I took the second part of my trip on Fiji Airways yesterday this time departing from Sydney, Australia to Nadi, Fiji and onto Los Angeles, CA. Unlike the my flight from Fiji to Brisbane, which was on a pitiful plane, this flight was on the newer A330-200 which had Fiji Airways new business class configuration.
The flight form Sydney to Fiji is short, 3 hours and 50 minutes…so I wouldn’t pay for business class unless there was a spectacular deal being offered. They offered a light meal on the flight and I can say that Fiji Airways is consistent with their food – consistently bad. That’s really my biggest complaint about the airline…the food is really bad.
Having a layover in Fiji is somewhat cruel. I mean, you’re in Fiji…it’s just so hard to stay in that airport knowing the beaches are oh so close! Beyond that, the airport isn’t so nice. There is one large waiting area that is typically crowded and not all that well air-conditioned. There’s a business class lounge called the Tabula lounge. Members, business class passengers and Qantas elite members have access. There’s also an Air New Zealand Lounge, but it was closed when I was there. The Tabula lounge is pretty average. The biggest downfall is that the showers are disgusting and there’s no way I’d ever want to use them, which is a bummer after a long trip and a warm waiting area. The lounge did have a good selection of beers and alcohol which were complementary along with plenty of Fiji Water and other soft drinks. The food was hit or miss. I had a noodle dish that was decent, the rest was pretty bad.
I had a few really weird experiences with Fiji Airways. When my flight from Fiji to Brisbane landed the plane was quarantined because someone onboard was sick. Turned out they had Dengue Fever which can’t be passed from human to human. We had a long wait while they investigated however. My flight from Sydney to Fiji was pretty late leaving….no idea why, but it didn’t really matter to me, it was the same plane flying onto LA, so I knew I’d make the flight.
Before departing Fiji for LA there was, of course, another weird – and scary – experience. After a bit of delay the pilot made an announcement that 2 passengers were being removed due to security concerns and as soon as their luggage was found, and removed from the plane, we’d depart. You should have seen the faces of the passengers around me…and I’m sure I had the same look on my face. I’m not really sure I wanted to know that! Everything worked out just fine…I’m sitting in Las Vegas blogging right now…but I did feel uneasy for a bit there.
On the flight from Fiji to LA the in-seat power didn’t work – 10 hour and 50 minutes without all the great movies I’d downloaded to my iPad. Which brings me to the In Seat Entertainment onboard the A330. I would rate the choices of TV and Movies about equal with Air China, which isn’t great. I stupidly watched the movie Contagion…never watch that movie on a plane if you’re at all OCD about germs! But the fact that I watched Contagion, which was released in 2011, should tell you about the choices. There were only 2 current movies and 10 current TV shows. On the other hand, the music selection was great.
Again, the food was terrible. By this time I wasn’t expecting anything else. The crew was very nice, as they were on all the flights. On this flight I was not in the bulk head row. The good thing was that there is much more storage in non-bulk head business class seats. The bad news is that the angled lie-flat seats are even more awkward because of the space between the seat and your feet. For sleeping, I’d much prefer the bulk head row and give up the storage.
Here’s a trick on how to make the bed a little bit close to lie-flat – if you can get an extra pillow put it on the end of the bed and use the metal foot rest to hold it in place. When you place the duvet cover over the seat it’s almost lie flat. This was a little challenging in a non-bulk head row because it left no space to move your feet! But it’s worth giving it a try if you want a little more comfort.
Would I fly Fiji again? Several people have asked me that. Here’s what I have to say – it’s 100% better than flying coach so if it’s the only business class option you have, take it! If you’re looking to pay for business class from LA to Sydney you can find some really amazing prices on Fiji.
Here’s a comparison of flights from LA to Sydney using Delta, American and Fiji on the exact same days.
Business on Delta was $10,714
American ranged from $9,200 to $13,235 ($25k for first class!)
And here’s the price for Fiji round-trip from LA to Sydney. $3,294. Yes, that’s a third of the cost of Delta and American’s prices. The thing that makes this interesting is that some companies have policies that allow employees to buy full fare coach tickets so they can upgrade with miles or cash. In both cases the full fare ticket from LA to SYD was more expensive than the Fiji Business Class flights. Some companies have caps on the amount employees can spend on a business class ticket. So if you really wanted to fly business, and didn’t want to pay the the outrageous rates from Delta and American you might be able to afford the Fiji fares. (Perhaps if you really wanted to fly on American or Qantas First Class for $25k you could start a KickStarter project. Sorry, just couldn’t help myself.)
So to answer the question, would I fly Fiji again, yes, in the right circumstances I would.