Mary’s driver drove me back to the airport after breakfast, again at no charge. Considering the drive was nearly an hour each way, and the room was only like $85, Mary’s is a fantastic value as a place to stay! I decided to leave for the airport three hours before the flight, based on the idea that the airport was tiny, however, Fiji Airways had a reputation. People had warned me before the trip that “the plane go when the plane go” or sometimes not at all. With only two flights a week to Kiribati, I wanted to make sure I was at the front of the queue in case anything went wrong.
Queue? Yes, this is the bustling Tarawa International Airport check-in desk:
See the large coolers? Almost every one of my fellow passengers had at least one, some of them four or five. I asked a local, and she said they were all filled with fresh fish that people were bringing to Fiji either to sell or to give to family and friends. I wonder what the overweight baggage fees on that are…
The novel aspect of check-in was…the computers were down. So they had absolutely no way to verify who was on the flight. If you didn’t have something proving you were on that day’s flight, you weren’t going. Now, this was problematic, because there was absolutely no data roaming in Kiribati. My phone wouldn’t work, so I had to pray I could do something that would appease them. Lesson learnt: carry hard copies. Fortunately, the one thing I had printed out was the details on TripIt of my flights. It had a date, flight number, and eticket number, so that was good enough for them. For all they knew I could have canceled it, but I guess it was good enough…considering this flight goes for minimum of $600 one-way, they were really taking some chances!
Waiting for the plane to arrive. Hopefully.
There were some cute signs/cards in the departures area made by local schoolchildren for World Teacher’s Day. Is it teacher’s or teachers? On another note, why were these posted in the airport? Mysteries that may never be solved….
Fortunately, the plane not only showed up, but showed up on time!