Don’t expect a cutting-edge interior with all the bells and whistles. But do expect just about the friendliest cabin crew you could come across. MARK HARADA flies Solomon Airlines and leaves with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Fast Facts Date: 5 February 2016
Scheduled duration: 3h 10m
Aircraft: Airbus A320-211
Formation: 2-2 (16 in Business)
Check-in: Solomon Airlines has no web check-in, but business class check-in at the airport is quick and easy, and gives me plenty of time to enjoy Brisbane Airport’s nice new departures terminal. Business passengers also have access to the Qantas Club Lounge, thanks to the carrier’s recent codeshare tie-up with the flying kangaroo.
Luggage allowance: Business class passengers are given a very generous luggage allowance of 40kgs, while each flyer is allowed the standard 7kgs of carry-on with maximum dimensions of 115cm (56cm x 36cm x 23cm). Economy flyers are allowed 30kgs of checked baggage.
Seat/Cabin: 4A (window).The business class seats and armrests on this jet are admittedly old, and the seat in front of me has a number of marks. That said, the leather armchair is super comfy and offers more than enough room, with a huge seat pitch, width and adjustable headrests.
Onboard catering: Solomons business travellers are welcomed with a glass of juice, which is followed shortly after takeoff by a hot or cold beverage. Interestingly, the coffee is served in a takeaway café cup – if only the contents were real espresso.
The vegetarian option, my main meal comprises some fluffy couscous cooked with a very mild curry flavour, a ratatouille that features some flavoursome olives, and greens. A warm, fresh bread roll is served on the side. I’m also given a bowl of fresh fruit, which is some of the most delicious I’ve had on a flight. Meals are complemented with a range of wine and beer from Australia and the Solomon Islands.
Inflight Entertainment: It’s been a while since I watched a film on a drop down screen. Still, like in a cinema, there’s something enjoyable about sharing an experience with your fellow passengers, even if the film on show is some obscure Aussie movie starring Gary Sweet – and one that perhaps should have remained unknown. Flyers also have access to a number of audio channels, which feature mostly pop and rock tunes, or can read one of the daily newspapers on offer as well as the Solomon Airlines magazine.
Service: Big smiles welcome us onto our flight – and the happy reception is a sign of things to come. More smiles are served with our meals, beverage service, and with the offer of a blanket, which comes just as I’m beginning to feel a little cold. All in all, it’s thoroughly thoughtful and friendly service. Did I mention the smiles?
On-time performance: A small technical issue holds up our departure for a while, but the problem is quickly rectified and doesn't cost us too much time. All up, we touch down in Honiara just over 30 minutes behind schedule.
Favourite thing: The friendly service. But a word of warning: the Solomon Airlines crew may leave you feeling a little cold about your next flight with another carrier, the service is that warm. No wonder the Solomons goes by the moniker, the ‘Hapi Isles’.
Flight tip: Aim for a window seat and you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic views over the archipelago nation.
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