Air Tahiti Nui has launched its inaugural flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the airline’s second U.S. gateway. The Polynesian carrier will introduce two weekly nonstop flights from Papeete to SeaTac with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, equipped with 30 Business Class, 32 Premium Economy, and 232 Economy Class seats.
The new flights to Seattle will launch in partnership with Alaska Airlines, offering passengers codeshare opportunities to more than 100 U.S. destinations through the airline’s central hub at SeaTac. Likewise, passengers on the new route to Tahiti will be permitted to redeem miles through their respective loyalty programs, Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan and Air Tahiti Nui’s Club Tiare.
“As only the second U.S. destination for Air Tahiti Nui, we look forward to being a new gateway for travelers seeking to luxuriate in the tropical paradise of Tahiti,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Toshiko Hasegawa.
The nine-hour journey between Seattle and Papeete is scheduled to depart every Wednesday and Sunday at 12:30 p.m., arriving in Tahiti by 7 p.m. The return flight is expected to depart Papeete every Tuesday and Saturday at 9:35 p.m. and arrive in Seattle by 10 a.m. the following morning.
Air Tahiti Nui’s CEO, Michel Monvoisin, notes the new route “provides a chance for North American travelers to discover the beauty of the 118 Islands of Tahiti, including Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, and Rangiroa.”
In Papeete, Air Tahiti Nui offers connections to the 54 airport-fitted islands in French Polynesia through its regional partner, Air Tahiti, with its ATR, Twin Otters, and Beechcraft turboprops.
Seattle: Air Tahiti Nui’s Second U.S. Gateway
Air Tahiti Nui inaugurated its first-ever flight to Los Angeles (LAX) in November 1998 with its now-retired workhorse, the Airbus A340-300. In 2002, the carrier strengthened its operations at LAX by adding a nonstop flight to Paris, linking the French Polynesian territories with mainland France.
Additional flights to Auckland and Tokyo followed, growing the carrier’s network to four direct destinations. With Seattle, the list grows to five.
Air Tahiti Nui maintains active codeshare agreements at each destination with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Qantas, Air France, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, Aircalin, Korean Airlines, and the French rail provider, SNCF.
Air Tahiti Nui’s Dreamliners
Air Tahiti Nui took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in October 2018. The brand-new long-haul airliners came to replace the aging A340-300 fleet with an all-new cabin, unmatched fuel savings, and in-flight performance.
The airline signed a purchase agreement with Boeing for two 787-9s and leased two additional planes through ALC.
The four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners—all appropriately named after the islands of Bora Bora, Moorea, Rangiroa, and Nuka Hiva—are equipped with 30 Rockwell Collins Parallel Diamond, full flat Business Class seats.
The cabin, configured in a 2-2-2 layout, offers each passenger a large 16″ touchscreen furnished by Panasonic’s eX3 in-flight entertainment system, a full flat bed, and a myriad of details reflecting the island’s natural colors. Amenity kits, noise-canceling headsets, and thick, cozy covers are all embellished in Tahitian flowers.
Right behind the Business Class cabin comes the Moana Premium Economy. Thirty-two Zodiac Aerospace Z535 seats are laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration, offering 38″ pitch and a recline of eight degrees. In addition, each seat comes with calf rests, a sizeable 13″ touch screen, small amenity kits, and large blankets.
Lastly, in Economy Class, the airline offers the 232 Zodiac Aerospace Z300 seats, set up in the traditional 3-3-3 Dreamliner layout. With seat pitch measuring 31″, passengers can enjoy a large 11.8″ touchscreen IFE system and in-flight Wi-Fi.
With the introduction of an all-new route, Air Tahiti Nui continues to recover from the woes caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As traffic numbers return to normal and travel restrictions into Tahiti are lifted, the airline aims to funnel some traffic through Papeete and link passengers from Auckland to Los Angeles and Seattle.
The airline expects to offer connecting times as short as two hours in Papeete in a bid to increase its market share in the coveted Oceania-North America market.