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  • Konrad Tillman

Review: Air Tahiti ATR-72 Papeete (Tahiti)-Bora Bora

Updated: Mar 17

Intro


Last Spring break I headed on a magical trip to Bora Bora to catch an elusive thousand-pound marlin (more on that soon). In the process, we had 4 nights in Bora Bora before going marlin hunting. Bora Bora is easy to get to, but there is a monopoly on the flights there. We paid around 500$ USD per person for a roundtrip ticket in economy for Papeete to Bora Bora. We headed to the airport after an interesting stay at the Hilton Tahiti.


Route- Papeete-Bora Bora

Seat- 12B

Flight Number- VT481

Date- March 22nd 2023

Flight Time: 52 Minutes

Price Paid- 500$ RT


Boarding


Check-in is a breeze to find and our boarding passes were issued quickly. Once all of the formalities were done it was time to board this small ATR heading west to Bora Bora. All planes at Papeete airport board from staircases (there are no jetbridges). This is a fantastic feature as it means getting to see this elusive plane up close!


Boarding the bird

The airport doesn't feel like a traditional airport in the sense of stress and people pushing. It feels like a transit stop to take you on your vacation. Walking to your plane by the turquoise water of French Polynesia doesn't sound bad, does it?


Walking out to board

The Cabin


Seats are arranged in a 2-2 configuration, perfect for a leisure route.


ATR 72 Seat map

The interesting thing about Air Tahiti is when you check in they give you a boarding pass with no seat assignment 😅. It's on a first-come, first-served basis, so I recommend boarding earlier rather than later! Luckily, we managed to find two empty seats next to one another.


On the way out it was packed, on the return empty

Each seat features a standard amount of legroom. This was only a short 190-mile-ish hop over to Bora Bora but if I was taking their longer flights up North it might not be as comfortable.


At 6 feet tall this is adequate

The Flight


There is no pushback of any sort with these small ATRs. The captain fired up the engines and we made our way out to the sole runway at Papeete. Another nice aspect is that there are no 20 minutes of wait for takeoff because of other planes. We were airborne within a few minutes.



For those who are wondering, there is no IFE or Wifi on these planes (not that you should need it). Interestingly, there was also no service on this flight as well. The views made up for both of these aspects.



These are honestly some of the most incredible views I have witnessed from an airplane. That water color is dreamy!


Heaven, is that you?

Soon enough, the famous volcano in Bora Bora came into sight.


View out of the plane

Arrival


The winds had shifted in the 40 minutes we had been airborne. This meant we had fly past the airport and then loop back around before landing into Bora Bora airport!


The cabin onboard

If was a beautiful morning when we touched down in Bora Bora with the sun glistening off of the turquoise water.


Landing

We de-planed onto the tarmac, relaxation filled the air. A member from the Conrad was waiting for us and showed us to "baggage claim", if you can call it that. I thought it was hilarious that a tractor brought the bags out😂.


Sub 20 minutes!

Soon enough, we were on our way to the Conrad! More on that beautiful resort soon!



Final Thoughts


It would be unfair to rate Air Tahiti's ATRs on the normal rating scale as it is a unique experience. Sure, there wasn't any IFE or any service, but I didn't want any with the gobsmacking views from the window. Yes, there weren't any seat selections but this is part of going to the French Polynesia, everything is very laid back. The only thing I do wish is that it was a little bit cheaper. Sadly, I don't see this changing anytime soon😒. All in all a pleasant flight that got me from point A to be Point B with some killer views.


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