To get from North America to French Polynesia on our pre-honeymoon adventure, my partner Jessy and I flew from Los Angeles to Papeete in Air Tahiti Nui business class. For those who aren’t familiar, Air Tahiti Nui is the national carrier of French Polynesia.
While Air Tahiti Nui isn’t a member of an airline alliance, the airline partners with American Airlines AAdvantage and also became available for redemptions with Alaska Mileage Plan as of June 2022.
Ever since the product became more accessible to book with points, I’d been keen to give it a look myself, and this Bora Bora adventure was the perfect opportunity.
In This Post
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Booking
Securing a direct flight from North America to French Polynesia poses a unique challenge, particularly when seeking premium cabin options using miles. However, with careful and advanced planning, we were able to book two seats in business class successfully.
In our case, we used 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles per person to secure business class seats with Air Tahiti Nui for the journey from Los Angeles to Papeete. It’s also possible to book this flight for 60,000 Alaska miles one-way.
Both American and Alaska’s pricing applies on this route to Los Angeles, as well as the airline’s secondary US route to Seattle.
It’s worth noting that award availability on this specific route can be quite limited. Nonetheless, I had diligently made the reservation nearly a year in advance, allowing us to secure the desired seats for our trip.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Ground Experience
Unfortunately, Air Tahiti Nui doesn’t participate in TSA Pre-Check, which meant that we were unable to use the expedited Pre-Check line at LAX even though we held NEXUS cards. Instead, we joined the regular queue for security screening.
After this, we made our way to the Star Alliance Lounge Los Angeles, where Air Tahiti Nui business class passengers are granted access.
Located on the sixth floor of the airside concourse at Tom Bradley International Terminal, the lounge spans an impressive 18,000 square feet.
During our visit, the lounge was bustling with activity, despite its sprawling size – something I’ve found almost every time I’ve visited this lounge.
It’s an attractive spot with a sophisticated and inviting atmosphere, complete with a warm, fire-lit setting. Additionally, there’s an outdoor terrace that affords panoramic views of the airfield and the distant Hollywood Hills.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Cabin
Air Tahiti Nui’s Poerava business class cabin is offered on the state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, featuring 30 business class seats spread across five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.
While many airlines have transitioned to a 1-2-1 configuration for their business class, Air Tahiti Nui has opted to retain the 2-2-2 layout, largely catering to leisure travellers.
After all, most passengers bound for French Polynesia are travelling as a couple, which was true of almost every passenger in business class on this particular flight.
For those travelling together, any pair of seats across Air Tahiti Nui’s business class cabin will be a favourable choice, allowing you to chat with your companion easily.
The seats down the middle will have the added benefit of offering direct aisle access to both travellers, whereas the window seats will require one of you to step over the other to access the aisle – although you’ll have the benefit of enjoying the window views.
If you happen to be travelling solo, I’d probably recommend choosing one of the middle seats to guarantee direct aisle access without having someone else step over you.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the footwell at the bulkhead in Row 1 is slightly wider than those in Rows 2–5, which is something to keep in mind while selecting your seat.
Jessy and I chose Seats 5L and 5K, located in the last row on the right-hand window side of the plane.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Seat
Air Tahiti Nui offers Rockwell Collins Diamond seats in business class, featuring lie-flat seats. The new seats bring about a substantial upgrade in terms of comfort and functionality compared to Air Tahiti Nui’s previous generation of Airbus A340s.
The seat finishes in Poerava business class have a clean aesthetic reflecting French Polynesia’s natural elements, exhibited by a tasteful combination of dark blue upholstery and grey leather, with wooden touches.
However, they’re not particulary groundbreaking and are a fairly common seat type that’s also found on, say, Air China business class, Copa Airlines 737 Max 9 business class, and more.
Taking a closer look at the seat, you’ll find a fixed 16-inch high-definition entertainment screen positioned in front of you. Between your and your seat mate’s entertainment screen, there are USB-A ports and coat racks.
Below the screen, there’s some surface space where you can place items during the flight.
The footwell, located underneath, is relatively tight, which is one of the few shortcomings of this business class product.
A shared centre console is situated near the centre armrests, providing surface space for your drinks. The seat controls are conveniently located here, within easy reach.
Nestled on the vertical surface of the console is the entertainment controller, which can be easily withdrawn for handheld use. There’s a small pocket adjacent to the entertainment controller, equipped with a bottle of water.
On the front vertical surface of the console, you’ll find power outlets, including universal outlets and USB ports, which allow for convenient charging.
A small storage compartment is available at the rear of the seat, providing room for personal belongings. Furthermore, the headphone jack is located in the side storage compartment.
You can also find a limited amount of surface space on the outer armrests.
Lastly, the tray table unfolds from the centre armrest at an angle and folds out into position.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Amenities
Prior to boarding, a pillow and blanket are placed at each business class seat, adorned with a lovely Polynesian design.
Furthermore, Air Tahiti Nui provided branded noise-cancelling headphones featuring the Tiare flower on the casing — a central symbol of the Air Tahiti Nui brand.
To match their visual identity, Air Tahiti Nui offers a well-stocked beige and blue leather amenity kit. Opening the kit revealed a carefully curated selection of eco-friendly items, including a toothbrush and bamboo fibre socks.
Adding a touch of charm, Air Tahiti Nui recently introduced new cosmetic products by Heiva, sourced from the local region, such as face and hand creams, and lip balm.
Alongside these skincare items, the kit also included a pen, a lens wipe, and a hairbrush.
Prior to takeoff, we were warmly offered a choice of welcome beverages: sparkling wine or tropical juice. I chose the sparkling wine, while Jessy opted for the juice.
Shortly thereafter, the in-flight food and beverage menu was presented to us.
As we prepared for takeoff, I took note of the fact that the in-flight announcements were primarily made in both French and English, with only a few greetings in Tahitian.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Snack Service
Since this was a late-night departure that would bring us to Tahiti the very next morning, the snack service was commenced very shortly after takeoff to allow passengers to maximize their rest.
The in-flight menu read as follows:
Our light snack for the evening was a mushroom and parmesan quiche. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed that this was the only snack option available; as someone who doesn’t eat mushrooms, I ended up picking around the mushrooms to nibble away at the quiche.
Accompanying the quiche was a fresh roll and a side salad.
While the food was satisfactory, it didn’t really stand out at all. However, the crew’s service was commendably friendly and kind, which somewhat made up for the below-par snack service.
It’s worth noting that there are daytime and overnight services on Air Tahiti Nui business class from Los Angeles to Papeete. On this overnight service, we’d pretty much be eating, sleeping, and landing in Tahiti, without much else to speak of when it comes to the in-flight service.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Bed
After the snack service, I decided to visit the restroom. There are two restrooms on the aircraft, one located in front of the cabin and another at the rear.
The restrooms follow the standard design of the Boeing 787, complete with a fold-out baby changing station above the toilet. Additionally, Air Tahiti Nui has added a pleasant touch by incorporating flower arrangements and providing Heiva amenities in the restrooms.
During this part of the journey, I reclined my seat into lie-flat mode and managed to get a restful six hours of sleep. The seat was adequately wide, ensuring a comfortable rest.
However, it’s worth noting that the footwell was very tight, and some passengers may find it uncomfortable, as it requires sleeping with their legs at a slight angle.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Breakfast
After waking up from my sleep, I was ready to enjoy breakfast. I chose the omelette, while Jessy opted for the French toast.
The meals were accompanied by sides of roasted potatoes, sausage, grilled veggies, and a serving of fruit and chia pudding.
Alas, like the snack service from earlier, neither of the dishes left a lasting impression and could be described as average at best. Overall, I can’t say I was wholly impressed by the catering onboard Air Tahiti Nui at all.
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Entertainment
Prior to landing, I decided to briefly explore the entertainment options. Air Tahiti Nui employs a Panasonic in-flight entertainment system, which boasts excellent responsiveness and screen quality.
The entertainment selection includes a variety of movies, TV shows, and music, although it is somewhat limited, featuring less than 20 titles and TV shows.
It’s worth noting that onboard Wi-Fi service was available, but it came at a relatively high cost compared to other airlines.
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In addition to the high prices, Air Tahiti Nui’s Wi-Fi plans have restrictive data caps. Since this was an overnight flight anyway, I chose to forgo Wi-Fi this time around.
Air Tahiti Nui Poerava business class represents a pleasurable enough business class product en route to a largely leisure-oriented destination.
Whilst the hard and soft products aren’t exactly cutting-edge, they don’t fall into the category of subpar offerings either. Although the food was a bit disappointing, the crew’s attentiveness and affability were noteworthy, which always adds to the experience.
Without tons of good alternatives in terms of redeeming points for business class en route to French Polynesia, I’d happily fly Air Tahiti Nui again in the future if I’m headed down to the South Pacific.