Fiji Airways’ new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft brings with it an all-new business class seat, combining even more legroom with fixed-screen inflight entertainment, sky-high Internet access, and much needed AC and USB charging outlets.
Set to replace the airline’s existing Boeing 737-800s, Adelaide will be the first Australian city to see the new jets on selected flights from mid-December, with Wellington next in line and other cities to follow, before the MAX 8s take over all of Fiji Airways’ current Boeing 737 routes over the coming year.
Australian Business Traveller joined the delivery flight of Fiji Airways' first Boeing 737 MAX 8 to bring you this exclusive review.
Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 business class: the basics
Just as on the airline’s Boeing 737-800s, business class on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 comes in a two-row, 2-2 configuration, providing eight seats in total:
Measuring at 21 inches wide, each features an adjustable headrest…
… and with a generous 51-inch seat pitch, there’s plenty of room to move, and for passengers seated by the windows to access the aisle without their seatmate having to get up – at least, when sitting upright:
These seats offer an eight-inch recline, including in the second row which backs onto a bulkhead wall…
… complemented by a fold-out leg rest with a distance-adjustable footrest, although taller travellers can leave that part folded flat for some extra room:
The seat can be adjusted to your liking via the following controls:
As you’d imagine with a 51-inch pitch, there’s plenty of space to stretch out, particularly in the second row…
… and there’s a noticeable improvement to the legroom in the first row as well, although taller travellers will still find their feet reaching the bulkhead wall in front:
Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 business class: storage
Just in front of you sits a storage pouch – home to your headphones – being large enough for other items such as tablets and laptops…
… while there’s more space underneath your centre armrest, which can fold open for easy access. This is also where you’ll find your AC and high-powered USB outlets, and the headphone slot:
A separate nook for water bottles can be found at the front of that same centre console:
Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 business class: inflight entertainment
Doing away with the supplied iPads in business class, Fiji Airways’ newest jets offer fixed-screen entertainment at every seat, with 13-inch HD monitors mounted either at the seatback (for row 2) or the bulkhead wall (row 1):
Loaded with the usual line-up of content, the screens in row 2 can also be tilted to suit your eyeline – particularly useful when the passenger in front reclines:
While the system can be controlled by touch, it can be tricky to reach the screen given how far you are from the seat (or wall) in front, so a remote control is also provided, which you’ll find within the centre console:
Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 business class: inflight WiFi
Also new for Fiji Airways is inflight Internet, with plans based on data rather than time.
You’ll pay US$2.95 for 20MB, US$7.95 for 60MB or US$14.95 for 120MB – although sadly, there’s no unlimited ‘flight pass’, nor does your package carry from one flight to the next if you’re making a connection.
Tests of the connection revealed average downloads speeds of 0.27Mbps, with uploads considerably faster, averaging 5.39Mbps – great for posting photos on social media or sending email attachments, but less so for web browsing.
Of course, speeds vary depending on which satellite the aircraft is connected to and how many other passengers are using the service, so it’ll be interesting to see how this stacks up on a full commercial flight.
Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 business class: the verdict
Compared to Fiji Airways’ current Boeing 737-800 business class seats, those aboard the Boeing 737 MAX 8 are a considerable improvement, both in comfort and design.
Travellers will no longer have to balance an iPad on their tray to watch a movie, or have their own devices go flat with no way to power up – and the increase in legroom is also more than welcome.
Given most Australians will experience these seats for just three or four hours at a time, there’s little more we could ask for on flights to Fiji: short of having a fully-flat bed, of course!
Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Fiji Airways.