|A motu in Maupiti|
When one wants to fly from the main island in French Polynesia, Tahiti, to any of the islands that have an airport, Air Tahiti (not to be confused with Air Tahiti Nui which flies from LAX to Papeete in Tahiti, but doesn't do interisland flights in French Polynesia) is the airline that you'll use (unless you're booking with private helicopter companies, etc.). Air Tahiti flies to many, many, many different islands in French Polynesia (French Polynesia has about 118 different islands, but only around half of those are inhabited).
|Fresh pineapple juice on Air Tahiti.|
Air Tahiti has come a long way since I first flew it in 1991 (I flew from Moorea to Tahiti with my family on my first visit to French Polynesia). For instance, now there is an online booking system that customers and travel agents can use. But the online booking system leaves something to be desired. Or at least it did for me when I was trying to book our interisland flights using one of the flight pass deals that Air Tahiti offers.
|On our honeymoon we took several Air Tahiti flights.|
Normally when one books with Air Tahiti, there is a price per flight, however, Air Tahiti offer various flight passes that offer significant savings to people wanting to visit several islands in French Polynesia.
The last time we visited French Polynesia, we used Air Tahiti to fly from Tahiti to Huahine, to Raiatea (then we took a boat to visit Taha'a and back to Raiatea to catch our next flight), then to Maupiti, and finally back to Tahiti to fly home.
|Sunrise in Tahiti.|
The trick to the flight pass is that islands have to be visited in a certain order and backtracking is not allowed to either Tahiti or any other island (with exceptions). That can get complicated in some of the outer islands that have less frequent flights and can only be visited by passing through another island. For our Bora Bora-Tuamotu flight pass, we had to visit all the Society Islands that we wanted to visit first before moving onto the Tuamotu islands. No backtracking through any island is allowed and if you land on an island and you're there for over 2 hours (even waiting to catch the flight to the next island) you can can't go back to that island for an actual visit. Some of the smaller Tuamotu islands only have flights in and out on certain days, so it makes scheduling a real challenge.
The Air Tahiti online booking system was somewhat frustrating to use. Once I had worked out which order we had to visit the islands and on which days we had to take flights to various islands and then back to Tahit,i I tried to book online, but the system would not recognize the flight pass pricing (with a flight pass there is a set price you pay no matter how many islands in the pass you visit, as opposed to paying for each separate flight). Instead of charging me 517.90 Euros per person, the system was trying to charge me about four times that based on the number of flights I had scheduled for my husband and me (tough to say exactly how much more because while the flight pass is priced in Euros, the individual flights are priced in XFP or CFP or French Pacific Franc, the currency of French Polynesia, so I only did a rough conversion).
|A lookout in Huahine.|
I was prepared to speak French if needed, but it made me nervous in case my rusty French betrayed me and ruined my careful flight schedule (plus I wanted someone to look over this flight schedule to make sure it both worked and fit within the very technical perameters of the Bora Bora- Tuamotu pass). My fear was for nothing though. The recording allows you to choose French or English. The Air Tahiti agent I was connected to spoke English, so I didn't have to exhaust myself trying to schedule seven different flights in French. She was able to book all seven flights for my husband and me. Then she was able to send me an email with a secure payment link, so that I could pay for the two flight passes by credit card online (they don't take credit cards over the phone she told me). After I received this email I was able to pay easily. I had a booking reference number that she gave me, so I could look up my flights in their online system and they were all there.
|The airport in Huahine.|
DATE FLIGHT DEPARTURE AIRPORT TIME ARRIVAL AIRPORT CLASS BAG
DATE VOL AEROPORT DE DEPART HEURE AEROPORT D ARRIVEE CLASSE BAG
13MAR VT 272 PPT-PAPEETE, SOC. IS. 0930 HUH-HUAHINE, SOC. IS. Y -OK 23K
TERMINAL D1 ARRIVAL:1035
20MAR VT 272 HUH-HUAHINE, SOC. IS. 1050 BOB-BORA BORA Y -OK 23K
22MAR VT 543 BOB-BORA BORA, SOC. IS 1220 RGI-RANGIROA, FR. POLY Y -OK 23K
22MAR VT 557 RGI-RANGIROA, FR. POLY 1505 FAV-FAKARAVA, FRENCH P Y -OK 23K
25MAR VT 568 FAV-FAKARAVA, FRENCH P 0850 RGI-RANGIROA, FR. POLY Y -OK 23K
27MAR VT 552 RGI-RANGIROA, FR. POLY 0930 TIH-TIKEHAU, FR. POLYN Y -OK 23K
01APR VT 556 TIH-TIKEHAU, FR. POLYN 0900 PPT-PAPEETE, SOC. IS. Y -OK 23K
TERMINAL D1 ARRIVAL:1050
So, from Tahiti (we stay one night), we go to Huahine (7 nights), then we go to Bora Bora (2 nights), Fakarava (3 nights), Rangiroa (2 nights), and then Tikeuhau (5 nights), before returning to Tahiti to spend one last night before returning to Canada (via LAX).
Now that our complicated interisland flight schedule is sorted out, it's time to book the accommodations. . . .
|Sunrise over Maupiti.|