Andrew Stone squeezes on to FJ128 from Taveuni to Nadi, Fiji.
: A DHC6-400. Known as a Twin Otter, these small twin-engined commuter planes are ideal for landing on remote airstrips. They carry up to 19 passengers. There are no toilets, or cabin staff, because there is no room.
Airport experience : Best described as Island style. Taveuni's single-strip airport is at Matei, a charming small town on the northeast corner of Fiji's third largest island, a lush volcanic lump 60km east of Vanua Levu. Passengers, and their luggage, are weighed before departure. Fence wire separates the tiny terminal huts from the tarmac. A few metres from the departure shed, a cheerful group of Fijians shared cups of kava. A tiny shop sold chilled drinks, handicrafts and curry wraps.
My seat : 2A. A window to the tropical world and close enough to the cockpit to read all the instruments.
Price : $130 one way, booked well in advance. The daily services fill up quickly, sometimes weeks in advance.
On time: We rolled down the strip at 4.15pm, climbed over a line of coconut trees fringing the shore and turned south towards Nadi on a brilliantly sunny Sunday.
Who's on board : The little plane was chokka, with one Fijian celebrity back in row seven — the formidable Josua Tuisova. Known as the Toulon Tank or just the Bus to followers of Fijian rugby, Tuisova won an Olympic gold medal with the country's Sevens team at Rio.
The 110kg behemoth plies his trade in France as a winger. On this flight, he had to crouch low to enter the narrow fuselage, but with great handling skills got into his seat while dexterously holding his daughter.
Service : This was strictly a pilots, passengers and cargo trip. We were welcomed with an announcement about seatbelts and farewelled with the news we had reached Nadi.
Food and drink : Whatever you brought on board. I had a bottle of water for the 80-minute journey.
The trip : Hard to beat. The late afternoon route took us south along the west coast of Vanua Levu above Somosomo Strait and the Koro Sea. Atolls fringed by intense turquoise waters passed beneath us as the little plane headed for Nadi. We were over the ocean for 45 minutes, at a height where you could see yachts at anchor and even birds below us. When we reached the north coast of Viti Levu on the track for Nadi, the sea gave way to a quilt of cane fields and brown rolling hills. A low-altitude box seat.
The bottom line : A great way to get a sense of the Fiji archipelago, and its mix of rugged islands, stunning atolls, the odd gleaming strip of white sand, and boundless seas. One of the longer routes operated by the airline, if you strike a fine day, you're in for a treat.