An escape to Tahiti and Hikueru
Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.
By SLC Customer Service Representative Thiefaine Magre
This past winter holiday, my family and I went to visit the island of my wife's grandfather, Hikueru. Hikueru is an island that inhabits about 70 people in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. We were fortunate to spend a full week there, as well as a few days in Tahiti before and after the trip.
To get to Hikueru we first had to travel to Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia. The airport code is PPT (Papeete). There are a few ways to get there – the Hawaiian Airlines (HA) flight from HNL (Honolulu) every Saturday and the Air France (AF) flight several times a week from LAX. We took the HA flights.
In Papeete we were able to enjoy much of the local culture. We ate local cuisine from Tahitian food trucks called "roulette." The most common dishes in Tahiti are raw fish, sashimi, steak frites (steak and fries with several sauces to choose from) and many fresh fruit dishes.
We flew to Hikueru on our second day in Tahiti. There are two ways to get to the island: by cargo ship, which takes about 10 days from the port of PPT, or by taking the once-a-week flight on Air Tahiti. The flight is about two hours, during which you see many little islands scattered across the ocean below. Because the island is so remote and has such a small population, we needed to arrange with my in-laws to have food and supplies shipped by cargo ship two weeks prior to our arrival. It was a lot of planning, but it was worth all of the effort.
While in Tupapati, the capital and only city of Hikueru, we enjoyed various activities, like swimming at the pier, fishing, walks around the island and boat tours of neighboring motus (motu is the word for a small sand island forming a ring around a lagoon). We enjoyed evening walks, stargazing and basking in the colors of the sunsets and sunrises.
After our week in Hikueru, we returned to Tahiti for two more days. We did a short trip around the island and saw the famous "Trois Cascades," three waterfalls, and jumped off bridges into large rivers.
Tahiti is truly an amazing place. With over 100 islands to visit and discover, there is plenty for everyone to do – not to mention the beautiful scenery of such stunning waters.
Mauruuru ("thank you" in Tahitian) for reading about my travel journey.
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When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.
We have operated more than 56 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 8,000 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.
Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.
Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:
- Quito, Ecuador
- Managua, Nicaragua
- Roatan, Honduras
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras
- Seoul, South Korea
- Melbourne, Australia
We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.
In the midst of mobilizing our cargo operations, our teams at New York/Newark (EWR) and Jacksonville (JAX) stepped in to assist Roche Diagnostics with transporting a vital component for an instrument being used for COVID-19 testing.
The component was stuck at EWR en route to the Mayo Clinic in Florida after another airline's flights were cancelled. A Roche employee contacted us asking for help and, within a few hours, our teams had the piece loaded onto a Jacksonville-bound aircraft, with arrangements in place to deliver it to the Mayo Clinic.
The item we shipped will allow the Mayo Clinic in Florida to process hundreds of COVID-19 tests per day. Mayo Clinic Laboratories has been on the front lines of increasing testing capacity to expedite caring for patients at this critical time and working to ease the burden being felt at test processing laboratories in a growing number of areas.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.