Review: Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340 (LAX-PPT)

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I had absolutely no idea what to expect from our Air Tahiti Nui Business Class experience and, for someone who reads and writes quite a few reviews, that’s quite an unusual situation to be in. But it was actually quite a nice feeling.

This trip was a full on vacation in that I was under strict orders (from Joanna) not to do any work and to enjoy my surroundings though the eyes of a holidaymaker and not a blogger. That was never going to be easy but, to help things along, I had deliberately resisted the temptation of researching Air Tahiti Nui in any kind of detail – this was going to be as new for me as it was for Joanna.


IMG_1014Air Tahiti Nui – Check-in at LAX

Air Tahiti Nui departs from the Tom Bradley International terminal at LAX and the check-in desks open 3 hours before departure….technically.

For reasons I won’t bore you with here we had arrived at LAX considerably earlier than we should have so, with 3 hours to go before departure, we were ready to check in, head through security and get to the lounge – hanging around airside at LAX is not a comfortable experience!

3 hours before departure the check-in agents filed out of a door behind their desks, took up positions at their stations and, just as I expected them to call us forward to check-in they started chatting amongst themselves. One agent even started limbering up with some stretching exercises!

Ten minutes later, after appearing to have done absolutely nothing, they all filed back through the door they had come through and we were left looking at an empty set of desks once again.

IMG_1018Air Tahiti Nui – Check-in at LAX

I’d never experienced “island time” in LA before but this was clearly it.

About a quarter of an hour later the agents reappeared and, this time they actually opened up the desks, checked us in and handed us invitations to the International Lounge.


Although we had invitations to the International Lounge courtesy of our Air Tahiti Nui Business Class tickets, we chose to use my Priority Pass membership to visit the Korean Air Lounge instead (review posted Wednesday).

The Air Tahiti Nui flights depart LAX from a remote stand so we knew we would be being bussed to the aircraft from a waiting area that probably wouldn’t be anywhere near the main gates at the Tom Bradley Terminal. It wasn’t.

In the hopes of an on-time departure we left the lounge a little earlier than normal give ourselves plenty of time to get to the bussing area but, once we got there, the lack of activity indicated that we could have had more lounge time.

LAX doesn’t exactly go out of its way to make the waiting area attractive, inviting or even comfortable. Spartan would probably be the best way of describing it:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 06Air Tahiti Nui – LAX

This isn’t really the place to be waiting if you’re delayed but, unfortunately, that’s exactly what we were and, with no idea when we’d be called to get on the bus, we couldn’t head back to the lounge.

Still, we were on our way to Bora Bora and, in the grand scheme of things, a delay to the flight really wasn’t that big of a deal…although some announcements to let us know what was going on would have been nice.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 08Air Tahiti Nui – LAX

Eventually, about an hour late, Business Class passengers were called to board the waiting buses and, shortly after that, the rest of the passengers followed.

As you’re being bussed to the aircraft, unless you desperately need a seat, there’s no real advantage to getting on the bus first. There’s no dedicated bus for premium cabin passengers so you still have to wait for the rest of your fellow travelers before you’re on your way.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 12Air Tahiti Nui – LAX

Once on board the plane I finally got to take a look at what the inside of the Air Tahiti Nui Business Class cabin looked like…and I liked it.

Air Tahiti Nui A340 Business Class Cabin

The Business Class cabin is set out in a 2-2-2 slightly staggered layout meaning that the window seats don’t have aisle access but both the middle seats do.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 22Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 23Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-seat-mapAir Tahiti Nui A340 Business Class Seat Map – courtesy of SeatGuru

I had selected seats 3A and 3B for Joanna and I based on three things:

  1. My desire to keep as far away from the economy class cabin as possible (in case there was a bassinet seat in the first row of Economy).
  2. My desire to stay away from bulkhead seats – their proximity to crew areas often makes them noisier, subject to more light (this was a night flight) and sometimes less spacious.
  3. The fact that 3K & 3L had already been taken when I booked – I prefer the starboard side on wide-body aircraft as I find it tends to get less foot traffic (just my observation, I’m not saying this is a fact!)

Although the seats are angled-flat Business Class seats as opposed to true lie-flat seats they weren’t too bad.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 19Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

They’re listed at 20.5″ wide (ok but not great) and the leg room we had was fine – there wasn’t a lot of extra space but it was definitely sufficient. Importantly the padding in the seats was comfortable and didn’t feel worn.

The biggest surprise in the cabin was how much space the bulkhead seats had:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 21Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

I suspect that, even if the person in the aisle seat was fully reclined, the person in the window seat still could get out without any difficulty whatsoever – definitely something to remember for any future trips.

I wouldn’t choose the seats in row 1 (two middle seats) because they’re perilously close to the curtains on either side leading to the restrooms – the movement of passengers through the curtains would almost certainly be disturbing on a night flight.

The storage around the seat wasn’t great with only a couple of magazine holders and a small ledge above the IFE screen that could be used.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 25Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

The seat controls were in the armrest and looked like most seat controllers you see nowadays:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 32Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

The seats came with an adjustable reading light at head level……

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 33Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

…and a coat hanger:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 34Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

One disadvantage that I noticed with the seat layout was that it was too conducive too conversation.

The reverse herringbone set up of a lot of Business Class cabins nowadays means that, although the seats are great, it’s not that easy or comfortable to talk to the person next to you. This wasn’t an issue here and one couple simply would not shut up throughout the entire flight (bear in mind that we took off at 12:38 am!).

Chatting passengers aside the seats weren’t too bad to sleep on. The cabin was too hot for my liking to start of with (so that didn’t help!) but, once the temperature cooled down a bit and I got even more tired, the sleep I got was fine – Joanna had no problems sleeping at all but, then again, she can sleep just about anywhere!

One last thing to note about the cabin area is that there aren’t any overhead storage bins above rows 1-3 in the middle section so passengers in those seats share the overhead bins with passengers on either side of the aircraft – not an issue on our flight as the Business Class cabin was half-empty but something to bear in mind if your flight looks like it’s going to be full.


There’s no WiFi onboard Air Tahiti Nui but, as all their flights to/from the US depart close to midnight, I suspect this really isn’t a big deal for a lot of travelers.

The IFE screen was a good size…..

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 24Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

…and the remote control for the entertainment and the seat lighting was under one of the armrests:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 31Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

For those of you wondering where all the buttons for things like volume and brightness are the answer is that there isn’t any. The black square on the remote control (above) is a mini-mouse of the type that was once found on laptops (I hated them!) and this used to move a pointer on the screen to adjust whatever settings you want to adjust.

The airline supplies noise cancelling headphones in Business Class….

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 37Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

…and, while this isn’t really a big thing, I find it nice nice because it means that’s one less thing for me to have to carry in my hand luggage.

The headphone socket is under the centre armrest together with a very useful USB point…..

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 29Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

…and the presence of a small shelf in this area makes it a great place to charge a phone without it or it’s cable getting in the way.

The multi-country power socket is at the opposite end of the small shelf (still under the armrest) so you’re not tied to just charging USB-fitted devices:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 30Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

There was also a second USB port imbedded at the side of the IFE screen.

As I mentioned earlier, we took off after midnight so I really wasn’t in any need of IFE on the flight (i.e. I didn’t really pay too much attention to it) but I did take a few photos of what was available.

The main screen looked like this:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 42Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

There wasn’t a big selection of movies or TV shows:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 41Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

But they did have some of the latest releases on board (like the latest Star Wars movie):

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 39Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

When it comes to IFE I can’t say that I’m ever too concened about the offering – I bring my own devices with me and all are loaded with shows, movies and music that I know I’m going to watch and listen to.


Before take off the flight attendants came around with a choice of water, juice or rosé Champagne…..

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 26Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340-300

…and, shortly after drinks, the menus were handed out:

(click each image to enlarge):


Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Menu

Air-Tahiti-Nui-Business-Class-Menu-2Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Menu


Air Tahiti Nui Business Class – Champagnes & Wines

Air-Tahiti-Nui-Business-Class-cocktails-drinksAir Tahiti Nui Business Class – Cocktails & other drinks

With a take-off time of nearly 1am all Joanna & I wanted to do was to settle down to sleep, so we both passed on the light meal that was offered after take-off.

Come breakfast time, however, I was definitely ready for some food.

The first course (yes, there was more than one) consisted of a small selection of fruit (which was delicious), a choice of pastries (all of which were super fresh and warm), yogurt and jam/jelly.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 49Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 50Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340

For the second course I chose the brad pudding with berries and vanilla sauce – almost certainly incredibly bad for me but very, very tasty.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 52Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340

The food looked good, tasted fresh and was presented nicely…there’s not really much more you could ask for.

The choice of pastries was impressive, the stand-out fruit was the pineapple which was beautifully sweet (but not too sweet) and the vanilla custard was delicious. Even the napkin impressed with its softness 🙂

The only small negative was that the coffee (which was good) was served with creamer rather than milk or fresh cream – that knocks marks off an otherwise excellent start to the day.

Service & Amenities

The crew were friendly from the moment we boarded the aircraft to the moment we stepped off in Tahiti – they even found time to change out of their more European clothes (which they were wearing when we boarded) to more Tahitian-style clothing (which they were wearing by the time we landed).

Amenity-wise, there was a floral pillow on the seat when we boarded….

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340 - 44Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340

…together with a blanket wrapped in a sealed, reusable bag:

IMG_1827Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340

Great to see Air Tahiti Nui using reusable bags where possible as the amount of plastic bags that get thrown out after each flight on most other airlines can’t be doing the environment any favors.

The blanket was actually another high point for me (I’m easily pleased!) as it was one of the best I’ve been given on an aircraft. Not only was it long, wide and soft but it also had a pocket for your feet so that it didn’t fall off your body when you move in your sleep. That may seem like a tiny, irrelevant thing to a lot of people but this is something I’ve wished airline blankets would have for years.

The amenity kit provided was basic but sufficient:

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340


  • Sleep mask
  • Socks
  • Pen
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Ear plugs
  • Pier Augé moisturizing cream
  • Pier Augé lip balm

Aslo available, upon request:

  • Hair brush/comb
  • Shaving kit

Bottom Line

As I said at the beginning, I had no idea what to expect from Air Tahiti Nui before I boarded the plane and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

Sure, the seat isn’t lie-flat and doesn’t compare to the reverse herringbone seats on American or the A380 Business Class seats on Etihad…..but then that’s not a very fair comparison to be making.

Comparatively speaking Air Tahiti Nui is a tiny airline and yet it managed to offer a very nice onboard product with very friendly staff – much friendlier that a lot of staff on some of the major carriers out there.

The service was attentive and polite, the food tasted fresh and tasted good, and, once the cabin temperature was brought below that of the surface of the sun, I got a reasonably good night’s sleep too.

As Business Class flights go this may not have been a stand-out experience but it still had it’s high points and, delays aside, it was a very good way to start the vacation.


  1. […] help to distinguish them from one another but the similarities end right there, at the names. While Air Tahiti Nui is an international airline and the one we used to fly from Los Angeles to Tahiti, Air Tahiti is an inter-island operation within French […]

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