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Fiji Airways review: Sydney to Fiji
My one holiday to Fiji came complete with two very different flight experiences there and back.
Originally I had never intended to go on honeymoon straight after my wedding. But with the notion of going back to work two days after my big "do" seeming less and less appealing, my fiance and I decided it was better to escape than delay our honeymoon.
So, on a whim, we booked a package holiday with TravelOnline just a few weeks before our wedding. The price was right, coming in at $2,600 for both of us including full-service flights on Fiji Airways and a 5-star stay at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa. To be honest, the cost of the bundled package wasn’t much less than if we had booked flights and hotel separately, but the convenience of a one-click booking won us over.
We'd heard good things about both the airline and resort and, although we were more attuned to the backpacker travel lifestyle, we felt the occasion was worth the splurge. Carrying a bag packed with a few essentials and those mandatory swimsuits, we set off on our little getaway to bask in the sun and our newly married title of Mr. and Mrs.
Before I go on, I should remark that my outbound and inbound flights were polar opposite experiences. Departing, we flew on an old plane with minimal legroom and shared entertainment screens. Returning was like being transported back into the modern world, where we were met with a large craft, our own personal entertainment unit and enough legroom to swim in (so to speak).
Read on for more.
Route: Sydney to Nadi, Fiji, direct
Dates Travelled: 29 May - 3 June 2018
Flight Number(s): FJ0914 (outbound), FJ911 (inbound)
Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-800, winglets (outbound), Airbus Industrie A330-200 (inbound)
Frequent Flyer Program: Qantas Frequent Flyer
What did I like?
- Direct flights: One of the reasons we opted for Fiji Airways was because it offers direct flights from Sydney, departing several times daily. This pulls the flight time to around 4 hours. The only other airlines to offer direct flights along this route are Virgin Australia, which flies direct once daily, and Jetstar which is a budget airline. The other alternatives fly via Melbourne, Brisbane or New Zealand and can take upwards of 12 hours, which is not ideal.
- Ability to accrue frequent flyer points: Fiji Airways is aligned with Qantas, so I accrued Qantas Frequent Flyer points for my two flights. They arrived in my account within a week of returning and totalled 900 points, plus 20 status points.
- Couple-friendly seating (inbound flight only): Returning back to Sydney, we were on a Airbus Industrie A330-200, which features a comfortable plane configuration for couples, with seating being 2-4-2. This was quite different from our outbound flight, but more on that later.
My ample legroom on the Fiji-Sydney inbound journey. Note that I'm slouching here.
- Ample legroom (inbound flight only): The Airbus on our return trip had more than generous legroom in economy which is something I'd read about prior to flying and was pleasantly surprised about on my return flight.
What didn’t I like?
- Use of dated planes (outbound flight only): When departing Sydney I was extremely shocked at how outdated the plane was.The Boeing 737-800 had shared entertainment monitors, standard leg room and food service that required the staff to physically carry meals down the aisle instead of push a trolley. I don't think I've been in a plane with shared monitors since I was a child! The scenario felt like an 80s time warp, lacking all those creature-comforts I'm used to when travelling, such as my own personal entertainment system.
- Lack of air conditioning (outbound flight only): Another downfall of the outbound flight on the outdated plane was that the air conditioning either wasn't on or was set to warm. Typically, I'll layer up on a plane in anticipation of the air-conditioning and so unknowingly I rugged myself up before falling asleep only to wake up sweaty and dizzy from the excess heat. Something to bear in mind if you, like me, anticipate the ultra cold on the plane.
- Restricted legroom (outbound flight only): As I've mentioned above, the legroom experience going there and coming back were also remarkably different. On my outbound flight it was restrictive, though, as I'm used to travelling with budget airlines, it wasn't something I'm not something foreign to me. For a full service airline like Fiji Airways though, it probably wasn't up to scratch and if the tables had been turned and I'd flown on the newer aircraft before the older I would have most definitely been disappointed over my diminished legroom situation.
Cramped quarters on my outbound Sydney-Fiji flight.
Would I use Fiji Airways again?
I'll admit my outbound flight was less than acceptable this only due to the condition of the plane. Otherwise the overall experience was pleasant, food up to scratch and service lovely – so yes, I would fly with the airline again. However, I'd do my research prior to choosing my flights, to check the make of aircraft and ensure I'm on a modern carrier before committing.
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