found on the seatback pocket includes a pair of over-the-ear headphones that does the job somewhat and still better than the flimsy headphones in Economy class. Though they are nowhere near a Bose or Bang & Olufsen headphone in terms of quality. Beneath the armrest, there are also Fiji-branded bottled water for personal consumption during the flight.
Crew came around with semi hot towels first which seems like they did not bother to heat up the towel properly considering it was winter and cold in New Zealand.
After more people got settled inside the cabin, the crew came around with trays to offer a Fijian rum cocktail, fruit punch mocktail or water.
Menu was first distributed to all the Business class passengers before newspapers were brought out and offered around the cabin. Immigration forms to enter Fiji was also offered to passengers who needs them.
With that done, the boarding took a while more as I noticed a full flight in the Business Class cabin. It seems that a full flight has provided some upgrades to a few lucky passengers.
I took the time to peruse the entertainment system as I pondered what to watch during this flight. Fiji Airways does have a limited inflight entertainment offering though at least the system works and has a pretty simple interface for easy navigation.
Once the boarding was completed, the captain made a welcome announcement and the safety demonstration was conducted as the plane made a pullback. As always on Fiji Airways, the crew made a check around the cabin to store bags overhead and ensure safety procedures are followed. The crew here is indeed stringent on the safety rules and regulations so do ensure that you take note of all the safety demonstrations.
A quick taxi to the runway and we were off in no time which I consider to be still on time. As the sky cleared up in preparation for our take-off, I still managed to get some nice view of the northern coast of New Zealand.
Drinks and meal orders were taken by the crew on both sides of the aisle once we cruised in the skies. The menu for the flight was as follow:
Once the meal orders for passengers was taken, the crew came back about 10 minutes later with a ramekin of mixed crackers with salty cheese flavoring. This came with the beverage of your choice and makes for a nice snack while waiting for the rest of the meal service.
Hot towels were passed around once again after the snack service which is nice to clean your hands of the cheese bits. The first course was served on a tray but they did actually bother to add another cloth over the tray for presentation.
White, multigrain or sourdough bread was offered with the salad. Aside from the cutleries, passengers can find salt and pepper shakers, a portion of butter and the salad dressing on the tray.
The crew also proactively offered wine with the meal service in addition to other beverages that you might prefer. Passengers could also request the Fijian rum cocktail that was offered though it takes some time to prepare.
For the main course, I had the fish option and it was tasty enough that I did finish it even if some of the rice was a bit dry. I also felt the fish was not my favourite kind as it was not soft and flaky. In general it lacked the fattiness of cod or garoupa which I prefer.
After the main course, the crew enquired if passengers wanted to have dessert. Definitely as I never pass on dessert! I had the cheese cake and it was a nice portion that just made the meal whole. I would not have minded a bigger portion though as the main course was not that satisfying.
The meal service took up the bulk of this flight and with the conclusion of that, I reclined my seat into the angled flat mode to get some rest.
Cabin lights were dimmed and the ambient lights turned on so that it was cosy enough for a nap.
However I only managed probably a 30 minute nap before the crew came around the cabin to offer chocolates as a form of thanks for flying with Fiji Airways. This service also indicated the start of our descent into Nadi.
For some reason the grey clouds followed us into Nadi and we were greeted with a cloudy and rainy evening in Fiji. Definitely not what I was expecting since I was looking forwards to some sunshine in a tropical resort. While there was some turbulence, it was a quick landing so that was uneventful. A short taxi and we were parked in no time though we still did arrive somewhat behind schedule. During disembarkation, the crew held off the Economy class cabin to allow those in the front to disembark first.
Once out of the plane, we head straight for the immigration which is a wise choice as it would end up taking some time even though the queue was not that long. For some reason, the Fijians does things really slowly as it can be seen from their push for ‘Fiji time’. At least they had some musicians for those waiting in line at the back for immigration.
Anyway after getting my passport stamp, it was time to wait for our luggage. And after collecting our luggage, there was the screening process. My luggage was flagged which I believed was due to my ski boots which receive some detailed check on the soles for foreign particles. I do have to say the additional security check was a big mess as the staff handed me to wait in line without any explanation and the staff doing the additional checks seems to have no clue either some of the time on who is next in line. This experience definitely did not give me the best impression of Fiji as a travel destination.
While the flight went off without a hitch, the arrival experience in Fiji was poor and that certainly mars the trip a bit. Other than that, I do believe Fiji Airways tries to offer a premium service as best as possible. It is only being pulled back by the lack of logistical support in its home airport! They certainly need to upgrade the arrivals experience for Premium passengers or else I would probably not encourage a visit to this destination.