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July 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Fiji Airlines’ Abysmal Service

from the July, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Air Pacific is Fiji's national airline, Pacific Sun the local carrier. They both have a poor reputation, and deservedly so. But many local or inter-island carriers in the Third World are undependable, I usually confirm before departure. This time, I didn't -- and I paid.

To get to Matangi Island Resort from Lalati Resort, I had to take an hour-long cab ride to Suva, then board a short interisland Air Pacific flight from Suva to Taveuni, which I had booked months earlier. Arriving at the check-in desk an hour before departure (without reconfirming the flight), I learned my flight had been canceled two days prior, and the flight they had re-booked me on had just departed. Incredibly, airline staff admitted they had not attempted to contact me, even though they had my email address. Of course, I should have asked Lalati Resort to re-confirm my flight (liveaboards routinely do that) but in my diving bliss, I just flat out forgot. So, it was a three-and-a-half-hour cab ride from Suva to Nadi -- though paid for by Air Pacific -- and I barely had enough time to make the flight to Taveuni. My dive gear didn't arrive for another 24 hours.

Before returning, Matangi Resort called to reconfirm my flight to Nadi, and I learned that Pacific Sun had put me on a 8:30a.m. flight, four-and-a-half hours earlier than the original one (I did.receive an email from Air Pacific about the change). From Lalati Resort, allow two hours total travel time between leaving the resort dock and arriving at the airport terminal.

Some Americans fly Air New Zealand via Auckland to Fiji specifically to avoid Air Pacific's chronic flight delays and cancellations, but this adds a lot of extra time, and you still deal with internal flights. For groups of four or more, chartering a plane may prove economical. Try Private Jets Charter ( www.privatejetscharter. net ) or Island Hoppers ( www.helicopters.com.fj ).

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