Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Stella Shon
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Airline: Fiji Airways (FJ)
Aircraft: Boeing 737 MAX
Flight #: FJ 935
Route: Nadi International Airport (NAN) to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL)
Date: May 26, 2023
Duration: 5hr 55min
Cabin and Layout: Business class, 8 seats in a 2-2 configuration
Miles Used: 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles and $30.80 in taxes and fees (as part of a larger itinerary from DCA-LAX-NAN-MEL)
Typical Retail Cost: $1,200 per person one-way
In May, I flew from my home in Washington, D.C. to the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne, Australia. Awards to Melbourne are relatively tough to come by, but with some persistent searching, you can come up with a viable itinerary.
You might think Fiji Airways is a bit of an odd choice, but I really wanted to use miles to get to Australia, and I knew there was a good chance I could use my American Airlines AAdvantage miles for flights on Fiji Airways because I’ve found award space to be quite plentiful across the Pacific. And with my dates, it was the only option available.
Despite not booking this for the product offered by the airline, I ended up finding it to be pretty great — read on to find out what my flight between Fiji and Australia was like!
Fortunately, when the convention was announced, I managed to grab a great award using American Airlines AAdvantage miles for only 80,000 miles one-way in business class on the following flights:
Overall, this was a fantastic itinerary, and the stop in Fiji would allow me to break up the journey across the Pacific. The alternative is a roughly 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne — and that’s if you can find award space. Thankfully, as I mentioned above, Fiji Airways offers a decent amount of award space to Australia with a stop in Fiji.
If you were to book only the leg I’m reviewing today — Nadi to Melbourne — it would cost 30,000 AAdvantage miles. There are also added taxes of around $80, but considering the cash cost of this leg (over $900 one-way), it’s quite a good deal.Hot Tip:
My flight from Los Angeles landed at around 5 a.m., which is typical for Fiji-bound flights from the U.S.
As I was connecting to a flight to Australia, I needed to visit a transfer desk where my passport and onward boarding pass were verified. Then, I proceeded through a security checkpoint. The experience felt similar to that in the U.S.
After I passed through security, I found myself in the terminal, which was very small. There were only a few gates, a few food and shopping options, and overall not much space for walking around — something I certainly wanted to do after such a long flight.
Even though it was an international terminal, it reminded me of a smaller, regional airport, albeit one with some amenities.
There were 2 lounges available at the airport: the Air New Zealand Nadi International Lounge and the Fiji Airways Premier Lounge. I had access to the Fiji Airways Premier Lounge thanks to my business class ticket with the airline.
The lounge was actually a decent size when compared to the terminal above it. There was a nice variety of seating options, charging areas, a bar, and a buffet station that was offering various breakfast items when I visited.
For breakfast, there was a choice of basic staples including eggs, potatoes, sausage, and roasted tomatoes. There were lots of fresh juices, too.
There was also a large selection of fruit and pastries. Everything was self-serve. There was even a juicer that you could use to turn your favorite fruits (and veggies) into a delicious, healthy juice!
There was also a single shower available, which anyone could reserve by visiting the bar. The shower was located inside the men’s restroom and featured a shower and sink only — there was no toilet in the shower room.
Boarding predictably began with Fiji Airways elite members and business class passengers. There weren’t all that many elite passengers on this flight, nor were there loads of business class seats, so priority boarding went quickly and there were no issues to speak of.
This particular flight was operated by a Boeing 737 MAX. However, the Nadi to Melbourne route occasionally sees wide-body aircraft as well.
There were 8 business class seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration on the Boeing 737 MAX, all of them situated in the forward portion of the cabin. Each seat offered 48 inches of pitch and 21 inches of width, similar to what you’d find on a domestic flight within the U.S. in first class.
At each seat was a blanket and pillow, both a step above what you’d find in economy. There was no amenity kit provided on this flight.
I found the seats on this flight to be very comfortable. There were controls for the backrest, recline function, and legrest extension. All of the adjustability made sitting in the seat for several hours that much better.
While the seats were basically like what you’d find on a first class flight within the U.S., these were obviously upgraded to provide a more comfortable experience.
The legroom between the seats and the bulkhead was extremely generous. If your seatmate had to use the bathroom, there was plenty of room to move about.
Food and beverage service began with flight attendants passing through the cabin with beverage options. I could choose between Champagne, orange juice, and water — I picked the bubbly on this flight.
Even though this flight departed in the morning, there were 3 entrée choices, 2 of which were geared toward breakfast and 1 of which was more lunch-like. The lunch option would be great for those who were jetlagged after arriving on a flight from the U.S.
I found the food on this flight to be very tasty. I ordered the buffalo chicken pockets and they were served with a side of fruit salad and a selection of breakfast bread. Drinks were offered from the bar, and refills were offered proactively throughout the flight.
I loved that when I asked for a cup of tea I also was given some cookies to accompany it! This was a thoughtful touch that elevated the inflight experience.
This aircraft was equipped with IFE screens at every seat. At bulkhead seats — where I was seated — there were screens mounted on the bulkhead wall.
A pair of headphones was waiting at each business class seat. These did not feature noise cancellation. They were fine for a flight like this, though a pair of noise-canceling headphones would have been appreciated.
The armrests at each seat contained a removable remote control for the IFE screen. It was easy to hold and operate.
There was a wide variety of movies, television shows, and even live TV. I especially appreciated the live TV as I was able to stay current with U.S. television despite being on an international flight in the South Pacific.Hot Tip:
This flight is longer than a normal U.S. transcontinental flight, so it’s not short by any means. Come prepared with things to do on this flight to help pass the time. Many travelers assume that once they’ve gotten to Fiji, they’re almost to Australia.
There was Wi-Fi available for purchase on this flight. A streaming package for the entire duration of the flight cost $14.95 and a slower package could be purchased for $7.95. I opted for the higher speeds considering the length of the journey.
The service on this flight was really terrific. There were 2 flight attendants serving the business class cabin, with 1 flight attendant dedicated to the cabin for the entire flight.
I found the service to be very well-polished on this flight. The crew members I interacted with were attentive but also exuded a more laid-back vibe. As I mentioned above, including cookies with my coffee and tea was a subtle — but very noticeable — touch. And when meals were dropped off at seats, the crew made sure everything was looking tidy and the trays were aligned perfectly on the seat tables. I felt totally comfortable requesting what I wanted when I wanted but didn’t feel like the crew members were overbearing in any way.
Arriving in Melbourne was a seamless process, though all passengers were required to clear immigration since this was an international flight.
Passengers originating in the U.S. will want to keep this in mind as a journey with a connection in Fiji essentially requires 2 immigration stops.
In my experience, this isn’t a reason to avoid a stop in Fiji, but it’s certainly worth considering when you’re planning your travel to Australia.
I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Fiji Airways again. I found the seat to be comfortable, the inflight entertainment to be great, and the food offerings to be tasty.
However, connecting in Fiji has pros and cons. While it breaks up the journey and allows you to stretch your legs, it adds considerable time to the journey, and remember that once you arrive in Fiji, you’ll still have another 5 to 6 hours to go before reaching Australia.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
The flight time from Nadi to Melbourne is between 5 and 6 hours.
Fiji Airways flies from Nadi to Brisbane (BNE), Melbourne (MEL), Sydney (SYD), and Canberra (CBR) in Australia.
Tickets from Fiji to Australia, and vice versa, are not cheap, hovering around $700 round-trip for economy. And you can expect to pay even more for business class.
Fiji Airways has lie-flat seats on its Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft, but only has recliner-style seats on its Boeing 737 aircraft.
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