Air Tahiti Nui 787 Dreamliner – Here’s What You Need To Know

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Towards the end of last week Air Tahiti Nui finally announced the dates on which we can expect to see it launch its brand new 787-9 Dreamliners on three of its routes. As this is the airline that offers one of only three ways to get between the US and French Polynesia non-stop I thought I’d take a look at what we can expect from the new aircraft.

Air Tahiti Nui 787-9 US Schedule

This is the winter schedule Air Tahiti Nui offers between Los Angeles and Tahiti:

TN111 LAX 22:40 – 05:05+1 day PPT (Mon & Sat)
TN101 LAX 23:05 – 05:30+ 1 day PPT (Tue, Fri & Sun)
TN1 LAX 15:30 – 21:55 PPT (Wed)
TN7 LAX 16:35 – 23:00 PPT (Thu, Sat & Sun)

TN102 PPT 23:59 – 10:10+1 day LAX (Mon, Wed & Sat)
TN8 PPT 23:00 – 09:10+1 day LAX (Tue, Fri & Sat)
TN2 PPT 21:00 – 07:10+1 day LAX (Thu & Sun)

Historically all these flights have been operated by Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A340 aircraft (reviewed here) but the Dreamliner is set to take over….slowly.

Air Tahiti Nui A340 Business Class

The first 787-9 flight on this route is TN102 on 7 November 2018 with the first Dreamliner flight in the opposite direction being TN101 on 9 November 2018. (I’m not sure why the aircraft is staying in LA for over 36 hours but that’s what the schedule currently shows).

The Dreamliner then proceeds to operate flights TN101/102 on the following days:

TN101 LAX 23:05 – 05:30+ 1 day PPT (Tue, Fri & Sun)
TN102 PPT 23:59 – 10:10+1 day LAX (Mon, Wed & Sat)

This schedule appears to hold up into 2019.

The New Air Tahiti Nui Dreamliner

The Air Tahiti Nui 787 Dreamliner will carry 294 passengers across 3 cabins of service:

  • 30 seats in Business Class
  • 32 seats in Premium Economy (new class of service for Air Tahiti Nui)
  • 232 seats in Economy Class

Click to enlarge the seat map

Air Tahiti Nui 787 Business Class (Poerava Business Class)

Anyone hoping that Air Tahiti Nui would be moving away from its 2-2-2 Business Class seating arrangement will be disappointed to see it still very much in use….but that’s not really a big surprise.

The Business Class seats in the Air Tahiti Nui 787 Dreamliner are the Parallel Diamond seats produced by Rockwell Collins and, although I don’t have an image of the seats in Air Tahiti Nui colors, these are some stock images of the seat I’ve found:

Image Air Tahiti Nui

Image Rockwell Collins

Each seat will offer 60″ of pitch (leg room) which can convert into a 78″ long bed (6ft 6″) as well as a touchscreen IFE system, personal lighting and a divider between the seats.

These seats aren’t exactly revolutionary but they’re an improvement on the older A340 seats which were only angled-flat – these offer true lie-flat beds.

The new Business Class seats also offer 7″ more leg room than the older seats, more storage space (from what I can see in the images) and look like they’ll possibly be more private.

Importantly, from an award booking point of view, the Air Tahiti Nui Dreamliner will not offer any fewer Business Class seats than the A340 it is replacing .

Air Tahiti Nui 787 Premium Economy (Moana Premium Class)

Premium Economy is a new cabin for Air Tahiti Nui so it will be interesting to see what the service is like when the Dreamliner starts flying.

The 787-9s will come with 32 Premium Economy seats seat out in a 2-3-2 layout.

The seats are coming from Zodiac and, according to Air Tahiti Nui, offer “a unique recline motion that cradles the passenger while optimizing living space

Once again there are no actual pictures of the seat in Air Tahiti Nui livery but here are some stock images that should give readers a reasonable idea of what to expect.

Image Air Tahiti Nui

Image Zodiac Aerospace

It’s very hard to tell just how comfortable these seats are going to be just by looking at the images but the dimensions appear to be pretty good.

With 20.4 inches of seat width, 38 inches of seat pitch (leg room) and a recline of 8 inches the Air Tahiti Nui Premium Economy cabin just about matches what Virgin Atlantic offers and actually provides more width than the seats in the British Airways 787-9 Premium Economy cabin.

Air Tahiti Nui 787 Economy Class (Moana Class)

It’s been mostly good (or at least reasonable) news so far but this is where things get a bit worse.

The Air Tahiti Nui A340 Economy Class cabin isn’t actually a bad place to be compared to a lot of long-haul airline Economy Class cabins as it offers a reasonable 32″ of legroom and a spacious (by modern standards) 18″ of seat width.

A340 Economy Class – Image Air Tahiti Nui

On top of the good personal space the 2-4-2 layout in the A340 Economy Class cabin is both couple and family friendly (couples don’t have to share a row with a stranger and families of 4 can cave a center row to themselves)….but all of this goes out of the window with the Dreamliner.

The Air Tahiti Nui 787 Dreamliner has an Economy Class cabin with a 3-3-3 cabin layout and will offer seats with just 31″ of seat pitch and, based on other Dreamliners with the same configuration, at most 17.5″ of seat width.

Image Air Tahiti Nui

The Dreamliner’s Economy Class cabin is less friendly to couples, less friendly to families of 4, offers less leg room per seat and offers lateral space at each seat too.

Bottom Line

There’s good and bad on offer with the new Air Tahiti Nui 787 Dreamliner. The Business Class appears to be an improvement over the existing A340 cabin and its going to be nice to have true lie-flat seats on offer between LA and French Polynesia.

The Economy Class cabin looks like a cabin I would actively avoid if at all possible (unless there’s an exit row I can book). 31″ of seat pitch is too little on a flight of 8+ hours and, if the pictures of the new seats are anything to go by, the cushions look thin and hard.

The addition of the new Premium Economy Class cabin is definitely going to be a bonus for travelers as it will offer a more affordable escape from Economy Class (more affordable than Business Class). The amount of leg room on offer looks good and I like that the airline has installed seats with a nice width to them (airlines like BA could learn from this!).

All in all a mixed bag – I’d avoid Economy Class but, given the right price, the other two cabins could be a good way to get from the US to one of the most beautiful parts of the world.