Tropical vibes abound until the cabin gets a bit too chilly.
I'm on one of Air Tahiti Nui's "Tahitian Dreamliners", also known as a Boeing 787-9. Flying once a week between Sydney and Papeete, Tahiti, with a stopover in Auckland, the airline - which celebrated 25 years in 2023 - code-shares with Qantas so you'll fly with Qantas to Auckland and then Air Tahiti Nui to Papeete.
CHECKING IN: I check in online with Qantas for both flights, and drop my bags at Sydney airport, not having to pick them up again until we arrive in Papeete. You are allowed 23 kilograms of check-in luggage, and carry-on is seven kilograms, though no one weighs my backpack. I have changed my seats online with no worries, and chosen aisle seats for both legs - 17C then 38D.
THE FLIGHT: Boarding the Air Tahiti Nui flight in Auckland, I am greeted by flight attendant Marania, clad in a multi-coloured dress, and she hands me a fragrant tiare flower - Tahitian gardenia. Has there ever been a more colourful plane interior? Everything is aqua, green, pink and orange, including the welcome pack of accessories. Island chill with mandolin plays over the speakers. The cabin gets cold half way through the flight (I see someone wearing a puffer jacket and wish I'd brought mine). After leaving 25 minutes late we arrive in Papeete more or less on time.
THE CLASS: I'm in Moana Economy and the configuration is 3-3-3. The 79-centimetre seat pitch is average for economy. There are 232 seats, each reclining 15 centimetres. I spy seven flight attendants and I have four toilets within easy distance. I like the blinds: you don't pull them down, but press a button and the window turns from clear to blue to block out the sun. An aqua fleece blanket is welcome in the cold cabin, as are the socks in the amenities pack. We also get a pillow. Please, can someone WD-40 the armrests? They squeak comically loudly.
FOOD AND DRINKS: We are fed 35 minutes into the flight and there is a chicken or fish option. I opt for pan-seared monkfish, but wish I had ordered the chicken and mushroom stroganoff. Each meal comes with potato salad, cheese and crackers and chocolate mousse - plenty of food.
The drinks menu offers Tahitian Hinano beer and French wines. The lights are dimmed after the meal so we can nap, which is handy because I'll be winding my watch forward three hours, even though we will arrive yesterday (Tahiti is 21 hours behind Sydney).
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ENTERTAINMENT: A 30-centimetre touchscreen is on the newer side and there is a USB port to charge your devices. There could be more on the entertainment menu for people who don't speak French - 11 new releases in English but only two documentaries and no series.
THE SERVICE: The flight attendants speak French, with a little English, and are polite and smiling.
IN A NUTSHELL: The joyous colours and music, and comfortable seats, make this flight a delight. The entertainment leaves something to be desired but for a short flight, you should find a movie or two to watch, and you may even enjoy a snooze.
Flight and route: Air Tahiti Nui, flight TN1422 (Sydney to Auckland), then TN102 (Auckland to Papeete, Tahiti).
Frequency and duration: Three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, but days can change according to season. Three hours and 10 minutes, then four hours and 45 minutes.
Class and price: Moana Economy, from $734 (one way)
Explore more: au.airtahitinui.com
The writer was a guest of Air Tahiti Nui.