Fiji Airways' new flagship Premier Lounge at the airline's home hub of Nadi Airport offers travellers a significantly upgraded experience compared to airline's age-old – and now replaced – Tabua Lounge.
With space for up to 200 guests, the access roster doesn't just include Fiji Airways' business class passengers, but also Qantas Gold and Platinum frequent flyers jetting about with Fiji Airways: including when booked on an FJ flight number.
Here's what's on offer inside.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security and passport control at Nadi Airport, turn right, walk to the end of the room and veer left – you’ll find the Premier Lounge down the corridor.
However, don’t take the escalators up to the departures level: I made that mistake as signage was limited and it felt like the right way to go, so ended up going back down the stairs to find the lounge – the same path that international transit passengers would use, such as when flying from Australia to North America via Nadi.
You’ll know you’re in the right place when you spot a large ‘living wall’ opposite reception…
… and once inside, you’ll find a modern space divided into a variety of zones catering to travellers working, dining and relaxing.
There's also a spa tucked away behind an unassuming door, but more on that later.
- Fiji Airways' business class passengers travelling internationally, including when booked on a Qantas (QF) codeshare flight number.
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyers travelling on a Fiji Airways (FJ) or Qantas (QF) codeshare flight.
- Fiji Airways Tabua Club members travelling with Fiji Airways on an FJ flight number.
- Priority Pass cardholders travelling with any airline, subject to their normal membership plan.
- Business class passengers of Korean Air and Solomon Airlines.
- SkyTeam Elite Plus members and Korean Air Morning Calm Premium and Million Miler cardholders prior to Korean Air flights only.
- Paying guests who part with FJD$99 at reception for access when travelling with any airline.
Qantas Club members have no access unless covered by one of the entry methods above. This applies even if booked on a Qantas codeshare flight operated by Fiji Airways, and when flying Jetstar or any other airline, as this is an ‘associated lounge’, not a Qantas lounge, so different rules apply.
That said, a Priority Pass membership could be your friend here – particularly if included as a complimentary benefit with your credit card, such as with the AMEX Platinum Charge Card – which affords access even if booked with rival airlines like Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand.
Feeling peckish? Then grab a table in the dining room…
… and venture over to the buffet. My evening visit saw colourful fruit, snacks and sweet treats on offer…
… flanked by more chilled tropical fruit – appropriate given the location of the lounge…
… with salad and light bites too:
For something more substantial, a small selection of hot dishes can be found close by, such as a tomato, bread and basil soup with croutons and pappadums…
… and Nyonya chicken with steamed rice, which was tasty with a nice spicy kick.
Accompaniments including riata, mango chutney and brinjal pickle are also offered near a second helping of the same main:
That’s not a huge selection of hot food – and it'd be great to see an extra dish offered rather than two bowls of the same food – but proved ample for a nibble before my four-hour flight back to Australia, on which a full dinner was served.
For an extra taste of Fiji, there’s a self-serve bean cart nearby…
… stocked with local snacks:
The same dining zone offers self-serve non-alcoholic drinks too…
… but for something stronger, head to the tended bar:
That’s where you’ll find beer (Heineken, Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter), spirits (Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniel's whiskey, Johnnie Walker black label whisky, white rum) and wine (including a French sparkling in the Leon Roux Rosé Brut, plus whites and reds) – here’s a peek behind the counter:
Now, a big contention of mine with Fiji Airways’ old lounge was that there wasn’t barista coffee, or even a push-button espresso machine: only a pot of filtered coffee on a hotplate (below), which just doesn't cut it in 2018.
With so many Australian visitors to the lounge, I was glad to see that hand-crafted barista coffee has now been introduced: and reasonably good coffee at that, albeit sans the optional latte art.
Because it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, the lounge also has a signature rum-based cocktail which the bartenders will happily mix up for you (and we’d not judge you for ordering up a second round of this yum rum).
Speaking of the lounge staff, ‘tray arounds’ were being offered to seated guests during my visit, including bowls of hot chips with tomato sauce, and a tasty helping of calamari – which, like many things here, reminded me of a Qantas lounge.
(I had to go and fetch my own cutlery and napkin though, which would have been helpful to have on the tray too.)
That ‘familiar’ feeling made more sense when I learned that like its partner and part-owner Qantas, Fiji Airways draws on AccorHotels and Sofitel for its in-lounge food and beverage, which explains many of the other similarities that regular travellers will notice.
During this visit, the bar staff were also offering drinks and refills to seated travellers, which was a nice touch.
When you don’t have the luxury of being on ‘Fiji time’, there’s a business centre nestled behind reception with iMac computers and printing facilities…
… but most business travellers packing their own tech will gravitate towards the working bench in the opposite corner of the lounge, with conveniently-placed AC and USB outlets at every seat: literally, two AC outlets plus two USB chargers for every guest, which ensures no difficulty plugging in:
To draw another comparison, Fiji Airways' old lounge was known for its limited power points, which were mostly taken by computers or even the lounge's WiFi router, which sat out in the middle of the room, as pictured:
Fast forward to today, and there's power practically anywhere you can sit – whether nestled in between the high-backed chairs, with one AC and one USB port provided per traveller...
... next to the more casual seats, which offer the same connections...
... or over in the lounge's quieter zone, even if you must peer into the space between your chair and the wall to find the plug:
That said, the WiFi still isn't great. I measured download speeds of only 1.8 to 2.2Mbps, uploads of 2.1Mbps and ping speeds of 13-16ms during my visit, which is adequate for basic web browsing but incredibly slow for transmitting larger files like email attachments, PowerPoint presentations and so on.
The lounge is relatively quiet – boarding announcements were made, but Nadi Airport is relatively small, which makes those announcements infrequent – but boarding calls need to be better-timed so that guests can make full use of the space until stepping on board.
I left the lounge when an announcement was made for my flight to Brisbane, but ended up standing at gate for 20 minutes until boarding actually started: time that could have been better-spent enjoying this new lounge.
When your visit calls for relaxation, there's plenty of seating to choose from, whether it's one of the longer, more social benches...
... a more private 'box' in the walls...
... comfy seats nearer the TVs and dining areas, ideal for solo flyers or duos...
... high-backed chairs which fit the same purpose...
... one of the many groups of four forward-facing seats, ideal for families and colleagues...
... a six-seat combo for those groups larger...
... or the comfy seats down the opposite end of the lounge. As this space is the furthest from the bar and buffet area, it tends to be a bit quieter than elsewhere, and with the TV here not set to a loud volume, could double as a space for quiet work too.
To really kick back, there's a closed-off media room as well...
... which we're told can double as a meeting room with the entertainment paused (as in our photos) if other guests aren't using the space.
The lounge offers a selection of reading material, too...
... and a private room for children, manned by a fully-qualified Fijian nanny. The space was occupied during my visit, so we don't have photos to share.
Each gendered restroom has a private shower suite attached – here's what the men's shower looks like, which features an adjustable shaving mirror too over by the main basin.
All amenities are provided including towels, bath mats, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, but the showers aren't necessarily refreshed after each use, which would be more sanitary and in line with other global business class lounges.
New to the lounge is a pay-to-visit spa tucked away behind a subtle door, with a 10-minute neck and shoulder massage costing FJD$25 (A$15.55), through to more expensive treatments like a 45-minute island facial (FJD$90/A$56) and a 55-minute pedicure (FJD$95/A$59.10), among the offerings.
Bookings are taken directly at the spa reception desk, but even when trying to secure a quick 10-minute appointment almost two hours before my flight, I was told the spa was fully-booked until an hour after I was due to board – and the lounge wasn't even particularly busy.
The spa also seemed to be understaffed, as there were four treatment areas inside but only two staff on duty: and on top of that, Fiji Airways also allows anybody passing through the airport to come inside and pay only for a spa treatment, even if they don't have access to the rest of the lounge.
If the spa continues to be a popular amenity, we'd love to see more staff on-hand to offer treatments – particularly when guests are paying for them – and if that still doesn't fix the queueing problem, restrict appointments for non-lounge visitors to ensure lounge guests aren't missing out.
But for the most part, Fiji Airways has taken its previous and very dated Tabua Club lounge, expanded the space, and turned it into something worth arriving early for, with an apt comparison being chalk and cheese.
It's a job well done, and an upgrade we're sure many travellers will appreciate – whether at the end of a productive business trip or relaxing Fijian holiday, or for those jetting between Australia/New Zealand and Honolulu, Los Angeles or San Francisco via Nadi with Fiji Airways.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Nadi as a guest of Fiji Airways.