The first time I visited Fiji was back in 1997. My memory of the trip is somewhat fuzzy – after all is has been 18 years. But I do remember Cyclone Gavin. Oh yes, how could I ever forget Gavin? In fact, my sister and I are still bickering about Gavin, even after all these years!
But I am sure you will see my point. At the time, my sister and I were staying at the Sheraton Denarau on Viti Levu island. As Gavin approached, the hotel distributed food packages and instructed all the guests to stay in their rooms until somebody came to fetch them or we had to evacuate. My package contained, among other things, two Bourbon Vanilla biscuits, which I have never really liked much. My sister’s package however, contained two chocolate biscuits. Now I know my sister has a thing – okay, let’s call it a fetish – about chocolate. Even so, in the face of adversity, and possibly death, I would have thought she would have had the graciousness to swap at least one of the chocolate biscuits for a Bourbon Vanilla with her kid brother. But no. No swap. Not even a measly crumb…
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport: Hotel shuttle.
Departs from: Right outside the lobby of the hotel.
Frequency: Every 60 minutes.
Journey time: Roughly 10 minutes.
Fare: The shuttle is complimentary for residents of The Nest Hotel.
My flight to Nadi will be leaving at 19h25, which gives me nearly a full day in Seoul. The shuttle back to Incheon leaves at 16h45. Part of the journey takes us along the perimeter fence of the western runway. Just in time I notice something big and broody creeping up from behind us, to find it is Asiana’s A 380 coming in to land.
The shuttle bus will drop you off on the ground floor, which is the arrivals level. Check-in is on the third floor.
Location: 3rd floor, Korean Air check-in is on rows A, B and C. SkyPriority check-in for First Class and Business Class is on row C
Counters: There are two First Class counters and two Business Class counters open when I arrive. There is a bit of a queue, mainly due to the copious amounts of luggage the people are checking in. Are they all migrating or what?
At the far end of row C is security check-point 1. The process is swift and efficient and the staff are very careful and polite in their handling of the cuckoo clock I have with me.
Right behind security is immigration. The agent quickly stamps my passport and boarding pass and sends me on my way.
Location: The entrance is right after immigration. The lounge itself is one floor up with access via an escalator.
Type of Lounge: Dedicated Korean Air Business Class lounge.
Facilities: Showers, workstations, newspapers, toilets, hot and cold snacks, smoking room.
Internet: Complimentary wifi – no password required.
The lounge is rather bland and dark. Moreover, the seating is clearly intended to be functional more than elegant or stylish.
The entrance to the lounge is a bit confusing. There are two queues, one for Morning Calm passengers, and one for Prestige Class passengers. I am assuming this means there is a dedicated lounge for status card holders with Korean Air that are travelling in Economy Class. Or something like that.
Well, at least the view is good…
Priority Boarding: There is a separate lane for SkyPriority passengers. First and Business Class passengers board through the L1 door, while Economy Class passengers use the L2 door.
The flight this evening is not full, at least not in Business Class. In the forward compartment, where I am sitting, only five of twelve seats are occupied. Originally I am sat on 8C. However, once boarding is completed I move to 7A, which is the bulkhead row.
Our flight is running thirty minutes last this evening, presumably because the aircraft arrived late from its previous mission. In any case, it looks as though the cabin has had to be prepared in a hurry. Some passengers are missing earphones, others slippers and some do not have either. But the crew quickly realise their mistake and check the cabin to make sure all passengers eventually have everything they need.
Configuration: 2 x 2 x 2
Pitch: 74 inches
Width: 21.6 inches
Facilities: All seats are equipped with 110 volt ac plugs and USB outlet.
Audio and Video: Every Business Class seat has a 15.4’’ LCD monitor. Audio and video are on demand.
There are 24 seats in the Business Class cabin. With six seats abreast that give you four rows of Business Class in total. The configuration on this bird is somewhat odd though. Rows 7 and eight – the first two in Business Class – are located between the First Class cabin and the L2 galley. The remaining two rows of Business Class however, are located aft of the L2 galley. As on the previous flight with the B 777-300, there are no overhead bins in the middle of the forward Business Class cabin.
On a side note, from what I can tell, the First Class seat on this aircraft is only very slightly different to the Business Class seat.
Let me guess: no urine samples on the LCD? No…
The crew on this flight are very friendly and chatty, there is a good and welcoming vibe in the cabin. Admittedly, I suspect that may have something to do with the destination. I think I would be happy too if my work saw me flying off to Fiji regularly. It probably also helps that the cabin is far from being full. But apart from that, the crew really impress me with their attention to detail and the seemingly sincere and elegant way in which they go about their duties.
Last thing before we depart, the crew distribute the amenity kits. The cosmetics are by DAVI Napa, which, if I remember correctly, is the same brand of cosmetics they have at the Peninsula in Hong Kong and in Bangkok.
The vanity kit does not contain earplugs. However, these can be obtained from the cabin crew on request.
Welcome drink on the ground: There is a choice of water, sparkling wine and orange juice. The drinks are served with peanuts.
Hot towel before the meal: A scented hot towel is served ahead of the meal.
Pre-meal drink: Diet Coke, served with a mini tartlet of shrimp and sundried tomato.
Choice: There are four choices for the main course, three of which contain beef and the fourth chicken. Two of the dishes are Korean (Bibimbap and Bulgogi)
Delivery: Trolley service.
Type of meal: Dinner.
- Marinated scallops, served with grilled vegetables and salad with a balsamic dressing.
- Bibimbap, served with sesame oil, spicy Korean chilli paste, Kimchi and cucumber pickles and a bowl of sticky rice.
- Clear soup with fish.
- Cheese with crackers.
- Chocolate ice cream.
No bread is served to passengers who have chosen the Korean option for the main. The meal concludes with coffee or tea. Koran Air only serve either black tea or green tea.
Once the meal is over, the cabin crew pass through the cabin distributing landing cards for Fiji, as well as a bottle of still water and mineral water spray to stop you from dehydrating.
90 minutes after take-off the first meal service has been completed, which is quite impressive, especially seeing as the service does not seem rushed at all.
I manage to sleep for a few hours. When I wake up, we are still more than three hours out of Nadi. One of the cabin crew spots me moving around and immediately comes to ask me if I would like some freshly baked cookies and a cup of coffee. God, this is so good. The cookies really are freshly baked, so fresh in fact, that they still warm.
Later on, when she comes to clear up, the flight attendant who brought me the cookies suggests that if I like Bibimbap, perhaps I would like to try a Korean style Onigiri with Bibimbap and Kimchi in it. To be honest, I have my doubts about what it will taste like. But I do not want to appear ungrateful either after being taken such good care of. So I agree to the Onigiri. And damn it, it is good. So good in fact that I forget to take a picture of the unwrapped thing before demolishing it!
Hot towel before the meal: A scented hot towel is served ahead of the meal.
Pre-meal drink: Orange juice.
Choice: There are two choices for breakfast, the Korean option is rice porridge – which is really bland – or an omelette. I do not really fancy either much, so I ask the cabin crew if I can have the ramen from the snack menu instead.
Delivery: Trolley service.
Type of meal: Breakfast.
- Blueberry yoghurt.
- Selection of fruit.
- Spicy ramen soup with more pickles.
- Tea or Coffee
The ramen are very tasty and spicy, but not overly so. Nonetheless, the cabin crew keep coming round to ask if I am okay with the hot food. One of them gives me some advice to dilute the soup with a bit of water if it proves to be too hot. And once more I am impressed with the warm hospitality displayed by the crew.
Eventually we begin our descent into Nadi and I start to get all excited. I am curious how much I will still remember and if the place will look even remotely familiar.
But in actual fact, Fiji has not really changed that much. The airport certainly has not. The cool thing about Nadi airport is that although they have airbridges, you still have the full on al fresco experience. The airbridge leads to an open air terrace which eventually leads you to immigration.
There is a bit of a hold up at immigration. Because I shall only be staying for a short period, the immigration officer wants to see my onward ticket, which, in theory is not a problem, seeing as I have all hotel and ticket confirmations in my mail account. The problem is though, that I have no 4G reception and there is no wifi at the airport. Eventually I am escorted to the immigration office where I am asked to take a seat among a surprising amount of empty Gordon’s Gin cardboard boxes. The officer checks my passport and once he is satisfied that I really shall be leaving the country, he send me on my way.
GETTING INTO TOWN
Departs from: Taxi stand outside the terminal
Journey time: 25 minutes.
Fare: This is interesting. Although all taxis in Fiji have a meter, none of the drivers actually use them. Common practice is to negotiate the price before you get in. In my case, the taxi driver quotes a price of 35 Fiji Dollars to make the journey to the Hilton Denarau resort. Upon arrival, I take the bank notes I have in my jeans pocket. I have a five dollar note, a twenty dollar note and the rest in fifty dollar notes. I hand the driver the fifty, to which he simply says that twenty-five will be fine. Um, okay. I do not think I have ever had that happen to me before!
My previous flight with Korean Air from Frankfurt to Seoul was nice, decidedly pleasant. But this flight from Seoul onward to Nadi is an absolute delight. And that is mainly down to the crew. With their friendly manner and easy going but respectful way of interacting with the passengers they set the stage for a very relaxing voyage.