The airline with the best average rating is AirCalin with 7.6/10.
The average flight time is 8 hours and 35 minutes.More information
Hello and welcome on board this new report ! Today i will report one of the flight performed last summer in order to reach New Caledonia an overseas french territory located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but not so far from Australia… This review is already part of history, the two A330-200 were replaced last year by two brand new A330-900neo I was lucky to travel on both aircraft (inbound flight on A330-200, return flight on A330neo).
All the routing as been reported on the french conterpart of the website, but from France, it's a long journey to go to New Caledonia.
Of course no direct flight are available, the easiest way from Paris is to take the Air France flight from Paris to NRT and then a short transit to take Air Calin's flight to Nouméa. This option is available in code share, and the timetable are designed for… KLM option is also available. But this shortest (22 hours of travel) options are really expensive, between 2200 and 2500€.
As we are living in Toulouse, it's mean at least a 2 stop journey… so I look for cheaper options, an option is available with Qantas with a terrible routing TLS-LHR-DXB-SYD-NOU 3 stops more than 32 hours of travel to save 200€… not a good option.
But 9 mounth before, I find a good price (650€) from Toulouse to Tokyo with Turkish Airlines, that's meet perfectly our holiday's date's
I just need to do a separate booking for the flights to Noumea , luckily the best price available for this second part of the routing fits well with our Turkish Airlines tickets. When I looked at the French site of Air Calin the return flight cost was around 1000 €, on the japanese couterpart 850€, and on expedia.jp just 780€… I can pay in yen without bank charges so we took our tickets with expedia japan.
So for less than 1500€ we can go to holidays on the other side of the earth and also visit some family members and friends who live there.
We also have one overnight stop in Tokyo, so we booked one hotel room close to the airport.
That's give's us the following routing:
There is almost no flight reports on New Caledonia on the English part of the website, no reports about Air Calin, no reports about NOU, and just a single report on inter island flight with Air Calédonie between Magenta and Isle of Pins, that's will be a long translation work for me ^^.
We arrived from Istanbul the evening before, so we spend a night at the hotel Narita Airport rest house not the finest place to stay it's really vintage but very clean, affordable, and as you can see with these pictures taken from my room very close to the airport ! We slept very well, the soundproofing was perfect we didn't heard any jet engine noise at all. You can easily recognize the shape of a Kalitta Boeing 747-400F who start is outbound flight to Anchorage. And for the second picture an Aeromexico Boeing 787-8 coming from … Mexico.
After a resting night at the airport we are leaving the hotel few hours before our flight, our hotel provide an efficient free shuttle service to the airport, with a bus every 20 minutes (with a japanese punctuality). After less than 10 minutes of road we are in front of the terminal 1.
It's not a surprise if I told you that Air Calin flights boards on the North wing of Terminal 1, where you can find all the skyteam airlines flights. We are a bit early and the check in counter is not opened yet.
I tried to get on the terrace located in the ground side part of terminal 1, the access is free and well indicated there is also some equipment for the spotters. Sadly, even if it's still the morning the temperature is already super warm with 34° and 90% of humidity a real oven.
FIDS in two languages japanese/english
You can find many shops and services in the middle section of the terminal
After this short walk inside the terminal, we get back to Air Calin counter, now open. We are the first on the small queue. But not first to be checked in as many passengers are in transit with AF or KL. Check in process was very quick and professional.
Same service efficiency at the security and the passport control, lines where short and all the steps where in less a quarter of hour. Time to say goodbye & see you in 3 weeks Tokyo.
After few meters inside the terminal, you can already have a nice view on the tarmac with these large windows, in front of us this A330 of HongKong Airlines start is boarding for HKG.
Just behind the KLM triple 7 you can recognize the tail of our A330 arrived few hours before from Nouméa.
On the remote appron you can see many cargo aircrafts like these 767 of UPS & ANA Cargo or this bigger Atlas Air B747-400F
There is not just big windows for spotter, every passenger can find something to do inside the terminal. Many shops & restaurants are available.
A special way to show the menu typically used in Japanese restaurants, the plastic model of your plate.
After few minutes of walk if found a good spotting point with a nice view on runway 16R used for departures this morning. If you like aircraft pictures the following pictures are for you, we start with this A330-200 of HongKong Airlines taking off to Hong Kong
This A320 of Peach is leaving to Fukuoka on the Kyūshū Island.
But there is many bigger aircraft like this Airbus A330-300 of China Airlines for Taipei
Another A330 operated by Thai Lion coming from Bangkok Don Mueang
Some group take off like this two aircraft of Philippines Airlines, the A321 is for Cebu, the A330 for the capital Manilla.
A second time two aircrafts from the same airline, this time Cathay Pacific with a Boeing 777-300 and a bigger Boeing 747-8F both heading to Hong Kong.
Back to smaller sized airplane like this A320 from Jetstar Japan who will flew to Kagoshima a city located on the South of Kyūshū island.
Another widebody with this Boeing 787 of the local airline ANA departing for Shanghai Pudong.
Another grupped take off with these two Boeing 737-800 of Spring Airlines Japan (a subsidiary of the Chinese low-cost airline) the first one will go to Wuhan China, the other one will do a domestic flight to Hiroshima (Honshū Island)
Another Japanese Boeing 787-8 from JAL will soon get to Dalian (China)
A huge arrival with this heavy Garuda Indonesia Boeing 777-3ER from Jakarta
There are still plenty of departure, this brand new VietjetAir A321neo will go to Hanoï.
It's departure time for Japan Airlines with these 2 widebody's, the 787-9 will reach Manilla, and the old B777-200ER will fly to Guam.
I change my spotting corner to take some pictures of this Boeing from ANA (Air japan) ready for departure to Sapporo on Hokkaido island.
This smaller ANA Boeing 737-800 for Osaka, Honshū island.
And this Vanilla air for Taipei
Another traditional Japanese way of working is the salute after pushback from the ground staff, this A320neo will soon go to Xiamen in China. Funny for a westerner like me, but very respectful.
Time to go back on the satellite 1, where my aircraft is at the gate, the Boeing 777-300ER of KLM is ready to back to Amsterdam.
So now I can easily see my A330-200, today it's F-OHSD on the line. She's 17 years old all carrier below the Aircalin colors.
Front view of Sierra Delta taked from our gate.
Inside view of terminal 1, who host mainly European Skyteam airlines flights like Air France with it's Boeing triple 7.
Or Alitalia, arrived few minutes ago from Milano.
Far away you can see some freighter aircraft movements on the cargo appron, like this B767F towed to another position on the ramp.
Our gate is now ready to start boarding operation, ground staff speaking French, Japanese and English are in charge of the process.
Travel documents please !
Face to face with our A330-200, a short walk on the jet bridge, we should wait a bit on the queue.
Fuselage shoot, crew at the door were polite but the welcoming could be warmer.
We reach our seat at row 16. The seats where retrofitted in 2012 with these Sicma "Airgonomic" seats. (same as Aeroflot) they looks a bit old but the Panasonic EX2 IFE is still in the game. Seats covers colors are inspired by the New Caledonia lagoon blues. As a passenger point of view the seat foam is a bit hard but the recline is good.
Pitch is pretty generous with 33 inches in this part of the cabine
For the overhead panel, it's the Airbus first generation on A330 so it's vintage…
Another picture, who's now historical with this A330-200 from Vietnam Airlines at the push back for a flight to Da-Nang.
Slowly the economy cabin fill up until every seat was occupied, not really surprising with the combo of holidays between France (summer holidays) & New Caledonia (winter holidays).
A pillow, a blanket and a small amenity kit is already available on the seat.
Inside the kit you can find a good quality sleeping mask, low quality headphones and earplug.
Safety procedure were displayed on PTV's as you can see with some local items. French, English and Japanese languages were used like for all the announcement during the flight.
Our Hong Kongese neighbour is pushed to start is flight back to Hong Kong.
Then it's our turn to be pushed.
On the over satellite, you can see some Korean visitors from Jin Air or Korean Air with is brand new A220-300 who still operate flight to Tokyo.
We start our short taxi to reach the threshold of runway 16R used for departures this morning.
We are rolling near the cargo apron, with a large quantity of Boeing 777F loading or offloading their precious goods.
This ANA Cargo, Boeing 767 BCF is ready to fly to Dalian China.
We are lining on the runway, take off thrust are set on both GE CF6 engines.
Good by Narita see you in 3 weeks !
The initial climb was very slow, probably due to the heavy weight of the aircraft today, with full passenger, full cargo and a lot of Jet A1 on the wings for this 8 hour flight.
After few minutes of flight we are leaving Japanese territory to start our long trip above the pacific.
As usual I've got the front neighbor that's use is seat recline after few seconds of flight, luckily the flight attendant will ask him to be on the upright position at least during the meals.
View on the engine from my window, fortunately the A330 is famous for is silence during the cruise.
Small turn surrounded by the blue…
Half hour after taking off, trolley start to pop on the alley for the appetizer. I will take a Caledonian beer lemon flavored, there is also available the other Caledonian beer Number 1 and some Japanese one. With it a small pack of crackers far from there bakery located on Netherlands…
What a nice view to drink a beer. During this time our cabin crew are preparing the lunch.
The meal tray as served
Without plastic caps it's look better, drinks were served at the same time. Starter is composed with a Japanese prawn salad. Desert will be an orange/chocolate cake.
For the main course we've got the choice between chicken and fish wish is red mullet (menu was displayed on the IFE). Usually I would choose the chicken on airplane (harder to do something bad with it) but I know that the catering is loaded in Tokyo and if there is a place where the fish could be good in airplane it's probably in Japan…
And that was delicious well flavored and well sized !
The chicken choice choosed by my girlfriend.
After the lunch, we are passing thru some clouds, at the same time people seated at first rows were asked to close the window blinds because most of the child were located in this part of the airplane.
Some clouds apart, there is no many things to see outside.
Time explore the IFE database.
Moving map is not so bad…
Approximately twenty movies where available in French, English and Japanese, I will look the disney "Moana" to be on the Melanesian move.
Cabin is now in night mode.
Flight path of the day, a lot of water and not so many alternate airport on the road, you need to be confident on your ETOPS capability ^^ !
On the rear galley a small self service bar is available with drinks and some quality snacks, I choosed two packs of almond/dry banana and almond/cranberries. I really appreciate the configuration of economy cabin on board the A330 (2x4x2). When you travel in couple it's perfect, we really enjoyed to move around the cabin without disturbing other passengers.
Outside sun start to go down, as we are crossing ecuador line, it's our first time in the southern part of the world !
This old A330, was not equipped with mood-lighting system, the wake up was a bit violent for some passengers.
The second meal was the reason of this cabin waking up, the tray as served, it's a cold meal for this before landing snack.
No choice for the main course, it's a wrap chicken/ raw vegetable for every passengers. A small quantity of Japanese salad and some fresh fruit complete this meal.
Outside we have now some nice orange colors.
A short introduction about wath's inside the seat pocket, you can find the mandatory safety card, the on board magazine and a touristic brochure for foreigners only (article in Japanese and English). Inside the onboard magazine "Altitude" you can see AirCalin's network and the two long haul destinations (Osaka & Tokyo).
During the boarding the Caledonian newspaper " les nouvelles calédoniennes" was available, inside, a large article speaks about the delivery of the first A330neo for AirCalin a real island event ! Another funny thing is that the airport movements schedule is printed everyday on the news paper if you need to pick up somebody at the airport…
We are approaching our destination.
Cabin is prepared for landing, we are on the last minutes of the flight.
Not many light outside as we are approaching by the sea, suddenly landing light where switched on.
The landing was very smooth and the braking efficient in order to get out by the second taxiway using just the half of the runway length.
As you can see the equipment of the runway are limited with no centerline light.
We are taxiing near the maintenance hangar of AirCalin, a tail of an SB A320 can be see.
Slowly approaching the terminal and is two jet-bridges.
Ground staff is ready to offload our airplane.
It's time to leave our seats, and this cabin finally not so uncomfortable. Crew's at the door will says us good bye and wish us a nice holidays in Caledonia.
Bye, bye Sierra Delta hope the best for the rest of your career…
We are heading to the luggage claim area, on the way you have a glass area, family of my girlfriend is there a quick hand sign and we will wait our luggage, an half hour later our luggage finally come on the belt. Then a control by customs not friendly at all. And another sanitary control by the environment local agency in order to protect the fragile ecosystem of the island. Don't bring any meat or homemade food… the sniffer dog has a fine sense of smell !
We've declared some cheese but correctly packed on a cooler it wasn't a problem.
After all these controls, crossing 18000 n.m, 3 flights in order to go in the other side of the earth you are allowed to meet your family. Hugs and flower necklace, we are really happy to see some relatives that we haven't see in 5 years.
We didn't stay to much at the airport, it's close to midnight and 30 minutes of mountain road are necessary to reach Nouméa city center.
I hope the next report will be translated soon perhaps with some travel bonus.
Globally a good product offered by the little Caledonian airline. Customer expectation are pretty high with this expensive ticket. Now the outdated hard product has been totally renewed with the arrival of new A330neo and we can say that the flight quality meet customers expectations.
Comfort: This outdated cabin was still comfortable and well maintained, I think the main trouble of this cabin was the vintage design.
Entertainment: For a 8 hours flight the old IFE screen show's his limits with a short choice a movie and a poor variety of musics. Fortunately he can be displayed on 3 languages (French, English and Japanese) a small bonus for the newspaper and the window seat.
Crews : A bit cold during the first part of the flight but friendly and professional after mainly male cabin crew but a Japanese stewardess was on board.
Catering: First meal was really good and tasty with this excellent fish inspired by the Japanese way of cooking. The second meal was a bit light with a lot of plastic parts. A small bonus also for the self service bar at the rear galley.