Review: Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class A340-3, Papeete – Los Angeles


French Polynesia is one of the more challenging destinations to get to using miles. While we had a ticket home from French Polynesia on Air Tahiti Nui courtesy of American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier program, we had to position ourselves to get to French Polynesia. We redeemed our award ticket home on American Airlines AAdvantage. We paid 82,500 AAdvantage miles for this award, along with connecting flights onwards to Vancouver on American Airlines. In doing so, we would get the opportunity to fly in Air Tahiti Nui Business Class for our longest overwater flights.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage frequent flier programs and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class A340-3, Papeete Fa’a’ā International Airport – Los Angeles Tom Bradley International Terminal Airport

This flight was booked through American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Although Air France also served the island of Tahiti via Los Angeles, we were unable to find any business class availability. We also weren’t Skyteam members and it was easier to redeem miles on AAdvantage as a One World member. I searched and planned the trip using Expert Flyer to search for Air Tahiti Nui award availability. The flight was paid for using 82,500 AAdvantage miles per person, plus $51.39 USD in taxes and fees for this segment in Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class, with a connecting segment on American Airlines First Class Los Angeles – Vancouver. At the time, there was ample flight availability on most days with two business class seats available most days.

Boarding Air Tahiti Nui:

We headed downstairs from the Air Tahiti Nui Salon Manuhiri Business lounge at about forty five minutes before the departure time of our flight, which was the advertised boarding time on the boarding pass. There were two Air Tahiti Nui flights departing tonight: our assigned TN Flight Number 08 to Los Angeles with continuing service to Paris Charles de Gaulle and Air Tahiti Nui TN Flight Number 102 to Los Angeles.

The boarding area was pretty congested thanks to benches and seats that didn’t allow for proper queuing. We pretty much pushed our way to the front around the masses when the Poerava Business Class call was announced.

Congested Boarding on Air Tahiti Nui

The Aeroport Tahiti Fa’a’ā doesn’t have any jet bridges so after our boarding cards were scanned, we walked out into the pleasant evening temperature and had a short walk down to the plane.

Walking Out to Nuku Hiva
A Beautiful Blue Air Tahiti Nui Livery

There was double door jet stairway boarding today on to the beautiful F-OLOV “Nuku Hiva”; their newest plane. I was happy as while we were waiting, the old configuration “Bora Bora” with business class recliner seats turned up as an arrival and became the second TN flight to Los Angeles (not continuing onto Paris unlike our flight). Generalized Anxiety Disorder no more – we could look forward to a decent sleep tonight! 

Air Tahiti Nui
Business Class (I)
PPT-LAX (Papeete – Los Angeles)
TN 8
June 19, 2017
Booked: Airbus 340-300
Flown: Airbus 340-300
Departure: 11:45 PM
Arrival: 10:50 AM

On Board Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class:

Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class is offered in a 2-2-2 configuration. We arrived to our seat 4K and 4L. I had heard of reports of Air Tahiti Nui not honouring seat assignments on award tickets, but there were no issues there. I had called earlier to get seat assignments through the Air Tahiti Nui call center.

Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class A340-3

On our seats were blankets, pillows, an amenity kit and a bottle of water. The seats were the colors of the tropical lagoons in Tahiti and were quite relaxing.

A View from the Seats

The seats featured basic comfort controls. The seats were configured in the most elementary recline, relax and angle flat modes.

Angle Flat Seat Controls
USB Power Sources

The in seat lighting and attendant call buttons were located in the armrest in the seat.

Flight Attendant Call Buttons

The seat featured Empower seat power. It was located in the console in a compact space. This is typically great for storage, but at time some bulky computer power adapters have a tough time navigating this thin space.

Empower Power at Each Business Class Seat

There was a bottle of French Polynesian Spring Water waiting for us at each seat.

Vaimato Polynesian Spring Water

There were also branded Air Tahiti Nui headphones in a storage case at each seat.

Headphones with their own carry case

With the way the world is developing, this flight was one of the last times I flew on an Airbus 340 as the world headed towards more fuel efficient aircraft. Little did I know, I’d actually get the opportunity several years later on Lufthansa First Class A340-6 Munich – Los Angeles in an aircraft much newer and more comfortable than this one.

Information Card for the Aging Airbus 340-300

The Amenity Kits:

The amenity kits were pretty basic, although it was handy to have a toothbrush for this long flight. The kits themselves were not branded by any one manufacturer.

Air Tahiti Nui Amenity Kits
Contents of the Air Tahiti Nui Amenity Kits

Pre Departure Services:

We were offered a pre-departure beverage of orange juice, champagne or a mai tai. I went with the mai tai, which was quite sweet. It tasted like the Tahiti Delight alcoholic beverage from the milk carton tetra pack that I tasted from our neighbours at the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort earlier in the trip. MrsWT73 took a second wine chaser to go with it.

A Pre-Departure Mai Tai

Before we got underway, we had a pilot announcement of the flight and service sequences. It would be a seven and a half hour flight from Papeete to Los Angeles.

Departing Papeete, we had a quiet climb out with a taxi and U turn at the end of the sole runway in Fa’a’ā. There are no taxi ways here in Papeete, French Polynesia, so we monopolized the runway until we got underway.The In Flight Entertainment System:

As we climbed to altitude, I explored the in flight entertainment system. There were about 28 movies on offer. They were a combination of Hollywood blockbusters and some older Hollywood titles. The system was not all too impressive.

Air Tahiti Nui Entertainment System
About twenty eight movies were available
Our Flight Track from PPT to LAX

The Meal: A Cold Light Meal Dinner

The Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class menu cards were handed out once we were airborne. In a low rent touch, the airline appears to have completely done away with a wine list. This was pretty surprising for an airline that is associated with France (a country known for its wine consumption and world class production), in addition to French Polynesia’s reputation as a luxury travel destination.

Poerava Business Class Menu
Dinner: A Cold Light Meal

There was also a copy of the menu electronically in the in flight entertainment system. It was difficult to navigate through the electronic version of the menu, as the pages did not load promptly and reminded me of sitting in my office dealing with slow LAN network bandwith issues. I was happy that they still had printed copies of menus available as the last thing I want to be doing on holiday is looking at information and trying to process same on a computer monitor. I hope this is not the future of business class where you have to scroll through a computer screen to see a menu.

Thanks in part to a midnight departure, the dinner service is a light meal that is presented all at once. There were at least 4 staff serving us in business class today so the service was very prompt.

A Cold Light Meal of Quinoa, Chicken and Fresh Fruit

Today’s meal was quinoa and cold chicken, accompanied with fresh fruit, a chocolate cake, a cheese plate, a bread roll, paired with an unnamed and un-described white wine.

After the meal service, the window shades were all pulled shut. I took a Jaimeson Relax and Sleep and slid back into the seat. The seat reclined 160 degrees to an angle flat configuration, and was really uncomfortable for this side sleeper. I probably would have been better off just attempting to snooze in the relax mode instead of attempting the angled flat version.

I slept for about 4 hours and I woke up about 2 hours out of Los Angeles. Much like other seven and a half hour flights, it wasn’t long enough to get much of a long deep sleep.


The Second Service: A Full Breakfast

After I had woken up, per the flight map, we were almost within sight of the Baja California Coast.

The Second Service started quite early prior to landing

The breakfast service started. Having had enough eggs from many elite breakfasts to last me a lifetime on this trip, I opted for the crepes with vanilla sauce. The crepes were quite tasty.

Fresh Fruit and a Pain au Chocolat
Vanilla Crepes: Tasty!

All through the service, the staff were pleasant, ample in numbers and available. They didn’t have the usual “hardened” attitude of many other legacy carriers and were consequently fun and pleasant to interact with.

MrsWT73 got some on board duty free in the form of a Air Tahiti Nui model plane and some unique Air Tahiti Nui Aircraft hang tags which she was kind enough to gift me one for planning such a nice trip for her… The tag is now proudly hanging around my Tumi Alpha 2. . .

Air Tahiti Nui “Remove Your Stress Before Flight” Souvenir Tags – Available on Board!

As our flight drew to a close, we were orbiting over the mega city of Los Angeles before we knew it. . .

Air Tahiti Nui Circling Over Los Angeles

We had a fairly quick landing into Los Angeles. We had the usual medium length taxi to Tom Bradley International Terminal. We parked next to an Ethiopian Boeing 787.

I had one last look at the not so comfy seat… It was better than economy but by far, not the best or most comfortable business class seat out there.

Departing Poerava Business Class after an eight hour flight
Parked at Los Angeles Tom Bradley International Terminal Gate 148

With only 4 of us on the flight with Global Entry, we were through into the TBIT baggage hall before the bags were even assigned to a conveyor belt.

Arriving into Tom Bradley International Terminal
Back to the Real World, Along with International Flights to Match
The Tom Bradley International Terminal Baggage Claim Hall

We passed through the United States Customs and Border Protection customs hall and toward the public exit. We dropped our bags at the connections desk and headed over to our separate American Airlines flights. Little did I know, when I deposited my connecting checked baggage, it would be the last time I’d see my suitcase for about three days as a result of my bag getting lost.

Depositing Our Checked Bags at the Tom Bradley International Terminal Connections Desk

We found the hidden ground floor connections TSA security screening checkpoint. This place is a hidden gem with no lines compared to upstairs in the main terminal or everywhere else!! We were through an upstairs with only 3 others in line ahead of us.

Accessing the Hidden Connections Security Screening
Taking the Hidden Escalator up to the Departures Level

We would head onwards to the United Club Los Angeles. Unfortunately, American Airlines does not consider Canada to be an international destination on its award tickets, and does not allow for lounge access prior to its flights to Canada. We would end up departing Los Angeles on American Airlines First Class Los Angeles – Vancouver.


My Thoughts on Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class:

Air Tahiti Nui was just an okay way to get to and from Tahiti. The departure experience at Papeete Fa’a’ā International Airport was pretty basic and minimal. The Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class equipment type (seat) wasn’t much better than the angled flat product that Air France uses on the same route. The Air Tahiti Nui in flight service was likely much better on Air Tahiti Nui and more friendly than Air France. Aside from the lack of a wine list, (the first time I’ve ever flown a wide body business class without one), it was a pretty good service. I was more disappointed that I had to spend 82,500 AAdvantage miles for a 7.5 hour flight, which seemed like an expensive amount of miles to redeem at the time.

If you have travelled on Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class, did you find it to be competitive with an international business class standard ?

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