Our 2nd Honeymoon in Paradise – Air Tahiti Nui and Southwest Flights Home

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Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

On Our Way Back

Emily:  After a day of exploring Papeete, we drove back to the airport to catch our flight back.  There was a long line to check-in, but the line for business class was shorter.

After passing security, we went to the lounge which was nothing too special.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge

There were some snacks and a very small selection of prepared food (if you could find it!).

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge Food

There was a refrigerator with a selection of juice and sodas.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Juices and Sodas

There was also a bar where you could make your own drinks…

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge Bar

…as well as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

More Beverages

The couches were comfortable, but there was no business center with computers or workstations.  It was also very cold!

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Lounge Chairs

The main airport waiting area looked really nice and modern.  In my opinion, it looked even nicer than the lounge but without the free snacks and refreshments.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Papeete Airport Waiting Area

There was even an art gallery there!

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Art Gallery at Papeete Airport

Soon enough, it was time to board our flight.  The Air Tahiti Nui plane seemed a bit older from inside.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Emily in the Plane

The seats were bright blue with white flower imprints and had yellow pillows with blue blankets.  I loved the bright colors!

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class Seat

We also got amenity kits with the usual toothbrush, toothpaste, and L’Occitane lotions and creams.  We also got an eye mask, socks, and ear plugs.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class Amenity Kit

Darius and I were thrilled with the large selection of newspapers and magazines.  They even had The Economist!

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Newspaper Selection

However, the business class seats didn’t recline all the way back.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Reclined Seat

So it was difficult to lay down for a good night’s sleep.  But as you can see, Daraius had no problem sleeping!

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Daraius Can Sleep Anywhere!

I did the best I could though, and managed to get maybe five or six hours of sleep which felt great!

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Seats Don’t Recline Much

Daraius:  I had dinner, but wasn’t anything particularly memorable.

Here’s the menu:

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class Menu



Here’s the Drink menu:

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class Drinks Menu

I had the bluefish terrine, but wouldn’t get it again.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class Entree

I had the chocolate cake for dessert which was okay.

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Chocolate Cake

Here’s the wine list:

Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Wine List

I skipped breakfast so that I could sleep longer.

After we landed in Los Angeles, we picked up our bags and went through customs, and walked to Terminal 1 for our Southwest flight.  We checked in for our flight and and rechecked our luggage to Kansas City.

Everything took about two hours and we had about an hour left before it would be time to board our flight, so we went to the US Airways Lounge to get some work done.  The US Airways lounge had a nicer atmosphere than the Air Tahiti Nui lounge in Papeete!

However, there was no prepared food, but there was a lot of seating and two business areas to work in.

Soon enough, it was time to board our flight, so we lined up for our Southwest flight to St. Louis, where we had a 1.5 hour layover. We grabbed dinner at California Pizza Kitchen got some more work done and boarded the last flight of the day to Kansas City.  We finally arrived in Kansas City at 9:30 pm dreaming of our third honeymoon!

We were so lucky to be able to use our miles and points to visit such a beautiful place!

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32 responses to “Our 2nd Honeymoon in Paradise – Air Tahiti Nui and Southwest Flights Home

  1. Thanks for the trip report.


  3. Great report!

  4. Is there a reason you didn’t book the return to KC on American? Couldn’t you have done that without additional miles? Or are you saving that leg for later?

    Also, next time you have a little time to kill in LAX, try the Encounter lounge if you have never been there. It’s the round building right in the middle of the airport.

  5. Love this trip report series! It looks like Air France business class is better than Air Tahiti Nui business class?

  6. I remember those seats. The incline made it difficult to sleep!

  7. Wow, thanks for letting me know to NEVER consider wasting award miles to fly Air Tahiti Nui. That picture of the “Business” class cabin looks like a low quality “economy plus”. Daraius is not asleep in that picture, nor would I be either, not in those seats. Reading between the lines, the food and service were of equal quality. From what I’ve read, Tahiti is one of the most difficult award tickets to get. How sad that when you do, the in flight experience is so meh !

    This trip report was very educational, but probably not in the sense you expected. Having had a fantasy of going to Tahiti for many years, I started out excited to hear all about it, but became less excited with each segment. From the uncomfortable conditions on the plane, thru the hugely expensive but barely edible food in the hotels, to the mediocre day trips at astronomical prices, I have been disabused of my fantasy of Tahiti as an “aspirational” trip.

    I’m glad you seem to have had a fun time, but I’m not putting myself thru all of that, and spending all of those miles and points going to Tahiti. Not when, for the same points and miles, and probably less money out of pocket, I could be flying TA in a genuine Premium cabin, staying in Hiltons in Berlin and Paris, enjoying sights from the Alps to the Riviera, and seeing genuine ART in world class museums. {No, I was not impressed with the fake Gauguin’s in the airport.}

    The over water lodgings do look impressive, but due to supply and demand, way overpriced for what you get.

    I’m not complaining at all. This was an excellent trip report. I’m really thanking you for taking one for the team, and saving me from making the mistake of going to Tahiti. With that in mind, I’m looking forward to your report on the Maldives. 😀

  8. I loved all the posts for this trip report, it’s wonderful to see the great time you both had! Thanks!

  9. Impressive job on having 1/3 the flights and hotel stays as Lucky’s usual vacations, but with 3x as many trip report posts

    Also, I can now check off my bucket list “seeing what a fridge with drinks in it looks like”

  10. Please one more on the ride/taxi from the airport to your home!

    Are things the same as they used to be or have there been a lot of new buildings come up since you left?

    Love reading the comments for these trip reports when I need a break fro work.

    • @Jack @Lively @Laurel – Thanks!

      @Bottom-Feeding the High Life (Doug) – We used Delta miles and there was no availability at the low level from LA to Kansas City, so we used Southwest points to get home.

      @Jenny – Air France business class was much better than Air Tahiti Nui business class!

      @Robert – Looks like the seats haven’t changed much!

      @Robert Hanson
      – I wasn’t asleep in the picture, but I was later on. I can sleep anywhere, buses, trains, meetings, etc, so the angled seats didn’t bother me. But I can see how it could be an issue for others. The Air France business class was much better than the Air Tahiti Nui.
      Tahiti is nice to visit, but it isn’t a bargain – especially when you can redeem miles to Asia, stay in great hotels, and have great food for much, much less than a visit to Tahiti would cost. We’re considering a trip to the Maldives later on, so stay tuned for that. The research I’ve done so far suggests that it will cost much more than a trip to Bora Bora, even after accounting for flights and hotels on points/miles.

  11. I sort of agree with Robert Hanson in that I’ve always wanted to go there and still probably will do my honeymoon in Bora Bora if I can use loads of points to get there. Ideally with some improvements to the J class on flights, it’d be better. Still don’t see how you can beat the island (or those in south pacific or Maldives) for pure bliss and relaxation. But hey I guess if you’re getting flights and hotels for free, can’t be too upset about having to pay a bit more for food.

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  14. Wow! About to embark on this same trip except we are forking out the cash . I am dreading the plane ride now that I have seen the no sleep seats . Will be taking the sleeping pillsssss for sure ! They could do better ! Hope they read your post and all remark . Looks like you had fun though !

  15. Darius, thanks so much for this informative trip report. My fiance and I are spending our (first!) Honeymoon there (we’re LA based and doing a big “Pacific” swing LAX-NRT-AKL-PPT-BOR-PPT-LAX). Anyway, all of the detail you provided was extremely helpful and we’re grateful for it, so ignore anyone who knocks you for too much detail. Don’t they know how to skim?

    As to this Air Tahiti Nui business review, the seats do clearly look outdated BUT we were grateful to be able to snag 2 of them using AA miles for our AKL-PPT flight as well as PPT-LAX (back home). Considering we’ve spent many a red-eye flight home from Hawaii tossing and turning in coach my fiance and I feel very lucky to have scored business class tickets all the way around on our honeymoon so anyone who thinks business class home from Tahiti is a tough way to go needs a little perspective! (To be fair though I’m more excited about being up front on our Air New Zealand leg).

    Finally, it looks like the Air Tahiti Nui experience may be improving soon anyway, I was surprised no one had mentioned this yet that I saw in these comments:

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and get on a new plane PPT-LAX. OUr flights are late May.

  16. Love, Love, Love your trip report! This is exactly what i had been looking for. Would you buy chance know how much is cost to check bags on Air Tahiti on the inter island flights? I am flight hoping from tahiti to moorea to bora bora and back to tahiti. I dont want to get raped on the checked baggaes fee, but I am unclear as to the exact cost. I know each person gets on bag checked free, but I would prefer to take one more. 🙂

  17. Let me tell you about something most everyone neglected to mention when comparing ATN to AF.
    The SERVICE on ATN is OUTSTANDING! No matter what class seat you get, you will be treated with kindness,respect, and attention unsurpassed in the industry. They annually have All the awards to prove it. Plus, they keep the restrooms fresh and spotless throughout the long flights.
    When I have traveled ATN,my vacation always started from the airport lounges, continued on the wonderful flight, and lasted until the rude awakening at Customs.
    Go ahead..choose AF or United….that’ll leave more seating on ATN for me and my friends. (BTW- I am a musician, and have NO connection to any airline)

  18. We just flew back ppt-lax on the new plane and had a surprisingly good time in coach. The new coach seats are better than I would have guessed, while the new biz still does not go flat. We were happy to not burn the extra AA miles on biz seats and really never would on those planes.

    We did biz once on the old planes and the seats are better now, but we would only do biz again if we had tons of AA miles to burn. thankfully, coach is better than most coach seats.

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  20. Update: Air Tahiti Nui has updated all the seats on their planes. 1st class has been eliminated. Now, there is only business and economy seats. The business class seats are “shell type” and recline fully flat now. I am booked for business class next month. Can’t wait to try out the new seats.

  21. Hector Truong

    Not sure if I missed it, but how did you guys get back from Bora Bora to Papeete? I am planning our trip right now, and we are flying into PPT, staying the night. Then planning to take the ferry to Moorea to stay a few days. From there, a flight to BOB from MOZ perhaps. On the way home we take the return flight to MOZ, and then maybe take a ferry back to PPT? Kind of risky due to the in frequent schedule of the ferry if we have to take a flight out. Just wondering what you guys did.

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  27. The Air Tahiti Nui seats have all been replaced since this trip report, with much improved business class seats and in flight entertainment system. Here is a complete review, with extensive photos, of the business class cabin on a trip from LAX to Papeete: