Stephanie Holmes flies from Auckland to Fiji on board Fiji Airways FJ410.

The plane:

A330-200, which was a nice surprise — last time I flew to Fiji I was on the older 737. The A330 is a real step up.

Class: Economy

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My seat: 18A, a window seat over the wing in this 2-4-2 configuration. The benefits of the A330 versus the 737 include personal seat-back screens with on-demand movies, TV, and music — the 737s still have drop down screens, playing just one, family-friendly movie. The seat was pretty comfortable, with a width of 17.3 inches and a pitch of 31 inches (although I never recline my seat on short-haul flights).

Price: From $675 return.

On time: We were five minutes late pushing back from the gate, and then we spent at least 10 minutes on the tarmac before we took off.

Flight time: 2 hours 35 minutes — no time at all before landing in paradise.

How full: Packed — not a spare seat to be seen.

Fellow passengers: A lot of super fit-looking people on their way to compete in the inaugural Ocean Swim Fiji, plus families with large broods of young kids.

Entertainment: The movie and TV selection was pretty good, with new release Hollywood and Bollywood films, plus a range of kids' programming. There's also a huge range of music and games to choose from.

Service: Lots of smiles from all the crew.

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Food and drink: I went for the vegetarian option and I have to say it was one of the worst in-flight meals I've had in a long time. The penne pasta was sufficiently al dente, but I have no idea what the sauce on it was supposed to be. Maybe cream? It tasted like melted low-fat margarine. There was a small amount of vegetable ragu on the side, but not enough to make the dish palatable. The bread roll was particularly dense, and the butter was near-frozen and impossible to spread. The best part was a pre-packaged chocolate and coconut biscuit, but even that was lacking in flavour.

Toilets: I didn't use them.

Airport experience: I had a pass for the Strata Lounge, Auckland Airport's premium lounge available to all passengers for a fee of $49 for a three-hour maximum stay, or $75 for up to eight hours. I only had an hour, but welcomed the peace away from the ongoing construction in the departures lounge. There was a great selection of food and drink, including a Haha sparkling wine and some moreish blue cheese. I was, however, encouraged to see the progress in the departures hall — there's now a Best Ugly Bagels cafe and the all-new upper level Glamp Grounds bar and kitchen.

Nadi Airport was pretty quiet and we breezed quickly through security and baggage claim.

Would I fly again? Yes, love the newer plane for Fiji Airways — much better than the old 777s.