Nadi to Sydney
- Modern business class seat
- Free inflight messaging
- Very slow WiFi access
- 2.2-metre lie-flat bed
- Disney and HBO video content
Some 2,800kms from the east coast of Australia lies the South Pacific haven of Fiji: an island nation known for its laid back vibes, luxury resorts and astonishing natural beauty. It’s also the home of Oneworld partner Fiji Airways.
The flagship of the airline’s stable is the Airbus A350, of which it has four jetting across the Pacific between its Nadi hub and the likes of Sydney, Vancouver and Auckland. More ports are in the works too.
In Nadi, business class passengers and top-tier Oneworld frequent flyers enjoy access to Fiji Airways’ Premier Lounge: home to a well-stocked all-day bar and buffet, kids club and shower facilities, not to mention a wide array of seating choices.
Executive Traveller visited the lounge earlier this year and found it to be an inviting space which keeps the ‘on holiday vibe’ going right up until departure. Read the full review here.
Fiji Airways jets off daily between Nadi and Sydney, with the non-stop hop taking wing on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the Airbus A350-900. Flight time for both is around five hours.
Business class travellers receive a checked baggage allowance of two pieces up to 30kg, plus two carry-on with a combined weight of 14kg. That’s more than enough for most, even with a few kava bowls and bula shirts picked up at duty free before departure.
For the A350, it takes waves goodbye to Nadi at 9am, touching down into Sydney at around 11:45am. My flight beats this advertised time by 20 minutes, arriving at 11:25am.
Onboard are 33 lie-flat business class seats based on the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond platform, each finished in a light cream ‘premium leather’ with grey accents. It’s the same seat as British Airways’ new Club Suite.
Every seat enjoys direct aisle access thanks to a 1-2-1 layout, along with an 18” touchscreen and wired remote, along with a 2.2-metre bed. While the latter isn’t a must-have on this 4 hour 45 minute jaunt, it would come in handy on an overnight to LAX.
The open design is light and bright, though doesn’t provide much in the way of privacy. Those in the central seats can make use of a retractable divider, if not travelling alongside a companion.
A wide shelf with two storage compartments on the armrest – one of which houses an AC and two USB outlets – allows you to keep your belongings close at hand yet out of sight. The shelf makes a handy perch for your laptop or drink during meal times.
A thin gap under the pop-up lid means you can close that lid to recover the bench space without ‘pinching’ the AC or USB cables juicing up your laptop, tablet or phone
With the seat in lie-flat mode, there’s plenty of room for most to stretch out without touching the end.
The footwell space is also large enough to turn or sleep on your side, which is an issue we’ve encountered with some other seats.
One area where the seat excels is as a flexible work space.
That aforementioned shelf creates a perfect workspace in the cloud, allowing you to have a few devices out at once, while the sturdy tray table itself has three positions:
- folded in half and positioned underneath the screen, acting as a nice cocktail table
- fully opened up and sliding close to you, so you can eat or work
- opened up but extended midway, allowing you to easily get out of your seat
Airways offers three tiers of inflight WiFi:
- Free Chat: 15 minutes only – suitable for messaging apps
- Standard Web: USD$11.95 (AUD$18) for the duration of the flight – suitable for emails, social media and browsing
- Full Web: USD$24.95 (AUD$37.50) for the duration of the flight – suitable for streaming
However, the airline recently confirmed plans to offer free WiFi to business class travellers for the duration of the flight, while extending the free messaging to one hour for all passengers.
Needing to do a little work, I purchase the Standard Web. Speeds are very slow at 0.43Mbps download and 0.19Mbps upload. While that is enough to browse (slowly) or scroll through Facebook, Gmail really struggles to load.
Once onboard, business guests are greeted with a warm ‘Bula’ and offered a welcome drink of orange juice or a soft and fruity Cattier Brut Icône Champagne.
A supplied menu card details the choice of three mains for today’s breakfast service: scrambled eggs with potato rosti, chocolate pancakes, and spinach parmesan frittata.
These are accompanied by a parfait of apple and greek yoghurt, cut fruit and the pastry of your choice. Drinks take the form of teas and coffee, juices, soft drinks and beer (Heineken, Fiji Bitter and Fiji Gold), plus eight spirits.
Wines consist of the Cattier Brut Icône Champagne mentioned earlier, plus two whites and reds.
For main, it’s the pancakes with peach compote and maple syrup that catches my eye.
It’s not an overly sweet dish, with the chocolate more on the bitter side, but the syrup and fruit balances it nicely.
Snacks such as M&Ms and potato chips are offered througout the flight.
Entertainment & Service
Fiji Airways has recently announced a partnership with Disney and HBO, delivering over 150 movies and television shows via the responsive 18” high-resolution touchscreen.
The flight breezes by thanks to a broad mix of recent and classic titles – The Flash and The Super Mario Bros. Movie are my picks – coupled with music from local and international artists, magazines like Top Gear and Rolling Stone, and even a few games.
Entertainment is managed via the touchscreen and a wired remote, hidden within the main armrest storage compartment. I find the remote easiest for controlling volume.
Noise-cancelling headphones drown out the cabin noise (the A350 itself is already exceptionally quiet) allowing the audio to come through clear and undisturbed.
As always on Fiji Airways, service is a joy. Staff roam the cabin offering assistance and drink top-ups, which is a refreshing change to the game of hide and seek on some airlines.
Comfortable, quiet and fitted with all you could need on a sub-five hour flight, Fiji Airways’ A350 business class is leaps and bounds ahead of its stablemates. That includes the Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 MAX 8.
With the A350 now earmarked for flights to and from Melbourne, and rivals sticking with Boeing 737 for the foreseeable, this is arguably the best travel option between Australia and Fiji.
The writer travelled as a guest of Fiji Airways.