Previewing Air Tahiti Nui’s Dreamliner

In an era where air travel has become more challenging and uncomfortable, one of the few pieces of good news is Boeing’s 787-9 Dreamliners are making their way into the fleets of airlines around the world, offering greater comfort and amenities to travelers flying at all price points. Air Tahiti Nui, the leading carrier to French Polynesia, formally rolled out one of its four gorgeously attired planes to travel industry pros at the LAX Flight Path Museum, a great hidden gem in Los Angeles, in December.

While Air Tahiti Nui is noted for offering West Coast-based travelers excellent fares from Los Angeles to Paris as well as French Polynesia, the Tahitian Dreamliner (which actually has been operating since last November) will also offer routes to Auckland and Tokyo. The rollout should be of interest to families as those Dreamliners will not only expand transportation options for those planning vacations to the South Pacific but as well to New Zealand. After all, what’s there not to like about an ocean-hued plane adorned with colorful tattoos, including a symbolic tiare flower along with a manta ray, whale, seagull and Tiki imagery?

The cabin interiors and amenities incorporate a number of calming features for adults and kids. The first thing greeting passengers in all classes is a cheerful color scheme in keeping with the aesthetic of French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin, who introduced Tahitian culture to the West via his canvases. The cabin’s spacious layout includes a tall, well-lit entryway and vaulted ceiling with sidewalls that offer passengers more shoulder and headroom in the Poerava Business, Moana Premium and Moana Economy sections.

Dreamliner © Air Tahiti Nui

Dreamliner © Air Tahiti Nui

Parents will also be pleased to know the kids will be entertained for much of the journey, thanks to an advanced in-flight entertainment system with Panasonic’s eXConnect satellite broadband during the airline’s short- and long-haul flights. And for parents wanting to limit their kids’ screen time, there is an amenity kit filled with games and creative activities that also makes a nice souvenir. High-speed internet will be accessible directly with the in-seat system and via PDA through onboard WiFi, providing additional access to games, educational sites and any last-minute work-related thing that needs to be dealt with before the plane lands. The Tahitian Dreamliner’s windows are positioned higher, so every passenger can see out to the horizon for visual relief and an open cabin feel.

The Tahitian Dreamliner also carries several invisible innovations that address many common sources of travel-related fatigue and discomfort affecting young children as well as some adults. While most airplanes are pressurized to a typical cabin altitude of 6,500 to 7,000 feet, a stronger composite fuselage means the 787 can be pressurized to 6,000 feet. The cabin also has a higher humidity level than other airplanes, shown to reduce symptoms of dryness. The air on board goes through gaseous filtration, which clears contaminants and odors reducing the occurrences of throat, eye and nose irritations. The planes’ Smoother Ride Technology sensors, meanwhile, detect turbulence and adjust control surfaces automatically, resulting in reduced up-and-down movement for a consistently smooth ride and an eightfold reduction in motion sickness.

Although the business and premium economy cabins have many luxurious amenities, the Moana Economy class cabins, specifically designed for long-haul travel by ZODIAC Aerospace, provide more of a premium economy feel for families traveling together. Seats with an articulating seat pan are installed on nine-abreast (3-3-3), making for an experience that’s less cramped and more comfortable.