When I was in the South Pacific, I found the best way around the region was using Air Pacific that is now Fiji Airways. Beside a flight on Virgin Samoa to Apia and one flight on Air Vanuatu; I trusted Fiji Airways for my air travel mainly just because it was the same airline serving all the places I was going.
As an airline that is partly owned by Qantas from Australia and has code shares with American Airlines, I had a little faith that the planes were serviced properly. Sorry but I have trust issue in some of this hole in the wall country about servicing airplanes. However, Boeing is a great company and I am sure they watch where their planes go….. their name will be the one destroyed by American media if anything happens.
As I understand it, the airlines is actually owned as a majority by the Government of Fiji and a minority (46%) is owned by Qantas. However, all that means nothing if a plane goes down. It will be Qantas and Boeing that take all the heat in the media so they have to made sure everything is done right. That makes me alot more comfortable.
I flew Fiji Airways to Hong Kong, China
By far my longest haul using them was to Hong Kong from Nadi International Airport. Beside me wanting to rip some executive’s head off for a 6:10am flight, it went pretty well. I just did not like getting to the airport at five in the morning. Anyone that does needs their head cut off by ISIS!
I do not remember anything that was really out of the norm as far as handling the business of taking a flight (besides pricing but we will get to that). If I remember right, it was two checked or 20 kilos of luggage and a carry on. You take your seat on the Boeing 747-800 and do like you would on any other jumbo jet. (They are transfering to Airbus A330 models currently)
The one thing that many love about Fiji Airways is the free drinks throughout the flight that includes wine and beer. A friend traveling to Hong Kong with me was a little wasted when we landed in China. I think he tried to get his $700 worth of beer that day!
The food was not that great but I have let to be a flight with any airline that food in economy class is actually good. I don’t remember what it was but it was too memorable to say the least. It is pretty normal for airlines to have some very crappy food. Fiji Airways is not the exception.
The one thing that was pretty annoying was they played the same five Fijian songs over and over through the flight. I understand that the government uses the airways as a last ditch attempt to promote tourism for the islands but there are limitations to shameless plugs.
All in all, I landed in Hong Kong, China in one piece and I enjoyed the flight.
What about regional flights?
I have also flew to Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu with Fiji Airways, or Air Pacific, and it was pretty uneventful. I just sit on the plane, take off and land where I was going. The biggest issue I have is they like to service Samoa in the middle of the night. I assume this is so the planes can make the Sydney run during the day which is a bigger cash cow for the airline. I just had 2am arrivals!
Most of the flights in the region are just under two hours to get about anywhere you are going. Considering that about 40 minutes of that is going up and coming down; you can get a decent hour of rest in the air. If you are landing at one of the crazy wee hour arrivals, you will need it.
The flight to Tuvalu is in a much smaller plane and it does not fly out of Nadi but instead from Suva International Airport that is in Nausori. I must say this was the most overly priced flights I have made in the world. A similar flight in the Philippines would be a tenth of the price! All in all, making a flight in the ATR 72 plane is not that bad, just takes a little longer.
I do not remember flights be completely detailed too much besides when there was mass flooding in Nadi that happens about once a year.
What about prices on Fiji Airways?
If I remember right when I was backpacking around the Pacific, I was paying about $200 for regional flights and I had to pay $700 for the Hong Kong trip. The one exception to this was the Tuvalu trip that was almost $400 each way. My flight there also most cost me what my flight from Hawaii to Fiji cost me! As I said, it was the most over priced flight I have ever taken.
In looking at their website today, I see that the prices are increasing by about 25% since I was using them. However, flight prices change rapidly and by the time, you read this; it could be a whole different ballgame. At the time of writing, Hong Kong to Nadi is $620 and from Los Angeles, it cost $765. They do have specials from time to time so check that out. It could save you a few bucks.
There is a positive to the pricing structure of Fiji Airways. They do not have dirt cheap flights but they also do not practice the advance purchase system that most American carriers practice. What this means is that you will get the same price an hour before departure as you would a month before the departure. If you are like me and don’t make long range plans, this is good.
In the end, it is not cheap to get around the South Pacific but you can do it really easily with Fiji Airways. You just have to know where you want to go and find out when the planes leaves.