When I first started doing the research for the Young Pioneer Tours Least Visited Country Tour it became apparent very quickly that for Nauru, and many other of the small island nations of the region Nauru Airlines were a lifeline to the outside world, with Nauru in particular only be serviced by them.
Researching on the “Our Airline” website showed me that flights were somewhat sparse with the Friday leg being Brisbane – Honiara – Nauru – Kiribati – Marshall Islands, and Sunday being the same backwards.
For me this meant one of the weirdest flight regimes I’ve ever had to do Honiara – Nauru – Kiribati – Marshall Islands on the Friday, followed by Marshall Islands – Kiribati – Nauru on Sunday, and then Nauru to Kiribati on the following Friday, before finally finishing with Kiribati to Nauru and then the Solomon Islands. Technically 9 flights, and thus nine meals on Nauru Airlines, with each flight being only about an hour!
Nauru Airlines has a “fleet” of about 3 planes, which seem to be in constant use as part of their island shuttle service, small 747’s with the staff being pretty friendly. The planes are extremely cute and old school, and by old school remember when you could smoke on planes? Probably not right? Well, these planes have ashtrays! Oh, how times have changed!
Now as I said each flight takes about an hour, with the general thing being you stopping at each airport to drop people off, pick up some new ones, with you being able to happily sleep without needing to get off, with the exception of Nauru, and it is quite the exception.
As you are flying Nauru airlines, Nauru quite smartly makes sure everyone that flies through has to get off and “transit” through Nauru airport. I have now not only spent 6 days in Nauru but have also spent another 4-5 hours transiting through the said airport.
What is there to do at Nauru Airport? Nothing. There is no WiFi, and there is one shop that sells next to nothing. There is a lounge, but not only does it have nothing, but it has really strict entrance rules! There are worse out there, namely Jackson International Airport at Port Moresby, but if I ever write a book about the worlds worst airports, then Nauru Airport would get much more than a passing mention.
Now seeing as I had 9 technical flights, what this meant was that I also got nine meals (well eight as I slept through one), and this was one area where I was fairly impressed. Now whilst it was no Gordon Ramsey flight food, the general meal situation on Nauru Airlines tended to consist of fresh sandwiches, yoghurts, rolls, and even toasties, with the drinks menu, whilst not being that diverse, was at least regular and had no limits (well had reasonable limits).
I can only surmise that the isolation of places like Nauru, and Kiribati means that they have no access to the flight food network that feeds most of the worlds weary world travellers, which means they have to innovate, and this thus results in them cooking fish food.
Overall eating on Nauru Airlines was one of the best culinary air experiences I have had in a long time, but that being said, I can’t afford first class, so what do I know?