Review: Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy Papeete to Auckland

Flight Number
Boeing 787
5 hours 30 minutes
February 2023

After an unforgettable two weeks of gallivanting across French Polynesia on our “pre-honeymoon”, the moment to bid adieu to paradise had finally arrived.

While Jessy made her way back to North America in United Polaris business class, my journey was far from over, as I first headed to New Zealand in Air Tahiti Nui premium economy from Papeete to Auckland.

Since this was only a five-hour long daytime flight, I figured that premium economy would suffice on this occasion.

Moreover, I thought it might serve as a valuable review for anyone considering this product en route to and from Tahiti, as Air Tahiti Nui also operates this cabin on their flagship North American routes to Los Angeles or Seattle.

In This Post

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – Booking

Unless you regularly fly with Air Tahiti Nui and are part of the “Club Tiare” mileage program, the American Airlines AAdvantage program is the arguably the optimal choice for redeeming points with Air Tahiti Nui.

I was able to use 25,000 AAdvantage miles to secure a premium economy seat on my desired date. One of the main benefits when it comes to American Airlines AAdvantage is that there tends to be very few additional fees that come with booking.

On the other hand, it can be challenging to rack up a tidy sum of AAdvantage miles, especially with the absence of any co-branded credit cards in Canada and a limited number of ways to earn on both sides of the border.

However, you can still earn miles by transferring points from RBC Avion, by flying with either American Airlines or Oneworld partners on cash bookings, and through US-issued credit cards.

Another option for booking Air Tahiti Nui is with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. While Alaska miles are arguably even more difficult to come by than AAdvantage miles, if you’d like to use them for this flight, you can expect to pay 25,000 Alaska miles.

Once you’ve earned enough miles, you’ll have plenty of options to redeem them for great value through the AAdvantage program, such as in my case with Air Tahiti Nui premium economy.

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – Ground Experience

Having spent the previous night at an airport hotel, I arrived at Faa’a International Airport just outside of Papeete at the crack of dawn in preparation for my 7:20am flight.

Unfortunately, premium economy passengers aren’t eligible for lounge access. The Air Tahiti Nui Lounge is no longer part of the Priority Pass network, despite having been a participant in the past.

This time, I lingered around the gate area until it was time to board.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Gate area
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Aircraft

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – Cabin

A fleet of four Boeing 787 Dreamliners has replaced the older, less fuel-efficient fleet of Airbus A340-300s that were previously employed by the airline.

Now, Air Tahiti Nui exclusively operates Boeing 787s across its network, so you can expect to find this new premium economy product on all routes.

With only 32 seats arranged in a cozy 2-3-2 configuration across a mere five rows, the atmosphere can feel quite intimate.

As I boarded the aircraft, I was immediately transported into the vibrant premium economy cabin, which is adorned with a kaleidoscope of colours. I couldn’t help but notice the tropical nuances that permeated throughout.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Cabin

The cabin is decked out in stunning turquoise shades reminiscent of the lagoons of French Polynesia, and also had touches of the tiare flower. These elements are key players in Air Tahiti Nui’s updated logo and brand identity, which were unveiled simultaneously with their new fleet in 2018.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Cabin
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Cabin

While most seats within the cabin offer a similar level of comfort, the bulkhead row provides a slightly more spacious environment. Solo travellers will find any seat, except the centre one in the middle section, to be a favourable choice.

It’s worth noting that window seats 12A and 12L have two windows, while the rest of the window seats just have one.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Middle seats
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Window seats

For couples traveling together, the best option is to select any of the seat pairs located on the sides of the aircraft, which might facilitate a more enjoyable journey.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Window seats

These premium economy seats would serve as an ideal choice for couples or families travelling together, as they offer added comfort beyond economy class at a reasonable premium. This is especially the case on shorter flights to Oceania, where there may not be a need to splurge on a full business class seat.

After careful consideration, I ultimately decided on Seat 15A, a window seat positioned in the back row of the cabin.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Seat 15A

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – Seat

The premium economy seats on Air Tahiti Nui, also known as Moana premium economy, are a marked improvement over their economy counterparts. These seats boast ample space, enhanced reclining capabilities, and good technological features.

The seats are indeed novel, with a vibrant, eye-catching blue tone. These tones are beautifully complemented by captivating island-themed accents woven into the fabric of the seats.

At the seat, I found a modest amenity kit, blanket, and pillow.

Each seat is equipped with a 14-inch entertainment screen, which is embedded in the seat backs.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Entertainment screen

Beneath the entertainment screen, you’ll find two seatback pockets and a conveniently placed small storage compartment, nestled amidst the seats.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Seatback storage pockets
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Storage space

In addition to leg rests, the seat features footrests that could be effortlessly lowered into position, providing an extra level of comfort.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Footrest

A compact shared surface space is available, and it’s sufficient enough for placing a refreshing beverage or a personal mobile device, but isn’t particularly suitable for larger items.

For control of the entertainment system, a handheld entertainment controller is discreetly positioned in the inner console by my knees, readily available for use.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Entertainment controller & surface space

Each armrest conceals a hidden tray table. With a simple lift, the armrest revealed a swivelling tray table that unfolded in front of me, transforming into a fully functional dining or workspace area.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Tray table
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Tray table

For those seeking adjustable comfort, the seat offers a basic set of analog controls thoughtfully placed on the inside of the outer armrest. With a single button, I could adjust the seat’s recline, and another button allowed me to fine-tune the legrest to my preference.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Seat controls

Between the pair of seats, two USB ports are conveniently situated, which ensured that I could stay powered up throughout the flight.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – USB ports

Lastly, the seat provided a commendable amount of recline. The seat slides slightly forward while it reclines, so it doesn’t feel too restrictive either.

When the time came to unwind or doze off, the seats gently cradles passengers, allowing for a relaxing journey.

Overall, the seats provided a pretty comfortable experience during this quick five-hour flight, and that’s what premium economy is all about at the end of the day.

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – Amenities

The premium economy amenity kit was presented in a playful bright orange case.

It’s worth noting that Air Tahiti Nui rotates colours and designs across seats, and I noticed other passengers getting a different colour scheme. If you’re a frequent flyer based out of Papeete, perhaps there might be an element of “gotta catch them all” to these amenity kits. 

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Amenity kit

The kit consisted of socks, an eye mask, a refreshing towel, a dental kit, and headphones. It certainly isn’t the most jam-packed amenity kit you’ll find out there, but it’s on par with what you can expect on a premium economy flight.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Amenity kit contents

Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, the flight attendants began in-flight service. No formal menus were offered; instead, the menu was simply displayed on the entertainment screen.

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – Meal Service

The meal service on my flight consisted of a brunch menu, which began with Greek yogurt to start and a cheese omelette for the main dish.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Brunch service

The meal was presented on a single tray, and once again had mushrooms in it that I picked around. Curiously enough, the inclusion of mushrooms, which I try to avoid, seemed to persist, mirroring my previous experience in Air Tahiti Nui business class.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Brunch service

Alas, even leaving the mushrooms aside, the meal fell short of my expectations, leaving much to be desired. The omelette was rather dry, while the cheese itself tasted stale.

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – In-Flight

Afterwards, I headed to the restroom to freshen up. There’s a lovely Air Tahiti Nui-themed wallpaper that adorns the bathroom wall.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Restroom

Inside, there’s a baby changing table, as well as a limited set of amenities. It was kept relatively clean and tidy throughout the flight.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Restroom changing table
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Restroom

Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy – Entertainment

The in-flight entertainment system had a handful of new releases and genres, including TV shows and documentaries. For this quick five-hour flight there, there’s enough to choose from, and the screen exhibited impressive resolution and swift responsiveness.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Movie selection
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – TV selection

I decided to connect to Wi-Fi during this flight, despite the high cost involved.

Available plans ranged from $8 (USD) for 10 MB of data to $38 for 200 MB, and there was an all-inclusive option priced at $68 (USD) for the entire duration of the flight with no data caps. While the prices were steep, I opted for the all-inclusive plan as I didn’t want to worry about running out of data.

Thankfully, the quality of the Wi-Fi connection was excellent, which made the expense somewhat worthwhile.

With the reliable and fast connection, I was able to stream videos without any interruptions, which was exactly what I needed to keep myself entertained during the journey by watching a live football match.

As time passed, the flight attendants performed a short snack service. To curb our hunger, they distributed small bags of crackers to passengers. Although the snack was modest, it provided a brief respite.

Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Snack service
Air Tahiti Nui premium economy – Airshow en route to Auckland


Overall, Air Tahiti Nui offers a pretty standard premium economy seat. However, the cabin boasts a pleasant ambiance, and the seats offer an ample amount of comfort, at least for shorter trips.

This cabin might be a suitable option for families or groups of three travellers seeking an affordable yet reasonably comfortable way to reach French Polynesia, especially on daytime flights.

If you’re unable to secure a seat in business class, Air Tahiti Nui’s Moana premium economy cabin would also be a satisfactory backup option.

While the meal service left a bit to be desired and the price of Wi-Fi was quite high, I otherwise felt that I had everything I needed for the hop over to New Zealand.

1 Comment
  1. Al

    I can’t believe you traveled upper cattle class! Don’t get me wrong I love reading about your trips but it’s good to travel economy and humble yourself like about 90% of the rest of us ppl. Ok ready for the next reading 🙂

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