Auckland to Papeete
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. It's one of Air Tahiti Nui's four new Dreamliners with completely updated livery. A French Polynesian tiare flower is the centrepiece of its logo. These new Dreamliners, the first of which went into service last October, replace the carrier's fleet of less fuel-efficient Airbus A340-330s.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Club Tiare Frequent Flyer Program
Moana premium economy
Four hours and 50 minutes, departing in the late afternoon from Auckland and arriving in the late evening in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia on the main island of Tahiti.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays each week on this route, with code-share flights with Air Zealand on Mondays and Fridays.
Except from some rather frantic, though well-intentioned, activity by Air Tahiti Nui ground staff around the check-in counter, the process is fuss-free. However, clearing security at the otherwise excellent Auckland International Airport proves a fairly protracted affair.
15K, an aisle seat in a 2-3-2 seating configuration. There's a total of 32 seats in the pastel-coloured premium economy cabin decked out in turquoise tones inspired, you guessed it, by the colours of a French Polynesian lagoon. Each premium economy seat is 20.4 inches (52 centimetres) wide with a pitch of 38 inches (96.5 centimetres) and a recline of eight inches (20 centimetres). There's a welcome 38 inches (96.5 centimetres) of space between each row making for a comfortable experience on this relatively short-haul flight across the Pacific.
Moana premium economy passengers are entitled to two checked pieces of luggage to a maximum of 23 kilograms each and one carry-on cabin bag not exceeding 10 kilograms.
There's been a considerable and successful effort by Air Tahiti Nui, which turns 20 later this year, in terms of the interior cabin design, cabin crew uniforms and even the music to create a suitably and pleasantly French Polynesian atmosphere. Moana premium economy passengers each receive an island print pillow, an amenities kit and a polar blanket (the sort of item you'll be unlikely to require once you arrive at your tropical paradise destination).
Each Moana premium economy seat is equipped with a Panasonic touch screen measuring 33 centimetres with a variety of on-demand movies and television shows available via multi-touch on-screen options. Aside from the usual selection of films and television programs there's an informative selection of guides to the main French Polynesia destinations. This state-of-the-art Dreamliner is also equipped with a decent fee-based Wi-Fi service.
Friendly, courteous and efficient, the female flight attendants perform an impressive change of uniform after take-off in readiness for the meal service. In fact, this is one of the few airlines in the world where the cabin crew change from suited uniforms to more relaxed traditional full-length dresses designed to reflect the spirit of French Polynesia of which Air Tahiti Niu is the national carrier.
If there's a downside to this premium economy flight this is it. The edible though unexciting meals are the same as those served in the economy cabin and there's no printed menu on offer. However, premium economy passengers receive complimentary alcoholic drinks along with hot and cold non-alcoholic beverages.
ONE MORE THING
Remember, particularly in respect to booking your first night of accommodation, that you will be crossing the International Dateline on the trip between Auckland and Papeete, so you will will gain a day.
Air Tahiti Nui is a pleasant surprise. This flight between New Zealand and Tahiti proves to be a most enjoyable and relaxing experience with a warm and welcoming French Polynesian atmosphere immediately apparent on boarding. However, some seasoned flyers may notice that some of the choice features of premium economy on other larger airlines are missing.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE