Fiji Airways seem to have killed their stopover option according to their website. This is not good news for travelers and backpackers. I also do not think this is good news for Fiji tourism, either. The option helps drive people to the Fiji Islands.
A reader messaged me on Facebook (like us?) and said they could not find the stopover function on their website. I figured I would love to help them find it. To my surprise, it was gone. It was history.
For those who do not know what I am talking about, you use to be able to delay onward travel when coming through Fiji. If you had a flight from Auckland to Los Angeles, you can could stay in Fiji for up to 4 months on the same flight.
This was very popular among backpackers going from Auckland to Hawaii. The reason being is basically the flight to Fiji was free (because they were headed to Hawaii, anyways). They would use the stopover to spend a week or two in Fiji before finishing the rest of their ticket.
With that gone, I am sure many will get flights straight from New Zealand to Hawaii. There is no reason for them to even come to Fiji unless they are planning to actually be a backpacker in Fiji.
What the stopover in Fiji means?
Practically speaking, it helps with the onward travel for airlines. You could book a flight to Samoa and have a month in Fiji that you wanted and you did not have to book a flight out of Fiji. This seems to be a thing of the past.
It was a very useful tool that helps get people to use Fiji Airways, it helps Fiji Tourism gets travelers and helps keep Fiji Immigration happy. It was an all around win/win for everyone involved.
I am sure that getting people to board an extra complete flight out of Fiji was on the mind of Fiji Airways. They were not making as much money with people using the stopover to visit the beauty of Fiji. I get that. I really do.
However, I think the problem is people just won’t come. Traveling to the South Pacific is expensive as it is. Backpackers are budget minded and they will just try and get to Hawaii as quickly as possible on a cheap flight from New Zealand.
If I were to go to Samoa and wanted to stop in Fiji, I would now need to book a Flight to Fiji and then another flight to Samoa. This cost more and it is twice the amount of work that I need to get my airfares done.
Backpackers want cheaper and easier travel, not more expensive and more complex travel. This is not rocket science and I am not sure if the people over at Fiji Airways were thinking about their customers when making what seems like a bonehead decision.
I really hope they re-think this decision. It is to everyone’s benefit.
If you can only visit one Pacific nation?
Since you can’t do the stopover, you might be able to only do one Pacific nations. If this is true, I would say that both Tonga and Samoa are more interested to the backpacker than staying in Fiji. I love the Fijian people but they are not as untouched as say the people of Tuvalu.
The best backpacking experience in the South Seas is probably spending a week on Savaii in Samoa. Nothing compares to spending the night in a fale, eating fresh papaya and drinking some coconut juice for breakfast. I love Fiji but does not compare with Savaii!
However, if you have limited time in the South Seas, you might be still better off to go to Nadi for the few days as traveling in Samoa is still very time consuming. I know. I have done it.