In summer 2022, I enjoyed an incredible holiday in French Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora). Read my trip reports here:
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Paris to Los Angeles
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class (Los Angeles to Papeete)
- Review: The Brando
- Review: InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa
- Review: Air Tahiti ATR 72 Economy Class from Tahiti to Bora Bora
- Review: InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
- Review: St Regis Bora Bora
- Review: Four Seasons Bora Bora
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Tahiti to Los Angeles (today)
- Review: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Los Angeles to Paris
Today: Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Tahiti to Los Angeles
Last September, I flew with Air Tahi Nui from Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris to Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti with a stopover in Los Angeles. This is my review of the first leg of my return flight with French Polynesia’s flag carrier, a transpacific Business Class journey onboard one of the carrier’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners which took me from Tahiti to Los Angeles. The airline calls its Business Class “Poerava” – a combination of the Tahitian words poe and rava – which means Black Pearl, a reference to Polynesian culture. The airline has configured its lie flat Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 layout; while not a cutting edge hard product, this configuration makes sense, given that most people traveling to French Polynesia are couples. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Air Tahiti Nui, especially the great soft product (e.g. food) and the attentive service. With bright cabin colors, exotic crew uniforms, Tahitian music, and the smell of the Tiare flower, Air Tahiti Nui also does a great job of creating a Polynesian onboard ambiance.
Have you ever flown with Air Tahiti Nui? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
- Trip: Papeete (PPT) to Los Angeles (LAX)
- Airline: Air Tahiti Nui
- Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
- Aircraft registration number: F-OMUA (named Fakarava)
- On time departure: midnight (yes)
- On time arrival: 10:50 am (yes)
- Miles: 4110 miles (6610 km)
- Flight time: 7 hours and 35 minutes
- Seat: 1A
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Air Tahiti Nui Lounge
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict (score)
1. AIR TAHITI NUI LOUNGE
There’s only one lounge at Fa’a International Airport and it is open to all passengers flying out of French Polynesia in Business Class. Other passengers can also enter the lounge upon payment of a 6000 XPF (55 USD) fee. Operated by Air Tahiti Nui, the lounge is located on the first floor of the international terminal and is accessed by pressing a ring button after which the door is opened by a lounge attendant.
The lounge consists of one, decently sized room, with plenty of seats (although it can get crowded at peak hours). Most seat arrangements are set up for couples or travel parties of four, while there are also some high-top seats (some of them have computers) as well as some booths installed along a wooden, semi-open divider. On the other side of this divider are some more seating areas, which feel more private and also offer more comfortable chairs. Overall, the decor is modern, with bright white furniture and some design elements in turquoise (the brand color of Air Tahiti Nui). Wrap-around windows offer a nice view of the parked aircraft, the airport apron, and the runway.
A small and rather basic buffet is located on the side of the lounge. The limited selection includes sweets, fruit, packaged snacks, cold cuts, cheese, soup and some hot snacks (e.g. mini pizzas). The drinks are also complimentary and include cold drinks, juice, coffee, tea, beer, wine, and Champagne.
Facilities at the lounge include complimentary WiFi, newspapers, magazines and use of desktops.
2. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
The Business Class cabin onboard the Tahitian Dreamliner features 30 Rockwell Collins Diamond flatbed seats. These seats are configured in five rows on a six-abreast (2-2-2) arrangement. Air Tahiti Nui choose for a 2-2-2 layout in the premium cabin of its new Boeing 787s since most of the airline’s Business Class travelers are couples on their honeymoons or wedding anniversaries. Unfortunately, this also means that passengers seated in a window seat will not have direct aisle access, which can be rather uncomfortable when you are not traveling with a partner.
All seats face forward, with the seats on the side slightly angled towards the windows, away from the aisle. Paired seats are staggered by a couple of inches (cm); together with a small partition, this creates some privacy in case you are seated next to a stranger (although the seats and cabin are very open) and at the same time allows enough interaction when you are traveling with a companion.
The Business Class cabin features a wonderful, refreshing and exotic design, inspired by the spectacular beauty of the islands of Tahiti. The seat’s marine blue fabrics and soft wooden finishes reflect French Polynesia’s natural elements and create a bright color palette that evokes the white sand beaches and turquoise water of the Polynesian lagoons. A Tiare motif is printed in the leather headrests of each seat, subtly reinforcing the visual brand image of Air Tahiti Nui. The wall on the back of the cabin is also adorned by a colorful painting of Polynesian women, which looks like a reprint of a painting of Paul Gaugain, the famous post-impressist artist who fell in love with French Polynesia.
3. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
Air Tahiti Nui’s Business Class seat is pleasant, although it doesn’t offer much privacy and the comfort of the flat-bed will largely depend on the seat that you choose (more on that below). The soft cushioned seat has a pitch of 78 inches (195 cm), which is defined as the space between one point on a seat and the same point on the seat in front of it. The seat width is 21 inches (53 cm) – defined as the space between the arm rests – which is comfortable but not among the widest in the industry.
Each seat features its own 16 inch HD touchscreen TV, which can also be controlled by a handset nestled in the armrest. Below the TV monitor is a drawer (which is large enough to store a laptop) and a footrest (which becomes part of the flatbed once the seat is fully reclined). The size of this footrest is variable: the bulkhead seats in row 1 offer a much larger ottoman as compared to the other Business Class seats (so make sure to choose a seat in the first row if you can); also, the aisle seats have a larger foot rest compared to window seats.
The center armrest – which is shared between paired seats – features a small shared table (for drinks & snacks), a control panel for the seat positions, and a remote handset for the inflight entertainment system. It also holds a moderately sized fold-out tray table. Next to the seat, behind the headrest, is a small, somewhat difficult to reach storage compartment with a magnetic adaptor for the headphones. Each seat is also equipped with a standard universal power outlet and two USB ports.
The seat goes fully flat (180 degrees recline), but your sleep comfort might depend on the seat you choose: except for the bulkhead seats in row 1 (which come with large ottomans), the footrests are rather narrow and this may somewhat hamper a good night’s rest.
What are the best Business Class seats
- All seats in the cabin are excellent for those traveling with a companion because of the 2-2-2 layout.
- The bulkhead seats in row 1 feature a much larger footrest as compared to all other seats, so these are the seats you want to fly (and sleep) in, although proximity to the galley and lavatory may cause some light noise disturbance from time to time.
What are the worst Business Class seats
- The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a small screen though between adjoining seats which are also staggered by a couple of inches, creating some extra levels of privacy (albeit not enough).
- Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access.
- The window seats in the 4th row are lacking a window and are best avoided.
Click here for a seat map of the Tahitian Dreamliner.
4. AMENITIES & BEDDING
Air Tahiti Nui provides the following amenities to its Business Class passengers:
- A Poerava Business comfort kit, which comes in the form of a beige toiletry bag. It contains products made of recyclable materials (cornstarch toothbrush, bamboo fiber sock, organic cotton mask) and a range of cosmetic products made in Polynesia (face and hands cream hands and a lip balm) from the brand “Heiva”.
- A decently sized pillow (adorned with beautiful Tahitian motifs)
- A comfortable, warm and luxurious blanket
- Air Tahiti Nui branded noise cancelling headphones, which are of excellent quality
On this overnight trans-Pacific flight, a light cold meal was offered after takeoff and a breakfast prior to landing.
The light cold meal was served immediately after takeoff, with all courses offered at once on one tray (since the flight took off after midnight, this fast dinner service maximized the time onboard to rest). The following items were served:
- Main dish: tuna tataki, tomato tartar and eggplant caviar maki
- Dessert: white chocolate and lemon entremet
- A selection of fine cheese served with jelly of guava
All dishes tasted excellent and the food was nicely presented.
Ninety minutes prior to landing, while approaching the USA West Coast, a breakfast was offered. I choose French toast as a main dish, which was served with roasted pineapple & banana and a pistachio cream sauce.
Each Business Class seat is equipped with an interactive touchscreen which offers superior HD resolution. The inflight entertainment features the latest generation system from Panasonic, and offers a decent (albeit rather limited) selection of entertainment, with 16 movies, 40 music albums, 15 video games and several dedicated TV shows & documentaries channel. A highlight of the inflight entertainment is Tiare TV, a unique channel devoted to the islands of French Polynesia. Among others, Tiara TV features a documentary about The Brando, one of the world’s most exclusive private island resorts and former home of the late actor Marlon Brando.
7. ONBOARD INTERNET
Air Tahiti Nui offers highspeed Wi-Fi on their 787s. Business Class passengers get a voucher with 10MB of free data (one per flight leg), which doesn’t exactly last a long time. After these date are used, one of the following packages can be selected:
- Package MAEVA (10 MB for $9 USD) – Send and receive emails with some small attachments
- Package IAORA (20 MB for $15 USD) – Send and receive emails, limited internet browsing, upload and download a few photos
- Package FENUA (50 MB for $29 USD) – Send and receive emails, browse the internet, upload and download photos
- Package NUI (200 MB for $49 USD) – Send and receive emails, browse the internet, upload and download photos, stream audio content
8. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: The service on this flight was excellent (and very similar to the service I enjoyed on my previous flights with the airline). The cabin crew changed from sleek city uniforms to elegant and comfortable Tahitian attire shortly after take-off. The crew’s colorful dresses and shirts reflected the charm, beauty and warmth that are typical of the French Polynesian islands.
# LAVATORY: There are three lavatories for the 30 Business Class passengers. One is located behind the cockpit and two are located in the galley between the Business and Premium Economy Class cabin. Calming Tahitian music is played inside the lavatories.
9. MY VERDICT
- Seat comfort (upright): 8/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 7/10
- Food (quality): 8/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- WiFi: 8/10 (but expensive)
- Service: 9/10
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10