Air Tahiti, Economy Class – ATR 72: Bora Bora To Papeete

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.

– Fernando Pessoa

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INTRODUCTION
Today I must leave this heavenly place and move on. I step outside onto the veranda and cannot help but wonder if this is what Adam and Eve must have felt like when they were informed that they had been evicted. At least I have enough time for one last swim in the pristine waters of Bora Bora before my flight departs back to Papeete at 12:30.

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I should also like to point out that this is in fact the only backtracking flight I am making on this entire trip. Not to put too fine a point on it.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport:
boat
Departs from: Pearl Beach Resort pontoon
Frequency: when ever there is a flight leaving
Journey time: 10 minutes
Fare: ca. CHF15

The boat to the airport leaves at 11:30, one hour before the scheduled departure time. My initial thought is that this might be cutting it just a bit fine. Then I remember we are actually talking about a facility here with just one departure gate. So I think I will manage.

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CHECK-IN
Location:
on the right hand side of the souvenir shop
Facilities: apparently web check-in is available
Counters: there are three counters, two of which are open

I have some good news and I have some bad news. The bad news is that there is no premium lounge at all in this facility. The good news is – and personally I think this outweighs the lack of a lounge by far – is that there is no security check either! That is just brilliant, I have never experienced that in all my life. Yes, if you have done web check-in, you can walk straight from the boat pier to the departure gate and the aircraft beyond, a distance of about 500 metres.

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BOARDING
Priority Boarding:
available for families with children up to twelve years of age and passengers in need of assistance.

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The little terminal is just about bursting at the seam; I figure it is going to be a full flight out of Bora Bora today. As on the outbound, the flight is free seating, which means I have to make a choice between getting aboard as soon as possible to get a window seat or to let everybody go ahead while I take some pictures of the aircraft flying me to Papeete today. Eventually I go with the latter.

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CABIN
I have seen this cabin before. Not on this trip. But I definitely recognise the pattern on the bulkhead. It only daws on me upon arrival in Papeete, as I exit the aircraft, that I have seen the same bulkhead pattern on a Vietnam Airlines ATR 72 on a flight from Con Dao to Hanoi. What I do not know, is if this mean the aircraft previously flew in Vietnam or if perhaps this is the standard ‘house’ design for the ATR 72 unless something else is specified by the operator.

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SERVICE
There is not really very much to say about the crew, service is minimal but delivered with a smile. Other than that though, the flight is hardly long enough to enable any sort of interaction with the crew.

With a block time of fifty minutes, this sector is Air Tahiti’s equivalent of a long-haul flight. Consequently, this means that passengers are offered a free cup of pineapple juice. Other drinks and snacks, such as biscuits or crisps, are available to buy on board, at approximately CHF3.-.

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ARRIVAL
The airport is pretty busy when we land. There is an Air Tahiti Nui A 340-300 receiving some TLC on the maintenance apron, and Air Tahiti’s sole ATR 42 is just about to move off stand as soon as we get out of the way.

It is only a short walk from the aircraft to the baggage reclaim belt and the suitcases start arriving shortly after. I grab my bag and head outside to catch a taxi to the hotel.

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GETTING INTO TOWN
Transport:
taxi; M. if you are reading this, there really is no public transport to my hotel – honest
Departs from: taxi bay just outside domestic arrivals
Journey time: 10 minutes
Fare: CHF15

In Papeete I shall be spending yet another night at the Intercontinental. It is quite amazing just how different everything looks in the daylight. I have a room on the second floor, facing the water. From here I have an excellent view of the Pacific Ocean and Moorea in the distance.

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WHAT REMAINS…
It only happens very rarely that I am lost for words, which is why I chose that quote of Pessoa’s for the beginning of this post. Bora Bora is amazingly beautiful. In fact it is so breathtakingly beautiful that already, it hardly seems real any more, even as I sit here in Papeete, barely 280 kilometres away. But perhaps that is just what makes places like Bora Bora so special. Their serene beauty offers distraction and the promise of solace…

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