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

Folie1

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…

Air Tahiti, Economy Class – ATR 72: Papeete-Moorea-Huahine-Bora Bora

Folie1

INTRODUCTION

I’m finally on my last three legs. Today I fly from Papeete to Bora Bora, which is in fact the reason why I am taking this whole trip in the first place. Flight VT241 takes one hour and forty five minutes to make the journey to Bora Bora, although the actual flying time is only fifty minutes. The flight stops in Moorea and Huahine on its way to Bora Bora.

Flying around Tahiti is a lot like taking the bus and very often, the air service is the only and most reliable connection to the main island of Tahiti and the international airport in Papeete. Flying here is also refreshingly easy and certainly not as complicated as it has become in Europe.

CHECK-IN
Location:
ground floor, left side oft he building
Facilities: self-service check-in kiosks

I arrive at the airport just before 11:30. I am way too early for my flight, which does not leave until 13:15. I drop my bag at check-in and then head for security. The airside area is pretty small, just like the rest of the airport. But there is a small café and there are toilets. There are three departure gates.

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BOARDING
Boarding for the flight starts ten minutes before departure. It is free seating on this flight. I enter the cabin just behind a family with three small children. Originally my plan had been to grab a seat near the back, to get an unobstructed view along the journey. But the flight attendant has other plans. She needs an able bodied person at the emergency exit so she instructs me to take a seat on the first row. Initially I’m a bit reluctant, but there does seem to be more space on the bulkhead row.

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CABIN
The cabin is generally in good condition, with nice blue leather seats. The headrest covers all have different colours, which makes the cabin look nice and colourful.

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SERVICE
There are two females working the cabin on this flight. They seem very friendly and chatty.

THE MEAL
Food and drink are only available on the ‘long’ sector from Moorea to Huahine. It is buy on board and there are no warm drinks, which is a bit unfortunate really because it gets quite cold in the cabin once we are airborne. Eventually I order a tin of Pringles crisps for XFP300.

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Given that the runways are all relatively short, the take-offs and landings are rather ‘interesting’. But apart from that the flights are all rather uneventful, so I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

First Sector: Papeete to Moorea – flight time 10 minutes, turn around 10 minutes

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Second Sector: Moorea to Huahine – flight time 25 minutes, turn around time 15 minutes

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Third Sector: Huahine to Bora Bora – flight time 15 minutes

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ARRIVAL
Bora Bora airport is built on an outlying island of Bora Bora. Baggage delivery takes place outside, there are large metal racks onto which the suitcases are placed for you collect. From there, the transfer inevitably is by boat.

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ACCOMMODATION
In Bora Bora I’m staying at the Pearl Beach Resort, which is about 10 minutes by boat from the airport. A representative from the hotel is available on arrival at the airport to assist you to make the transfer to the hotel.

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VERDICT
I greatly enjoyed these three flights with Air Tahiti. It was fun to experience flying as it should be, pleasant and hassle free. It was also nice to get to see a bit of the islands from above; they really are quite beautiful.