Fiji Airways Premier Lounge, Nadi International Airport

Review: Fiji Airways Premier Lounge, Nadi International Airport

Country:
Fiji
City:
Nadi
Airport:
Nadi
Cabin Class:
Business
Alliance:
None
Airline:
FJ (Fiji Airways)

location:

dining:

work:

overall:

What's Hot

  • It's a brand new lounge
  • Nice relaxing vibe
  • Ability to pay for access

What's Not

  • Slow WiFi

X-Factor

  • There's a spa, but get in early

Introduction

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.

Access

  • 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.

Dining

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.

Work

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:

What passed for an Internet connection and power points in Fiji Airways' previous lounge...

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.

Relax

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.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

10 comments

  • henrus

    henrus

    17 Jan, 2018 10:37 am

    The Korean Airlines website seems to suggest that SkyTeam Elite Plus card holders do indeed get access to the lounge so has it changed since the opening on the new lounge.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    17 Jan, 2018 10:40 am

    Hi Henrus, thanks for flagging. The wording of Korean Air's access rules for this lounge weren't particularly clear and our initial reading was that frequent flyers in economy could not access the lounge, but after further checks, Morning Calm Premium and ELP members are on the door list too, so we've added those in.

    (But that said, we imagine most of our readers would be accessing the lounge based on their Fiji Airways ticket, Qantas status or Priority Pass membership anyway, as relatively few Aussies would be flying from Fiji to Seoul with Korean Air.)

    No member give thanks

  • Glenn Nolan

    Glenn1234

    17 Jan, 2018 03:35 pm

    Wow this looks like a MASSIVE improvement over the old lounge! Which was below average to say the least! I will look forward to using this lounge next time we are in Fiji!
    No member give thanks

  • flyOFTEN

    flyOFTEN

    17 Jan, 2018 04:16 pm

    Just awesome !!!!!!!!

    Was there earlier this month. Wasn't crowded like most Qantas lounges we visit.
    No member give thanks

  • visionaire

    visionaire

    17 Jan, 2018 08:46 pm

    A warning for Qantas Platinum members - they only allow one guest, so you cannot enter with your family. The front desk was really rude about this, even when the lounge was empty
    No member give thanks

  • David Peach

    DavePlat

    8 Jun, 2018 03:13 pm

    I am QF Plat, and going through Nadi on Sunday with my wife and 2 kids. Does anyone know if they will accept my Plat and Priority Pass for the whole family to access the Tabua Lounge?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    8 Jun, 2018 03:17 pm

    Should be OK, but expect that Fiji Airways may need to process one or two guests (you+1 or 2) on your Priority Pass card, because technically you can't 'loan' your PP card to another person to get them into the lounge via that card's primary membership, but you can use the card to bring other people into lounges where they're processed as guests.

    (The lounge could process Qantas Platinum with one guest - such as your wife - and then Priority Pass with one or two guests, depending on their policies, which would cover the two kids.)
    No member give thanks

  • David Peach

    DavePlat

    12 Jun, 2018 02:53 pm

    Thanks for the reply Chris.
    Just to close the loop on this thread, I can't speak highly enough of this lounge.

    It turned out they admitted all 4 of us without question, based solely on my QF Plat. I would have been happy simply based on this... but the service throughout the lounge was very friendly, with drinks waiters circulating regularly, and when the kids play area got a bit busy one of the staff went in and started organising games etc. The kids loved it, and the mums and dads even more so!
    To top it off, it was my son's birthday and when they got wind of this they arranged a special dessert plate, and 6 staff came over and sang a traditional Fijian happy birthday for him.
    No member give thanks

  • visionaire

    visionaire

    12 Jun, 2018 03:40 pm

    Wow you are very lucky, that’s the complete opposite of my experience, they could not have been more rude even though lounge was empty they only let my wife and son in and I as the Qantas platinum had to wait outside.
    No member give thanks

  • Dr Al

    Dr Al

    2 Apr, 2018 09:20 pm

    Had a fantastic time in this lounge on Friday. Absolutely wonderful lounge. Service is second to none. Lovely wine. Fiji is a holiday destination and therefore there will be families in the lounge. They have a glassed off kids area (sound proof) and at the other end on the lounge a glasses off (soundproof) area for the big kids to watch the sports on the widescreen tv. The entry criteria is strict and I imagine the average FFing family would be 1xgold or 1xplat and as mentioned they only allow 1 guest per FF. Such a shame as it’s such a great lounge for families in a holiday destination.

    No member give thanks

Guest

16 Aug, 2018 01:08 am

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