Instead of traveling to France on the most conventional travel-to-France airline—Air France, of course—I flew Air Tahiti Nui (because it was 1/3 of the price of an Air France ticket on Priceline). I had my reservations, but they were quickly overcome by the humor of flying to France on an airline that only services Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris and Papeete (in Tahiti).
The flight itself was pretty darn good! It was far from full (I was on the aisle of a four-person row and the only other person in my row was on the other aisle so I got to spread out into the seat next to me) and went smoothly.
More importantly, flying Air Tahiti Nui was even more hilarious than I could have anticipated. The airline is essentially a blend of the best parts of Hawaiian Air and Air France:
1. Tropical island cabin decor
2. Tropical island music played during boarding and deplaning
3. Flight attendants wearing Hawaiian (Tahitian?) print uniforms (Yes, plural; they changed outfits several times throughout the flight.)
4. Announcements over the intercom and signage in Japanese, French and English
5. A goody bag complete with: Blindfold, earplugs, handy stickers to indicate whether or not you wanted to be woken up for meals, headphones, a moist towelette and socks (The man behind me to my left donned his immediately.)
6. Delicious airplane food! (as far as airplane food goes, of course)
Lunch/Dinner (depending on which time zone you use): Coq au vin, rice, steamed veggies, a side salad, dinner roll, CHEESE, wine (for free!), dessert and coffee
Breakfast: Crêpes filled with a creamy custard and served with warm applesauce, fresh fruit, yogurt, a croissant, orange juice and more coffee
7. Endless in-flight movies and games
And I even got away with interacting entirely in French with the crew! And on my way off the plane after I said “Au revoir, merci!” to one of them he responded “Bon retour” (meaning safe journey home). Muahaha.
This is probably one of the only times I’ll be mistaken for a real French person so I may as well bask in the glory and satisfaction while it lasts.
Immigrations and customs were also a breeze—I basically walked right through (and got my stamp, which is required to complete my OFII dossier) and got my checked bag, no problem.
Bienvenue en France!