ronerone
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Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:29 pm





I N T R O D U C T I O N
Life is a journey, and any journey is full of changes. Changes are inevitable, but inevitably are they uncertain.

What once began as a typical aviation run composed of simple transit stops between an array of flights, turned into my very own self-connect between life’s changing journeys. Out with the old and in with the new, but in between all that, a magical journey was the out-of-body experience I was really looking for.

Sometimes it isn’t only jet blast and jet lag, and today, I am feeling like I want to reflect amongst my immediate surroundings. Earth at its simplest is all I wanted, and it was nothing but the five pillars of life: sun, sand, water, airlines, and airports. Heaven isn’t necessarily a place on earth, but around here, it’s a high to ultimate paradise.

And at the backbone of this schematic, Air Tahiti Nui –a typical candidate island airline- served as the chosen means to take me there. As with other islanders, this one too has its troubles, of which seem to have been on the rise lately. Unfortunately, all due to nothing but the natural circumstance of being situated on the most isolated catchment area on earth.

Whether it’s SkyTeam, or Oneworld, the discussions of a prospect seem to go nowhere. An interest by Air France has been sluggish at best, and lately it seems the doors are knocking up the Aussie Virgins for help. Can the government of French Polynesia sustain this struggle of an airline so crucial for the islands’ inbound tourism? Who knows! Life is full of surprises that way, and I ain’t the one to speculate!

However, there's no denying that Air Tahiti Nui is the crown jewel -or the black pearl as she is commonly dubbed- of the Pacific. From that day when I saw her at JFK many years ago, I knew I had to tick her -and where she came from- off my list, and quickly!

On today’s journey, she takes us on a small trip to paradise. It may be the honeymoon’s lair by means of a cliché, but leave it to me to turn Tahiti and her islands into a perfect hotspot for any trip reporter, with or without a significant other!

Spanning half way across the world, on Air Tahiti Nui from Auckland to Paris. Welcome to the flagship portion of my RTW series. Ia Orana!



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ronerone
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:31 pm





WELCOME TO MY 36thTRIP REPORT
This TR will cover my trip from Auckland to Paris as follows:

- Auckland to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui in Economy Class Moana
- Papeete overnight stay
- Papeete-Raiatea-Bora Bora (Air Tahiti island hopper)
- A quick view of Bora Bora
- Bora Bora-Papeete-Moorea (Air Tahiti island hopper)
- Moorea overnight stay
- Moorea-Papeete (Air Tahiti island hopper)
- Papeete to Paris via Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui in Economy Class Moana

Needless to say, this will be a very long report where I opted to consolidate everything Tahiti under one project. That way, we won't lose any focus. So sit back, relax, enjoy the ride, and feel free to complete this reading in as many times as you like.



AROUND THE WORLD
In August 2011, I embarked on my first ever Round The World trip. Over 10 days, this 'boutique' journey spanned across five regions and included an ideal mix of airlines, of which some are the legendary tried and admired, and others of the more exotic variety. This will result in a total of four TR's which will hopefully keep everyone entertained for some time to come.

Today's third episode, follows prior covers on both Cathay Pacific and Air Pacific, both of which took me from Dubai to Auckland via Hong Kong and Nadi. To recap, these TR's are sourced here:

Cathay Pacific: Dubai - Hong Kong (by SR 103 / KLM)
Cathay Pacific: Re-Discovering The Heart Of Asia (by SR 103 Nov 8 2011 in Trip Reports)

Air Pacific: Hong Kong - Nadi - Auckland
The Bula Boeings!: Air Pacific HKG-NAN-AKL (by ronerone Dec 5 2011 in Trip Reports)


My RTW path so far




B A C K G R O U N D
Without Air Tahiti Nui, this RTW would probably not have happened. From where I am, the location of Tahiti, and hopping on its National Carrier's flagship route more or less needs to happen whilst traveling around the globe. As such, when Air Tahiti Nui was the given, everything else around it -and the globe- was what required research and development (i.e. CX, FJ, NAN/AKL, and the TR that will follow this).

However, it was finding the most optimal solution out of this airline and the routing that was necessary. Did I want to fly premium and skip a stopover in Tahiti? Or did I want to balance it out across all areas? In any case, I was in no position to fork out the money Air Tahiti Nui required for a Business Class ticket, regardless. So, Economy Class Moana was the decision.

Air Tahiti Nui's website -my first resort whilst trying to find my ticket- was an average offering at best, but definitely a good start. Whilst details on offers, company information, and online purchase capabilities are definitely there, my case definitely required a more personal contact with someone from the airline.

Air Tahiti Nui was offering fares from Auckland to Paris with a permission to stopover in Tahiti along the way. However, unlike Air Pacific, I was unable to book this stopover directly from the airline on the web. Furthermore, the website was giving me some difficulty in booking my ticket from Auckland to Paris. But I eventually found a solution by making a dummy booking on a different route, and then modifying it to my liking on another page that did allow to book the exact flights I wanted. It's all quite confusing, but in the end I had my ticket in hand and the next step was to email Air Tahiti Nui's office in Auckland in order to book my stopover.

Within hours, I received an email from 'Harmony' welcoming me to Air Tahiti Nui and confirming that my flights had been changed to reflect my stopover in Tahiti, and my seats have been confirmed. It seems that airline offices based in New Zealand are insanely efficient and quite customer focused as this is the second time my case is quickly turned around in lightning speed (previously being on Aerolineas Argentinas).

With several nights to play around in Tahiti, it would have been too wrong not too do an island hopper on Air Tahiti's ATR's. And hence, the island hop was planned out to reflect my stopover in Moorea in which more details on this will be explained in the appropriate section below.

Everything's all set, and now it's time to head out!



ORIGIN AUCKLAND

Quote:
My layover time in Auckland was 24 hours, with a stay at the Jet Park Airport Hotel. So what normally happens in Auckland? Where does one go, what does one see, and/or who does one see whilst there? Let's keep this for the next TR!

NZ107 a.k.a Nicholas was very hospitable and went out of his way to meet me at the airport on my arrival from Nadi, the day before my scheduled departure to Papeete. I also had the pleasure to go spotting with him during my 24 hour stay, and of course a few meals and drinks in between. Again, thank you Nicholas for everything!

Whilst in Auckland, I decided to stay close to the airport this time, and selected the Jet Park Hotel. This intimate family-run kiwi bred hotel is perfect for an overnight transit between flights. Decent rooms, friendly staff, a shower, a TV and the typical basic amenities are all expected, and at an affordable price.



My room at the Jet Park Hotel in Auckland



Minibar etc



Bathroom





On the morning of my departure to Papeete, I took the hotel's airport shuttle at 10am, for a quick ten minute ride to the airport. I met Nicholas at the curbside and we headed for a quick session of spotting. Of course, it was a special feeling for me to lurk by the runway waiting for the arrival of the very aircraft that was to take me to Papeete in a few hours. Not to mention, this also eliminated the small risk of missing the aircraft registration at the gate.

Whilst waiting for the blue Papeete princess to arrive, we caught several other birds on this typical Auckland morning movement.



An ANZ arrival



An ANZ jumbo on departure



And of course, this one, fresh from Papeete



The A340 is the sexiest looking airplane on this planet!





At 12:20pm, I was back at the airport to check-in for my flight. At that hour the check-in area was quite empty and maneuvering about was an easy affair.



Curbside





The check-in hall at Auckland International Airport is medium-sized with just the right amenities. A simple hallway with an array of pre-barricaded check-in counters along the length of the building, all located at a level below the food court, shops, immigration, and departure. This is definitely an ultra-positive aspect of this airport as even with congestion, I would imagine processing yourself through wouldn’t be as hectic as at larger airports.



Inside the departures hall



FIDS





Today, Air Tahiti Nui was allocated to six check-in counters (38-43). One was dedicated to Poerava First Class, another to Poerava Business Class, and the remaining four solely for Economy Class Moana. Again, the French have mastered the art of names, and France and its colonies' airlines have mastered the art of turning their cabin classes into names that are stylishly sultry and seductive.



Air Tahiti Nui check-in







Only a handful of people were ahead of me for check-in, which is always a hopeful possibility that today's load could be light. At my turn, a friendly agent quickly took to my needs and instantly processed my way through the system, tagged my luggage to Papeete, and issued my boarding pass with not a single hassle. When asked if the flight was full, I was informed that it was sold out completely. So, either everyone had checked in before me, or most passengers were on codeshare connections from Qantas and Air New Zealand. Oh well, at least I got my window seat with a semi-reasonable view of the engines.



Boarding pass



Liberated check-in paraphernalia





After check-in, I caught up with Nicholas again for a bite to eat on the upper level of the building where a vast array of shops and eateries are available prior to proceeding through immigration.



Upper level at Auckland International Airport









Nicholas drinks!



And so do i!



I settled for this tasty vegetarian sandwich





A quick visit to the observation deck happened afterwards, to catch a couple more celebrity sightings.



One of which was an Emirates arrival, beautifully distorted by my wide-angle





It was already past the stated boarding time on my boarding pass, which meant I was super late in comparison to the usual time I head airside. So by 1:30pm, I bid farewell to Nicholas and busted my way through immigration and security, arriving airside as final calls were in effect for my flight.



The only picture I managed to snap whilst airside





At 1:40pm I arrived at a totally deserted gate area at Gate 6. There was not a single other passenger, with only the gate staff manning the podium and sifting through manifests and stubs of boarded passengers.

My boarding pass was scanned, and after the subsequent beep, it was tore off appropriately, with the stub handed back to me. And through the aerobridge I went.

At door 1L, I arrived at yet another one of those warm welcomes that can set the tone of what is yet to come. Two Air Tahiti Nui male cabin crew were in charge of the boarding. One -presumably the purser- was to my left, and the other, was to my right and holding a tray of small Tiare flowers offered to the passengers.

"Ia Orana"
"Oh, may I please take a picture?"
"Yes but this is not for Facebook okay?"
"Sorry?"
"I am just joking, feel free to do what you like monsieur"
"Maururu"
"Welcome on board"



Ia Orana!




By 1:45pm I was on board.



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ronerone
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:32 pm

FLIGHT
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AIR TAHITI NUI Flight Information:

SCR
/TN/21AUG
S11
21AUG
AKL
KTN102 27MAR29OCT 0004007 294343 AKLAKL1415 2110-1PPTPPT J
GI BRGDS


Registration: F-OSUN (Moorea)
Condition: 10.2 years old, delivered to Air Tahiti Nui in 2002

Remarks: This flight continues to Los Angeles

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



AUCKLAND TO PAPEETE
AKL - PPT
Scheduled Departure: 14:15
Actual Departure: 14:30 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 21:10-1
Actual Arrival: 20:55-1 (Touchdown)



Welcome to Air Tahiti Nui





Turning right I initially pass through the First Class cabin where only one person had occupied. The ambience there on first glimpse is quite laid back and -from where I'm at today- on a level far beyond my reach. However, the six-seater secluded cabin is, as we all know, one of the most unique offerings in today's aviation.

Passing through the Business Class cabin it was a slightly different story. An elite 'members-only' club had formed which seemed to no longer accept any additional applications. The cabin was fully boarded, and everyone had already established their respective cliques while sipping their snobbish welcome drinks and hence, a passing passenger like myself was more or less the equivalent of a fly trying to find its way out of the aircraft. Needless to say, no one cared who else was still boarding because they knew damn well they were not going to deal with them.

Arriving at my cabin -lowly Moana in Economy- it was quite the opposite experience. Though I was one of the very last to board this ultra-packed cabin, all eyes were still on this new 'object' that just strolled in. Where's it going to sit? What the hell is it anyways?

Today's flight was almost at 100% and today's flavor was 100% holiday-goers from all angles. Tahitian families returning or visiting home, smooching newly-wed couples basking in their -probably- millionth post-wedding afterglow, Aussies/Kiwis fresh off the codeshares, a few Americans headed to LAX, and me.



The cabin





At my seat at 18A, my seatmate had already occupied his B-side and was already dozing off whilst waiting to reach his final destination. I felt bad, but I had to gently wake him up, in which after a few sighs and pouts, he got up to let me in. Seriously now, what's with the attitude? At least that set the tone for me to keep my interaction with him to a bare minimum.



The seat





I had second thoughts in regards to comfort once I discovered how cramped the cabin looked. But once seated, I was pleasantly surprised that my personal space in Economy Class Moana was quite generous. Seat pitch -though reported to be at 32 inches- seemed plenty to maintain this comfort level even when the seat in front of me was reclined. Moreover, the seat itself was adequately padded and I had absolutely no issue making this my home for the duration of this flight. In fact, if this is the standard comfort level on Air Tahiti Nui, then I am sure I will have no issues on the ultra-long hop to Paris in a few days time!

On my seat were a freshly sealed blue blanket and a white pillow, neatly placed over the seatbelts. Across from me, the usual in-flight literature consisting of the airline's magazine, IFE guide, duty-free booklet, safety card, and barf bag, were placed in the seat pocket in front of me. One thing that I do not remember however, is whether there was an IFE box that obstructed my leg space. But I am inclined to state that there wasn't one, because I still hold a fresh memory of how comfortable my seating arrangement was.



Leg space



Blanket



Pillow





Whilst we waited to depart, the cabin crew passed around with an offer for newspapers, before our captain made an announcement to welcome us on board, and to inform us that we were ready to depart only after the last passengers board. He also advised us of our routing to Papeete, and that our flight time this afternoon was to be 4 hours and 20 minutes.



We're all ready to go





The last passenger -only one more after me- had finally boarded and the doors had presumably closed after he trickled in. And at 2:30pm, we commenced our departure when we pushed back onto the apron.

The cabin crew was signaled to take their positions for the safety demonstration, which on Air Tahiti Nui is the good old fashioned manual way. As this was being done, I could hear each of the four hair dryer engines on this A340-300 spool up in a very high-pitched tone. Never heard that before, but perhaps because I haven't sat this close to these engines until today.

As we taxied across the airfield to the active runway, I tried to find Nicholas out the window as he was still around the vicinity spotting. While I couldn't exactly spot him, he spotted me for sure.



I am inside this bird!





At 2:45pm, we thundered down the runway in what was expected to be the usual drag until liftoff. The A340 may have many as such flaws, but it's these little imperfections that make it ever so charming. And hence, we now commence our journey deep into the core of my RTW, and towards French Polynesia.

Seconds after liftoff, a service announcement was made by crew to inform us that we will be served a hot meal with drinks, and that duty free and IFE will be available throughout the flight. Shortly afterwards -well not too shortly afterwards as this is an A340- we reached cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign was switched off.

Service commenced with the distribution of amenity kits and menus. Menus seem to be a crucial element in French service -and that is always to my advantage- however, I was pleasantly surprised to see amenity kits handed out for this short mostly-daytime flight.

I never open my amenity kits -and I never unwrap the plastic off them either- but apart from the usual contents, they also contained a pair of headsets that are yours to keep.



Amenity kit & menu



Amenity kit



Menu



Meal service for today's flight





Most of the cabin crew in Economy Class were male, and most of the female crew operating today's flight -seemingly the minority in ratio- were working the premium cabins. Air Tahiti Nui's cabin crew wear a typical professional airline uniform whilst on the ground however, once the seatbelt sign goes off after takeoff, everyone changes into something a little more relaxed and cultural. The males wear a loose short-sleeve button shirt decorated with Tiare flower patterns, while the females turn into a similarly patterned -and very colorful- dress wrapped along their figures until it loosens just below their knees.

As the crew were busy changing and preparing for the meal service, I continued to explore what in-flight amenities were available in my seat pocket.



Inflight magazine and safety card



IFE guide and duty free booklet





Soon enough, the meal trolleys were rolled out and two male crew operating both aisles conducted the meal service. Both seemed friendly and courteous with every passenger.

"Hello monsieur"
"What you like? we have the lamb or the fish?"
"I'll take the lamb please"
"And to drink?"
"May I have a bloody mary please?"
"With vodka or just the mix?"
"With vodka please"
"Of course"

The very courteous crew handed me my meal tray which was very neatly arranged with all the necessary items including the starter plate of salad and prawns, a bread roll, my lamb main course, cheese & crackers, éclair for dessert, coffee cup, water cup, plastic-ware, and the usual condiments such as butter, salt, and pepper.

“May I offer you some water monsieur?”
“Yes please”
“Sure. And would you like anything else to drink? Maybe some juice?”
“No thanks I am fine”



Meal tray



Starter



Main course



Dessert



Tray view





The salad was cold and fresh, and the prawns were not fishy which is great. The main course wasn't the best however. The mashed potatoes and the veggies were warm and homey however, the lamb had a slight aftertaste to it, which I did not like. The mint ragout that came with the lamb was perfect however it did not do very well with that aftertaste. I am quite hesitant about having lamb on a plane and this is one of the reasons why. But overall the meal wasn't bad and it went down pretty well with the Bloody Mary.

However, being an airline with French origins, I will naturally apply a higher weighting to the overall meal with my judgment on the dessert. If the dessert sucked, then the meal can be written off. But the éclairs were heavenly and the creamy filling was absolute madness!



During the meal service, I powered on the route map







The service so far was quick, smooth, and efficient. After the first round, the trolley was returned to the beginning of the aisle to serve those that were initially asleep, and to also offer any seconds on the beverages to others that requested. Everyone –at least on my side of the aisle- was served with a smile and with gentle care. It was almost the kind of software one could expect in an upper cabin, and I was so far quite impressed.



During the meal service





Coffee, tea, and water were offered towards the end of the meal service –in which I declined- before the trays were collected.

At this stage during the flight, the vibe had neutralized as normally expected. The cabin crew was busy with post-service galley stowage and the passengers zoned out to the dimming lighting conditions both inside and outside the cabin. Playing cards, sleeping, watching IFE, and simply chitchatting were some of the activities scattered in between the dots of brightly lit reading lights across the cabin. Eventually the cabin was fully dark, as we ventured deeper into the night. I gradually fell asleep for most of the remaining flight time. I figured I had a longer flight to explore more of Air Tahiti Nui, so why not kick back and chill for now.



Cabin lights dimmed





I awoke several hours later from what seemed to be quite the comfortable sleep. Whilst on a plane, my body has this strange habit of self-jerking itself awake only moments before falling into REM mode. Not sure why, but it has startled those seated next to me before. And of course, the more uncomfortable the sleeping position is, the more jerking there will be. In spite of this however, this odd behavior happened only a couple of times, which I assume meant I was quite content with the comfort levels on tonight’s flight.



Approaching paradise!



But before getting there, a visit to the lavatory was required





At 8:25pm local time in Tahiti, this A340’s nose took a slight dip into lower altitudes; the first signal that we had passed top of descent. The crew made an announcement to this effect, and then arrival preparations commenced. This included last-calls to the lavatories, shuffling through carry-ons from the overhead lockers, final drink requests at the galleys, and the sounds of crew thumping and stumping in preparation for landing. And at 8:40pm, the seatbelt sign was switched on.



Cabin before landing





The cabin crew handed out boiled candy from a basket, and conducted their final checks before taking their seats for landing.



DESTINATION PAPEETE
Our approach into Papeete was in absolute darkness, and not a single light was illuminated along the way. While it had a subtle sense of eeriness to it, I was yet ever so intrigued by this sensation. It was like a feeling of flying into infinity.

But back in reality, we touched down at 8:55pm and arrived FAA’A International Airport in Papeete some 15 minutes ahead of schedule and, a day earlier than four hours ago at Auckland. It was a mere crossing of an imaginary date line along the way that simply –for my first time ever- turned me back one day earlier. This also fast-tracked me into severe jetlag that messed my entire mental moving forward.

Back on earth, and back into taxi speed, we backtracked on the runway in pure island-airport fashion and made our short hop to the parking stand. Naturally, this airport is fully aerobridge-free and exercises full walk-up apron facilities. During our taxi, announcements were made in both Reo Tahiti and English. It was my first time hearing this language, and it very much sounded like another ‘Bahasa’ from South East Asia. The arrival announcements ended just as we powered out and began frolicking to get out.



Ready to get out





A definite advantage of airports at tourist-heavy destinations is the ease of pointless restrictions on taking photos whilst on the tarmac. It is definitely no different here in Tahiti as I was able to freely take pictures of the aircraft and of the surrounding infrastructure.

At FAA’A, the arrival path from the aircraft to the terminal reminded me very much of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal at Kuala Lumpur. A simple outdoor stroll through metallic low-rise structures of minimal design, all with a nice surrounding view.



On arrival at Papeete





On the way to the terminal





Arriving the terminal building





There was a long queue to get to immigration, but entertainment was provided during the wait by a band strumming melodic island tunes. Most of the airport is on an outdoor setting with the outside air and a few fans serving as the air conditioning. It may not pass successfully in some climates, but the weather around here was –whilst on the humid side- cool and crisp, you’d hate to be indoors anyways.

After immigration and customs –more or less a simple affair- I was landside and eventually on my way to the hotel.


The next portion of my TR will show you some of Tahiti and her islands.



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ronerone
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:34 pm





PAPEETE
From prior research, it seemed that Papeete was the least ‘heavenly’ of all the islands on Tahiti. Some described it as dirty and slummy, while others as a typical bustling city (but to the scale of Tahiti of course) with traffic, pollution, and congestion.

However, given Air Tahiti Nui and it’s single arrival wave into FAA’A being in the evening/night hours, there was no choice but to fork out money on a stay in Papeete. But keeping in mind those pillars of life –sun, sand, water, airlines, and airports- it was decided that one day would be spent entirely at the beach, and the next would be planned for the island hopper.

I had no plans to go out into the city, so as with my stay in Fiji, it was most ideal to stay at a resort where I could lay under the sun and vegetate all day long. So, the Intercontinental Hotel was selected, which was definitely a choice that did not disappoint.



Intercontinental Hotel lobby



My room at the Intercontinental



Bathroom





A very comfortable room –with all the usual 5 star amenities- along with courteous staff, this hotel was definitely an enjoyable experience.

In terms of sun, sand, and water, this hotel features an array of extra special facilities such as the main pool, a lagoonarium, sand pools, infinity pools, overwater bungalows, and a view so ultimately spectacular.



Early morning after breakfast by the pool





The lagoonarium was the most interesting at this hotel. It is more or less a man-made lagoon portioned off by nets from the main beach/sea, where you are able to dip and swim alongside an array of small fish –a sanctuary of this ‘elite’ group that only lives in this area- that would school towards you the moment you’re in.



The lagoonarium





The hotel in between the beaches and the pools





On the other side of the resort –away from the main pool and the lagoonarium- there is an infinity pool with white sand overlooking the famous mountainous view of Moorea Island. A priceless view that spoke a thousand words at just a glance!



The Infinity pool overlooking Moorea







The overwater bungalows





Rather striking and quite unique to me, were the different colors of the ocean around here. From pure black sandy shores –a specialty at Papeete’s beaches- to more rocky bottoms that fade into suddenly changing shades of light green and further into the deep ocean colors; all nicely decorated by seaweed and mini schools of fish. From salty atolls that randomly spruce up into circles around nothing but blue seas, to random islands that are scattered everywhere. This place was seriously like no other.

And behind the commercial views at the Intercontinental Hotel, lies the main island of Papeete showing a more earthy view. It is the most populated island in Tahiti, and of course it houses the main commercial port, and serves as the financial and business hub for Tahiti.



Partial view of the real Papeete



Sunrise over Moorea!





After a day under the sun in Papeete, it was time to move on. Next on the agenda was the island hopper, which is detailed in the following sections.



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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:35 pm

TAHITI AND HER ISLANDS
My final destination today was Moorea, where I was to spend two nights before heading to Los Angeles and then Paris. I have heard of a ferry service that operates between Papeete and Moorea, but why would I want to do that when there’s Air Tahiti’s ATRs plying all the islands around the area?

Air Tahiti is a regional airline covering over 40 islands within French Polynesia, in addition to the island of Rarotonga. Based in Papeete, Air Tahiti serves the domestic/regional purpose in the same manner that Air Tahiti Nui does internationally. Some destinations include Ahe, Bora Bora, Gamber Islands, Huahine, Moorea, Raiatea, Tikehau Atoll, and UaPu.

If you want to fly to one of the islands around here, Air Tahiti is your only way, and as such, it was exactly what I wanted to do.

Today’s itinerary involved a day’s long of 3 flights on the following itinerary:

- Papeete to Bora Bora via Raiatea on the ATR72
- Bora Bora to Papeete on the ATR72
- Papeete to Moorea on the ATR72

And following my stay in Moorea, a final flight on Air Tahiti back to Papeete was necessary to connect me onto my international trek half way across the globe.

There are at least two ways I was able to book my tickets for these flights. The first was to walk up to the counter on the day of departure and purchase my desired seat. However, being the obsessive person that I am, I opted for the second option of pre-preparing and booking everything directly from Air Tahiti’s website.

A simple affair that gets the job done, Air Tahiti’s website does allow you to purchase island hops online. However, the norm here is that you initially make your booking once the flights are selected, and you will then be contacted by email with a link where you can pay for your flight and receive a confirmation.

Bora Bora has several multi-daily departures from Papeete, some of which are nonstop, while others via one or even two stops. Naturally, two stops is the way to go for me, but given the constraints of time and availability, I was unable to find a seat on the 2-stop flight. However, a flight that left shortly after, was a 1-stop to Bora Bora via Raiatea, which was equally as attractive.



Air Tahiti is a full interline e-ticketing airline





Jet lag had murdered the best of me and after trying to sleep all night, I gave up at 3:30am and got up to prepare for my flight. By 6am, I left the room to check out, and then headed to the airport at 6:15am.

They say that French Polynesia is one of the most expensive destinations on earth. Well if a $20 USD cab ride lasting exactly five minutes between the hotel and the airport was anything to go by, then I would most certainly agree. But at least it was a way to get to FAA’A at this early hour.

The sun had just risen, and the activity at the airport is only at its beginning. The airport has two faces to it, whereby the left side of the airport operates during the daytime for regional flights, and the international right side comes alive in the wee hours of the night when Air Tahiti Nui dominates.



Curbside at FAA’A



FIDS





I proceeded to check-in for my flight at 6:30am. Air Tahiti has a dedicated set of check-in counters for all flights that are barricaded to help with proper queuing. At the entrance to Air Tahiti’s mini check-in area, two beautiful ladies dressed in a Polynesian-themed uniform were smiling and eager to assist with enquiries.

“Ia Orana, where are you flying today sir?”
“Bora bora”
“Oui, this way please”
“Thank you”
“Maururu”



Everyone smiles in Tahiti!



Air Tahiti’s check-in counters





Check-in barely took five minutes, and in no time I was issued my boarding pass, and had my luggage tagged to Bora Bora. Looking at my boarding pass, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had no assigned seat. And the reason for this was because it is an absolutely free seating arrangement on Air Tahiti; board, find your own seat, grab it, and sit.



My boarding pass to Bora Bora





Due to the early check-out, I was unable to have my breakfast at the hotel but instead, I opted for something at the airport’s main cafeteria which sold a variety of hot and cold items suitable for breakfast.



Cafetria







It was a basic cafeteria where you select what you need from the counter, place on a tray, and pay the cashier before taking your seat. I selected an almond croissant, a smoothie, and a cappuccino; all costing $11 USD.



Breakfast





At 7:10am, I proceeded through security screening, and arrived at a simple airside facility comprising of one seating area across from a couple or so gates. It was nothing larger than a small room with soft leather-ish chairs and ceiling fans propelling the main air conditioning.

At 7:25am, a boarding was called for our flight, whereby all passengers flocked to the agents at the podium. At my turn, a smiling agent ripped my boarding pass and wished me a pleasant flight when my small stub was handed back to me.



Waiting to board





As with my arrival on Air Tahiti Nui, this departure follows the same system, where boarding consists of a simple stroll to the aircraft.



Walk-up boarding











Boarding was conducted from the rear door of the aircraft, and the captain was standing by the steps leading to the cabin. At the door of the aircraft, two cabin crew, one male and one female, were handling the boarding welcome.

“Ia Orana, welcome on board”
“Please feel free to sit wherever you like”


At 7:35am, I was on board … my very first ATR by the way!



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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:37 pm

FLIGHT
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AIR TAHITI Flight Information:

SCR
/VT/22AUG
S11
22AUG
PPT
KVT492 27MAR29OCT1234567066ATRPPTRFP0745 0905BOBBOB J
GI BRGDS


Registration: F-OHJS
Condition: 9.5 years old, delivered to Air Tahiti in 2002

Remarks: This flight stops in Raiatea

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



PAPEETE TO BORA BORA
PPT - BOB
Scheduled Departure: 07:45
Actual Departure: 07:45 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 09:05
Actual Arrival: 08:55 (Touchdown)



Welcome to Air Tahiti





As soon as I and a couple of others behind me boarded, the doors were immediately closed and departure preparations were well underway before I even sat down. I selected a window seat with a nice view of the prop and made myself comfortable rather quickly.

The cabin was similar to an Embraer’s, but on an even smaller scale. I think ATRs are ‘cute’ little planes, with a very simple low ‘ceiling’ cabin coming in a 2-2 single-class configuration of just over 60 seats. The load today was well below 70% and I was lucky to have a pair of seats all to myself.



The seat





The seat – a simple navy blue leather offer- was very basic, yet ultra-comfortable. The ample legroom was more than adequate and could even meet the standards of any ultra long-haul flight. So needless to say, that this 1 hour and 20 minute hop –with 1 stop included- was going to be very comfortable.



Leg space





The seatbelt sign was quickly switched on, and an announcement was made by the crew in English, French and Reo Tahiti. This was followed by another announcement by the captain, in which he informed us that today’s flight to Raiatea was a quick 30 minutes.



Departure announcement video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmwXN4Xv2dI



Ready for departure





A quick manual safety demonstration was conducted by the crew, to the sounds of an automated PA, and this was then followed by engine start-up. I have been on props before –albeit a very long time ago- so the chopping angry sounds of the propellers on this ATR were no different. The right prop was ignited first, and once that was up and running, the left one followed suit. And by 7:45am we left the stand and began our ultra-quick taxi to the runway.

At 7:50am this ATR72 roared –in complete sounds of anger- down the runway and after a quick liftoff, we commenced our journey through Tahiti and her islands.



Takeoff video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzO6TfWSmfA



A powerful northeasterly climb up, followed by a sharp westward bank lead us to a fading view of Tahiti Island, and followed by a more aerial view of Moorea from my side of the aircraft. Moments later, we also flew past the island of Huahine which was visible from the starboard side. This, all along the perfectly blue seas of the Pacific, with messy scatters of faint greenish atoll mixtures of salt, pure water, and sands so white you can wear as socks. When I wanted to see postcard scenery during this trip, I knew exactly where to find it.



Leaving the island if Tahiti behind



And passing by Moorea on our way to Raiatea





Surprisingly, a beverage service was conducted on this flight and this included a selection of juices, coffee, and/or tea served by the crew from a tray. Such a service is available on flights 30 minutes or longer, and an additional buy-on-board service is also available should you want items like peanuts, chips, or soft drinks.



Complimentary beverage service



Orange juice for me



Cabin shot inflight





At 8:15am -20 minutes after takeoff- the seatbelt sign was back on, and we commenced our quick descent towards Raiatea. An array of automated safety announcements were played as the crew prepped the cabin for arrival.

We touched down at 8:20am, and backtracked along the runway towards the apron. The approach/landing video at Raiatea can be viewed here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di5uC3zo9rE



At the stand, passengers bound for Raiatea disembarked, while those of us continuing onto Bora Bora remained on board. If and when there is no refueling requirement, Air Tahiti's turnaround times on these island hops range between 10 to 20 minutes, which to me is quite impressive. And like a bus service on clockwork, we arrived, parked, passengers got off, cabin got cleaned, new passengers boarded, and off we went.



Passengers bound for Raiatea





Cabin during the transit stop





A few passengers boarded at 8:35am, and once that happened, the seatbelt sign was switched on and the doors were immediately closed.



New passengers boarded





The engines were powered on again, and the crew made their usual checks and announcements, before we taxied out at 8:40am. After a five minute taxi, we propped down the runway and lifted off at 8:45am towards Bora Bora. Today's flight was only 15 minutes long.



Taxi & Takeoff Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKs9hMlUQLI



Nothing much happened inflight, and before knowing it, we were already commencing our descent towards Bora Bora. Now the excitement began to sink in; after all, Bora Bora is a dream, and it was coming true momentarily!

And gradually, a slender green mountain -surrounded by what seemed to be the most beautiful atoll I have ever seen- appeared right in front of my eyes, as it was piercing through a purely white layer of cloud engulfed around its tip. There are no words to describe it, but you can see some of it in the landing video below.

With this view, the most appropriate automated announcement was made informing us that we were about to land on a separate island, and that transportation to the main island will be by boat upon arrival at the airport. This simply set the tone for the next couple of hours.



Cabin during descent




Approach and landing at Bora Bora:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfuYS2boHpg



We touched down at 8:55am, and rolled into the stand at exactly 9:00am. At Bora Bora, the 'white sand effect' happens not only on its beaches, but it begins right at the airport where it is found all around the boundary. Today, the sun was glazing under pure cloudless sky, making the seas bluer and the sands whiter.



Bora Bora arrival





Grabbing my belongings, I had to hunch may way out of the low-ceiling aisle of this cute prop, before bidding farewell to the crew upon exiting.



Deplaning





I had 1 hour and 45 minutes to kill in Bora Bora, and this will be detailed in the section below.



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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:38 pm

BORA BORA
Stepping off the aircraft, I was able to see the beach just across from where the aircraft was parked, all with pure white sand and decorative seaweed throughout. On the other side, dominating the view was Bora Bora's main mountain and island, and it was phenomenal.

As this was a walk-up to the main terminal building, a nice view of my aircraft was also possible, all with photograph-as-you-please possibilities.



The aircraft at Bora Bora











The main terminal building was full-on with the island fever. Dark and carved wooden structures on the outside, high ceilings on the inside, and all in a very dim -yet not at all depressing- theme. Again, open areas and ceiling fans provided the main form of air conditioning simply because the weather was too damn good to not enjoy.



Bora Bora Airport







Once inside the airport, it was a simple walk -of course no immigration or customs- to the baggage claim and also the meet & greet area. At Bora Bora there is no such thing as landside/airside as it is really all mixed in together.



Arrivals



Hotels and tour operators have desks in this area







At the baggage claim, everything is very manual. Metallic stands serve as the 'belt' where luggage is placed by ground staff as soon as it is collected from the aircraft. It's a rather humble mechanism that won't work anywhere else, but around here, you really do not need much more.



Baggage claim



The bags have arrived!



Where else can you find airport trolleys, white sand …



….and beautiful beaches all around each other





Just behind the baggage claim, all the hotel transfers -boats- were waiting to collect passengers and take them to the main island. It was a little congested at first, but things eventually cleared out once all the boats left, and it was just me, myself, and Bora Bora!



This is BOB's 'car park'



And this is BOB's 'curbside'



The beautiful view of the main island



View of the airport



Someone was swimming here, moments before catching his flight back



Never pictured my trolley on a beach before!







After the quick transit 'tour' of Bora Bora, there was nothing much else I could do, so I headed back inside the airport in time when the check-in counters had opened for my flight back to Papeete.



Air Tahiti's check-in counters







I was the first to check-in for the flight as other passengers hadn't arrived until later. While one agent processed my way through, another ramp agent took my luggage after it was tagged to Papeete. In a few seconds, it was all done, and my boarding pass was handed to me.



Boarding pass to Papeete





Bora Bora's airport is very small, and seemed very unique to me. A very small 'hut' houses arrivals and departures on the same level. To the right side is departures, while to the left is for the arrivals stream. Naturally, and as with all other non-Papeete airports in French Polynesia, there are no facilities for immigration, customs, and even security. It was absolutely phenomenal to experience the ease of simply walking directly to your aircraft in one single setting.

In terms of facilities, the airport offers a few check-in desks, an arrivals area, a gate/holding area, two souvenir shops, and a café. Quite substantial for its size if you ask me.



Souvenir shop



This is the gate area





Passengers eventually trickled into the airport, checked in, and made their ways to the gate area. Not a lot of passengers meant that today's load may be nice and light to Papeete, which is always a good thing.



Passengers at the holding area





At 10:25am, our aircraft arrived, and pulled into the stand. The passengers deplaned -some of which seemed to be transits- before the fueling truck arrived. Whilst refueling was ongoing, a fire truck pulled in close to the aircraft and remained idle. I suppose this is a safety requirement here? Not sure.

Again, the sequence after this was more or less like clockwork. At 10:50am, boarding was announced, 10:55am I was on board and the doors were closed immediately, and at 11:00am we taxied out. Very very simple!



On my way to the aircraft







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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:40 pm

FLIGHT
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AIR TAHITI Flight Information:

SCR
/VT/22AUG
S11
22AUG
PPT
KVT270 27MAR29OCT1234567 66ATRBOBBOB1045 1135PPTPPT J
GI BRGDS


Registration: F-OIQR
Condition: 2.9 years old, delivered to Air Tahiti in 2009

Remarks: NIL

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



BORA BORA TO PAPEETE
BOB - PPT
Scheduled Departure: 10:45
Actual Departure: 11:00 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 11:35
Actual Arrival: 11:45 (Touchdown)



Back on board



Leg space



Cabin



Ready for takeoff





After a 5 minute taxi to the runway, we took off at 11:05am and made our way back to Papeete. The taxi and takeoff video can be viewed here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGpye2geq7U



Bora Bora has to be the best place on Earth!



Cabin shot after takeoff





Our path today took us on a southwesterly direction, flying past Taha'a, Huahine, and Moorea, before arriving at Papeete. As this was a 50 minute flight, a complimentary beverage service was also conducted, by yet another set of friendly and welcoming crew.



Orange juice for me



Flying past the island of Huahine



And passing by Moorea



Cabin view inflight





At 11:35am, the seatbelt sign was switched on and we had begun our descent towards Papeete. Cups were collected, and the cabin was quickly readied for arrival, before we touched down at 11:45am.



Landing video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzLijd8Ug4Q



Back in Papeete





I had two hours to kill here, before my next flight to Moorea. I was quite hungry by then, so I had my lunch at a restaurant located just above the cafeteria where I had breakfast earlier that day.



Lunch: A salad plate, and chicken with cauliflower gratin





At 1pm, I checked in for my flight to Moorea, where a friendly and efficient agent processed my way in seconds before handing me my boarding pass. I suppose with an island hop service, everything needs to happen quickly and efficiently in order for Air Tahiti to operate as the main means of public transport to and from the islands. But since this is an aviation element, I quite find it impressive for an airline to be spick and span like this. Two thumbs up!



Boarding pass to Moorea





Clearing security without a hassle, I was airside again at 1:35pm where I arrived at the very same holding area I was in earlier that day. This time however, more passengers were around.



Holding area





Boarding was called at 1:50pm, and again, the clockwork begins. 2pm on board and doors closed, 2:01pm taxi out, and 2:05 takeoff!



Walking towards the aircraft









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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:41 pm

FLIGHT
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AIR TAHITI Flight Information:

SCR
/VT/22AUG
S11
22AUG
PPT
KVT272 27MAR29OCT1234567 66ATRPPTPPT1401 1415MOZMOZ J
GI BRGDS


Registration: F-OIQT
Condition: 3.4 years old, delivered to Air Tahiti in 2008

Remarks: NIL

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



PAPEETE TO MOOREA
PPT - MOZ
Scheduled Departure: 14:01
Actual Departure: 14:01 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 14:15
Actual Arrival: 14:10 (Touchdown)



Back on board again!



Bulkhead leg space



Emergency exit view





The flight to Moorea was only 10 minutes, and it was -and probably will be for a very long time- my shortest ever flight. As such, it was easiest to film the entire flight from takeoff to landing in one go, right here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2kgsgRGE_U



Arrived Moorea at 2:10pm





The airport at Moorea is very similar in style to Bora Bora, only with a different design to it. The baggage claim, check-in desks, arrivals and what not, are more or less exactly the same.



Expansion program at Moorea Airport?



Arrivals hall



Baggage claim





The next portion details my two night stay in Moorea.
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ronerone
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Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:42 pm

MOOREA
My stay in Moorea was less touristy and much more localized. This was mainly due to my staying at the Hotel Kaveka, in which an experience there can show you French Polynesia from an earthy tone as opposed to a typical commercial one.

Hotels outside of Tahiti island are ridiculously priced, and if you want what can normally cost $200 in Dubai, it will cost you $500 around here. After some thorough searching on the Internet, I came across Hotel Kaveka, which is considered as a budget hotel featuring the same amenities you would expect at upper-scale resorts, i.e. beach bungalows, beaches, snorkeling, beautiful views etc. However, a budget hotel in Moorea costs just the same as a 5 star hotel in Dubai, so anything else will be totally ridiculous.

The rooms were basic/average, but well maintained, and the staff -mainly Tim, one of the owners- was a star, and really makes you feel at home.



My room at Hotel Kaveka



My beach bungalow!



Views from the hotel







To change the pace a little, I wanted to see a little more than just beach, and so Moorea was the best place for this due to its 'country' feeling. Inhabitation on this mountain island is only located around a single road circling 60km around the island, and as such, getting to 'town' is an easy walk or a bike ride away. Funny enough, while in typical cities your average pest can be a cockroach or a rat, in Moorea it's crabs! Actual sea crabs are scattered everywhere along the streets wherever there are moist conditions. It was of course not disgusting like seeing a roach flicker by. Similarly, the way one would find stray cats and dogs in a typical city, in Moorea it is chickens and roosters. A typical Tahiti day is never so without the constant sounds of roosters crowing over the background sounds of the crashing waves.



'Downtown' Moorea













At this stage of my holiday, I was in the core of my jetlag, and the isolation -lack of internet, telephone, and contact with any human I know- was getting the best of me. The solitary confinement was extremely therapeutic, but there's always a limit to the silence and the serenity which was beginning to horrify me at this stage. Luckily, it was time to continue my journey, as Air Tahiti Nui's A340-300 awaited to take me half way across the globe.

I checked out of the hotel at 3pm, and arranged for transport to take me to the airport.



At 4pm, I arrived at MOZ Airport





I proceeded directly to the check-in counters, where this time, the agent informed me that I was only allowed to take one carry-on on board. I later discovered that this was probably due to the fact that the aircraft was the smaller ATR42. After doing so, my boarding pass was handed to me, and I was all set to go to Papeete.



Check in counters at Moorea



My boarding pass to Papeete





The airport was deserted at the time I was there, with all shops, restaurants, and even tour/hotel desks closed. After a quick exploration, there was nothing else to do but sit and wait for boarding.



Main terminal building at Moorea



A 'Changi' type of airport garden



Everything is closed





I hurt my back the previous day -probably from the ultra-soft bed at the hotel room- and I needed a hard surface to lay on to get rid of the pain. Coupled with the fact that I was so sun burnt beyond belief, I was feeling rather exhausted. So I headed to the gate area, and laid down on one of the hard surfaced wooden benches until boarding was called.



Gate area



I really needed to lay down



So sun burnt it was horrible!





At 5:10pm, the baby-ATR roared into the stand, and of course, the routine clockwork had begun; one last time. 5:15pm boarding, 5:15pm on board and doors closed, 5:20pm taxi-out, 5:22pm takeoff, 5:30pm touchdown!



My baby-ATR





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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:44 pm

FLIGHT
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AIR TAHITI Flight Information:

SCR
/VT/24AUG
S11
24AUG
PPT
KVT213 27MAR29OCT1234567 44ATRMOZMOZ1740 1755PPTPPT J
GI BRGDS


Registration: F-OIQB
Condition: 8.3 years old, delivered to Air Tahiti in 2003

Remarks: NIL

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



MOOREA TO PAPEETE
MOZ - PPT
Scheduled Departure: 17:40
Actual Departure: 17:20 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 17:55
Actual Arrival: 17:30 (Touchdown)



On board, one more time!





As this was another very short and uneventful flight, it will mostly be explained through the pictures below.



Leg space



Ready to depart



Takeoff at 5:22pm



Approaching Papeete









Given the short flight, and the early schedule we were on today, we touched down at 5:30pm, which was the scheduled boarding time at Moorea! Quite impressive!

After collecting my luggage from the baggage claim, I had just over three hours to kill before I could check-in for my Air Tahiti Nui flight to Paris. With even less than three hours, I could easily go to town for a quick peek, and as such, I left any unnecessary belongings at a left-luggage facility at FAA'A, and took a $40USD cab ride to town.



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ronerone
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:45 pm

ORIGIN PAPEETE
I spent no more than 45 minutes in town at Papeete, mainly because most shops -apart from a few restaurants- were closed by the time I had arrived. The area that I was dropped off was like a promenade of restaurants with outdoor seating overlooking a main road, and situated right across from a park -Tahua Viaete- which had a more lively offering of food stalls and seating.

There also was another strip of bars and clubs but also those had not opened yet for the night. So after a few pictures for the Trip Report, I back in a cab headed to the airport.



Downtown Papeete











Back at FAA'A at 6:55pm, I still had some time left until the check-in counters opened, so I camped out by a table in the central cafeteria and people-watched the action around me. The airport was quite full of passengers who were also waiting for Air Tahiti Nui to spring into life. I suppose this is a normal scenario as normally hotel check-outs happen at around noon, and the last Air Tahiti island hop ends at around 7, meaning regardless of the situation, it can be a bit of a wait until your next Air Tahiti Nui flight.



This position closed



Sat around here for a few





The airport was full of North and South Americans, as there were two TN flights headed to LAX that night -TN from AKL to LAX, and my Paris flagship- in addition to good old LAN operating what I believe is one of the world's most exotic routes, Papeete to Santiago via Easter Island.



Papeete FIDS





I was hoping that most LAX-ers were headed on the earlier flight in hopes of getting an empty seat next to me all the way to Paris. In fact, I was so bored that I actually counted all North American passengers and tried to derive a formula to forecast the expected load, but I got lost somewhere in between my agonizing back pain/sun burn and an arguing couple across from me, that I eventually just let it go.

I walked around for a little bit, and the action at the airport was definitely shifting away from the domestic left side, and towards the right international side. It was very interesting to see that this airport was more or less an outdoors airport with the check-in area located across from the curbside, and without any doors in between. While this was a very unique concept that gave way for great 'weather', the airport itself was rather dim and uninteresting.



Not much going on









At 7:45pm, the ground staff began setting up the counters for the Paris flight, while both LAN and TN 108 had opened up for check in. It seemed that all flights were full tonight, and crowds of people began to congregate around the check-in counters. There was also a lot of confusion amongst LAX passengers as they were trying to figure out which LAX flight they were on.



In the French world, this signals the start of a 'flight'



Santiago, Easter Island, and LAX bound passengers





At 8:30pm, a solid queue had already formed in front the check-in counters for my flight, and the document station had already begun operation.



Check-in for TN 008 about to start





At 8:40pm, I joined the queue, where five minutes later I had arrived at the document-check station.

"Traveling alone?"
"Yes"
"To Paris, or Los Angeles?"
"To Paris"
"How many bags will you be checking in?"
"Just this one"
"Do you have any sharp objects in your luggage?"
"No I do not"
"Have a good flight!"

While the check-in officially opened at 8:50pm, the queue was moving very slowly, I was quite glad that I arrived relatively early for all of this, as it was another 40 minutes of waiting in line until I was able to interact with a check-in agent.



Air Tahiti Nui check-in counters









At 9:30pm, I was at the check-in desk where I handed the agent my documents. Air Tahiti Nui is known to sell upgrades at check-in, subject to space and catering. Tonight, upgrades to Los Angeles were on offer for $800 however, nothing was on offer to Paris as the flight was filling up hardcore out of LAX.

TN’s Business Class product did not seem all that interesting from what I have seen, or at least not $800’s worth of interest. It’s either First Class or Economy Class and tonight it was more than likely that I was to stay put where I originally was. The agent suggested I could up myself to LAX and downgrade back to Economy on the Paris sector, but that sounded like too much effort, and so I politely declined.

“Is the flight full tonight?”
“Not so much to Los Angeles, but from Paris we are SO full”
“Is the seat next to me taken as of now?”
“It is free at the moment, and maybe likely to remain like this until Los Angeles”

By 9:30pm, my bag was tagged to Paris, and my boarding pass printed, and I was all set for my 20 hour experience on one bright blue A340-300.



My boarding pass for half way across the globe





At 10:05pm I headed for immigration and security, both of which took a total of 30 minutes of queuing. Two A340s and one 767’s worth of passengers were lined up through wooden barricades that bottlenecked at just about a couple of counters for immigration, and an equal amount of X-ray machines afterwards. It’s hard to tell what’s adequate for this airport from what isn’t since it’s mostly dead throughout the day, and only too congested a couple of hours in the night.

By 10:30pm, this was all done, and I arrived at perhaps one of the most funky airside ‘areas’ I have ever been to. It is definitely a far cry from the grim adventures of the landside facility, and in fact, the funky Poly-deco theme much felt like the lounge of an upper class nightclub.

A large and slick looking duty free area was available, in addition to a bar/café, and the rest was seating areas –both indoor and outdoors- around a couple of gates which funnel though the entire international traffic at FAA’A.



Duty Free



Funky airside







Funky outdoor smoking area





At 11:05pm, a pre-boarding announcement was made, calling for all families and others who require assistance to board the aircraft first. Shortly afterwards, official boarding was called at 11:15pm, where two lines were formed in front of the podium, one for premium passengers, and the second for the rest.



TN 008 is now ready for boarding





While Poerava First and Business Class passengers could board at their leisure, Economy Class Moana passengers were called according two row numbers. At my turn, I was at the podium where my boarding pass was ripped and the smaller stub handed back. And from this point on, it was a short walk from the terminal to the aircraft.



Boarding the Black Pearl of the Pacific





Arriving at Door 2L of the aircraft, I was greeted by 3 male crew, and this time it was a simpler and more professional affair without the Tiare handouts. I suppose these are only given on flights headed to Papeete with no reason to give on the way out.

“Ia Orana!”
“Monsieur, seat 41K is this way and to the right”
“Thank you”
“Welcome on board!”


At 11:20pm, I was on board.



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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:48 pm

FLIGHT
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AIR TAHITI NUI Flight Information:

SCR
/TN/24AUG
S11
24AUG
PPT
KTN008 27MAR29OCT 1234567 294343 PPTLAX2345 08552CDGCDG J
GI BRGDS


Registration: F-OLOV (Nuku Hiva)
Condition: 6.8 years old, delivered to Air Tahiti Nui in 2005

Remarks: This flight stops in Los Angeles

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



PAPEETE TO LOS ANGELES
PPT - LAX
Scheduled Departure: 23:45
Actual Departure: 23:45 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 11:00+1
Actual Arrival: 10:50+1 (Touchdown)



Welcome back on Air Tahiti Nui





This aircraft is the latest arrival into Air Tahiti Nui’s fleet. As such, the cabin featured the newer A330/A340 interior, and the seats were of what seemed to be a substantial update. The cabin was in immaculate condition, and the blue seats looked strikingly attractive behind the pure white background. As on my flight from Auckland, the majority of the crew –at least in Economy Class Moana- were male, but at initial notice, they seemed a little disconnected from the flight.



The cabin





41K was to be my home for the next 20 odd hours. I was of course expecting the same comfort level as on my previous flight from Auckland, but that did not seem to be the case on this aircraft. Legroom was a little tighter, and the seat itself was not as cushiony as on the other aircraft. By now I was looking forward to having an empty seat next to me, but unfortunately that never came into fruition when a beautiful and innocent looking Tahitian lady appeared to claim her territory all the way to Paris.



The seat



Leg space



Blanket



Pillow





The cabin filled up fairly quickly, and only a few seats were left unoccupied. It also seemed that most of the passengers were bound for Paris, with just a few leaving us behind at Los Angeles. While there were a few couples on the flight, the majority were groups of families with children returning home after a holiday in French Polynesia.



At 11:35pm, the crew made an announcement to welcome us on board, and advise us of the usual departure safety formalities. Flight to Los Angeles tonight was to be 7 hours and 59 minutes. Not so bad!

Once the doors closed, and everything was all set, we pushed back at 11:45pm, and began our trek to the runway. The taxi was in pure darkness, and apart from the flickering lights on the wings, nothing else was visible. The small island around us was fast asleep for the night, yet this Tahiti Princess had just sprung into life, flickering her wings across the vast darkness of the night. Tonight, she was the star, and this was her flagship route. I was happy to be on it, and all these fantasy illusions just brought me so much pleasure.



Cabin crew please take your seats for takeoff





We took off at 11:55pm, and began our journey to Los Angeles, and deep into the dark Pacific night.



Cabin in the dark





Reaching cruising altitude, the seatbelt sign was switched off, and the crew was released to begin service preparations. This commenced with the distribution of menus and amenity kits.



Menu











When the crew was at my seat, I thought to enquire if there were any empty seats and if I could switch. Seemingly, he was in a not very good mood I suppose.

“Excuse me, are there any empty seats I could move to?”
“I don’t know sir, you will have to look yourself ok?”

Luckily, I found a pair of unoccupied seats on the other side, in which they became my camp-out until LAX.



From the new location





The meal service commenced with the distribution of special meals first, and was then followed by the main meal/beverage trolley on each of the two aisles.

“Monsieur, would you like anything to drink?”
“A Bloody Mary please”
“With vodka? Or just mix?”
“With vodka please”
“Certainly. Just a few moments and I will bring it for you”
“Would you like any water with your meal?”
“No thanks”
“Enjoy your meal”

The meal tray was nicely presented with the usual amenities such as the cold main course of chicken ballotine, salad, and mortadella, Apple yoghurt, bread, dessert, and the usual condiments such as butter, salt/pepper, plasticware and napkin.



The meal



Main course



Tray view





I wasn’t too much a fan of the main course. The mortadella was good, but the chicken was a tasteless. The lettuce in the salad was slightly brown which meant that it wasn’t fresh, and the peas and potatoes definitely came from a pre-packaged can, which also weren’t too fresh and tasty. But dessert on the other hand, was great, and so was the Bloody Mary.

The crew conducted a second offering of bread during the meal service, and also the same was done for water, which I thought was a very nice touch for Economy Class.

The trays were collected rather quickly, which meant I had more time to sleep. By that time, my jet lag had reached horrifying levels, as time was no longer in existence to me. I gave up trying to calculate the time and date several days back, and I felt like a living corpse waiting to be dissolve into a lifeless matter. Needless to say, I was simply exhausted.

I somehow always prefer to have the pair of window seats to myself, instead of a set of middle seats if ever faced with the option. However, it is never comfortable trying to lay on the two seats with my back facing the window, as the armrest is always a pain. But I was tired, and in no time, I fell asleep for most of the remaining flight time.



In bed with Air Tahiti Nui





I awoke approximately two hours before landing, when part of the cabin lighting was switched on. Most passengers were still asleep, but some were already awake and ready for breakfast.



2 hours before landing





The crew rolled out 4 trolleys for the breakfast service this time. Two trolleys were allocated for each aisle, whereby one began from the front of the cabin, while the other from the back.

“Bonjour monsieur, what would you like for breakfast?”
“We are serving crepes or eggs”
“Crepes for me please”
“Any tea, coffee, or hot chocolate for you?”
“Coffee, and may I have a cup of orange juice please?”
“Certainly”

The meal tray was again nicely presented, and came with the crepes as the main course, fruit, croissant, yoghurt, coffee, and condiments such as butter, jam, plasticware, and napkin.



Breakfast



Crepes



Fruit



Croissant





The fruit wasn’t fresh, and it seemed like it also came out of a can, as it was drenched in sweet syrup. The croissant was cold, but it was doable with the butter and preserve. However, the highlight of this breakfast was the unbelievable crepes that were filled with rice pudding. They may have been the best crepes I have ever tried, as I have never before had any that were filled with a creamy rice mix. Well don ATN on this!



Breakfast over this beautiful view





As breakfast was over, and the trays cleared from the cabin, many passengers continued their sleep, whilst others began preparing for arrival.



Cabin after the breakfast service





At 10:15am Pacific Standard time, an announcement was made that were to begin initial descent towards LAX within the next 10 minutes. At 10:25am, the seatbelt sign was switched on, where everyone –pax and crew alike- rushed to finish off arrival preparations.



Getting ready for landing



Cabin crew please take your seats for landing





At 10:50am, we touched down at Los Angeles International Airport, where for me, only less than half of this journey was completed. It was a lengthy taxi to the gate, and we had to power out the engines before entering the apron, which seems to be a norm at LAX.

All passengers bound for Paris were advised that it was mandatory that we left the aircraft, cleared immigration, and remained in a transit lounge during our two-hour transit stop. During this time, there will be a crew change, and of course, the aircraft will be cleaned, dressed, and prettied up for the journey to its motherland.



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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:49 pm

TRANSIT STOP
The aircraft docked at the gate at 11:05am, and everyone deplaned once the doors were open. Once inside the terminal, we were handed an “Express Connection” card and were asked to proceed to immigration.

This was my first time transiting in the USA between two international –and non Canadian- flights, and the system was rather interesting, but not necessarily easy. At the immigration hall, there were three separate areas each for US citizens, visitors, and those non-citizens/non-visitors in transit. Normally, a US citizen arriving at a US airport would be returning home, but in my case none of those three classifications fit my requirement. I wasn’t returning home, yet I was a US Citizen that happened to be on a transit stop in the USA.

So I joined the stopover lane, and explained my situation to the immigration officer, who also found it funny. However, I was cleared through immigration without a hassle, as the officer was more than happy to accept me at his lane. I cleared immigration at 11:30am, and had to turn back around and head airside and up one level to the transit lounge. It is a very unusual procedure, and I do not understand why can’t passengers just transit in the normal way that’s adopted everywhere else.

At the transit lounge, I was handed a new boarding pass. While the seat remains the same, it is also a standard procedure here. But this was definitely to my advantage as it got me an additional Air Tahiti Nui boarding pass.



Boarding pass to Paris





I was expecting a loss less than reality at the transit lounge. It was a small area –but large enough to comfortably fit an A340’s worth of passengers- alienated from the rest of the terminal. It was quite impressive, as it housed a snack area, a smoking lounge, and (I think) a duty free shop. Unfortunately however, I did not take any pictures whilst in transit, as I am still a little hesitant when at US airports.

At 12:30pm, boarding for TN008 to Paris was called, and it was an all-call affair. As transit passengers, we were not mixed in with those departing from LAX, and as such, we proceeded on a backtrack through the ‘arrivals’ path to gate 121 and straight on to the aircraft. Clearly, US airports are not designed with transit stops in mind. You’d at least expect them to be especially in the West Coast, but oh well.

At Door 2L of the aircraft, I was greeted by a new set of crew, all with warm smiles and welcomes.

“Ia Orana”
“Welcome on board, this way to your seat. Enjoy your flight”


At 12:40pm, I was on board.



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ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:50 pm

LOS ANGELES TO PARIS
LAX - CDG
Scheduled Departure: 13:00
Actual Departure: 13:05 (Pushback)

Scheduled Arrival: 08:55+1
Actual Arrival: 08:45+1 (Touchdown)



Back on board





The cabin was perfectly refreshed, and everything seemed spanking new like as if we were departing from TN’s home base. Normally cleaning standards are toned down during transit stops, but this was certainly not the case here. Moreover, the blue-themed cabin looked stunning with daylight rays shining through the white background, that I could not stop looking away.

Most passengers were familiar faces I had seen in Papeete however, I did notice some new arrivals. One of which, to my surprise, was an Arab lady traveling solo that joined from Los Angeles and was bound for Paris. Out of all places, I never expected to see a veiled lady on Air Tahiti Nui, but it was a tad refreshing to see our regional representation on board.

As the flight was expected to be full, I had to return to my original seat at 41K. A new pre-packaged blanket was found on my seat, in addition to a pillow, both of which placed on top of the seatbelts. I quickly settled into my seat, and soon after me, my seatmate arrived and did the same.



The seat



The boarding continues, one more time!





The seatbelt sign was switched on at 12:45pm, and our captain made his customary announcement shortly afterwards. He welcomes us on board ‘Nuku hiva’ and advised us of the usual pertinent information such as weather en-route and upon arrival, the routing for today’s flight, and that our flight time to Paris was to be 10 hours and 18 minutes. Beautifully long!

The doors were closed, armed, and crosschecked, and at 1:05pm we pushed back onto the apron. We were towed to the taxiway, where the engines spooled up and we eventually began taxiing to the active runway. At 1:20pm, full throttle was in full swing, yet this lazy A340 hugged the ground for as long as it could! But eventually were lifted off and continued our journey to Paris.



The crew were released slightly before reaching cruising altitude





In-flight, as the crew commenced service preparations, most passengers were fast asleep already. We were all exhausted, and frankly, I also began feeling like I wanted to get this over with quickly.

Back on the service front, the crew made an announcement with the usual details on what’s on offer today. A hot meal with drinks after takeoff, duty free shopping available throughout the flight, and IFE featuring 7 movies, 12 games, and a music selection available at every seat on board. Not so bad eh?



Menus and amenity kits were distributed



Menu











After the special meals were dispatched, the meal trolleys were rolled out on both aisles. Today, lunch was served and it was a choice between Coq au vin with steamed white rice, carrots and broccoli, or Penne Bolognese with grated Parmesan. At my turn, I requested the Penne, as I do not think I’ve had this on a flight before, and was curious to see how this pans out. Naturally, a Bloody Mary to accompany it was an order!



Lunch is served



Salad



Main course



Tahitian vanilla bean cake for dessert



Tray view



My rocking Bloody Mary





This was by far the best meal I have had on Air Tahiti Nui. Everything was in order, from the fresh and crunchy salad, the perfect balance of meat, sauce, and pasta of the main course, and the heavenly vanilla cake. It was definitely a top-notch meal that can easily pass for Business Class if plated on proper china.

Coffee and tea were offered, in which I declined, and once most were through with lunch, the trays were collected. By this time, we entered into ‘auto-pilot’ mode, were everyone zoned out into whatever it was they wanted to.



Darkness approaching





I managed to get about three hours of sleep, in which afterwards, I woke up to a pitch-dark cabin. The seat was quite uncomfortable to sleep in, no matter which position I put myself in. So it was useless trying to sleep, when it seemed a little impossible, and the best solution was to get up and stretch.



Cabin in the dark







In the galley, snacks and drinks were offered, and this included pretzels, cheese and ham sandwiches, instant noodles, and soft drinks. Everyone and their mother was in the galley so I grabbed what I needed and made my way back to my seat.



Pretzels





It was a good time to power on the IFE and see what Air Tahiti Nui had to offer. On this non-AVOD system, 7 movies were offered, in addition to 12 games, and music. In quantity, it isn’t the worst, but nothing much really interested me. Furthermore, while the system is in interactive mode, the movies/shows were only labeled as Movie 1, Movie 2, Movie 3 etc, and it seemed like it was some effort trying to figure out what’s what. IFE is definitely not my specialty, so as always, if it’s not Family Guy, it’s the moving map!



IFE

















IFE controller



In-seat telephone



The moving map is always the best option





I got a little anxious, bored, and impatient at this stage during the flight. I wasn’t sleepy, hungry, or in the mood to watch a movie, but I was in the mood to do something I didn’t even know what it was. So from this point on, it was a mix between getting up to stretch, hanging out in the galley, or just staring into space from my seat.



It was still pitch dark!



But the break of light was a sign that we were soon arriving!





Approximately two hours before landing, the cabin lights were turned on, signaling that arrival was imminent, and that breakfast was to be served soon.



Cabin lights on






After the usual run of special meals, the main trolley was brought out on each side of the aisle. Today’s breakfast choices were cheese omelet or tapioca pudding crepes, in which I opted for the latter.



Breakfast



Crepes



Tray view





While the croissant was again cold like the previous breakfast, the crepes were another hit, though not better than those I had out of Papeete. I think the French have ultimately mastered breakfast, and dessert in every possible way!



Cabin after breakfast





At 8:10am local time in Paris, the seatbelt sign was switched on, and an announcement was made by the crew that initial descent had commenced, and that duty free and IFE had come to an end for this flight. Passengers and crew alike began their final preparations for landing.



Cabin during descent








DESTINATION PARIS
At exactly 8:45am, Nuku Hiva touched down at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, and essentially bringing my long journey to an abrupt end. After a short taxi, we arrived at a remote stand, and docked next to French-colony sister ship Air Austral, as she was preparing for her long domestic journey to St. Denis de la Reunion.



Deplaning





Thanking the crew for their efforts, I proceeded to exit the aircraft, where I was bussed to the terminal building. Terminal 2A at this hour was an absolute dump. Low ceilings, crowds by the hundreds, the messiest baggage claim I have ever seen, all made this arrival experience the last thing I needed after such a long trip. We must have arrived with all of IATA’s airlines or something, as everyone was everywhere!

But in no time, I was out, and on my way to the Millennium Hotel close to CDG.

So now I’m in Paris. With just one more itinerary, I will complete my RTW adventure back in Dubai right where I started. So how will I get there? Any ideas? Don’t mention it if you know!



C O N C L U S I O N
Air Tahiti Nui offers a decent product in Economy Class that closely matches your average offer in the industry. However, I did not think they were anything exceeding expectation, apart from their attractive branding and aircraft livery.

The meals were mostly decent apart from several items that did not seem too fresh, but perhaps this is more of a particular station’s catering. IFE is still non-AVOD and even at that, I think the offer was rather poor. But given the airline’s financial state, I wouldn’t think IFE upgrade is of utmost priority at this stage. Similarly, the crew was decent, but some did not seem too enthusiastic and this created a very neutral vibe that definitely lacked some warmth. And yes, today we do see software ‘warmth’ even in Economy Class!

As for Air Tahiti, I was quite impressed with their picture-perfect punctuality, but I suppose that is to be expected if you had no choice but to operate air service as the main mode of public transport across the islands. Even at that, I was also impressed with their service, friendly crew, and clean cabins.


Finally, I tried something new this time by creating a video TR, which quickly summarizes the Air Tahiti Nui Portion, all with music and everything:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HYmF5iVutg



Goodies from the trip





This concludes my Trip Report. I hope that you have enjoyed it; your comments are always welcome!



Thank you and Maururu!
Roni







E Q U I P M E N T
- Canon 50D
- Canon PowerShot G11
- Sigma 10mm Fisheye
- Sigma 10-20mm Wide Angle



PREVIOUS WORK
The Bula Boeings!: Air Pacific HKG-NAN-AKL (by ronerone Dec 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
Your Airline, And Mine!: Air Berlin, Tegel-Dubai (by ronerone Aug 10 2011 in Trip Reports)
Garuda Indonesia: The Quantum Leap To Amsterdam (by ronerone Jun 19 2011 in Trip Reports)
Yak Attack!: Fars Air Qeshm Yak-42D (by ronerone Apr 29 2011 in Trip Reports)
Hop-on Hop-off: The Air Mauritius A340 In 30 Mins (by ronerone Mar 28 2011 in Trip Reports)
Loisirs Avec Air Austral: Réunion-Sydney-Nouméa (by ronerone Feb 4 2011 in Trip Reports)
El Tasman Caliente!: LAN Vs Aerolíneas Argentinas (by ronerone Dec 19 2010 in Trip Reports)
Dancing In The Dark: An Emirates A380 Inaugural… (by ronerone Oct 24 2010 in Trip Reports)
This Suite Has Sliding Doors: Emirates F DXB-JNB (by ronerone Sep 5 2010 in Trip Reports)
Transito!: A Connection On TAAG-Angola (B743/B772) (by ronerone Jul 31 2010 in Trip Reports)
Keeping Up With The JETs: 9W Première HKG-DEL-DXB (by ronerone Jul 18 2010 in Trip Reports)
Petra Express!: On Royal Jordanian's A330-200 (by ronerone Jun 11 2010 in Trip Reports)
Suite Redemptions: Cathay Pacific BKK-HKG In F (by ronerone May 14 2010 in Trip Reports)
Uniquely Boutique: Oman Air Business Class To BKK (by ronerone Apr 3 2010 in Trip Reports)
In A Blink Of An Eye: AirAsia X’s A340 At AUH (by ronerone Feb 20 2010 in Trip Reports)
SriLankan Airlines: The Treasure Of Serendib! (by Ronerone Jan 9 2010 in Trip Reports)
Beijing Swire!: Cathay Pacific & Dragonair DXB-PEK (by Ronerone Dec 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
OpenSkies From British Airways: A New Era's End? (by Ronerone Oct 14 2009 in Trip Reports)
Revealing An Underdog: Royal Brunei Business Class (by Ronerone Sep 3 2009 in Trip Reports)
The Singapore Airlines Cliché (by Ronerone Jul 27 2009 in Trip Reports)
A380: Qantas Proper To SIN City (by Ronerone Jul 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
Welcome To Terminal 3: Etihad Airways AUH-SYD (by Ronerone Jul 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
5th Freedom Of The Air: Kenya Airways HKG-BKK-HKG (by Ronerone Mar 31 2009 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Pacific: First Class On The Legacy Milk-Run (by Ronerone Jan 26 2009 in Trip Reports)
Inspirations On A Narrowbody: Etihad To Amman (by Ronerone Nov 28 2008 in Trip Reports)
Malaysia Boleh!: On The Malaysian Airline System (by Ronerone Oct 28 2008 in Trip Reports)
Pearls & Diamonds: Inspired By Etihad Airways (by Ronerone Sep 12 2008 in Trip Reports)
The Future Has Arrived: EK A380 Inaugural Flights (by Ronerone Aug 4 2008 in Trip Reports)
Syrian Special Performance, Featuring Sam Chui (by Ronerone May 23 2008 in Trip Reports)
This Is Royal Jordanian! (by Ronerone Apr 12 2008 in Trip Reports)
Ultra-Competitive, Ultra-Long Haul: EY Vs EK (by Ronerone Mar 21 2008 in Trip Reports)
Suvarnabhumi, The Etihad Way! (by Ronerone Jan 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Delight: A Trip To Asia's World City (by Ronerone Oct 5 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad: Pearl 2 AMM, Coral Right Back Pt 2 PixVidz (by Ronerone Jul 5 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad: Pearl 2 AMM, Coral Right Back Pt 1 PixVids (by Ronerone Jul 4 2007 in Trip Reports)
CX: JFK-HKG-DXB In Y A346/772 (Lots Of Pics/Vids) (by Ronerone Aug 28 2006 in Trip Reports)



F A C E B O OK
Fly Roni
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I have a range of taxi, takeoff, landing, announcement, and safety videos posted. Feel free to view them!



THE END
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
plateman
Posts: 646
Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 9:36 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:11 pm

wow mate, awesome photos, awesome report. Felt like I was traveling with you .... really neat
"Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1628
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:50 pm

I flew in 1986 Papeete to Bora Bora and back via Houhaine on an ATR. Nothing seems to have changed since then.

Quite frankly I found Tahiti / Bora Bora; boring, boring. I prefer Hawaii and the Caribbean. The people were not friendly, the food was bad and the prices outrageous.

I wish I could have flown on Air Tahiti Nui which did not exist then. We flew from Newark on a Continental DC-10 with a stop in LA and Honolulu. The return was via LA with another connection in Dallas. The flights were "horrible." The usual lousy food etc.

We crossed from Papeete to Morrea by boat and that was a pleasant experience. I believe it took about 1 hour.

Thanks for a great report.
 
LFutia
Posts: 3155
Joined: Sun Dec 08, 2002 11:04 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:01 pm

Wow!!!!! I envy your trip. I just now need to go to Tahiti! Great report and pictures! I'm super impressed!

Leo/ORD
Leo/ORD -- Groetjes uit de VS! -- Heeft u laatst nog met KLM gevlogen?
 
globalflyer
Posts: 724
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:15 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:17 pm

Hi Roni, what a great TR! Tahiti looks heavenly! I have to ask how bad did you peel after that bad sunburn! It looked painful. I also was getting antsy for you after that long flight. I bet you wished you were back at the hotel room with the big king sized bed! Thanks again for sharing this unique experience on this unique airlines! Cheers, Will
Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
 
Burj
Posts: 745
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:46 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:19 pm

Wow...what an epic trip report...even for you!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Liberated check-in paraphernalia

I'm sure it was all happy to be freed from the tyranny of the check in desk and owes you a debt of gratitude!

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
Though I was one of the very last to board this ultra-packed cabin, all eyes were still on this new 'object' that just strolled in. Where's it going to sit? What the hell is it anyways?

They were probably wondering where you are from...or why our eye lashes or so long...OR where the famous person was sitting since with the camera you totally look like a paparazzi!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
Well if a $20 USD cab ride lasting exactly five minutes between the hotel and the airport was anything to go by

DANG! If it was only a 5 minute drive could you just have walked?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 7):
So sun burnt it was horrible!

I'm not going to sugar coat it...when I saw your photo I let out a gasp...DANG man didn't you have sun screen or a hat or something... How is it even possible for you to burn like that?!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 11):
In fact, I was so bored that I actually counted all North American passengers and tried to derive a formula to forecast the expected load,

Wow...you are a true airline geek....keep this up and you should come over to FlyerTalk and hang out there!
 

Seriously great trip report...I totally want to go there now on vacation! I'll go watch your video trip report right now...
 
CaptainRed
Posts: 784
Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:22 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:33 pm

Hi Roni,

wow, what an awesome report, enjoyed it very much. Good to read something about Air Tahiti Nui, this is one of these exotic airlines where only the mentioning of the name always sparks my desire to travel to all the wonderful places they fly. And their livery looks so great, especially on the A340.

Their service seemed to be ok as well. I just found the meal choice on your first leg with them a bit strange, having either lamb or fish. I guess there are a lot of people around who don't like either of them especially not on an airplane.

Also thank you for adding the pictures from Tahiti and the other islands, simply beautiful, especially Moorea must be a very special place. And I really like both the airports of Bora Bora and Moorea, very nice buildings.

Thanks again for putting together this report and I hope you have recovered well from your jet lag. This was for sure an epic journey once around the globe  

CaptainRed
 
MIAspotter
Posts: 2848
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2001 1:57 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:40 pm

Hello Roni.

Thank you so much for sharing this exotic voyage with us, loved every single bit of it, Tahiti looks absolutely and astonishingly beautiful and its a place many of us could only dream of visiting.

ATN sounds like a decent airline.

I love reading your TR´s because they are so down to earth, not like many TR´s around here from people only flying on Business or First and moaning about not being called by name by the crew or the food not being served with a reverence and pomp.

You can tell a story from a Business Suite or an Economy seat in a turboprop with the right amount of details and a no-nonsense approach.

Looking forward to the conclusion of the RTW.

MIAspotter.

[Edited 2012-03-15 12:46:43]
Nos vamos de Vueling?
 
Tomskii
Posts: 451
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 10:42 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:32 pm

Very enjoyable TR to read and lots of pictures which always say more than words! Seems the Tahiti Nui crew is very friendly and the meals in Economy look quite ok as well.
Nikon D90 + Nikkor f4.5-5.6 18-105mm + Tamron f4-5.6 70-300mm
 
mercure1
Posts: 2770
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:13 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:14 pm

Merci for the visit and for flying our financially bankrupt airline.

I am sorry you did not enjoy enough being disconnected from the world without internet and constant activity by people. I suppose this can be a shock for people that come from other society.

Also yes you need to be careful with the sun. As you experience easy to get burned especially when near the water.

Lastly, dont know if you know, but virtually no one takes airplane to Moorea these days, especially since closure of Air Moorea. There are ferry companies that offer service which transport 1000s of people daily back and forth. The few remaining VT ATR services are really there position the aircraft for beyond service from Moorea to other distant islands.
 
mxp
Posts: 456
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 8:50 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:47 pm

Hey Roni
thanx for this TR
Air Tahiti Nui is one of my favourite liveries also because the A330/340 is my favourite airplane
I hope one day to fly this airline
The photos of Islands are wonderful and the 2 in flight with the wings and winglets simply superb
And also the food look like good
thanx for sharing
Alberto
 
ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:23 pm

Quoting mercure1 (Reply 23):
I am sorry you did not enjoy enough being disconnected from the world without internet and constant activity by people. I suppose this can be a shock for people that come from other society.

Hi mercure1,

Of course i enjoyed it! The whole point of this trip was to go somewhere far, and disconnect   But towards the end -and towards the end of any trip i take- i start wanting to go back home  

In fact, prepaid SIM cards were available in all shops, and i also found internet cafes in several places too. But, being 'disconnected' was part of the journey for me  


Cheers,
Roni
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
Thai744
Posts: 276
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:25 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:56 am

Hey Roni,

Thanks for sharing your adventures with us - always a great read, and this one no exception!

ATN look fine - I wouldn't have any issues flying with them!
I do have issues with the cost of Tahiti, however! I might save it for when I win the lottery!! LOL

Wear sunscreen next time, ok?  
 
filoflyer
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:49 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:24 am

its long and FANTASTIC! very nice TR!
 
Flightsimboy
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2005 12:49 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:29 am

Quoting ronerone (Reply 14):
So now I’m in Paris. With just one more itinerary, I will complete my RTW adventure back in Dubai right where I started. So how will I get there? Any ideas? Don’t mention it if you know!


Roni, I'm speechless as usual, but can come with just a few words for now.....I believe you left a hint in my last report on here   
 
ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:30 am

Dear All,

Many thanks for your comments and support as always!

Quoting plateman (Reply 15):
wow mate, awesome photos, awesome report. Felt like I was traveling with you .... really neat

Thanks plateman! Glad you enjoyed.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 16):
Quite frankly I found Tahiti / Bora Bora; boring, boring. I prefer Hawaii and the Caribbean. The people were not friendly, the food was bad and the prices outrageous.

Hi lychemsa,

Thanks for stopping by.

I personally did not find French Polynesia (or what i have seen of it) boring at all. I wasn't expecting anything bustling per se, but it was a refreshing change to be far away at sea  

As for the Tahitians, i found them to be very helpful and friendly, no issues at all.

Quoting LFutia (Reply 17):
Wow!!!!! I envy your trip. I just now need to go to Tahiti! Great report and pictures! I'm super impressed!

Leo/ORD

Hi Leo,

Glad you enjoyed!  
Quoting globalflyer (Reply 18):
Hi Roni, what a great TR! Tahiti looks heavenly!

Thanks Will.

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 18):
I have to ask how bad did you peel after that bad sunburn! It looked painful.

I peeled two layers in 4 days! I have this obsessive habit of not using sunscreen thinking that it would have a 'better' effect. I know i will get chewed out for saying/doing this, but i always do it this way (though i rarely tan anyways).

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 18):
I bet you wished you were back at the hotel room with the big king sized bed!

Moreover, i was wanting to go back home! haha. When i got home, i slept for 24 hours  
Quoting globalflyer (Reply 18):
Thanks again for sharing this unique experience on this unique airlines! Cheers, Will

Glad you enjoyed!  
Quoting burj (Reply 19):
Wow...what an epic trip report...even for you!

Thanks Burj!

Quoting burj (Reply 19):
I'm sure it was all happy to be freed from the tyranny of the check in desk and owes you a debt of gratitude!

It was also happy to fly half-RTW with me too  
Quoting burj (Reply 19):
DANG! If it was only a 5 minute drive could you just have walked?

Well, now i know   hehe

Quoting burj (Reply 19):
How is it even possible for you to burn like that?!

I was under the sun all day! and in the water too, which amplifies the rays and fast-tracks the tan  
Quoting burj (Reply 19):
keep this up and you should come over to FlyerTalk and hang out there!

I do make an occasional peek over there! Good FFP tips and tricks!  
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 20):
wow, what an awesome report, enjoyed it very much. Good to read something about Air Tahiti Nui, this is one of these exotic airlines where only the mentioning of the name always sparks my desire to travel to all the wonderful places they fly. And their livery looks so great, especially on the A340.

Thanks CaptainRed.

Like yourself, only seeing or hearing of ATN gives me a lot of pleasure! Very exotic, and with one of the strongest world-renown brands i know!  
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 20):
I just found the meal choice on your first leg with them a bit strange, having either lamb or fish. I guess there are a lot of people around who don't like either of them especially not on an airplane.

It might be a French thing i am not sure. If i remember correctly, on my Air Austral flight, the first meal option was between the fish and the lamb.

On an airplane, i wouldn't go for either at first instinct, but if i had no choice, it would be the lamb for sure. On Air Austral, the lamb was incredible, on ATN it had that typical lamb aftertaste.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 20):
Thanks again for putting together this report and I hope you have recovered well from your jet lag. This was for sure an epic journey once around the globe  

Glad you enjoyed it! And yes i recovered quickly from the jet lag  
Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 21):
Thank you so much for sharing this exotic voyage with us, loved every single bit of it,

Thanks MIAspotter!  
Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 21):
I love reading your TR´s because they are so down to earth, not like many TR´s around here from people only flying on Business or First and moaning about not being called by name by the crew or the food not being served with a reverence and pomp.

You can tell a story from a Business Suite or an Economy seat in a turboprop with the right amount of details and a no-nonsense approach.

Very kind words, and i am glad it is seen in this way. Every airline is different, and i think if i was too finicky about little details, i wouldn't ever enjoy any flight. Everything has a positive side to it, and this is what i always prefer to see  
Quoting Tomskii (Reply 22):
Very enjoyable TR to read and lots of pictures which always say more than words! Seems the Tahiti Nui crew is very friendly and the meals in Economy look quite ok as well.

Thanks Tomskii. Glad you enjoyed!

Quoting mercure1 (Reply 23):
Merci for the visit and for flying our financially bankrupt airline.

Hi again mercure1,

Thanks for stopping by. I am always kept updated by your French Polynesia aviation updates on the main forum. Thanks for that.

Quoting mercure1 (Reply 23):
Lastly, dont know if you know, but virtually no one takes airplane to Moorea these days, especially since closure of Air Moorea. There are ferry companies that offer service which transport 1000s of people daily back and forth. The few remaining VT ATR services are really there position the aircraft for beyond service from Moorea to other distant islands.

I do know about the ferry service between Papeete and Moorea. But i did not want it. This was my first ATR experience, and i wanted to fly on the shortest flight that is now recorded on my log!  

What happened to Air Moorea by the way? Their website -if i remember correctly- seems to still be up.

Quoting mxp (Reply 24):
Hey Roni
thanx for this TR
Air Tahiti Nui is one of my favourite liveries also because the A330/340 is my favourite airplane

Thanks MXP!

Just like you, i love ATN's livery, and the A340 is one of my favorites  


Cheers,
Roni
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
ronerone
Topic Author
Posts: 1463
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:37 am

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 26):
Hey Roni,

Thanks for sharing your adventures with us - always a great read, and this one no exception!

Thanks Thai744! glad you enjoyed! Read your EK TR and used it as a guide for my current EK trip that i am on now  
Quoting Thai744 (Reply 26):
I do have issues with the cost of Tahiti, however! I might save it for when I win the lottery!! LOL

Indeed, the cost of Tahiti was ridiculous. Cheap over there is still expensive everywhere else!

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 26):
Wear sunscreen next time, ok?  

i think i might have to next time!

Quoting filoflyer (Reply 27):
its long and FANTASTIC! very nice TR!

Thanks filoflyer. glad you enjoyed!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 28):
Roni, I'm speechless as usual, but can come with just a few words for now.....I believe you left a hint in my last report on here   

Flightsim!

That maroon flight is yet to happen, very soon!  

Cheers,
Roni
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
gardermoen
Posts: 1334
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:25 am

Roni, another brilliant report of an airline that I really want to try!
Agree, the A340 is the sexiest jet out there.
Nice menus too!
I always throught Papeete Airport had air bridges. Did you not see any?
 
N178UA
Posts: 1689
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2001 9:56 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:40 am

Hi Roni!

Congratulations on getting this very exclusive trip report out finally! Just noticed You've got 14 replies from yourself after posting   lol (I know it is a A.net limitation)

There is nothing more I can add, the pictures are fantastic, weather is perfect, your always excellent trip report promotes really well on Tahiti, indeed a black pearl of the Pacific!

I will now forward to a few friends and contact at Air Tahiti Nui, I am sure they will love it!

Cheers
Sam
For more of myself and my flight reviews visit http://www.SamChui.com
 
Burj
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:14 am

Quoting ronerone (Reply 29):
I was under the sun all day! and in the water too, which amplifies the rays and fast-tracks the tan  

Even MORE reason for sunscreen...they make water proof/resistant versions!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 29):
I have this obsessive habit of not using sunscreen thinking that it would have a 'better' effect. I know i will get chewed out for saying/doing this, but i always do it this way (though i rarely tan anyways).

CHEW CHEW CHEW....spit...what do you get? Something all brown and mushy and wrinkly....which is what you'll be if you keep this up!

Just keep it up...and....

Your future awaits!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_nd6c4LVBOn...AAhc/2z9vzHuF7j4/s1600/Old+Tan.jpg
 
User avatar
NZ107
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:45 am

Hey Roni,

Another long awaited TR yet so well delivered!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
In August 2011, I embarked on my first ever Round The World trip.

Wow, seems like such a long time ago already!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Again, thank you Nicholas for everything!

My pleasure! It was great having you down here again. Do visit again soon!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
we headed for a quick session of spotting.

I hope you got some nice (other) shots..

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
It was already past the stated boarding time on my boarding pass, which meant I was super late in comparison to the usual time I head airside.

Auckland during non-peak departure hours means no need to rush at all!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
However, the six-seater secluded cabin is, as we all know, one of the most unique offerings in today's aviation.

And non-existent now, am I right?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):

Our approach into Papeete was in absolute darkness, and not a single light was illuminated along the way. While it had a subtle sense of eeriness to it, I was yet ever so intrigued by this sensation. It was like a feeling of flying into infinity.

I can imagine! Much better experiencing that from a window rather than the usual aisle seat "when are we landing?" type mystery.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 7):
Never pictured my trolley on a beach before!

That's a unique one!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 9):
The flight to Moorea was only 10 minutes, and it was -and probably will be for a very long time- my shortest ever flight.

I bet it took longer to board/disembark!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 9):
what can normally cost $200 in Dubai, it will cost you $500 around here

Ouch. Got some saving to do before I head to Tahiti!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 10):
So sun burnt it was horrible!

You sure did ripen during your vegetation! That has got to be painful! Sunscreen's one thing I'll never forget if I head to the Pacific Islands!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 11):
good old LAN operating what I believe is one of the world's most exotic routes, Papeete to Santiago via Easter Island.

Sounds like something for me sometime..

Quoting ronerone (Reply 12):
I was of course expecting the same comfort level as on my previous flight from Auckland, but that did not seem to be the case on this aircraft.

Rather interesting.. Who knows why they changed seat!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 14):
As transit passengers, we were not mixed in with those departing from LAX, and as such, we proceeded on a backtrack through the ‘arrivals’ path to gate 121 and straight on to the aircraft

So many experiences on this trip! That's so odd.


I cast my mind back to when I was in Paris and watching TN board for PPT via LAX.. I could sense a way home!


Wow, I'm surprised that catering ex-LAX was pretty good. Those desserts looked really nice and so did the crepes!

FAs - well I suppose you're bound to run into the odd bad crewmember.. But I did expect a little better. Time for you to try out Air NZ sometime - which hopefully means a trip down here for it!


Thanks again for this wonderful report.. Hope your skin has stopped peeling  

Looking forward to the last instalment!!!


Cheers,
Nicholas
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
palmjet
Posts: 1230
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:08 pm

Hi Roni

I spent a good few hours reading your amazing report last night. Wonderful report and thank you for taking the time to post it, and the pics are stunning. I really felt like I was there too.

In fact, my first (and so far only) visit to Tahiti and her Islands was back in November 1997. My dad and I did a short trip from Australia as some miles in his QF FF account were due to expire. We flew QF (back in the day when they flew there in their own right) from BNE - AKL - PPT and then on the return, PPT - AKL - SYD - BNE.

I remember arriving at PPT and spending over an hour standing in the immigration line as they had two staff for a full 767-300 load of passengers. No air con and a hot, sultry and humid evening. You can imagine how everyone felt when they finally got through to claim their bags!

Unfortunately our visit co-incided with the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Osea. I remember it well because we were on Moorea at the time Osea passed by at the closest point to us. It was a very scary night indeed.

From Wikipedia -

"The damage in French Polynesia was catastrophic. Over 700 buildings were destroyed in Bora-Bora, Raiatea and Maupiti. On Manupiti, about 95 percent of the island was destroyed, including the town hall, two schools, and an airfield. On Bora-Bora, only about 30 percent of the infrastructure was destroyed. No fatalities were reported however."

I found French Polynesia very interesting and the landscape of Moorea was truly stunning. We flew with Air Moorea (Twin Otter) from MOZ - PPT with a flying time of just under 8 minutes. Looks like the airport there has not changed at all since 1997! Looks exactly the same. We arrived at the airport a little early and they simply put us on the earlier flight that was pretty much boarding when we arrived.

We found the prices in FP to be very high but we were expecting that. What we could not understand fully was why FP continues to import perishable things like butter from France, which must cost a fortune, when there are two very large countries in the region much closer who produce goods of a similar or better quality - namely New Zealand and Australia. Surely it would be more economical to import these types of goods from more local or regional parts of the Pacific? No?

We also sadly found that the friendliest people we met in FP were actually other tourists. We found some of the hotel staff on Moorea and Papeete to be quite dismissive and they weren't overly helpful during the cyclone - other than to tell us that "everything was closed". On the other hand, locals on Moorea at some of the shops we stopped in at, were quite friendly and welcoming.

We also thought Papeete, as a city, was a dump and surprisingly, very polluted with lots of exhaust fumes from traffic. I would not recommend spending more than 45 mins there -as you did!

It was great to see a recent trip report from that part of the world. Love the ATR flights as well that you took. Air Tahiti have certainly had them for a while now although all of the models I believe are -500s (both 42s and 72s). Some of the routes operated by Air Tahiti are the longest in the world using the ATR.

Great report - and thanks again!

Palmjet
Eastern - Number One To The Sun
 
readyjetgo
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:24 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:19 pm

Roni,

I can almost feel the discomfort you had with that sunburn!! I'm still laughing at burj's photo link!!!

Tahiti looks like amazing, and that infinity pool and view beyond are something I'd never want to part with. Thanks for sharing this trip report, that was quite a marathon journey...but what a cool airline to fly in economy. I nearly booked a trip with them when they served JFK, but changed my plans to go elsewhere instead.

I'm glad you enjoyed your trip, and safe travels to you...

Brian
 
loalq
Posts: 190
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:31 pm

Epic TR, congratulations on an amazing work you did here!
"...this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped."
 
nipoel123
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:23 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:22 pm

Hi Roni,

This is, by far, the longest TR I've ever read. It took me more than an hour, but it was well worth it. French Polynesia looks awesome! Air Tahiti Nui loos like the way to go there, the airline seems well organised.

Again, lovely read,

Nick
one mile of road leads to nowhere, one mile of runway leads to anywhere
 
mercure1
Posts: 2770
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:13 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:15 pm

Quoting ronerone (Reply 29):
I do know about the ferry service between Papeete and Moorea. But i did not want it. This was my first ATR experience, and i wanted to fly on the shortest flight that is now recorded on my log!  

What happened to Air Moorea by the way? Their website -if i remember correctly- seems to still be up.

Well Air Moorea was wound down by Air Tahiti the owners. Essentially traffic dropped over the years. Lots of reasons, from increased(and improved comfort) ferry service, the rise in air fares due petrol, closing of resorts like Club Med which had most customers fly in, and not to be forgotten the terrible PR from the crash of a Twin-Otter in 2007 killing 20.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 30):
Indeed, the cost of Tahiti was ridiculous. Cheap over there is still expensive everywhere else!

Yes physical things are comparatively expensive as virtually everthing must be imported. That is why people love to go on week long shopping trips to Los Angeles and visit places like Costco, Target etc.

However the islands beauty which is free makes up for this.   

Quoting palmjet (Reply 35):
I remember arriving at PPT and spending over an hour standing in the immigration line as they had two staff for a full 767-300 load of passengers. No air con and a hot, sultry and humid evening. You can imagine how everyone felt when they finally got through to claim their bags!

Yes unfortunately this is an ongoing problem, but issue has to do with Metropolitan France and their unwillingness to send more police for border checks. But with tourism being down now for many years, I doubt we will see improvement until traffic volumes become higher.

Quoting nipoel123 (Reply 38):
Air Tahiti Nui loos like the way to go there, the airline seems well organised.

Don't look to deeply below the surface. Unfortunately lots of mickey mouse things behind the scenes making thing rotten.
 
AirGAbon
Posts: 676
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 10:37 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:28 pm

Quoting mercure1 (Reply 39):
Don't look to deeply below the surface. Unfortunately lots of mickey mouse things behind the scenes making thing rotten.

Why not an alliance between French overseas airlines: for instance Air Tahiti Nui and Air Calin in New Caledonia?

I would love an around the world trip on these colourful overseas department airlines:

Paris-Mayotte on Corsair A332 or Air Austral B772LR
Mayotte-Reunion on Air Austral B738
Reunion-Sydney-Noumea on Air Austral B777
Noumea-Tahiti on Air Calin A332
Tahiti-Los Angeles -Paris on Air Tahiti Nui A343
or from Los Angeles continuing to:
Los Angeles-Miami-San Juan-Fort de France (Martinique) or Pointe a Pitre (Guadeloupe) on American or to test the AF A320 service from Miami. Then:
Fort de France/Pointe a Pitre-Paris on Air Caraibes A333
 
LH4116
Posts: 1183
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:39 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:03 pm

Roni: WOW, I mean just WOW! Perhaps the longest report I've read so far, and pretty sure this is the longest report you've written so far. As always an excellent read with some stunning photography.

Never would I ever have believed that you would fly Economy on any sector longer than 2 hours, and I am just stunned how you managed those 20 hours. You must really have felt like a walking corpse after that flight, and for some reason it seems like you never really got rid of that Jetlag, not even in Papeete. I'm guessing you must've regret not spending those extra money on that westbound RTW, or at least upgrade this massive chunk of flight to Business? How big was the price difference anyway?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
My RTW path so far

That is perhaps the strangest RTW itinerary I've ever seen! Completely skipping Australia, must've been a world first 
Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
Minibar etc

It's interesting they still have it on that hotel. Many hotels these days got rid of the minibar. Suppose it was too overpriced, and also the computerized ones seemed to have caused some issues.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
The A340 is the sexiest looking airplane on this planet!

I have to agree with you on that one. The A340 is simply the most gorgeous flying machine ever built, especially the -300. Although I think it looks best in SAS livery  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Again, the French have mastered the art of names, and France and its colonies' airlines have mastered the art of turning their cabin classes into names that are stylishly sultry and seductive.

I am still not a big fan of airlines re-naming their products. Surely those names would work for the locals, but not when you cater to an international clientele. Or then again I'm guessing TN are more of a home-market oriented airline.

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
I was informed that it was sold out completely.

So you couldn't have asked for an operational upgrade?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
"Yes but this is not for Facebook okay?"

haha, that was exactly the same comment I got on Air France a few months ago. Must be a resemblance going on.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
The cabin was fully boarded, and everyone had already established their respective cliques while sipping their snobbish welcome drinks and hence,

Ah, this is just such a different perspective than what we are used to see from you. Usually you're the man in the CX F suite, wearing the funny sneakers while sipping on the Champagne. I want that Roni back again! 
Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
I felt bad, but I had to gently wake him up, in which after a few sighs and pouts, he got up to let me in. Seriously now, what's with the attitude?

That's also the impression I've gotten from some people seated at the aisle seats of those 2-seaters. They must really think that they have those seats to themselves, and get upset when I show up. Oh well if they want more privacy they might just have to fork out those extra $$$ for First.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
“Sure. And would you like anything else to drink? Maybe some juice?”

Still seems like the crew were a bit proactive in their way of serving customers. I always like it when the crew offer an additional drink, rather than the embarrassment of doing it yourself. Good customer focus, I like that!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 2):
I figured I had a longer flight to explore more of Air Tahiti Nui, so why not kick back and chill for now.

Yeah with such a long flight ahead, better not bore yourself in forehand.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
I selected an almond croissant, a smoothie, and a cappuccino; all costing $11 USD.

Now that's really overpriced! I can't imagine how much that lunch must've set you back.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 9):
So sun burnt it was horrible!

Jeez Roni, you could be mistaken for an Indian looking like that! Please tell me you brought sunblock?  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 13):
TRANSIT STOP

Hmm, how come you didn't opt for a stopover in the states, or was that not allowed in the ticket?

Anyways this was truly an enjoyable read, and it kept me occupied for nearly the entire day. I did take some longer pauses as you instructed. I very much look forward to the next part, and please don't take too long with posting it. Keep up the good work my friend!

"Wheels Up!"
//Jonas
SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
 
767747
Posts: 2130
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:08 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:54 am

Another excellent report, Roni!

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
The A340 is the sexiest looking airplane on this planet!

Definitely my favorite long-haul aircraft ...

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
At my seat at 18A, my seatmate had already occupied his B-side and was already dozing off whilst waiting to reach his final destination. I felt bad, but I had to gently wake him up, in which after a few sighs and pouts, he got up to let me in. Seriously now, what's with the attitude? At least that set the tone for me to keep my interaction with him to a bare minimum.

I don't know why people are so funny like this - I've had situations that are similiar before. What do you want me to do? Stand until you're ready for me to get to my seat?!  
Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
They say that French Polynesia is one of the most expensive destinations on earth. Well if a $20 USD cab ride lasting exactly five minutes between the hotel and the airport was anything to go by, then I would most certainly agree. But at least it was a way to get to FAA’A at this early hour.

Wow! That is expensive!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 7):
Never pictured my trolley on a beach before!

Great photo - worth a submission to an airline photo contest of some sort.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 10):
At this stage of my holiday, I was in the core of my jetlag, and the isolation -lack of internet, telephone, and contact with any human I know- was getting the best of me. The solitary confinement was extremely therapeutic, but there's always a limit to the silence and the serenity which was beginning to horrify me at this stage. Luckily, it was time to continue my journey, as Air Tahiti Nui's A340-300 awaited to take me half way across the globe.

This made me feel tense just reading your comments - Sometimes solo trips are fine, but this must have been extremely tough!

Thanks for your amazing coverage of everything as usual.

Best,

Matthew
I love to fly!
 
jrfspa320
Posts: 332
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:30 am

Great Report, very nice pictures/
Seems a good airline!
would love to visit French polynesia now hehe!
 
roberts87
Posts: 1091
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:59 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:02 am

Amazing trip report, thanks for sharing!
The pictures from Papeete look fantastic... I wish I could go there some day!
 
RAGAZZO777
Posts: 378
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:33 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:52 pm

Hi Roni,

I've been reading your trip reports for a long time now, but this is the first time ever that I leave you a comment.  

Great trip report, by the way. I loved it from the beginning to the end and the beauty of the pictures is just amazing.

French Polynesia is definitely a destination I must visit and, being based in Lima, I plan to take the LAN flight you mention in this TR !

Looking forward to reading more trip reports of yours !

Cheers,
Nicolás
JESÚS, TE AMO !!
 
koruman
Posts: 2179
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:08 pm

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:31 pm

Lovely trip report, but I'd like to challenge a non-aviation part for the benefit of anyone else intending to visit.

French Polynesia is pricey, but not significantly more so than Australia or Brazil nowadays. But the comments about hotel prices on Moorea and Bora Bora largely reflect the OP not knowing how to "play the game".

There are Hilton, InterContinental and Sofitel hotels which can be booked for around half the published rate via their own loyalty programs and websites. And on Bora Bora if you contact most major 5 star hotels directly to book they will knock at least 50% off the published rate.

So while it's not a great destination on a tight budget, if you can afford around $250-350 per night you can stay at a 5 star hotel.
 
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Mortyman
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:46 pm

Thanx for this TR Roni. French Polyneisa and the Pacific is a great place. I have been lucky and been there twice. Twice to French Polynesia, twice to the Cook islands and once to Samoa. It's expensive to get there from Norway though ... Flew Air Tahiti Nui and Air Tahiti back in 2010. Great experience !

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 41):
Economy on any sector longer than 2 hours, and I am just stunned how you managed those 20 hours.

I have never flown anything but economy and often over 20 hours. Not really a problem. Don't really understand people who want to pay a fortune extra to sit in business / first. Better to spend the money on a better hotel when you arrive or a longer trip / extended stay in my opinion.

Quoting ronerone (Thread starter):
The A340 is the sexiest looking airplane on this planet!

Totally agree. The A340 is the best looking aircraft in the sky. To bad they have stopped the production. The A340 looks even better in the air Tahiti Nui colors  
 
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CARST
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RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:36 pm

Great TR roni, one of the best I've ever read on this website. I'm a little bit biased because I love French Polynesia, but still, great pics and good writing.

How long did you stay there overall?
 
aussie_
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Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2000 10:39 am

RE: Air Tahiti Nui: Ia Orana Half Way Around The World

Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:01 am

Congratulations on the awesome trip report. I was supposed to fly TN many years back, but the aircraft was grounded and we were flown on an Air NZ 763 AKL-PPT instead. One of my greatest aviation regrets. You have also confirmed to me that Bora Bora is a must do at some point in my life!!

Cheers
Alex

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