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Traditionally, flights between the US and Tahiti haven’t been nearly as glamorous as the destination itself. Aside from Hawaiian’s route to Honolulu (HNL), flights from Papeete (PPT) were limited to Los Angeles (LAX), operated by both Air France and Air Tahiti Nui.

Air France award space is almost nonexistent, and while Air Tahiti Nui offers better availability via its US-based partner program, American Airlines AAdvantage, the Airbus A340s it flies on the route sport angle-flat seats and a dated interior. With the airline gearing up to take delivery of its first 787-9 Dreamliner, that’ll soon change.

While the first plane isn’t quite ready to fly away, it did just undergo one of the final steps of the production process: a fresh coat of paint. The livery looks very slick, especially near the tail.

The interior’s an enormous upgrade from those dated A340s, too, with 2-2-2 lie-flat seats in business class — the same seat model you’ll find on United’s Dreamliners, which will soon operate flights between San Francisco (SFO) and PPT.

Air Tahiti is also offering a premium-economy cabin, with recliners arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Economy looks decent as well, with a standard 3-3-3 configuration there.

The 787-9 is scheduled to begin flying between LAX and PPT in November — the first flight I’ve found with availability is on November 9, and while business class isn’t appearing through third-party sites on that date, you can book a seat directly through the airline.

As for award flights, your best bet is to search for your desired dates using ExpertFlyer, then call American Airlines to book.

If you are able to find space — and that’s a big if — you’ll need to redeem 40,000 AAdvantage miles each way in economy, or 80,000 miles each way in biz. You may come out ahead by pairing your Tahiti trip with a visit to Japan, too, since award rates are far more appealing there.

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