My very first holiday overseas was to Fiji when I was 12. It was during the school holidays with my Mum, Dad and younger brother. We stayed in a couple of different resorts and it all seemed very glamorous. I remember having kakonda for dinner on the first night – raw fish in coconut milk – screwing my face up initially before realising how delicious it was. Even today, whenever I spot raw fish in coconut milk on the menu, I’ll instinctively order it and remember that time at the Nadi Travelodge, and the look on my father’s face as I gingerly tried my first truly international dish.
The resort we stayed in had a log across the pool that my brother and would sit on and try to push each other off. The other kids we met from around the world, with their exotic accents and different outlooks on life, all seemed so exciting. We stayed at the hotel on Taveuni Island, a long, skinny island with a coconut plantation and a farm raising black bulls, which was off the beaten track, though I am sure it has changed now. I remember the American woman who would glide along in the pool smoking long, thin black cigarettes. She was married to a much older man and had a young son, and would drink Bloody Marys in the morning, which, to a 12-year-old just looked like regular tomato juice. But my school teacher mother warned me to stay away from “that woman”. Even at 12, it all seemed very Hollywood and different from my life at Fairway Drive in Whangarei.
As we were transiting through Suva airport to our connecting flight to New Zealand via Nadi, we were approached by a cameraman and crew to see i my family would pose for photos for Air Pacific’s inflight magazine. Before we knew it, the four of us were posing in an aircraft – myself in the middle seat with Mum and Dad on either side of me, while my brother stood behind us looking down at the magazine we were all pretending to read so intently. We still have a copy of the Air Pacific inflight laminated brochure with all of us staring out, all smiles and looking very relaxed on holiday. Air Pacific has recently changed and is now called Fiji Airways, which I think makes sense, seeing it return to its original identity.
Fiji’s national airline has officially relaunched around the world, with a nod to its heritage. Nalin Patel, the airline’s Chairman, says the official launch of Fiji Airways represents an exciting new chapter for the airline and the people of Fiji.
“This is a proud day for the Fiji Airways team and the Fijian people,” said Mr. Patel. “The name ‘Fiji Airways’ proudly represents all Fijians and all that our 333 beautiful islands stand for – we are honored to be Fiji’s flying ambassador to the world.”
With two new state-of-the-art A330-200s, with the third A330 launched in November this year, Fiji Airways has also introduced a new (A330) and refreshed (B737) interiors. The airline has retired its previously known classes – Pacific Voyager (economy) and Tabua Class (business), and will introduce the Fiji Airways’ Economy and Fiji Airways’ Business Class as part of its enhanced on-board offering. Revitalised service, including new meal options (let’s hope they include kakonda!), new crockery and linen have all been introduced to offer an improved long-haul dining experience.
In addition, on the new A330s, the Fiji Airways Kids Club offers complimentary entertainment for children with movies, games and e-books.
Fiji was the place that gave me my thirst for travel, even as a child. It was a holiday with wonderful family memories that we have often talked about and would for years to come. I wonder if Fiji Airways is looking for a more mature model for their inflight magazine? If so, I’m available.