I seemed to remember the airport in Port Vila being rather small from my trip a few years ago, but Priority Pass also promised that there was a lounge, so I made plans to get there around two hours before flight time just in case Solomons Air presented any problems.
Took nearly 30 minutes to check in due to a long line…I mean, based on the sign it was an incredibly busy airport today!
Checked in, got the exit row, no problems about having two bags and likely being slightly overweight, and soon it was time for “pre-boarding metal detecting” whatever that is. I mean, it’s not like this has been going on for nearly fifty years now!
Our plane was already here (from the night before it appeared) so that was a good sign!
Found the lounge, which was a rather tiny room, with this impressive snack collection. Although the crisps were asking “BITE ME!” on the package, I resisted, having already bitten brekky back at the hotel.
The lounge. Yes, this is all of it.
It was still early. Too early for a beer. However, leave it to Kiwis to set a bad example. After I’d been there 15 minutes, a guy waiting for the New Zealand flight came in, plopped down next to me, and headed straight for the serve yourself bar…where he put away three rather large glasses of white wine in the span of 15 minutes. When he went for a fourth, I decided it wasn’t too early for a beer after all:
More pidgin in their slogan “bia blong yumi” Bia, obviously, being beer, and yumi being self explanatory. Blong is a pidgin word that seems to appear everywhere. I ecountered it during my first trip to Vanuatu when the then-Le Meridien gave me a sheet of helpful local phrases. One of them was “baskit blong titi.” Baskit being basket, titi being, well, breasts, and blong showing possession. They translated it as “coconut bra” which I guess made sense as a “basket for titis.” So Bia Blong Yumi is a way of saying Yumi is a quality that is owned by the beer. Got it? Good.
Boarded about 15 minutes late, but no biggie.
Solomons Airlines flight 703
Port Vila, Vanuatu (VLI) to Honiara, Solomon Islands (HIR)
Depart 11:00, Arrive 13:00, Flight Time 2 hours
Airbus A320, Registration H4-BUS (ex Air Canada) Manufactured 1992, Seat 15C
The flight was completely full today, but I had the exit row so no worries. I saw many of my new friends from the diversion to Espiritu Santo on this flight, and it was really showing the impact that cutting direct flights was having. Quick shot of the airport from my seat:
Oh, look what we have in the in-flight magazine. An explanation of what’s going on!
One hour forty minute flight, and the interior of the aircraft was absolutely spotless. Looking on line, I saw the plane was ancient and spent a previous life with Air Canada, but it had obviously been refurbished lately and was very well taken care of since then. If you didn’t know how old it was you’d have no clue.
“Meat sandwich” was the snack. I opted to stick with a SolBrew and the cookies. Scary mayonnaise and I don’t mix.
Landed right on time, and immigration was a zoo. It was boiling hot in the immigration waiting area, and the lines were moving at Solomons speed. There was one person checking passport, and another half dozen or so standing around doing God knows what. “Supervising” would be my guess. Took over an hour to get through the passport line, and when I did the promised hotel transfer was of course no where to be found. No problem negotiating a taxi, and it was time to explore country #166 visited…Solomon Islands!