Flight Test: Fiji Airways, business class
THE ROUTE Sydney to Nadi.
THE PLANE Airbus A330-200.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME Passengers can earn points in the Qantas, American Airlines or Alaska Airlines frequent flyer programs.
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END? Business, seat 1E.
TIME IN THE AIR Three hours, 50 minutes from Sydney to Nadi, Fiji.
THE SEAT STUFF 60 inches (150cm) pitch. It's a 2-2-2 layout for 24 business-class seats, which recline to an almost flat eight-degree incline bed.
BAGGAGE One checked bag up to 30kg, and two carry-on bags up to 10kg.
COMFORT FACTOR The A330 is so new to the fleet of Fiji Airways (the recently rebranded Air Pacific), the aircraft still has that "Mmm, new plane" smell.
The business class cabin is minimally decorated in neutral off-white tones with brown carpet, the flight attendants' uniforms providing the only bright colours.
Seats are contained within shells and a flip-up panel by my arm reveals adjustment controls. Four buttons are dedicated to pre-set alignments, from upright all the way to a near-flat bed.
As it's a daytime flight I won't be trying out the latter, so instead I play around with the second set of controls which adjusts fine details of the seat, from lumbar support to the footrest.
As a big guy used to being crammed into economy class seats, I am loving the generous seat width and legroom.
THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT Because I'm in the first row, my video screen is placed on the bulkhead in front of me, and though it's about 150cm away it seems a decent size for viewing.
The picture is sharp and the menu controls are snappily responsive, a great advance on older systems. There's not a huge movie selection but it's diverse. The TV show selection is thinner, largely mainstream American programs. There's a good range of music channels, including one playing Fijian tunes.
The games section has yet to be populated but there are a couple of audio books to listen to. A separate Kids Club section contains audiovisual entertainment for the young 'uns.
If you're using your own entertainment gear, it can be recharged via the in-seat USB plug.
THE SERVICE Service is smiling, friendly and unfussy, neatly echoing Fijians' national stereotype.
FEEDING TIME Lunch is served an hour into the flight. The entree, a squid and prawn salad, arrives with the main course. There's a choice of beef, chicken or seafood (comprising fish and squid) for main, and I opt for the grilled chicken in "Oriental sauce" served with vegetables and rice.
It's a tasty dish with a pleasingly tangy hint of spices in the sauce. The dessert is a straightforward slice of gateau. The accompanying coffee comes in a mug decorated with a traditional Fijian design.
ONE MORE THING Flying business class with Fiji Airways grants access to the Qantas international business class lounge at Sydney, an excellent space to chill before boarding.
THE VERDICT If you have the budget, the new Fiji Airways business class is a pleasant way to get into a relaxed state of mind on your way to the island nation.
THE FREQUENCY Daily.
The author flew courtesy of Fiji Airways.