I just returned from a visit to Fiji and Australia flying on Air Pacific out of Los Angeles to Nadi, and then Nadi to Brisbane, in Queensland. Coming home, I flew out of Sydney thru Fiji.
What a pleasure to be greeted with “Bula” which is the Fijian greeting of welcome, and hello.
Flight attendants in island dress, with big smiles, what a difference to the frowns you get from some of the other airlines these days who act like they are doing you a favor.
Air Pacific is owned 51 percent by the Fijian Government, 48 percent by Qantas Airways, of Australia, and 1 percent by Air New Zealand. In January 2013, the name will be changed to Fiji Airways when it returns to the name it had in l951. It will take delivery of the first of its three new Airbuses, the new A330. It will have a new Masi symbol which will be a wonderful new brand and trademark.
They fly to all these little out of the way islands in the South Pacific, as well as other places, and it was delightful to be greeted at 5:30 a.m. with a singing band at the airport. We had the same treatment when we left.
I had the pleasure of traveling on a 747-400, and was seated upstairs which had only 40 passengers. Very relaxing, and I would recommend asking for the Voyager class.
A useful tip: If you are in economy class and have a long lay over at the Nadi Airport, there is a very nice quiet seating area downstairs, outside the airline lounge—only used by first-class passengers—with comfortable couches you can lie down on. We were there for several hours, and while some shopped in the excellent duty-free area, others just read and relaxed in a nice, quiet location.
I have been to Fiji many times, staying at different island resorts. This trip was to experience a Captain Cook cruise through the Yasawa Islands. I wanted to have the unique opportunity of visiting many islands, a variety of snorkeling locations, and seeing the Fijian culture.
Captain Cook supports eight island schools, and it was suggested that school supports would be a welcome gift. I asked my staff if they wanted to contribute and I had a lot of toys and games given to me and All Horizons Travel donated pens, pencils, and school books. My wonderful Walt Disney sales rep, Eileen Adams brought in some Walt Disney toys and pins which I added to the collection. I groaned when I saw my pile of items, and wondered about luggage weight, I wrote to Air Pacific and asked permission to carry an extra bag since I was taking school supplies and toys to an island school. They very graciously allowed me 15 pounds of extra weight for “humanitarian reasons.”
At the school, I was presented with a lei, and they sang a song in greeting. I would have loved to have watched the teachers unpack the bag of loot, but this they did after we left. A fun experience which I would do again. The women of the village had a little market selling shells, handmade crafts and excellent jewelry at very reasonable prices and had prepared a wonderful table of refreshments for us.
We visited an island boarding school, where the children go home to their various islands at the weekend, a kindergarten school on another island, and a Sunday service to hear the marvelous music in church. This was a Fiji that tourists normally don’t see.
Think “Fiji Airways” if you are traveling to the South Pacific. Wonderful friendly courteous service, and one I can highly recommend.