Review: Air Tahiti Nui Lounge Papeete Airport

Filed Under: Air Tahiti Nui

Our flight from Bora Bora to Papeete arrived shortly before 8PM, while our United flight was departing at 10:40PM, leaving us over 2.5 hours to make our connection.

The domestic and international terminals are just a short walk apart, so we collected our bags at baggage claim (which took 10 minutes), and then immediately headed to international check-in.

While Papeete Airport has an increasing number of international airlines, only a few depart at a time, so we had no trouble finding the United check-in desk. It looked like the other flights this evening were on Hawaiian to Honolulu, and on Air Tahiti Nui to Los Angeles.

Papeete Airport check-in hall

At United check-in we were asked security questions, and within a few minutes were issued boarding passes and lounge invitations. Our boarding passes indicated that boarding would start at 9:50PM.

We headed towards immigration and security. Interestingly there’s a separate immigration checkpoint for each flight (even though all flights were US-bound), and we were lucky that the United counter had the shortest line of the three.

Unfortunately there’s just a single security line, with no priority option. So we had to wait in line for about 20 minutes before we were through.

The Papeete Airport airside was quite small. There was a fair amount of seating, but if you have a few flights departing around the same time, the terminal is going to be really crowded.

Papeete Airport terminal seating

The terminal has a limited number of concessions, though it does have a small outdoor area with some grass.

Papeete Airport terminal

Papeete Airport terminal

Towards the end of the terminal and to the right we saw a staircase with signage indicating the lounge was in that direction, so we headed that way.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge stairs Papeete Airport

The second floor of the terminal seems to be a well kept secret. In addition to the lounge, there’s a lot more public seating. Unlike downstairs, this area was wide open, so seems a lot more comfortable for waiting before your flight.

Papeete Airport second floor seating

The Air Tahiti Nui Lounge is the only lounge at the airport, so it serves premium passengers on all airlines departing from here, including Air Calin, Air France, Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui, Hawaiian, Qantas, and United. On top of that, it’s also available to credit cardholders with airport lounge benefits, thanks to being a member of Priority Pass.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge entrance

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge signage

The Air Tahiti Nui isn’t particularly big. It’s sufficient when one or two flights are departing at the same time, but with three flights plus the growing number of Priority Pass members, the lounge was quite crowded at first.

The lounge consists of one main room. There are rows of seats along the windows.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

Then there are more rows of seats along the center of the lounge, as well as some booths along the other wall.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

There’s also some high-top seating, with one section having computers.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge business center

Then along the interior of the lounge is more seating, though this lacks any views.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge seating

The buffet is back towards entrance of the lounge, and is fairly basic. The selection was basic to begin with, but people in the lounge seemed to be really hungry and thirsty, so the buffet was constantly depleted. I guess that’s not too surprising, since I imagine many people were coming off domestic flights, so hadn’t eaten in a while.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge buffet

The selection included sweets, fruit, packaged snacks, cold cuts, cheese, and some small warm nibbles.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge food

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge food

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge food

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge snacks

In terms of drinks, there was self serve water, juice, coffee, tea, beer, wine, champagne, etc.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge drinks

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge liquor

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge wine

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge drinks

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge coffee & tea

There was also a selection of reading materials.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge magazines & newspapers

The bathrooms were behind the buffet. While well maintained, it didn’t seem like there were enough bathrooms for the number of guests. There was also a shower in the lounge, though it was occupied when we were there.

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge bathroom

The lounge does have views of the apron, and while we were in the lounge we saw our United 787 arriving from San Francisco. There was also a Hawaiian Airlines A330.

United 787 in Tahiti

Hawaiian A330 in Tahiti

The lounge had wifi, which was quite slow, so I ended up tethering off my phone. On the plus side, the lounge had functioning air conditioning, which was such a nice amenity to have after being at Bora Bora’s swelteringly hot airport, and then being on a hot Air Tahiti plane, and then going through open-air Papeete Airport.

We headed to our departure gate at around 9:40PM, 10 minutes ahead of scheduled boarding.

United boarding gate Papeete Airport

Sure enough, boarding was called at exactly 9:50PM, and off we were.

United boarding gate Papeete Airport

Air Tahiti Nui Lounge bottom line

While the Air Tahiti Nui Lounge Papeete Airport can get busy, it’s air conditioned, has nice views of the apron, and is a good place to have a drink before getting on an international flight from Tahiti.

It’s not worth arriving early to use this lounge — the food isn’t great, the wifi is slow, and it can get quite crowded — but then again, it often makes sense to arrive early. Many people are taking same day flights from other airports, so you want to leave a long enough connection so you make your flight.

If you’ve used Air Tahiti Nui’s lounge, what was your experience like?

  1. Agree with the author. The downstairs main terminal was crowded, hot and stuffy with very poor food/drink choices.

    Upstairs lounge was comfortable and clean. The food service replenishment was slow and needs a serious upgrade, but as the only choice you get what what get.

  2. Good Post ..With my limited funds I’ll take the ferry and do the Flts @ the right time and Save $$$$..


  3. We were j just there February 22 of 2019 and thought it was absolutely beautiful, very comfortable and people are so nice. There were shower areas available as well. As far as the comment regarding the lady with her feet on the table, I can honestly say that we didn’t see anything of the sort, the lounge was very clean & someone is constantly coming by to pick up anything you are finished with and wiping tables. Sitting in the lounge waiting for our flight was awesome! The most difficult thing by far, is LEAVING Tahiti!! You just never want to!

  4. Lucky,

    In regards to your comment about the lounge being full of Priority Pass members, do you think we are at a breaking point for PP? The lounges are constantly packed or straight up denying PP members. At some point, more and more lounges will just stop allowing PP members so they can accommodate the first/business passengers. This will just lead to members canceling credit cards with the benefit. For example, I am almost always denied from “The Lounge” in terminal C at BOS and The Wingtips Lounge in JFK T4.

  5. When we were there year and a half ago in July which is the high season, lounge was packed to the rim. All seats were taken and then some. Not only that, air condition didn’t seem to work or perhaps because there were so many people in the lounge, the air temperature upstairs was the same as downstairs. There weren’t much food left on the counter and pretty much only thing left was the drinks in those mini fridges. This lounge was def not the one I reminiscent about when I think of great airport lounges. In fact, when I go back to Tahiti, I want to minimize my time at this lounge unless I go during low season.

  6. I ended up with 4 hours between domestic and international so had to sit outside in the heat as international departures wasn’t open!
    The main benefit of the lounge is the air conditioning – at the point of finally getting in all I cared about was cooling down. Totally agree about the food and drink!

  7. Hi Ben, I read your travel blog in earnest a few months ago re choosing which resorts to stay at in Bora Bora and found it really helpful thanks. We ended up staying four nights at the Four Seasons for 4 nights and then the Conrad for 4 nights and both were great. I’ve stumbled across your blog again today when doing a google search for Air Tahiti Nui lounges as we had a frustrating experience there yesterday when awaiting out flight home to NZ which left me highly annoyed. So here’s a tip for anyone reading your blog and who is wanting to use the lounge at Papeete airport. When you arrive at the closed door ring the bell to be let in (providing it is no more than 3h pre-flight). A whole lot of us arrived over a period of 15-20 mins and just sat there thinking the lounge was closed. Several staff members came and went from the lounge during that time and not one of them told us the lounge was open and please come on in…not a word. Am going to try and contact some-one from Air Tahiti re this. If the lounge is open the door should be open IMO. Also…the upstairs area you mention (the well kept secret) was actually the lounge when we transited through Papeete 2 years ago so what they have now is a massive improvement on that to say the least….
    Keep up the great work with your travel blog

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