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rberne1

? Regarding Papeete airport

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We will be staying 4 nights post-cruise. Our flight home leaves on a Saturday night, the same night the Paul Gauguin disembarks. In anticipation of a full airport and flight, how long ahead of time should we check-in at the airport? We've always heard 3 hours, which we did on our last trip there, but I recently read horror stories about cutting it too close to take off time. And that was because of the airports disorganized security, under staffed, customs slowness, etc. problems. By the way, did you experience any of these problems?

 

Any suggestions/comments ... always appreciated, as usual. :)

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We just departed from Papeete on Feb 5. RSSC dropped us at the airport at around 8 pm for a 10 pm flight on Air Tahiti Nui. There was a very long line for security to clear baggage. There were a lot of security people standing around joking but doing little to expedite the process.

 

After that line, we then stood in a second line to check in the baggage with the airline and receive boarding passes. With boarding passes in hand, everyone is then were returned to the unsecure area of the terminal to access the gates. This requires another line for another security clearance of carry-ons, metal detectors, etc.

 

There is then a third line for passport review and return of the entry cards filled out upon arrival. (The process for entry into Tahiti was also numbingly slow.)

 

After presentation of boarding passes at gate, there was yet another security area where 3 or 4 guards were conducting random searches of carry-ons.

 

We finally boarded the plane shortly before 10 pm.

 

Other people in the Disneyland-like lines were there for the Air Tahiti 11 pm flight.

 

It was somewhat stressful but since RSSC had arranged everything, we assumed they knew the schedule would work. If you are travelling on your own and/or prone to stressing, give yourself at least the three hours.

 

And keep your warm weather clothing on as you will be standing in very warm, humid areas (inside is worse).

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We also had a spot check of some passengers carry ons again going down the tube for the actual boarding process. This was over and above the check of carry ons through the security gate. I have never in my life been through so many security checks in any airport in my traveling life. :eek:

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Yep, that's what I thought - long lines and a long time ... I guess I was just hoping someone had a *better* experience than what I've been reading.

 

3 hours before flight time .... so be it.

 

Thanx you guys .... I appreciate it. :)

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also, here is a tip about the papeete airport found on another CC thread:

 

One tip someone gave me that turned out to be a good one is that there IS an air-conditioned section at the Papeete airport. You just have to go upstairs into the buffet restaurant area. You don't have to buy a full meal. You can even just get a drink and sit down at a table. It's up the flight of stairs that starts in the middle of the restaurant area on the main level.

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Problem with the lounge upstairs, is that once you are in line, and then through security, you can't get to it. Of course, this could have changed, I was there about 18 months ago. Then, there was no spare time to hang around the lounge upstairs.

 

My experience is the same as everyone else's: long lines, heat and humidity, and no time at the end for dilly-dallying, even duty-free shopping, since everybody is then hustling you onto your airplanes. Faa'a is definitely the worst part of a trip to French Polynesia!

 

I've even thought about staying over an extra day, but not sure that would help, and it would end up costing quite alot (hotels in Papeete and L.A., plus the deviation fee.)

 

We may take a cab to the airport early, before the bus transfers provided by Radisson.

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Yeah, you're right Wendy ... 3 hours prior to check-in and there's still no time left to go to the lounge. That's what had happened to us on our last trip there. I was hoping things go smoother now thus cutting that 3 hour wait in line game. (we were last there in '03) Oh well, I guess we'll be going there even a little earlier to beat those Radisson buses as well. I didn't realize when I booked our post-cruise stay that we'd be departing for home along with the PG departing guests. :eek: At least there are less guests on the PG than the Tahitian Princess. Last time were on the TP we flew home instead of staying post-cruise. Let me tell you ... almost 700 people trying to fly home all at once, now that was a NITEMARE! Live and learn. But hey - we still had a great time!

 

Thanx. :D

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Yes, I would not want to be coming home the same day as the TP cruisers.

 

There's only 320 max on the PG, and at least some of those pax do a post-cruise. And some fly out early in the morning on Saturday as well.

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The departure from Tahiti is no doubt that worst part of the visit. We have cruised twice and it was terrible both times. It is hot and humid.

 

We departed on 2/11. We arrived at the airport 4 hours before our 10 PM flight. Our plan was to arrive prior to the Princess arranged transfer buses. When we arrived, we had to stand in several different lines. Initially they had several lines depending on your flight. We are not certain if you need to wait until a certain time to check in depending on your flight. We had arrived too early and we had to wait, just to get our bags X-rayed and to stand in line to check in at the ATN counter. They had some luggage carts, but they told us that they were reserved for the Princess transfer people. The Princess arranged transfer people appeared to have some priority getting through the baggage XRay and the first carry on screening. But once they opened the X-Ray operation, everyone waiting was able to get tags for their carry ons and to have their checked luggage X-Rayed. We then had to wait a while for the ATN check-in counters to open. Once we checked in and checked our luggage, we had to wait another 30 minutes or so for the immigration/passport control to open. We believe all this was because we had arrived for the first international flight of the evening. Again, we and our carry on luggage were screened after passport control. It is clear why this is necessary because once you check in, it is an open airport before passport control.

I suspect that you might not have to wait as long if you arrive a little later. Of course you might have to wait because of all the people. This might only be an issue for the first flight of the night.

It was very hot and humid in the airport. If you are flying business class, they have an air conditioned lounge on the second floor after passport control, but it did not open until 8 PM. This was a surprise to us because it was our plan to get to the airport early and relax in the lounge. This should not be an issue for a later flight. We just waited until it opened, had a few drinks, relaxed, and boarded the plan when called.

 

ATN is an excellent airline and the flights were excellent. If you have the miles available for the upgrade or can afford the cost the business class is really special.

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We just returned last night and yes, the wait at the airport is still 3+ hours. It is a most ineffecient process and no matter what you do, you will end up waiting in lines. It definitely puts a damper on the end of your trip. We waited 75 minutes in the line with the rest of the TP cruisers to claim our luggage. Next we waited in line to have our luggage scanned (and we went through the first metal detector). We then waited in line to check in and have our luggage tagged. Then we waited in the passport control line. After that, we went through security again with our carry-on bags and the metal detector (or was it security then the passport?!? I can't remember). Once you are past the final security check, there is no air conditioning outside of the VIP lounge for those with business or first class. We did go upstairs where they have a bar and couches for a last Hinano before our long flight home.

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Let me ask the reverse question. What are arrivals like in Papeete? I don't know my flight yet, but the MV Discovery sails at midnight. Should I expect a delay clearing immigration? The connections are arranged by the cruise line, so I'm not worried about missing my boat, but I'm curious whether there will be any time for sightseeing. :confused:

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Well, I've read about people getting through immigration really fast, but our experience is that it is a lengthy process. In 2003, it was at least a half hour, and we were near the head of the line off our plane. Then you have to wait for your bags, and go through customs, but for us that was fast.

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Agree - the overall departure/security process at FAAA is crazy at best. However - something to consider. For our 10P flight departure we were at the ATN check-in line before 630P. ATN starts check-in 3 hours prior to flight time. Only 4 other people were waiting at 630P but - the line grew very quickly. Check-in at 700P was quick & easy. BTW - ask to have your bags checked through to "your final" destination. Works well with a baggage re-check after LAX customs clearance. Much easier than lugging those bags to your connecting airline. After FAAA check-in consider heading upstairs to the air conditioned restaurant for a snack/beverage while waiting to go to your gate for boarding. Note - on the way to the boarding gates the random security checks of carry-ons can be extensive as we experienced. Every carry-on item was removed and meticulously inspected right down to looking at each sox, container, eye glasses. etc. You really have to give an A+ here for attention to detail. The total process went fairly well. However - if you are one of those arriving for check-in after 700P - there may be a long, hot in line wait. IMO - you can make the FAAA airport process go easier with some advance planning whether you booked independently or through a Travel Source. Hope this info helps - SeaFish

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Has anyone been through the airport process when they had a morning flight. We are staying one night post cruise and flying Air France at 9:35am. How was the airport at that time of day?

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