It was a REAL smile, a little shy, but genuine – broken rather than learned – that carried me to Vanuatu.
I was sold on that smile. It accompanied all the typical airline services and made them personal. Because as small an airline as Air Vanuatu is, its heart is big.
If a national carrier is to a country what Come Together was to the Beatles’ Abbey Road, then Air Vanuatu is Vanuatu’s first greeting (in English, French and Pidgin English).
A lot rests on the wings of a nation’s flag carrier. It is the first smile, the first taste of local hospitality. These airlines are mobile country ambassadors and my first taste of Vanuatu onboard their national carrier had me itching to explore the country home to that first smile.
Enter the in-flight entertainment. Mid-(delicious)meal I looked up to the drop down screen and was suddenly scrambling for my headphones. Taking us on a journey to some of Vanuatu’s main islands, the destination guide film saw me scribbling down notes, poking my partner and planning my next trip to Vanuatu before I even arrived for my first.
I often dump my in-flight magazine into the overhead compartment to make for more legroom, but given the huge gap between myself and business class in front (ask for Row 3 on check-in), I started rifling through its pages. Before I knew it, I was taking notes (again).
As a first time, last minute visitor to Vanuatu, I knew little of what to expect from the country beyond blue waters and white sand. The in-flight magazine, Island Spirit, offered language tips (“if in doubt, add a long or blong”) and advice from locals.
And there, a few hours from home, we were flying above the green of Vanuatu. The early morning sun and the colourful Bauerfield International Airport welcomed a flight full of ready travellers.
We met many of these travellers again on our return flight to Sydney, none looking forward to going home. And I guess this is the importance of a national carrier – to extend the destination beyond its borders and to bring it (happiness, food and culture) into the skies.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A