Flight Food Review: Fiji Airways

Posted in Fiji, Fiji Airways, In the Air, International

There is a dystopian future where the government takes pride in being called Kafkaesque. They make rules that create discord and drive the citizenry crazy. They throw half the world’s population into prison. Inside those prisons, the people are treated like less than cattle. One of their punishments? They have to eat the food of Fiji Airways.

Too much?

Okay, it’s not that bad. But it’s not good either. I am a staunch defender of airline food, but what Fiji Airways served me last week is abhorrent. That means really, really bad, bro. It felt like the food served on the flight was purchased from the close-out section of a school cafeteria superstore.

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On my initial flight from LAX to Nadi, Fiji (NAN) in economy, the flight took off at 10:30pm, which meant that I was asleep when the first snack was served. I assumed that meant a full breakfast was waiting for me on the other side of dreamland, but I was mistaken. Roughly an hour and a half before landing, they brought out the Jimmy Dean. Yes, that Jimmy Dean. We all received Jimmy Dean egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches. The same kind you can buy in your grocer’s freezer. If you opt for the “vegetarian option” as my girlfriend did (despite the fact that an egg and cheese sandwich is vegetarian), you got a tortilla full of mush. I still haven’t figured out what the mush was. Here’s the amazing part: this was the BEST meal we were served on our round-trip to Fiji.

In economy on the way back from NAN to LAX, the flight took off slightly earlier so I was able to indulge in both the meal at night and breakfast before we landed. Let’s handle them chronologically, shall we?

IMG_0312That’s chicken. Or at least they said it was. The yellow bits are pineapple. The gray slurry is a mystery to me. When I saw that coming out, I asked for the vegetarian option (on Fiji Airways, they just ask which you’d like instead of making you order ahead — or at least that’s how this particular flight worked). The veggie option was cheese and pineapple on that same torpedo bun. IMG_0313Mmmmmm! Those are the letters that start the sentence “Mmmmmmmaybe they were playing a joke on us?” Cheese, pineapple, bread: all ingredients that are great on their own, but not great when they’re combined in this particular way. It’s not that this was terrible. It wasn’t. It’s just that I would rather have something resembling a normal meal instead of a hobo snack (no offense to hobos). A greasy cheesy stoner sammie isn’t exactly what I want to eat on an airplane right before I go to bed.

IMG_0315Breakfast was more elaborate. A cup of vanilla yogurt, a cup of juice, a roll (?), some cookie cracker biscuit things, and then the main course: an “omelet.” I thought omelets had to have ingredients, but in this case it was a giant egg mass with mushrooms and some kind of hot salsa.

IMG_0317There’s a problem when the best thing in the foil container are the mushrooms. The eggs were spongy and gross, the salsa was the food equivalent of unintelligible, and the mushrooms were mushrooms. I gave up after two bites and went for the yogurt. All in all, a very disappointing meal.

I don’t get it. Fiji vowed to improve their food after customers complained about it regularly. If this is the upgrade, I hate to see what they used to serve. Over all, this was a giant mess. Fiji isn’t known as the best airline in the world and they’re certainly not going to get that way if they keep serving food like this. A little extra effort goes a long way and I hope FJ decides to take a long look at their F&B program.

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  1. No! I would not eat that slop either. That said, I also think it important to clearly distinguish between in-bound and out-bound meals. Even second string foreign airlines enjoy for greater control over catering in their home country than what they are forced to purchase in the U.S. And U.S. costs are substantially higher. Outbound (from the U.S.) will nearly always have substandard catering, even on ‘major’ foreign carriers and in all classes. IMO, the down&dirty evaluations should be focused on Country-of-origin – to U.S. flights, where the carrier is assumed to have more control (and lower costs) than for catering purchased in the U.S. A very few carriers, often with tight turn schedules in U.S. ports, will load their return trip’s catering, packed with dry ice for the return trip, literally ‘tankering’ it in the cargo hold. Again, this is not common, but some second stringers do it. Reasonably fair reviews of foreign airline’s catering should focus primarily on meals created and boarded in the home country.
    In absolute fairness, it does appear that Fiji blew their cookies in BOTH directions, is well qualified to remain a second-string airline (regardless of route/class) and one to be avoided. (That meatless Jimmy Dean thing, outbound from the U.S. IIRC, it the bottom or the barrel.
    What most amazes me is that with a bit of care and good planning, long haul coach class food CAN be quite good and at a reasonable expense. At least crossing the Big Ponds, the majority of the the cattle-class pax are leisure travelers who will never see that seat or meal again. If a good meal combination is found, it does NOT have to be changed every quarter. Business and the increasingly rare first class is a different story. Over time the smart foreign airlines develop a half-dozen or so coach class meals that meet their cost standards and are generally pleasing to their pax. This is not Rocket Science! And yes, based on your pix and text, Fiji blew it in both directions. Some get it and some do not. When/If I have a choice of airlines for long-haul, and if economics force me toward the rear, food quality becomes increasingly important. Some get it and do well while others do not, but perhaps provide more comfort with lower load factors. I’ll toss and you call it.
    As for U.S flagged carriers flying many of the same, pond-crossing routes, what can I say? Their safety and compliance standards remain high, but the soft portions of their offerings, including food, and the simple smile, are generally horrible in the rear cabin(s). (That grandmother, punching the time clock in her 31st year truly does not care about the food: Beef, Chicken or Pasta on a big airplane, one less for smaller airplanes. Grandma will keep us safe and get us out quickly if necessary, but beyond that… she does not give a noodle. Something about union rules… and it hurts their business volume.)
    Palatable, even good, interesting food can be had on long-haul coach flights, and well within budget. A few get it and I wonder why the rest miss the mark, often horribly.
    I’ve had my spout. What say the rest of this blog’s readers?
    -C.
    P.S. That dark colored ‘meat’ chunk on the Chicken sandwich is most likely chicken thigh meat. Many Asian/pacific cultures prefer thigh for its moisture and flavor, over white breast meat. I think they are right and I use thighs often. As for the glop holding it all together, I have no idea and I’d likely scrape it away.

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