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.

  2. Fiji’s quote about “Soaring with Pride” on Twitter would be more apt if they focused more attention on their inflight service and baggage handling. This is not the first time I have flown Fiji Airways, but certainly the first time I had a horrible experience, although from speaking with other family members, it seems that it’s an issue that’s quite prevalent specially with regards to the meal service in the flight as well as procuring baggage at final destinations.

    I had a wonderful three week vacation in Sydney Australia with my husband and parents followed by a week in Fiji before flying back home to US. Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Fiji, we all were severely disappointed in our returning flight, which has left a lasting impression preventing us from ever choosing to fly this particular airline again.

    We boarded our flight on July 4 at 7am from Nadi, Fiji heading to SFO (Flight # 872) and all was well for the most part. We were served breakfast into the first 90 minutes of the flight and the fare was tolerable. Little did we know that it would be the most sustenance we will get for the next 8.5-hours.

    Two hours prior to landing in SFO, we were getting hungry and then saw the meal trays heading to the front of the aircraft while we were eagerly waiting our turn. By the time the trolleys rolled to our row, we were dismayed by the flight attendant’s announcement that it was beef only. Clearly shocked, we inquired about Chicken or even Vegetarian options, we were told that they had already run out of them prior to getting to row 20.

    We were further outraged when the flight attendant insisted on giving us the beef tray even though we (Hindus) do not eat beef. When we explicitly mentioned this fact, she simply removed the beef plates and gave us whatever meager leftover remained that simply included a dinner roll, a single slice of cheese and a sad little salad if it even can be called that.

    For a minute or two, we weren’t sure how to react as people were talking amongst themselves as to how they could run out of meal options. The flight attendants then had the audacity to inform us that it’s not their fault and that the blame lies with the catering company who obviously had made a big blunder. At the end of the day, we are not concerned with the catering company as we are not directly dealing with them, we are dealing with Fiji Airways and the least we can expect is a decent meal.

    Having travelled to many countries with many airlines, we never had to deal with such a situation. It’s unfortunate that most airlines do not fly directly into Fiji unless they are stopping in New Zealand or Australia, hence depriving us of more options when flying. Most airlines flying within the US even charge people for food but at least they have options and enough meals for everyone on board should they wish to purchase. Not only that, they encourage people to bring their own meals should they wish to have it. We didn’t even have that consideration with Fiji Airways as they only allow for a 7.5 kg carryon limit, which can hardly comprise of anything other than perhaps excess luggage, which may typically not fit in the check-in baggage. Had we known that we wouldn’t be offered a meal of our choice, we would have made our own arrangements, though for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they charge so much for international airline tickets yet can’t seem to provide a couple of meal options or better yet backups.

    Anyway, we endured through the last 2 hours of the flight somehow eager to get home. Again, not knowing what other surprise awaited us when we landed and got to the baggage carousel. Once we cleared immigration, we proceeded to pick up our bags but only got 2 of the 4 bags we checked in. We patiently waited for the rest of our bags for 30 more minutes until we came across other disgruntled passengers who were suffering from the same fate as us. We tried to look for a Fiji Airline Representative that could inform us of what was happening in the background with the bags but alas no one was to be found.

    After another 20 minutes of pacing and waiting, some passengers finally lost their patience and approached the Cathay Pacific counter to page a Fiji Airway’s Representative. After an hour of not receiving our bags, suddenly we saw the carousel with those bags in question on them. Throughout this one-hour period, passengers from 2 other airlines had come and gone with their bags. Its not that we expect our bags to be on the belt and cannot tolerate any delay but some communication from the airline would be much appreciated. In this particular case, there was no communication whatsoever until we contacted someone, and even then before they were able to get there, the baggage issue had been resolved.

    While there are always minor issues that we can ignore and get passed, the two aforementioned issues are too big to ignore and as a result, my family and I will not be traveling with Fiji Airways ever again. In addition, I will be encouraging all my family and friends to not waste their precious time and money on an airline that can’t be bothered with the basic needs of their passengers.

    Before writing this review, I visited 12 other websites, just within the first 2 pages of Google search that contained some similar and some different complaints about Fiji Airways. This goes to show that people are very dissatisfied with their experiences and that’s a lot of customers to ignore for Fiji Airways. What’s appalling is that no one from Fiji Airways has ever tried to contact these past passengers to resolve their issues and even if they did then they had never reached a satisfactory resolution. My review is probably going to fall on deaf ears too but I find it important to let others know of my experience so that you can avoid the same mess. There are many other airlines to consider when flying and in order to keep their clientele, airlines need to step up to the competition. Fiji Airways, you certainly have a long way to go!

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