Often times I am embarrassed when flying to the States aboard a US airline with a crew that couldn’t be bothered to even try to offer decent service. I wonder what kind of image they send to the wide eyed foreigners, some whom happen to be having their first experience with an American. Perhaps they might be feeling the same way that I felt after having my worst flight experience ever aboard Fiji Airways. An airlines that hails from country known for their friendliness.
I was on the way to Fiji with my girlfriend after having spent a few days in Zurich and Melbourne. I booked our tickets separately as I had a ton of American Airlines miles to burn but I was also just a few hundred miles for qualifying for Executive Platinum for 2016 so I decided to book my girlfriends ticket with miles and my own as a revenue ticket so I can get the elite qualifying miles. I would later find out how glad I was to have done that.
When we arrived at the check in counter in Melbourne I noticed a long line and while Fiji is partners with American, they do not offer any elite benefits to American elites so we queued at the back of the line that was moving at snail speeds. I quickly noticed that the reason the line was moving so slow was because there was a Fiji Airways employee inspecting all the carry on bags for the people in line and having them walk over to the carry on bag display to see if the bags fit the dimensions box. Let’s just say that the guy took his job a bit too seriously and reminded me of the famous soup Nazi episode from Seinfeld.
When it came to my turn, I knew that I would have trouble getting my Rimowa Topas bag to slide all the way in without applying enough pressure to scratch and damage the bag. The Bag Nazi wasn’t having any of it, he asked me to push it all the way down to which I kindly refused and he not so kindly told me I would need to check it in. No big deal I thought, it wasn’t the first one I had to check in my carry on but I would soon find out that it was kind of a big deal.
OUTRAGEOUS BAGGAGE FEES
Aparrently when you have to check in a carry on bag with Fiji Airways, you cannot simply pay for an extra bag, instead you must pay for the extra weight so I had to shell over $146 just to check in my carry on bag that I have traveled to over 20 countries with (all as a check in bag). I asked the agent why I wasn’t allowed to pay for an extra bag wich would have cost less than half the price and the best response I could get was that only their main office can charge for an extra bag wich didn’t make much sense as if they could charge for extra weight, they could very easily be able to charge for an extra bag. I didn’t have the time to argue so I paid the outrageous fee and asked if I could prepay for an extra bag for my return to wich I was told that u could contact reservations and do that.
Fast forward a few days later after all the glory and relaxation of Fiji, the realization of leaving the beatiful island set in so I decided to go online and add the extra bag on my girlfriends itinerary but each time I tried I received an error message so I decided to call in. Once I got a rep on the phone I explained what happened on our outbound flight and that I tried to buy an extra bag online but couldn’t. She looked at my reservation and told me that it was because it was a flight booked by American Airlines therefore I was not able to add any extra bags and I would instead have to pay for extra weight at the airport. I found this to be comical so instead of arguing I asked her to go ahead and add it into my reservation than as I had booked mine directly with Fiji, a few seconds later she replied to me that I couldn’t add it to my reservation as I had already prepaid for a second bag and they would not allow a third bag but would instead allow it if I paid for the extra weight charge. At this point I was growing with frustrations and had it not been for the yoga class I took earlier in the week I would have totally lost it but I asked to speak to a manager who reiterated the same information but after a lengthy conversation finally agreed to add a third bag to my reservation for $50.00. Knowing how my experience had been with this airline I asked for an email confirmation or a receipt.
On the day of the flight, after a long check in line I finally got to the check in counter only to be told that I would need to pay for the extra weight. At this point I wasn’t frustrated as I knew that I was dealing with a very incompetent airline so I merely explained the whole fiasco and showed the agent my email reciept of the third bag. After a few managers came to the computer screen one by one squinting at the screen, scrolling, making phone calls etc the matter was finally resolved some 20 minutes later and my bag ordeal with Fiji airways was solved.
The Fijian people are in my experience the most friendliest people in this world but the airlines is the opposite. Their baggage policy is extremely strict and designed as a revenue chanell that leaves a bad taste in travelers mouths. So if you happens to be traveling to Fiji make sure to pay attention to the strict baggage policy and/or have some extra coins to pay the outrageous fees especially if you are flying on an award ticket.
*I tried to post a link of the Fiji Airways Baggage Allowance web page to this article but the site was down. As strict as their policy is, I would think they would have at least a working web page to outline their policy.