Air Tahiti Air Tahiti Nui American Airlines Bora Bora Trip Reports

Babyless in Bora Bora: Air Tahiti Nui New Business Class Review

Too tired to write about our island-round bike ride, but here's a picture of our view of our hotel from a lookout point
Too tired to write about our island-round bike ride, but here’s a picture of our view of our hotel from a lookout point

Ah, it’s over! This trip report was a bit too ambitious and I’m exhausted from writing it, so I think I’ll just end it here. I wanted to go into detail because when I was planning my trip I didn’t find too much about Bora Bora so hopefully this has been a semi-useful resource. Anyway, at the end of an amazing trip (including a bike ride around the island which was exhausting and fulfilling as this trip report), we finally had a few flights home. At this point, I was anxious to get home: nine days away from Baby M is a lot and we couldn’t wait to see her!

Air Tahiti Return Flights and Papeete International Terminal

Picture on our return flight to Tahiti
Picture on our return flight to Tahiti

Our return flights were as beautiful as the outbound ones, but I already wrote about that so I won’t rehash it here. I did want to give a few tips on flight times though. We ended up taking a 6 PM flight out of Bora Bora which got us to Papeete by around 6:45 PM. One thing that is important to know about international flights from Papeete: check in opens no earlier than three hours before your flight. What that means is, if you get there too early, you’re going to be sitting around – a lot. As it was, we sat around for about an hour, but let me tell you, Papeete is a small airport and it is basically dead, so if you have a longer layover, I’d suggest you possibly find something to do.

Cup noodles - all they do is win, win, win
Cup noodles – all they do is win, win, win

Once you’re in, if you’re in business class, you have access to the Manuhiri lounge, which isn’t much to write home about. On the other hand, it has cup noodles so…winning? Anyway, one thing I noticed was that there are chairs on the second floor outside of the lounge that not many people know about, so if you don’t have lounge access but are looking for somewhere quieter try the second floor. There are bathrooms up there too, for those of you who enjoy your privacy!

Our ride home
Our ride home

Air Tahiti Nui New Business Class

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way – Air Tahiti Nui’s old business class is not that great. The new version: pretty nice! It’s not lie flat and there were still some minor issues, but overall, it was a much more comfortable and enjoyable way to fly. Here are some details.

The new seats look way nicer than the old ones
The new seats look way nicer than the old ones

The first thing I noticed is how clean and new the cabins seemed. Air Tahiti Nui didn’t only upgrade the business class cabin, the coach cabin is completely refurbished as well. Unfortunately I’m a bit too shy to have run back there and snap pictures, but they look nice and are in the same style as the business class cabin seats. The new cabins hold 32 people and are arranged in three rows.

The new cabin looks more spacious due to the removal of some overhead bins
The new cabin looks more spacious due to the removal of some overhead bins

If you recall from my comments on the old business class, the entertainment system was pretty much garbage. The new business class cabins have a nice touch screen system that is a bit quirky in use but has the important stuff I need: Marvel comic book universe movies! I’ve seen 50% of those movies on airplanes; in fact, I rely on international travel to watch them (they better have The Winter Soldier on my summer flights!). So, the entertainment system is a major upgrade. Oh, while I’m on the subject, I also love watching Veep whenever it’s on planes – that show is must watch in my opinion. Unless you are offended by the most creatively used F-bombs known to man…of which there are a ton. OH! AND they actually have a real airshow for the map – amazing.

The new entertainment system is a great improvement but I still found it a little wonky
The new entertainment system is a great improvement but I still found it a little wonky
I know where I am now!
I know where I am now!

The food was a little bit better than the other flight, though I don’t think catering is affected by old or new business class. I like how Air Tahiti Nui tries to make Polynesian fare. It’s not the most filling, but I respect the effort. The seafood crostade, aka seafood inside pastry thing, was actually pretty good.

Seafood crostade
Seafood crostade

In terms of the seats, they still aren’t completely lie flat which isn’t ideal. However, they are a lot more comfortable than the old seats, and I personally don’t have too much difficulty falling asleep in angled-flat seats. Sure, lie-flat is the gold standard but this still is way more comfortable than coach. I got a good four hours of sleep I think, so between that and the entertainment, it was a pretty nice trip.


Can you predict what flights will be new or old business class?

In a word: no. Trust me, I tried. Air Tahiti Nui switches up their planes all the time and so there is really no guarantee (when booking at least) which plane you will get. So if you want to guarantee yourself into new business (or coach) class, you’ll just have to wait until they finishing refurbishing all of their planes. Currently, 3 out of their 5 planes have the new cabins, so you have a 60% chance of getting it and an even better chance of getting it at least once on a roundtrip.

AA flights from LAX to Boston

Our last two flights on this monster itinerary were LAX-DFW and DFW-BOS. I tried to get us onto the LAX-BOS direct flight standby but no dice. Just a couple of things to say. Flying on AA was much nicer than flying on US on the outbound and not only because of the weather delays. I just feel like AA planes feel newer and they also have TVs which as I’ve mentioned is important to me. I think the only thing US has over AA for me is flight attendants, I thought the US ones were much more attentive and friendly, but other than that, I’d take AA any day of the week.

Our plane at DFW
Our plane at DFW

Final Thoughts

I’m thankful that this marathon of a trip report is over, but even more thankful that we got the chance to go. First and foremost, we were only able to do this due to the kindness of grandparents willing to babysit Baby M, and also her easy going personality that made it fairly easy on us. Secondly, we never would have paid the $20,000 or so it would have cost to do this trip with cash, so it was nice to use all the miles and points I’d been saving up. Sometimes I get so obsessed with hoarding miles and points that it’s easy to lose sight of why I do it – so we can travel to different places and have new experiences. Bora Bora was quite possibly the most relaxed I’ve ever been on a trip; the combination of the destination itself with nine straight days of no crying babies really was a lifesaver. To all the parents out there, especially if you only have one kid to worry about – I’d recommend taking a trip, even for a weekend, if you can. It did wonders for our sanity and even our marriage. Anyway, hope you enjoyed hearing about our trip, and if any of you want to get out there, I’d be happy to give advice! Maruru! (OK that means thank you but that’s all the Tahitian I remember…)

Goodbye, Bora Bora
Goodbye, Bora Bora

Other Posts in this Series

Babyless in Bora Bora – Introduction and Planning

Preparing to Travel Without the Baby

A Three Leg Trip to LAX and the New Tom Bradley International Terminal

Air Tahiti Nui Old Business Class

Air Tahiti Inter-island Flights and Transfer to the Intercontinental Thalasso

Intercontinental Thalasso Emerald Overwater Villa Review

Eating Options in the Intercontinental Thalasso

Saving Money on Food

Pure Snorkeling

Hanging out in the Intercontinental Thalasso and My Archnemesis

Intercontinental Thalasso’s Deep Ocean Spa – Paradise in Paradise

Air Tahiti Nui New Business Class Review





Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

2 thoughts on “Babyless in Bora Bora: Air Tahiti Nui New Business Class Review

  1. Thanks for sharing! I totally understand the “relief” once a trip report is over. I’m tempted to start blogging about airplanes and lounges too because I have so much info on those. Ha ha, maybe I can do a guest post on your blog. 🙂

  2. Funny you mention a favorable impression of AA…Danny just flew AA from LGA to DFW last night, and I guess it was a “new” plane and he was quite impressed. (We are traveling separately so I didn’t see this.) He’s kinda been an AA-hater, but the nicer plane made him rethink it…which is good bc we are hub captives, as you said.

    I also second trying to find something to do if you have a longer PPT layover. The airport is tiny. We had an early morning flight out, so there wasn’t much to do at 6am except shop for souvenirs and rum from the duty-free shop. I think the food trucks (roulotte) are close by the airport too.

    Thanks for the full report! Glad you guys enjoyed the relaxation and extremely great value from your points hoarding.

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