Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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I recently flew on Nauru Airlines, the flag carrier of its namesake country. It’s a small island in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 1,380 miles northwest of Fiji. Nauru International Airport (INU) in Yaren is the island’s sole airport, and no other airlines provide commercial service to this country.
Nauru Airlines is the only show in town, and it runs flights to Fiji, Brisbane, and 3 island nations in the region: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
What’s it like flying on this quirky airline that operates just 1 aircraft type (Boeing 737), you ask? I flew Nauru Airlines twice in early September 2023 — once going into the country and once going out, with different starting and ending points. Here’s what it was like.
Nauru Airlines Positives
Food on Every Flight Segment
I took the Nauru Airlines island hopper that runs Pohnpei (PNI) – Majuro (MAJ) – Kiribati (TRW) – Nauru (INU) to arrive in Nauru. I wondered whether there would be a meal on this itinerary; it lasted nearly 7 hours, but the longest segment was 2 hours. Just in case, I emailed email@example.com to request a vegan meal but didn’t know what (if anything) I would receive.
I was quite surprised to receive a hot meal on the first segment (PNI-MAJ), lasting 2 hours. While the dessert and chocolate bar were not vegan, the fact we got this much food on a flight this short impressed me.
The hot dish included fried tofu and sautéed vegetables. It had a good flavor and wasn’t soggy like the vegetables in many airline meals. Wooden, biodegradable utensils were included.
On the remaining segments, passengers received sandwiches at random. These included a black bean burger, egg salad, and ham and cheese.
New Seats and Cabins
I was impressed with the clean, fresh look of the cabin and seats. The carpet in the single-aisle on both planes was free of stains, as were the seats in the economy cabin on both planes (I later flew INU-NAN, which lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes).
Pitch (spacing between rows) was good, as well. I’m 5 feet 10 inches tall, and my knees didn’t hit the seat in front of me.
The seat back had a pocket with a magazine and safety information card.
Releasing the tray table was easy, and the table was a good size, easily holding my 13-inch laptop.
The seats were comfortable, and the lack of stains or tears was remarkable.
The flight crew was really friendly. Flight attendants smiled and greeted passengers at boarding, and they seemed eager to help people find their seats or put items in the overhead bins.
The PNI-MAJ segment was quite empty, with less than 25% of the seats full. However, my other segments were full, and flight attendants did a great job managing passengers to make the boarding and deplaning process as efficient as possible.
Flight attendants also did a great job keeping the lavatories tidy, cleaning them at each stop along the way.
Nauru Airlines Negatives
As with other flights in the South Pacific and flights where you lack other options, flights on Nauru Airlines are more expensive than what you’d pay to fly the same distance in another part of the world. The flight time between Nauru and Fiji is 3 hours and 40 minutes; flights regularly cost $600 for a one-way flight on this route.
That’s roughly the same flying time as a trip from Los Angeles to Mexico City, and you’ll regularly find flights for $100 on that route (or $200 for a full-service airline with a checked bag included).
Inflight Amenities Are Few
Despite being a full-service airline when it came to checked bags and inflight meals, Nauru Airlines felt like a budget airline in other ways (but not the price!). For example, seats didn’t have entertainment screens.
And where you usually might find a remote or some other piece of technology, the armrest had this plastic cover.
Planes didn’t have onboard Wi-Fi, and there were no outlets for charging your phone during the flight.
Instead, the only entertainment options were whatever you brought with you or the inflight magazine.
All Boarding Is Outside by Stairs
If it’s raining or you’ve got a broken leg (like a passenger on one of my flights), the use of stairs for boarding and deplaning all Nauru Airlines flights will be bad news. Boarding is done with a set of stairs on wheels, pushed up to the side of the plane.
Staff members assisted the woman who needed help on the stairs, but it was much more challenging than boarding a flight through a jet bridge.
No Alliance Perks or Redeemable Miles
Nauru Airlines doesn’t have a frequent flyer program for earning rewards. It’s also not part of an alliance where you could use a partner airline for booking an award flight. The airline does fly on Air Kiribati’s behalf, which is its only partner at present.
Thus, you can’t use any transfer partners to book award flights on Nauru Airlines. Fixed-rate points will be helpful here.
You also can’t credit paid flights on Nauru Airlines to another program, meaning you can’t earn miles or flight credits toward elite status elsewhere.Hot Tip:
Since you’ll need to pay for these flights, use your best credit card for airline purchases to get extra rewards on your spending.
Nauru Airlines is interesting, for better or worse. Whether you’re heading to Nauru for business or pleasure, positioning between islands in the South Pacific, or just drawn to unique airlines, there are a few reasons why you might wind up flying this carrier. While you won’t get the latest amenities, you will get some food, friendly service, and a tidy cabin on your flight. And there’s no surprise about what type of plane you’ll fly. The most significant downside is the comparatively high cost of Nauru Airlines tickets.
Featured Image Credit: Ryan Smith. All images credited to Ryan Smith unless where otherwise noted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who owns Nauru Airlines?
Nauru Airlines is the flag carrier of the Republic of Nauru. It is government-owned.
What types of planes does Nauru Airlines have?
Of Nauru Airlines’ 6 Boeing 737 planes, 3 are dedicated to passenger services and 3 are equipped for freight.
What airlines fly to the country of Nauru?
Currently, only 1 airline operates passenger planes to Nauru: Nauru Airlines, the national carrier.
Does Nauru Airlines have Wi-Fi on board?
No, it doesn’t. The airline doesn’t have inflight internet, movies, or entertainment systems. It also doesn’t have duty-free sales on flights.
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About Ryan Smith
Ryan has been on a quest to visit every country in the world and plans to hit his final country in 2023. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
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