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Flying Fijian: The airline that’s really taking off

Fiji Airways must be doing something right.

Since the pandemic, the island nation’s carrier has been climbing through Skytrax’s global airline rankings like, well, a Boeing 737.

Fiji Airways has gone from mid-field to 36th to 15th overall. It now outranks Qantas, British Airways and Air New Zealand to be ranked as the best in the region.

I’m taking the airline’s inaugural flight from Canberra to Nadi to see what the fuss is about.

Routes

FJ951 is the airline’s fifth and newest route between Australia and Fiji, operating twice a week, with flights increasing to three in October.

There are a range of entertainment options on the 737 Max 8. Photo: Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways’ Sydney-Nadi route runs twice daily, there’s a daily from Melbourne and Brisbane, and flights twice a week from Adelaide.

That makes Fiji an ideal spot for a holiday but also a layover with regular links to the Pacific (Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga) and farther afield – Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.

Service

In-flight service opens with a friendly ‘Bula!’ (hello) and delicious chicken curry (it’s the coconut milk that makes Fijian-Indian cuisine pop).

In business class, executive chef Richard Cross offers an expansive fine-dining menu, which I tried at a separate tasting: The chocolate mousse alone is worth a trip through airport security.

Our delicious in-flight meal. Photo: Fiji Airways

Each seat has a 30-centimetre monitor with a USB port, an excellent range of the latest movies and albums, and a children’s activity pack about the marine ecology of the blue Pacific: Our Ocean Our Life.

There’s also in-flight wi-fi (free for 15 minutes) and thousands of magazines and newspapers through the PressReader platform.

I opt for slowing down my higher brain with an old episode of Friends and an audiobook on mindfulness meditation.

Flight options

It’s a four-hour flight from Canberra in the airline’s 737 MAX 8, but flights out of Sydney run for three hours, 30 minutes.

Fiji Airways has introduced a new fare concept called ‘Fly Your Way,’ providing four categories: Lite, Value, Comfort, and Plus.

Each comes with in-flight meals, beverages, and a carry-on bag weighing up to 7kgs.

Additional benefits are available based on the fare category, such as checked baggage allowance, ticket change flexibility, seat selection, and priority services.

Fares

Return Lite fares to Nadi start from $A539 per person in economy class.

Return Lite fares to Los Angeles or San Francisco start at $A1250 per person in economy class, and fares to Vancouver begin at $A1713 per person in economy class (Lite).

Fiji Airways operates multiple weekly flights to various South Pacific destinations, including six weekly flights to Tonga, seven to Samoa, and six to Vanuatu.

Fiji Airways now offers resort check-In at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa and the Sheraton Fiji Golf and Beach Resort, so passengers can check in for flights home while at their resort.

The airline’s Premier Lounge in Nadi offers a buffet breakfast and barista-made coffee for business-class passengers or $99 for passengers flying economy.

James Robertson flew as a guest of Fiji Airways

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