Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Flight Check: From Nadi to Auckland on Fiji Airways

Winston Aldworth flies aboard FJ411 from Nadi to Auckland.
Fiji Airways A330. Photo / iStock
Fiji Airways A330. Photo / iStock

The plane: Boeing 737-800. Fiji Airways flies four of these around the South Pacific. This plane is the classic workhorse from the days of Air Pacific.

Class: Business.

Price: Business Class between Auckland and Nadi, return will cost you $1370 including all taxes; Economy between Auckland and Nadi, return is $630.

On time: We leave bang on 8.45am and land seven minutes ahead of the planned 11.45am.

My seat: 2E. The Business Class seats have an 18-inch recline, which on a short haul flight is plenty. Aboard the airline's A330-200 (which flies once a week on this route to the islands), there are 24 angle-flat seats in Business.

Fellow passengers: We were flying just after school-holiday season, but there were still a few families heading home.

A handful were returning after attending the Fijian Tourism Expo, in Denarau.

How full: "A bum in every seat," one of the cabin crew tells me. There are 170 in Economy, eight in Business.

Entertainment: Business Class passengers get to use an iPad that's got 24 recent movies and a reasonable haul of television content on it. For a flight as short as this, I prefer to read my book, but the bloke next to me, who lives in Fiji for work, was very chatty. We had a good old natter about life in the island state.

In Economy Class, drop-down screens play a shared movie. Old school.

Aboard the Fiji Airways A330 (which flies the Auckland run on Saturdays), there's a more standard inflight-entertainment system, with seatback screens throughout both cabins.

The entertainment highlight on the way up was taxiing past Iron Maiden's 747 as we headed out to the runway. My video of Ed Force One is on the Herald Travel Instagram page.

The service: Very good. "Friendly" comes fairly naturally when you're flying the Fijian skies.

Food and drink: I downed a breakfast omelette and an orange juice before avoiding the coffee.

It's too early for alcohol. On the evening flight when I flew up to Fiji, I'd slugged back a rum punch with apple juice and maraschino cherries followed by a Fiji Gold. Island time, indeed.

The toilets: Business has its own loo up front. It was tidy throughout.

Luggage: Business passengers are allowed two items of cabin baggage and there's plenty of room in the overhead lockers.

In the hold, Business passengers get 40kg; for Economy it's a regulation 23kg.

The airport experience: Visiting Fiji just 10 weeks after a devastating cyclone that coincidentally bore my (slightly unusual) name, I was greeted with belly-aching laughter when my passport was checked. "Winston?" the Customs guy said. "You came back?"

Would I fly this again? Island access in around three hours? And at good prices too? Yes please.

- NZ Herald

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