Solomon Airlines only fly out of one port in Australia, Brisbane, to one place, Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. So if you’re going to experience a flight with them – it’s rather likely you’re heading to the Solomon Islands.
Of course once there you might use them again to get from Honiara to one of the outlying islands, which are dotted with dive resorts, and great surf breaks.
We visited the Solomon Islands recently for the first time and I was so impressed by the difference in the level of service received from Qantas, on our connecting flight from Sydney that it prompted me to write this review.
Our check-in at Sydney with Qantas was pretty much human-less. We queued at the service desk to try and get some human service and were told several times by a hovering official that we should be using the self-check-in kiosks.
We had a short turn around in Brisbane before our flight to Honiara and I wanted to ask very nicely for a “priority” tag on our bags, so persisted with queuing, in the end to no avail because, it would seem, “computer says no”.
Qantas couldn’t touch the bags because everything is done via their automated system – which I expect works seamlessly most of the time for a straightforward itinerary (perhaps best of all if you’re only flying Qantas).
So in the end when we arrived in Brisbane, we legged it.
The service we experienced at this end with the Solomon Airlines staff was decidedly different and definitely 100 per cent human.
There was a little mix up with our booking, which was quickly taken care of by a very friendly ground crew manager, and we were even lucky enough to qualify for an upgrade.
Seated in 2A and 2B, we put our feet up and said yes to a little glass of sparkling, despite it being 9am (I’m sure it’s acceptable to drink champagne in the morning – I mean people have champagne breakfast right?)
On the short flight to Honiara we are wined and dined and generally well taken care of. There’s no seat-back entertainment but the flight is probably too short to fit in a movie anyway and besides, we spent most of our time inflight eating.
The high level of service continues through arrivals and indeed on our internal flights to and from Seghi Airport, as we make our way to Uepi Island Dive Resort.
No inflight service on this sector, which takes us to a grass landing strip and a brightly painted wooden shack, behind which we find the taxi bay – a jetty, where our little speedboat transfer to the island awaits us.
While the infrastructure might be basic in some parts of the Solomon Islands, the staff at every point make up for it in bucket loads with their friendly, personal service and gorgeous smiles.
So even though Seghi Airport departure lounge is a mosquito-prone wooden shack furnished with only a wooden bench and a windowsill to lean on, I’m declaring it now as one of my favourites in the world.