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
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.
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!
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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…)
Other Posts in this Series