French Blue Flying From Paris To San Francisco To Tahiti In 2018

Filed Under: Other Airlines

French Blue is a small French low cost carrier that operates longhaul flights using their fleet of one A330 and one A350. Up until now they haven’t flown to the US, though that will be changing as of next year, sort of.

French Blue will be operating 2x weekly flights between Paris Orly and Papeete as of May 11, 2018, and the flight will route via San Francisco. The flight will be operated by an Airbus A350-900, with the following schedule, per @airlineroute:

BF710 Paris Orly to San Francisco departing 7:15PM arriving 9:25PM
BF710 San Francisco to Papeete departing 11:55PM arriving 5:15AM (+1 day)

BF711 Papeete to San Francisco departing 7:30AM arriving 6:30PM
BF711 San Francisco to Paris Orly departing 8:45PM arriving 4:20PM (+1 day)

As you can see, there’s a layover of over two hours in each direction, which is because passengers will have to clear immigration in the US — unfortunately the US doesn’t offer sterile transit.

The catch for the time being is that the stop in San Francisco is strictly a technical stop, so French Blue doesn’t have the authority to sell tickets exclusively between Paris and San Francisco, or between San Francisco and Tahiti. However, that’s expected to change very soon, as the airline is working on getting approval from the DOT.

This is a very long journey, and French Blue has among the densest A350 configurations so far. French Blue’s A350 has a total of 411 seats, including 376 economy seats (in a 3-4-3 layout — that’s right, they went 10 abreast rather than nine abreast), plus 35 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 layout.

The flight is blocked at 22 hours westbound and 20hr50min eastbound. French Blue is ultra low cost, so you have to pay for food, drinks, etc. I sort of feel like a 22 hour flight on an A350 that’s in a 3-4-3 configuration with no free food or drinks might just be the world’s most uncomfortable flight?

On the plus side, French Blue does have what they call Premium Class, which looks more competitive. It comes with free food, drinks, etc., so I imagine that could be a good value.

As it stands, Air France and Air Tahiti Nui already both operate flights from Paris to Tahiti, though they route via Los Angeles. As a result, the only two options between the US mainland and Tahiti are on those two airlines, and fares tend to be high, despite the flight not being that long.

Here’s to hoping that French Blue gets authority from the DOT to sell tickets to & from San Francisco soon. Not only would it probably help lower fares to/from Tahiti, but it’ll also be nice to have another US gateway offering flights to Tahiti. Besides, I think flying economy on this particular A350 is a lot more manageable on a single nine hour flight, rather than on a 22 hour journey.

There have also been rumors of United adding flights between San Francisco and Tahiti as of September 2018, though I remain skeptical…

  1. Sterile transit would cost a lot of money to build out. Airports would need to raise taxes which the airlines oppose. Additionally, the US is largely a O/D market. Therefore, sterile areas while convenient for some would be a high cost per passenger. This is all based on an article on read years ago, maybe it has changed.

  2. I think Air France is another contender for the most unconfortable Flights…
    Flew from CDG to SCL (Santiago, Chile) in Economy on a 777 with 10 abreast…horribly outdated in every aspect, I wanted to die at the end of the flight.

  3. @Jack:

    That’s an interesting point. I’ve always wondered, though, why we would care about sterile transit when we don’t even have passport control upon exit – though that seems like something the current administration would change given its stance on immigration. If we, as a nation, can’t be bothered to check passports upon exit anyway, then it seems odd we’d make a fuss about sterile transit since it would appear we don’t actively monitor if, let alone when, visitors exit the country. If someone wants to enter the US, they have to clear immigration and customs anyway. If they don’t, then why subject them to all of that nonsense since we won’t track their departure anyhow. Perhaps a topic for another blog entry. I know WikiVoyage has an article on it, too:

  4. @AdamR I agree to would be nice. However, there would be extensive construction cost to re-architect international terminal to support this. Also, the additional staffing that may be required.

    I was recently reading about the airlines flipping out over adding another few dollars to one of the taxes. Delta have their spiel of how every dollar increase brings a decrease of over 1% in traffic.

  5. I’ve never really understood this concept of LCCs flying to ultra-expensive destinations. Is it designed for PPT locals to get back to France? I cant imagine the average European-based traveller flying to PPT (probably honeymoon, probably spending $1000+ per night on luxury accommodation) to put themselves through 44 hours of torture just to save a few hundred Euro. I’d rather stay home than fly an LCC to my honeymoon. How depressing!

  6. See how long this lasts. Perhaps this would start a little bit of a fare war to PPT? Love French Polynesia. But the airfares on both TN & AF need to come down a bit.

  7. 1.) just wanna say you would have to be paying me in the tens of thousands to endure a economy trip on that plane with price increasing greatly for a middle seat 2.) How many Europeans/French are really that desperate to go to Tahiti? I couldn’t imagine it’s more than 100 a day that want to fly the full journey. It’s like a trip to the Maldives from a US perspective sure it’s beautiful and it’s on lots of people’s bucket list, but when it comes to practicality most people don’t want to 1.) spend almost two full days sitting on a plane for one trip 2.) be so far away from home In case of emergency and 3.) be so out of tune with working hours.

  8. This is not about honeymoon traffic. This is all about trying to capture the significant traffic of French Polynesia residents traveling to France, and friends and family in France visiting them in French Polynesia. There is a large population of Metropolitan France expats in French Polynesia. Many French Polynesians study in France. All of that travel adds up.

  9. If they can’t fly sell tickets to/from SFO, they should stop in OAK instead. Better weather and less delays. Probably cheaper landing fees too.

  10. Good lord any idea what the 3-4-3 seat width would be on a 359?? It would surely be 16” or less? I honestly couldn’t imagine anything worse than a 22-hr flight in that.

  11. @Kerry: TPG reviewed an Air Caraibes A350 with 3-4-3 config (search for A350 3-4-3). Seat width is 16.8”. Apparently the nominal size would be 16.4”, but they squeeze a little more by shrinking the armrest and aisles.

    I’d never, ever fly such a configuration, but it’s worth mentioning this is similar to 8-across 767s and 9-across A330s, which do exist in the LCC and leisure space.

  12. @Jack

    “How many Europeans/French are really that desperate to go to Tahiti?… It’s like a trip to the Maldives from a US perspective sure it’s beautiful and it’s on lots of people’s bucket list, but when it comes to practicality most people don’t want to”

    French Polynesia, unlike destinations such as the Maldives, has deep connections to France. French Polynesia is technically still a part of France and is governed/supported by France, so there is huge amounts of traffic travelling back-and-forth for historical reasons. Secondly, the French people LOVE anywhere that speaks French and understands French culture (e.g. New Caledonia). There are huge amounts of French people who will save to travel to Tahiti and endure long plane trips, somewhat understandably, as those of us who only speak English will know how much nicer it is to travel somewhere where the locals speak your language.

  13. Flew on AOM French Airlines to PPT from LAX in the mid 90’s. It was 10 abreast in economy and also tight pitch. This was on a DC10-30. Still to this day, that roundtrip flight was the most miserable flight that I’ve ever been on which was 7+ hours each way.

    When the L1011 and the DC10 were still flying, US carriers had 9 abreast in coach. AOM had 10 abreast with about 28 inch pitch or even less. Is the A350 wider than the DC10?

  14. Little late to this party, but the SFO – PPT routes on French bee are open for booking. This will be awesome for us Northern California residents who can now fly non-stop and avoid the LAX mess.

  15. This airline has a reputation for canceling flights. Not worth the “discount” when your flight is canceled and your holiday is ruined. I am having to fight to get my money back and reimbursement for the connecting flight they caused me to miss.

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