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After building my dream trip to Australia this winter (summer Down Under), I booked a unique itinerary home to Boston from New Zealand’s capital city, with a stopover in Nadi, Fiji. The routing involved an exciting Fiji Airways flight in business class on the carrier’s flagship long-haul aircraft, the Airbus A350. Here are some basic flight details to get started with the review:
Airline/Flight: Fiji Airways, FJ 810
Route: NAN-LAX — Nadi, Fiji to Los Angeles, California
Flight Date: February 6, 2023
Scheduled Departure/Arrival: 9:40 p.m. / 11:50 a.m.
Scheduled Flight Length: 10 hours, 10 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Fiji Airways deploys its Airbus A350 on a number of routes between its Nadi hub and cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sydney and Auckland. The A350 is a mainstay on the Los Angeles route, and I was excited to experience the carrier’s premium business class offering.
How I booked the flight
This flight was the second leg of a larger itinerary that took me from Wellington, New Zealand to Boston, Massachusetts, with a stopover in Nadi, Fiji and a number of connections in the United States. I purchased the ticket with Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles, with the total cost being 55,000 MileagePlan miles plus $68.37 in taxes and fees.
To learn more about how I booked and paid for this incredible trip, read my expanded article, How I Booked Business Class Flights to Australia with Airline Miles. If you’re new to the points and miles game, it’s a great place to start to understand the incredible opportunities available through award travel.
PRO TIP: You can book this flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles! By opening an American Airlines co-branded credit card, you can be well on your way to booking flights with miles thanks to these attractive sign-up bonuses:
- Citi® / American Airlines AAdvantage® Mile Up® Card — Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and a $50 statement credit when you spend $500 in your first 3 months of card membership. (Learn how to apply)
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Fiji Airways Airbus A350 Seating Layout
Fiji Airways introduced its flagship Airbus A350-900 aircraft in 2019, taking delivery of two planes which it named “Island of Viti Levu” and “Island of Vanua Levu,” the latter of which operated my flight from Nadi to Los Angeles. In 2023, the airline placed an order for two additional A350s which will be delivered in July-August 2023.
The airline’s A350 features 33 lay-flat business class seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and 301 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.
Extra-legroom seats in economy class, referred to as “Bula Space” seats, feature 34 inches of seat pitch and 6 degrees of recline. Standard legroom economy class seats feature between 31 and 32 inches of seat pitch and 6 degrees of recline. All economy seats feature an in-seat video screen with a 12-inch touchscreen display, USB port, in-seat power (2 outlets per 3 seats) and a large entertainment library.
A high-quality seat map of the Fiji Airways A350 is available from aeroLOPA.
Business Class Seat on the Fiji Airways Airbus A350
The forward-facing business class seats on the Fiji Airways Airbus A350 are built on the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat platform. The Super Diamond is one of the industry’s most popular business class seat types and is used by carriers worldwide — it’s my personal favorite.
Business class is arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, with direct aisle access at every seat. The seat shell impedes passenger transfers from the aisle chair to a degree, but the Fiji Airways seat is much more accessible than the British Airways Club Suite, which has a door.
The seat lays flat into a bed and Fiji Airways provides a pillow and blanket. The seat padding on Fiji Airways’ version of this seat was less comfortable than I have experienced on other carriers, making it a bit more difficult to sleep, though it wouldn’t keep me from flying with the airline in the future.
The seat itself is spacious, adjustable and intuitively designed. The seat cushion was upholstered in a white leatherette cover.
Reclining the seat is possible using the touch screen control panel adjacent to the seat — it’s possible to recline into a lounge position or further into flat bed mode.
The footwell beneath the entertainment screen is a bit cramped and could impact very tall passengers (as is the case with most premium cabin seats), but most passengers will find the seat spacious — including side sleepers like me, who take up additional space.
While many airlines are navigating away from air vents at each seat, I’m happy to report that Fiji Airways has maintained the feature on its Airbus A350 — I need air circulation in order to sleep well and appreciated the two adjustable air nozzles above my seat.
The seat features a large, 17-inch personal entertainment touchscreen display that can also be controlled by a handheld remote found in a storage compartment adjacent to the seat. There was a large catalogue of movies and TV shows to choose from, as well as a moving flight map and two live camera feeds from cameras mounted outside the aircraft.
Other tech features include a universal AC power plug and USB port, as well as a pair of noise-canceling headphones for use during the flight.
Food & Beverage Service in Fiji Airways Business Class
After boarding the aircraft, I was offered a hot towel and a choice of pre-departure beverages: orange juice or sparkling wine. I asked for one of each.
Shortly after the flight’s departure, flight attendants served an additional round of drinks (I ordered a cocktail) along with a ramekin of Chex Mix.
A menu was then presented with a number of selections. There was a choice of two appetizers:
- Kokoda (Fijian Ceviche) — A Flan delicacy made with raw fresh fish cured in citrus juices, enriched with coconut milk & enhanced with sea salt, minced chilies, fine sliced green onions, tomatoes, cucumber & coriander leaves, garnished with taro flavoured boba spheres
- Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup — Garnished with brown sugar boba pearls, extra virgin olive oil & spring onions
Three entree selections were available:
- Zesty Orange Chicken — With steamed jasmine rice & chopped parsley, grilled red capsicum, sautéed snake beans, red onions & fried shavings of crispy cassava (tapioca)
- Beef Moussaka — Roasted eggplant baked with premium beef mince topped with cheese & a hint of paprika, spiced jasmine rice, steamed broccoli, carrot florets, tomato basil sauce, garnished with dehydrated fried cassava (tapioca)
- Bechamel Penne Pasta with Broccoli (Vegetarian) — With a burnt onion jam, tomatoes, sweet potato chips & basil
I chose the soup and pasta. Both were served at the same time. The soup was tasty, though the main course left a bit to be desired. A passenger in a nearby seat had selected the chicken, which looked good — I might have had better luck with that choice.
Dessert followed shortly thereafter, and there were two options up for grabs:
- Cookies & Cream Banoffee Parfait — Delicate layers of ripe banana, caramel cream & crushed oreo cookies, finished with stems of dehydrated plantain banana
- Fresh Fruit Bowl (Vegan) — Assorted fresh tropical fruits garnished with natural flavoured boba pearls
I chose the parfait and found it to be enjoyable. Sweet, but not terribly so, with a nice texture. I concluded the meal with a Fiji water, then prepared to rest.
At the conclusion of dinner, a breakfast menu was distributed. The menu card allowed passengers to pre-select their meal and drink options, which were served about 90 minutes prior to landing in Los Angeles. The following meal choices were offered:
- Cheese Omelette Brushed with Parsley Butter — With pan-seared sweet potato cake, grilled chicken chipolata, sautéed spinach with onions, sweet mustard relish & micro herbs
- Warm Upside Down Banana & Pear Slice — Served with vanilla custard sauce, Chantilly cream, Kitkat fingers with cocoa powder & fresh mint
- Continental Breakfast (Vegetarian) — Fresh fruit platter with a lemon curd & chocolate granola parfait with flavoured boba spheres, fresh house made breads & spreads
I selected the omelette and paired it with a glass of orange juice. In addition to the selection of a main course, a small selection of fresh fruit was served along with a choice of bread (sliced bread or cinnamon roll). The breakfast was satisfying, and was a great way to start the morning.
Accessible Lavatory on the Fiji Airways Airbus A350
The designated “accessible” lavatory for passengers using the aisle chair on the Fiji Airways Airbus A350 is located at the center of the economy class cabin, behind row 49.
When I needed to use the bathroom, I rang the call bell, told the flight attendant, and was pushed to the rear of the aircraft using the onboard aisle wheelchair.
Accessible lavatories come in a number of shapes and sizes, and some are much more accessible than others. If I were to rank the various styles, this one would be at the bottom of the list. Two standard lavatories are effectively combined into one, by opening the folding wall between the two. Although this does provide additional space for the aisle chair and a companion or care assistant, accessibility features are lacking. The aisle chair must be parked perpendicular to the toilet and transfers are awkward.
Regrettably, cabin crew had not closed off the larger lavatory to other passengers prior to pushing me there, and I ended up waiting for an extended period of time for the bathroom to become available — while seated on the aisle chair. The aisle chair itself was defective, with a broken latching mechanism, which caused it to fold in on me like a lawn chair. A passenger without upper body strength would likely have suffered injury as a result. I eventually demanded to transfer onto a nearby flight attendant jump seat because I was running out of strength to resist the collapsing wheelchair.
The broken aisle chair aside, being take in an aisle chair from my seat in row 18 through the business and economy class cabins wasn’t comfortable. I bumped into nearly every passenger along the way. The lavatory was located 20 seating rows away from the nearest boarding door — much too far and a failure in accessible design. The proper place for an accessible lavatory on the Airbus A350 is at door 2L or 2R, yet airlines have opted for a much less accessible lavatory in the center aisle.
Pro-tip: When a flight attendant is assisting you to the lavatory using an aisle chair, advise them to pull you backwards — it’s safer, much easier to maneuver and will prevent your knees from bumping into seats.
For more information on getting to and using the bathroom on the airplane as a wheelchair user, read the article on wheelchair accessible airplane lavatories, which contains photos and descriptions of the various lavatory styles.
Fiji Airways offers a strong business class product on its Airbus A350 aircraft, superior to others I have tried including Finnair’s Business Class on the A350. The business class seat from Collins Aerospace is about as good as it gets — at least as far as modern seat designs currently being installed on new and remodeled aircraft. The A350’s accessible lavatory problem would set Fiji Airways behind airlines that have opted for more accessible lavatory designs, but no other carriers currently offer non-stop flights between the United States and Fiji.