After travelling from Los Angeles to Papeete aboard Air Tahiti Nui business class, we proceeded to the next leg of our trip from Papeete to Bora Bora with Air Tahiti.
By virtue of being the primary domestic carrier in French Polynesia, Air Tahiti represents one of the one of the only options for reaching Bora Bora via plane. Note that Air Tahiti is an entirely separate airline from Air Tahiti Nui, the primary international carrier of the French overseas collectivity, and operates an all-economy fleet of ATR-72 aircraft.
Air Tahiti – Booking
We booked our tickets for the intra-island flights directly on the Air Tahiti website. Given the remoteness of the territory, flight prices tend to be quite high, and you can generally expect prices to start at around 20,000 XPF ($180 USD) one-way for the one-hour journey between Papeete and Bora Bora.
It’s worth noting that smaller startup airlines like Air Moorea and charter airlines like Tahiti Air Charter also ply their services on this route, though on much less frequent schedules.
Additionally, there’s also a ferry service known as Apetahi Express that operates from Papeete’s main harbour to Bora Bora, which takes approximately eight hours, so taking a flight with Air Tahiti is the most time-efficient option.
Air Tahiti – Ground Experience
Faa’a International Airport is the primary international airport in French Polynesia, operating both international flights and domestic flights that connect to other destinations within French Polynesia.
Air Tahiti operates out of a separate domestic section at Papeete Airport, which is separate from the international section you arrive in.
The domestic terminal is rather simplistic, consisting of a single security checkpoint. Once you arrive and clear immigration, walk to your right to find the domestic check-in counters.
Since the ATR-72 has tiny overhead bins, any belongings aside from personal items needed to be checked in, so we had to check-in our carry-on bags.
After completing the check-in process, we waited in the domestic departures terminal for about an hour and a half. Despite the sweltering heat, the bathrooms within the terminal provided some form of relief with air conditioning.
What’s more, there are just a few dining and seating areas to choose from, and once you pass the security checkpoint, there’s only one café available.
Before long, boarding was called, and we walked from the terminal to the aircraft since there aren’t any jet bridges at the airport.
Air Tahiti follows an open-seating policy, meaning that seats aren’t assigned during check-in. Rather, passengers have the freedom to select their own seats onboard.
It’s recommended to join the boarding queue as early as possible to secure desirable views during the flight, which are typically on the left side of the plane when flying from Tahiti to Bora Bora.
Air Tahiti – Cabin
Our flight to Bora Bora was operated by an ATR-72 aircraft, specifically the F-ORVS. The ATR-72 are small twin-engine turboprop planes, widely used for their efficiency in regional flights.
The cabin of the ATR-72 features 68 economy class seats, arranged in a 2-2 layout. Each seat in the economy cabin provides a similar experience, with the only notable difference being the better views from the left-hand side of the plane.
Air Tahiti – Seat
These Air Tahiti economy seats offer a fairly basic level of comfort with a no-nonsense setup. Seat features consist of a literature pocket on the seat back, as well as a table tray which flips down into place.
The tray table is large enough for a drink or a cell phone, without much space for too much else.
Overall, while you don’t have as much legroom, storage space, or lie-flat capability, it isn’t too much of a concern on a quick one-hour flight with dazzling Pacific Ocean views to occupy your attention.
Air Tahiti – Snack Service
After takeoff, a member of the flight crew came to perform in-flight service, which consisted of just juice and water.
Additionally, there was a snack menu with additional items available for a charge, including items like cookies, chips, and soft drinks, which cost 220–700 XPF ($2–6 USD).
I spent much of this short flight perusing Air Tahiti’s unique in-flight magazine. In particular, I was fascinated by the route map, with all of French Polynesia’s islands and atolls spread out across the Pacific Ocean and overlaid on an outline of the European continent for scale.
Unbeknownst to me, the time passed quickly, and suddenly we were gracefully descending towards the breathtaking paradise of Bora Bora.
While Air Tahiti’s flight from Papeete to Bora Bora may be considered fairly no-frills, especially considering the price point, it ultimately serves as the most practical option for travellers looking to reach Bora Bora.
Upon landing in Bora Bora, we were greeted with breathtaking views of Mount Otemanu. Shortly after, the Conrad Bora Bora’s representative awaited our arrival, marking the beginning of the next phase of our journey en route to the resort.