Air Tahiti Nui flight from LAX to Tahiti

Air Tahiti Nui plane parked at LAX gate waiting to board.

Two years ago, while sitting on our Sofitel Private Island overwater bungalow on the last night of our Bora Bora honeymoon, Jessica and I promised to come back and visit as soon as possible. We were both very excited when preparations began for our second trip back to French Polynesia.

The first thing on our list was to lock in the Air Tahiti Nui airlines flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti, and the rest started to fall into place. Bora Bora has a small airport, and large commercial planes can not fly directly there. You must fly into Papeete (Tahiti) and transfer to a smaller plane to visit Bora Bora.

Jessica & Jason in Business Class.

Our journey got a kick into overdrive before it even started. We had scheduled an 11:40 pm Friday night flight, and by checking Air Tahiti Nui’s website, – (there is a dedicated page for flight disruptions), we realized that our flight was canceled and moved to Saturday. With a quick phone call to an Air Tahiti Nui sales agent, we found an earlier 4:30 pm flight available and that if we made it to LAX in time, the tickets were ours!

Before our flight departed, the airline was gracious enough to compensate us with a free night at the InterContinental Resort once we got to Tahiti. Jessica and I were happy to take the early flight out, we didn’t have a problem spending extra time on vacation.

Air Tahiti Nui airlines Business Class.

We recently posted an article a couple of months back about Air Tahiti Nui upgrading its planes with new inflight entertainment systems and fresh cabin design. The contemporary decor is nice and bright and more reflective of the colors of Polynesia. There is even artwork and floor-to-ceiling photos on the walls between the cabins.

Air Tahiti Nui airlines Moana Economy Class.

For comparison, the above photo shows Moana Economy Class, but on this trip to Tahiti, we were able to travel in-style by flying in Business Class which Air Tahiti Nui calls their “Poerava” section, which translates to “Black Pearl” in Tahitian.

As we entered the aircraft Jessica and I were personally guided to our seats and offered a warm washcloth infused with Tiare flower fragrance. There were sounds of island music playing in the background as we familiarized ourselves with our surroundings and opened our travel gift boxes.

Air Tahiti Nui travel gift boxes in business class.

Just like kids with a new toy, we started pushing buttons. Jessica wanted to see all the angles her seat adjusted to while I started playing with the large touchscreen display in front of me. I couldn’t believe there was an actual remote control for the entertainment system, but it made perfect sense when your seat was reclined, and you couldn’t reach the touch screen.

In-flight entertainment remote control.

After a few minutes of playtime, we were offered drinks and a snack before takeoff. We had the choice of Champagne, MaiTai, Mojito, Margarita, Pina Colada, and an assortment of other cocktails. As you can see from the picture below, we decided on Champagne.

Champagne & snacks before takeoff.

Overall, a very smooth flight from Los Angeles to French Polynesia. Roughly 8 hours of flying time from start to finish, we left at 4:30 pm and arrived in Tahiti at 10 pm local time.

Watch a video of our flight experience



  1. Thanks very much for the report Jason. The new business class looks very nice indeed. I hope to be able to fly it some time in the future. Was the business class cabin as empty as your photo suggests? Overall how do you think the airline handled your flight cancellation? Do these occur frequently with Air Tahiti Nui?

    • Hi there, thanks for checking out the article! We were one of the first people on board the plane so the cabin was nearly empty for the photo but it did fill up shortly after I snapped the photo.

      Regarding the delay, I thought the sales reps did what they could do, I was pleased that they recommended the earlier flight and that it wasn’t a lengthy process in order to change our tickets. It was nice to have them comp a free night in Tahiti too.

      The two times we’ve flown out of LAX to Papeete via Air Tahiti Nui, both flights got cancelled. I can’t say that it happens all the time but be sure to follow up with the airlines as your flight date gets near.

      • Thanks Jason. On account of your detailed description of the business class service on Air Tahiti Nui I went ahead and booked a couple of seats for my upcoming trip to Bora Bora (in 2 weeks!!). I understand only 3 of their 5 planes have had the cabin refurbishment done; so I’m really hoping we get lucky like you guys. I’ve read in many places that the old business class product is underwhelming. It’s been a childhood dream to visit French Polynesia, so I’m of course extremely excited. Thanks for the information on your website. Very useful.

        • Thanks for the feedback on the website, it is such a pleasure to know that our website is able to help in planning a trip to Bora Bora. You are going to have a blast! French Polynesia is truly an amazing place. I hope you get lucky with the new Air Tahiti Nui cabin upgrade. If you really wanted to know if the plane has the new configuration you might want to call ATN and ask, otherwise simply wait it out, 3 out of 5 is at least better than 50%. Have a great trip!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to leave your online review, and especially the wonderful video. I’ll be taking Air Tahiti Nui Business Class from LAX to PPT next week and appreciate knowing what to expect! Of the seafood dinner you chose and your wife’s beef dish, which do you think tasted better? Haven’t heard much about the food on Air Tahiti Nui.

  3. For anyone that has flown from LA through to Bora Bora (via Tahiti), would you happen to know how customs works? Will we need to pick up our checked bags in the Tahiti airport to take them through customs and then recheck them for the flight to Bora Bora?

    • Hello Amanda! Thanks for stopping by and checking out the website. Good question, Customs works like this… Typically about 1 hour or more before you land, the flight attendants will walk around the cabin and provide you with travel documents to fill out. Its best to fill this info out on the plane instead of trying to do it after. Once on the ground, the flight crew and airport security staff will guide you inside the airport and into the line for Customs. You will be split into two lines, one for locals & French citizens, the other line for foreigners.

      The Customs officials will take your paperwork and stamp your passport. Once your done, you will walk right into the baggage terminal where you pick up your luggage. Feel free to grab a cart if you have heavy bags. After you’ve got everything you will walk to the exist, if you have anything to declare there will be security at the exist to help you, but typically you walk right out.

      If you are heading directly to Bora Bora (or any of the other islands) make a right after you exist and work your way to the Domestic Flights terminal. Its just a quick walk, there you will be able to check-in to your next flight. You will need to go through security again (metal detector) to get to the gate but its more relaxed than LAX.

      Just a quick tip, if you have several hours between your flight to Bora Bora. There is a bag storage locker area, for a fee, you can leave your heavy bags at the airport, jump in a taxi and go check out downtown Papeete. The drive is 20-30 mins depending on traffic but its alternative to sitting at the airport for 4 hours or more.

      Good luck and enjoy your trip!


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