You don’t turn up in Tuvalu on a Thursday afternoon by accident. It’s not a stopover on the way to anywhere. There’s only one way to arrive in Tuvalu by scheduled flight, and that’s by a 2.5 hour flight in a smallish commuter plane from Fiji approximately 1,000 kilometres to the south.
The twice weekly flight (Tuesdays and Thursdays at the time of my visit) departs from Suva, and not from Fiji’s main international airport at Nadi). So getting to Tuvalu from the outside world means a flight to Nadi, and then connecting to Suva to catching the 40-seater plane to Funafuti Atoll (which has the fantastic airport code FUN). In my case, the same plane took me the 25 minute hop from Nadi to Suva, and then continued to Funafuti. Suva is an unlikely international airport (I think there may also be flights to neighbouring Tonga), but is rather sophisticated compared to Funafuti International.
Despite there being no fence around the tarmac, passengers disembark and head into a small terminal building to collect their bags off the trolley and have their passports stamped. It was a 100 metre walk to the Vaiaku Lagi Hotel to check in, claim my room, and then head back to the airport terminal to watch the plane depart. When the plane leaves, there’s a realisation that until it comes back in 5 days time, you’re isolated on Funafuti Atoll.