Luganville Espiritu Santo to Brisbane direct.
Air Vanuatu offers direct flights from Brisbane to the Vanuatu island of Espiritu Santo once a week (on Tuesdays at 12.30pm) with a return flight on Mondays, departing at 5.30pm.
3 hours 10 mins.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Travellers on Air Vanuatu can earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
30kg allowance on checked luggage, which is ample considering all you really need in Vanuatu is a sarong, pair of shorts, T-shirts and swimwear.
Luganville's Pekoa Airport is little more than a big tin shed on the tarmac, surrounded by coconut groves and cow paddocks. As this is the first and only international flight from the airport, don't expect bells and whistles – security screening is done by hand, and there are just a couple of souvenir stalls and a cafe to while away time.
As my flight is only half-full, there is ample room to stretch out. Legroom is adequate with a 31-inch pitch and a seat width of 17 inches. There are only two lavatories for economy travellers on board, which is fine during an empty flight but could cause issues if the flight was at capacity.
There is no seat-back entertainment system; instead, forward plan by downloading the Air Vanuatu Entertainment app. Once on board, you can connect to the in-flight Wi-Fi and watch a small selection of movies and television programs, including the LEGO Batman Movie, The Intern and episodes of Modern Family and The Americans. The pick of the bunch is the Oscar-nominated movie Tanna, showcasing the remote Vanuatu island and its culture; but unfortunately, I have forgotten my headphones and none are available on-board. I resort to watching the drop-down screens that run advertorial on Vanuatu resorts throughout the flight – also mute, but the images of blue waters and white sand beaches are mesmerising. Or bring a book.
Are there friendlier people in the world than the Ni-Vanuatu? Service with a broad smile, and if you're travelling with children, stewards double as in-flight nannies, fussing and cooing over every little one.
There are two offerings for the dinner service: Moroccan chicken served with couscous and vegetables, and a chunky beef pie. I opt for the chicken, which is of acceptable quality. Wines on offer consist of Woolshed sauvignon blanc and shiraz.
ONE MORE THING
The direct flight from Luganville to Brisbane has been a boon for Luganville locals, connecting them to mainland Australia without having to fly via Port Vila. The short flight is perfect if you're from Brisbane, while the outbound flight is also worth considering for travellers from Melbourne who usually have to fly via Sydney and Port Vila before arriving in Santo.
THE LAST WORD
Unfortunately, the return Luganville-Brisbane flights arrive too late for domestic transfers, necessitating an overnight stay in Brisbane.
OUR RATING: ★★★★
Julie Miller was a guest of Air Vanuatu.
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