Air Tahiti is the domestic airline of French Polynesia. We have had the pleasure to fly on Air Tahiti twice. The first was in November 2015 when we visited Bora Bora. They do fly one international route; the second flight we took with them was this international flight from the Cook Islands to Tahiti.
I was a little nervous about this flight for a couple reasons:
- This flight only happens once a week on Thursdays. What would happen if this flight was cancelled for some reason? We had some nice places booked in French Polynesia and I did not want to miss them.
- This route is operated by a small turbo prop plane. The flight is 711 miles long and is over the bare ocean with not much land close by…not so great on the nerves.
Check-in for the flight opened up about 3 hours before departure. Air Tahiti does not really have a presence in the Rarotonga airport so they use one of the Air Rarotonga check-in counters. The first thing I noticed after we received our boarding passes was how bootleg they looked. I haven’t seen this kind of paper since I was a child.
Air Tahiti does not have a business class and economy class – all seats on the plane are the same. If you haven’t flow Air Tahiti before, you should know that there are no assigned seats. All seats on the plane are on a first come, first serve basis. If you want a specific seat on a specific side of the plane, you should try to be the first to board. The seats themselves are also hilarious. They are school bus-style seats that seat two people on each bench. We settled into a bench on the left side of the plane.
For the best views of the Cook Islands after takeoff on this flight, you will want to sit on the right side of the plane. If you want the best view of Moorea when landing, you will want to sit on the left side. We did not know this beforehand. It was pretty cool to get an aerial view of Moorea where we would be staying for a few days.
There isn’t much to say about the service. They came by with a cart once asking if we wanted water, juice, or coffee (or all 3). They also came by a few times with a bottle of water to fill up our glasses. I remember this same service when we flew from Tahiti to Bora Bora. Nothing mind-blowing, but I would not expect any more for a small, primarily domestic airline.
About 3 hours after taking off, we were descending into beautiful French Polynesia. There was almost no turbulence, so my fears of crashing into the remote south pacific were smothered. I always get excited when I am about to fly Air Tahiti. Not because the airline is anything special, but because of the absolute beauty of French Polynesia. I guess that’s a benefit of serving one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Until next time, Air Tahiti.
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