Sam Shead flies Nadi to Melbourne with Fiji Airways on QF396 (a Qantas flight operated by Fiji Airways).

The plane:

An old Boeing 737-800. The night flight was quite a bumpy one, with the seat belt sign remaining on for longer than normal. Class: Economy. It felt like it too.

Price: $451.


Flight time: 5 hours 8 minutes.

My seat: 23B. There wasn't much leg room. Fellow passengers: An interesting mix but lots of loud, little children and their parents. How full: "Very full" according to the captain.

Entertainment: Limited. Given the length of this flight, I was quite surprised there weren't individual TV screens. There were drop-down screens playing the kids' film Ferdinand but it was quite hard to see. We were lucky enough to be fairly close but I felt sorry for anyone more than a couple of rows away.

The service: A bit slow at times, but friendly enough.

Food and drink: A chicken and vegetable pasta dish was served for dinner but it was bland and sloppy. The dessert pot and cheese on crackers were good though. Sadly the turbulence meant the tea and coffee service was cancelled.

The toilets: Only two in Economy and there were quite a lot of people flying cattle class that evening. It was hard to tell whether the door was locked properly on the one I used. Luggage: 30kg check-in and 7kg carry-on.

The airport experience: Great. Nadi's International Terminal was clean and quiet. The new Fiji Airways Lounge, which I was invited to see, is also fantastic. I particularly liked the fact there was a barista serving proper coffee (something that's hard to come by in Fiji).

The bottom line: Not the best flight I've been on but the Fiji Airways lounge in Nadi made up for it.