United Airlines today announced that they would begin thrice weekly service between San Francisco and French Polynesia on October 30, 2018 through March 29, 2019.
The service would be on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays arriving to Papeete late at night forcing an overnight before continuing to one of the islands such as Bora Bora or Moorea. The return flight leaves at quarter to midnight.
Here’s the announcement from United:
United Airlines (UAL), the leading carrier in the San Francisco Bay Area, today announced it will begin service between San Francisco and Pape’ete, the capital of Tahiti, the South Pacific’s gateway to more than 118 islands in French Polynesia including Bora Bora, Moorea, the Marquesas and Raiatea. United is the only U.S. carrier offering nonstop service to Tahiti from the mainland United States. Tickets are now available for purchase.
“We are excited to announce Tahiti as our 13th new international route this year, and we are even more thrilled about offering our customers a whole new world of vacation opportunities,” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of International Network. “We know our customers want more destinations to choose from to escape the winter weather, and we look forward to being the airline that connects them to this corner of paradise.”
United’s service from San Francisco will connect customers to the South Pacific’s most pristine waters, white sand beaches, stunning turquoise lagoons, coral atolls and volcanic mountain peaks. Visitors to the islands experience a tropical paradise and countless spaces to relax and reconnect in natural beauty and authentic French Polynesian island culture.
United will operate nonstop service, three times weekly with Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft between its San Francisco hub and Fa’a’ā International Airport (PPT), beginning Oct. 30, 2018, through March 28, 2019, subject to government approval.
Winter 2018 schedule – Subject to government approval Flight City Frequency Depart* Arrive* UA 115 SFO – PPT Tues/Thurs/Sun 2:45 p.m. 9:25 p.m. UA 114 PPT – SFO Tues/Thurs/Sun 11:45 p.m. 9:50 a.m. next day *Flight Times Subject to Change
United’s Long History Connecting Customers to the Pacific Islands
United’s love affair with the Pacific islands started more than 70 years ago and continues today. It began in 1947 with United’s first flight across the Pacific from San Francisco to Honolulu, making the Hawaiian Islands an easily accessible destination for tourism and business. Today, United offers more flights between the mainland and the Hawaiian Islands than any other U.S. carrier.
In 1968, United expanded its Pacific network linking the Hawaiian Islands, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Guam. Today, nearly half a century later, United’s Island Hopper – Flight 155 – departs Guam in the morning and makes a series of five, one-hour flights to the islands of Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae; Kwajalein and Majuro. In addition to the airline’s popular Island Hopper service, United connects customers from Guam to other island destinations including Palau, Yap and the Philippines.
In 1986, United began nonstop service from its West Coast hubs in the U.S. to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. Today, United is the largest U.S. carrier to serve Australia, offering the most seats to Sydney and Melbourne with its daily nonstop service from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Building its powerful Pacific network, last year United began nonstop service from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand, becoming the largest mainland U.S. carrier to serve the City of Sails.
I just revisited French Polynesia this past summer and spent roughly two weeks there. Incoming tourism numbers are down and they certainly need more airlift in addition to what the current airlines serving the Papeete can provide.
Air France and Air Tahiti Nui currently both fly from Paris to Papeete via Los Angeles. French low cost airline French Blue just announced twice weekly service between Paris and Papeete via San Francisco.
The problem is that there are really only two internationally acceptable hotels for overnight accommodations in Papeete; Le Meridien and InterContinental. The latter is very close to the airport and the former is not. Sofitel in Papeete closed few years back as did Hilton and Hyatt while ago. Radisson was reflagged.
Return flight from Papeete to Bora Bora on Air Tahiti will set you back roughly $500. You can take a ferry between Papeete and Moorea.
French Polynesia is not a cheap destination whether you can use miles to fly there or hotel points to stay. It is, however, well worth a visit if you can afford it.