The best compagny to fly to French Polynesia.
Planes are brand new with personal tv screen and games even in economics. Service is excellent and food better than usual in planes. You already feel like you're there !
They are flying to Tahiti from USA, France, Japan and Australia.
I thought very much about putting this tip into Warning and Dangers, as I felt the pilot was very unstable during this flight... but decided I would just let you make your own decision whether or not to take this trip. They do have small plane flight trips throughout Tahiti which I am sure would give you some stunning views, but may also give you some severe crash scars if you did not fully trust the pilot's skills. While we were in the middle of the island, in a very narrow passageway, this little plane flew overhead. Our guide mentioned that this is a very daring way to see the canyon, as the wind currents through here can get quite fierce. During the flight, we saw this plane visibly shaking!
If you are flying into French Polynesia, it is safe to assume that you will be starting your trip in Faaa, pronounced Fah-ah-ah, which is the only site in French Polynesia with an international airport. It also acts as the hub for most inter-island flights. Do not confuse this with a major hub airport however, as there are not nearly as many amenities as a normal large Airport. Not all of the facility has air conditioning, and the security measures are clearly inconvienent at best now. Expect to take at least an hour out of your trip to clear customs, sort out your visa and get your baggage while here!
What the Faaa is that?
If you have never been to Tahiti, you will probably look at the title and think "What on earth is that word - Faaa". Faaa is the name of the airport (it is also the name of the closest town). It's an incredibly simple word, but leaves you wondering whether you have actually pronounced it properly or not!
It's quite a pleasnat airport, but the duty free pricees are criminal, as are all prices in Tahiti, but I think the airport wins, so don't wait to buy anything at the airport.
Also when you leave, you can get some very long queues and waits to get on to your flight. Delayed flights seemed common. If you are heading to the U.S., you will get searched a lot more than if you fly anywhere else (fotuntely I wasn't headed that way...), but the Americans on the checking queue next to me were getting very annoyed at the hoops they had to jump through.
Destinations I can remember are Auckland NZ, Easter Island, US and of course France!
Papeete Airport seems very organised but laid back. I've never known people to stroll across the tarmac in such an unhurried pace. A lady stands on the step giving out flowers and a band is playing just inside the open plan terminal building.
A very friendly immigration official, the cases are already there when we get there, and we are straight through customs.
A rep with our name on greets us with a flower garland. After waiting for all the passengers to come through, we are directed to a baby bus which is only half full.
We drive through the dock area and downtown Papeete, still with lots of actvity at 3am. "Windsong" is moored in the docks, she lloks very impressive.
All international flights arrive at the Tahiti Faaa International Airport near Papeete.
We came by Air Tahiti Nui and were very satisfied. We were welcomed on board by smiling Polynesian hostesses who offered us a Tiare Tahiti flower. Service and food are excellent and so are the seats (2 near the window and 4 in the middle) with a private screen for every passenger with 6 movies, games and flight info).
Air Tahiti Nui has three flights a week from Paris and six from Los Angeles. It will take you 22h from Paris and 7.5 h from Los Angeles to Tahiti.
Economy-class passengers are allowed 20 kg (44 pounds) and a carry-on bag that will fit under your seat (115 cm/45 in).
Here's our plane on the tarmac at the airport at Papeete. It took us 8 hours to get there from Sydney, with a stop over in New Zealand on the way. The view flying in was beautiful as the plane comes in low over the water and on to the runway.