Change is in the Air – the Buzz about The Bee, French Bee

Change is in The Air – the buzz about the Bee

There is a buzz in the air here in Tahiti… a French Bee is making some noise and getting people super excited!

For a long time, there have been limited flight options for your trip to Tahiti – primarily you would fly with Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles.  Alternatively, once a week you could fly from Hawaii with Hawaiian Airlines, or Air France from LA but otherwise there were not many options.

I am happy to say, change is in the air!  Competition on the Tahiti route is picking up which will be good for travellers as prices on the flights are coming down a bit.   When planning your trip, we now may have 2 new options for your flights:

  1. French Bee – this is a new French low-cost carrier that is travelling from Paris Orly Airport, stopping in San Francisco and then carrying on to Tahiti. A few key points about French Bee:
  • They are flying on Airbus A350 Aircraft (a great new plane)
  • Their parent company, Groupe Dubreuil, also owns Air Caraibes – so they are experienced in the airline business
  • There is no business class, however, they offer economy or Premium Economy with 3 fare categories – a Basic, Smart and Premium. For my clients the Smart and Premium fares are going to be the way to go
  • Like all l low cost carriers, the fare you pay will reflect what you receive onboard
  • They are travelling on the overnight red eye flight from San Francisco to Tahiti, so you arrive in the wee hours of the morning and then your return flight is early morning from Papeete back to San Fran. This means spending your last night in Tahiti so you can arrive for the early check in, but it also means you can move on to any island on your first day of arrival
  • Flights from San Francisco to Tahiti operate on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday with the return flights on Saturday, Monday and Thursday

I am thrilled to say French Bee invited me along for their Inaugural Flight and as I write this, I am sitting staring across the Tahiti Lagoon looking at Moorea reflecting on what this means to the islands and my travellers.   My flight down was fantastic.  The flight attendants are a   mix of French and Tahitian and were super friendly and efficient.  The plane is brand new – we are talking shiny and spotless – such a great treat.   Sitting in Economy class the seats were quite comfortable – firm but they put in good quality seats.  The legroom was better than I expected for a low cost carrier, although I did find the width of the seats a bit on the tight side.

They served one meal (not two like other carriers), however you can purchase additional food if you like.  For In-Flight entertainment you have your own screen and movies and TV shows on demand.  There was an okay selection but not tons options– definitely enough to keep you occupied on the 8 hour flight.  WiFi will soon be available (for a fee).  The new plane has large windows and was very quiet and comfortable – airlines are coming a long way to make these long haul flights more enjoyable and I have no complaints about my flight down with French Bee!

The excitement in Tahiti on this new air carrier has been amazing!   It is the first new airline to come to Tahiti in 20 years!  I have attended 2 PR Events one when we landed on the tarmac  and then a cocktail party with local news, press from around the world, the President of Tahiti, Airline CEO,  hoteliers, tourist boards and of course traditional Tahitian dancers and blessings.  The energy and enthusiasm around French Bee’s arrival is fantastic and I am thrilled to offer my clients more options for your dream vacation!   It is definitely clear to me they are a Low Cost Carrier – but NOT low Quality.  A great mix!

Enjoy this video French Bee made of our trip around Tahiti and Moorea:

  1. United Airlines – The other change in the air is the addition of the legacy Airline, United Airlines, who areintroducing flights to Tahiti as well on a Seasonal Basis too. A few key points about the United Flights:
  • This is great for those loyal to Star Alliance – for all my Canadian travellers who collect with Air Canada we can ticket you on AC to San Francisco and then connect you onwards with United collecting your points all along. Or if you have enough points – perhaps redeeming your Aeroplan points for the flights to help with your budgeting!
  • Flights are operating three times per week every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday in the off-season months of November through to the end of March
  • Flight times are departing San Francisco mid afternoon, so you arrive into Papeete in the evening and spend your first night on the main island. Return flights leave around midnight so you can enjoy your last day on an outer island and fly in late to connect for your international departure.
  • United is also operating using excellent equipment on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with either a business class or economy class service.

  1. Air Tahiti Nui – Not to neglect old faithful Air Tahiti Nui, they have exciting changes coming along that will help them battle all the new competition.
  • The company has recently rebranded with a new logo reminding passengers they are the most Polynesian airline
  • A whole new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners are on order with the first of the air craft coming in October 2018 and the remainder to be delivered in 2019.
  • The new fleet will offer an enhanced Poevara Business Class, a new Premium Economy Class which I am very excited about and then an improved Economy Class.
  • They now offer an online check-in! It arrived in Island time compared to the rest of the airlines around the world but happy it is here for my clients to use
  • Nobody can take away the fact that they are the most Polynesian Airline so your Tahitian vacation has that feel about it from the moment you step onto the plane to Papeete and last until you get the friendly “Nana” as you step off the plane at the end of your vacation.
  • They offer different flight times and options depending on your travel dates with either late night arrivals into Papeete or early morning arrivals

Each airline offers something different and unique.   Like all steps of planning your Tahitian vacation, let’s talk about the differences, pros and cons, your budgets and I will help you sort out what is best for you!

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Carl Henderson