A few months ago, Delta Air Lines launched a couple of new routes including connecting their network to Tahiti via their Los Angeles hub. While I had originally been booked on an Air Tahiti Nui flight, our plans changed, and in the process, the stars aligned such that Delta’s inaugural flight happened to be on the perfect day and time for me to get to French Polynesia.
I had never been on an inaugural flight before, so I did not know exactly what to expect. While I have read and seen the celebrations of inaugural flights, I knew I was in for a treat when I booked it.
I had reached out to Delta’s PR team to get more specific information on the celebrations but I was unable to get a straight answer. So, with a 11:10 departure, I arrived at the airport at 8:30 excited for a morning in the airport and the events to come.
This article is part of my Trip Report: Winter Holidays in French Polynesia that includes:
- Lounge Review: Delta’s New LAX SkyClub
- Inaugural Flight Celebrations on Delta LAX to Tahiti
- Flight Review: Delta Economy LAX-PPT
- Hotel Review: Hilton Tahiti Resort
- Room Review: Hilton Tahiti King Residence Suite
- Flight Review: Air Tahiti PPT-BOB
- Hotel Review: St Regis Bora Bora Resort
- Hotel Transfer: Chartering a Private Boat in Bora Bora!
- Hotel Review: Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort
- Room Review: Conrad Bora Bora Nui Deluxe Overwater Villa with Pool
- Day of Departure in Moorea: My Thoughts
Despite my plan to arrive at the airport early, the holiday madness had already begun. The line to drop off bags and to get boarding passes extended down the terminal and even stretched outside alongside the dropoff area. While I had tried to check in online, my one-way ticket (since I was returning on a different carrier) prevented me from doing so.
After waiting in the line, the check in agent informed me that there were lots of fun festivities planned so I was a happy camper heading to security. Due to the backup at check-in (I was told there was a computer issue), security had next to no line and we were through in a breeze with Clear and PreCheck.
I quickly wandered to the gate to try to take some pictures of the decorations, and ended up taking a picture with some of the flight crew. Then, I quickly hurried back to the new Delta lounge (a lounge review was written as part of this trip report).
Although I did not have access to the lounge via my ticket on the flight, since I was booked in the main cabin, my American Express Platinum card got me into the lounge since I was on a same-day Delta flight.
After making my way up the escalators, I barely missed the Polynesian dancers who had performed in the lounge and were now on their way to the gate. Luckily, there were still some festivities to take place, as the tropical drink cart (all non-alcoholic) with snacks was being pushed around the lounge for guests to enjoy.
I had a quick snack on the outdoor terrace of the Sky Club and enjoyed some brief plane spotting before quickly taking a shower in the lounge and heading back to the gate.
At the gate, I was met with some singing and traditional polynesian music before the dancers performed. I have always been a fan of Hawaian ukulele music so this was a treat for me and the singer was really good.
The dancers were awesome and put on quite a show. With the pounding of the drum, the celebrations got the attention of other travelers from different flights. Overall, it was a very fun experience.
While the dancers continued, I got to take a picture with the captain who was on his retirement trip as well. I also got a few words in with a Delta exec who was on the trip for press and some interviews upon landing.
After the dancers wrapped up, Delta handed out some goodie bags with sunscreen, fans and other little souvenirs, as well as canned mocktails and coconut cupcakes. Ceremonially, they even cut a ribbon to celebrate the occasion. After all the excitement, it was time to board the ~9 hour flight to the South Pacific.
With an on-time arrival, we landed in Papeete, Tahiti and made our way back down the runway towards the terminal. I had filmed the landing and watched out the window expecting a water cannon welcome for the new route, but I was surprised not to see this. In fact, I saw fire trucks driving ahead of the plane so I wonder if I somehow missed it, but I highly doubt it.
Unfortunately, we had to wait roughly 10 minutes before we were about to get off the plane. My guess is it likely had to do with either paperwork or press photography since the flight deck crew beat us off the flight.
The flight team was more than happy to let me grab a quick view of the cockpit of the 767 that had been delivered to the airline in the late 90s. As an av-geek, I was excited to get this chance since I know our time with the 767 is running short in favor of more efficient aircrafts.
After entering the airport, we were welcomed with more Polynesian dancers as we made our way to customs. Everyone was very upbeat and excited (likely because they were starting their vacations), but it was a good arrival.
After clearing customs and picking up our baggage, we made our way out to the taxi line and were given a miniature bottle of body lotion with the Delta inaugural flight information written on it. To me, it was an odd choice of a gift, but it did show that Delta was trying to make the event special.
The Last Point
I am very happy that I got the opportunity to make it onto my first inaugural flight, which I hope to be the first of many. Between the music and dancers, as well as snacks and giveaways, I was pleased to know that passengers, whether in the main cabin or Delta One, got to enjoy the fun of Delta’s new route.
Nice post. Eager to read about the rest of our stay.
Payton Turner says
Thanks. Excited to share the rest of it.