How to get Tahiti and Australia on the same award ticket…

The upcoming Hilton devaluation has me thinking about the best ways to redeem Hilton points before March 28, and one property that interests me is the Hilton Bora Bora Nui.

I’ve been to the Maldives and wouldn’t mind visiting Tahiti/Bora Bora to be able to compare them, but for me it’s not a destination I’d like to visit in and of itself. While I’m sure it’s stunning, I prefer “action” destinations over relaxation destinations. That being said, if I could add a stopover enroute, or even make Tahiti the stopover enroute to somewhere else, it could be worthwhile. The problem is that there aren’t many logical stopover points if booking an award ticket between the US and Tahiti.

There are only two airlines flying nonstop between the US mainland and Tahiti, and those are Air France and Air Tahiti Nui. Air Tahiti Nui has a lot more flights than Air France, but it sure helps to have access to award availability on both airlines, as Tahiti is one of the toughest destinations in the world to get to on miles.

There are two practical ways to book an award ticket from the US mainland to Tahiti:

  • American charges just 125,000 AAdvantage miles for roundtrip business class between the US and Tahiti, and they partner with Air Tahiti Nui. They don’t impose any fuel surcharges on these redemptions.
  • Delta charges 150,000 SkyMiles for roundtrip business class between the US and Tahiti, and they partner with both Air Tahiti Nui and Air France. That being said, they impose fuel surcharges for redemptions on Air Tahiti Nui.

So while American’s rates are substantially lower and they don’t impose fuel surcharges, I’d probably book through Delta since I value their miles less, and since they get you access to Air France and Air Tahiti Nui award space. But the real benefit of booking through Delta is that for the same cost you can actually make Tahiti your stopover point and continue to Australia or New Zealand on the same ticket.

For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui, have a stopover, then continue on them to Auckland (they don’t fly anywhere in Australia unfortunately), and then return out of either Australia or New Zealand back to the US. You could route the return on Virgin Australia, China Southern through Guangzhou, Korean Air through Seoul, or even Aerolineas Argentinas through Buenos Aires if you feel like sending out a fax.


Possible return routings

Now if you have American miles and prefer not returning directly from Tahiti, for 30,000 miles in business class you could book an award ticket between Tahiti and Australia/New Zealand and return from there, making the cost of a similar trip 155,000 AAdvantage miles.

Anyway, just a quick tip for anyone looking to go to Tahiti that wants a bit more excitement than just a roundtrip journey in Air Tahiti Nui’s new cutting edge business class.

Comments

  1. says

    You can also fly Hawaiian Airlines on (I believe) Fridays between HNL and PPT. Another city to put into the mix is Auckland, NZ — not Oakland, CA :-) — which has direct flights to PPT on Air New Zealand.

  2. E says

    Another great option is the hilton on moorea. Save the airfare from ppt to bora bora and just do a few nights in moorea. The over water bungalows have the best snorkeling anywhere.

  3. BBD says

    I thought I read something about using 90k Korean air miles R/T to Tahiti in business?

  4. lucky says

    @ BBD — You can, but the purpose of the post was about going beyond Tahiti. The catch is that it only gets you access to Air France award space, and they release very little space to Tahiti.

  5. beachfan says

    If you take up diving, you will get all the action you need in French Polynesia.

    In the good old days, Air New Zeeland flew between the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, that made for an awesome triangle.

  6. shedbasher says

    You quote 150K on Air France for business. I tried to do this for my upcoming honeymoon but was only able to secure Econ for 100K (only silver this year). Just curious on how you were able to achieve that. Thanks

  7. Denis says

    Doesn’t LAN fly to PPT? Ok, that wouldn’t get you any closer to Australia – even though they do fly to SYD and AKL – but you can fly from there to Easter Island.

  8. lucky says

    @ shedbasher — It’s 150K roundtrip in business class pending award availability. It can be VERY tough to come by, though.

  9. lucky says

    @ Mike — Not good at all. It requires a LOT of flexibility and advance planning, though it’s not impossible.

  10. lucky says

    @ Denis — They sure do, though unless it’s a distance based award you wouldn’t be allowed a stopover enroute, and couldn’t legally route via South America to the South Pacific using American miles.

  11. Jeff says

    Can we replace SYD with BKK and stopover in Tahiti? How much more (or less) does it cost?

  12. lucky says

    @ Jeff — American doesn’t allow stopovers aside from the international gateway, so you couldn’t do that on one award.

  13. lucky says

    @ Jeff — No SkyTeam airline flies between AKL and CHC, so there’s no way to include that.

  14. Barry says

    Once you get there (I’d go with Delta miles) it IS the Hilton Bora Bora Nui you should choose. It is not the most expensive on Bora Bora but it is the most beautiful. Go for one of the deep water bungalows. And while in town go for dinner from the “red truck” on the town square.

  15. Maury says

    So you could fly from MIA-EZE-SYD-PPT-LAX-MIA? All on one ticket with Skymiles? How will this be for coach? Approximate cost of surcharges? Thank you

  16. Cody says

    What about a Zone 7 Oneworld award ticket? Gives 20-25k travel miles and costs 150k. BNA-DFW-LAX-PPT-AKL-HKG-ORD-BNA is 23k miles.

  17. Patrick says

    So practically speaking, you’d fly coach to Tahiti, and then business to NZ? (on AA)

  18. Britt says

    I just booked 3 nights at the Hilton Bora Bora in August for 50k a night. The new rate is 95k a night, so best to book now. We have added this stop to a trip to easter island and are taking the once a week flight from easter island to papeete.

  19. lucky says

    @ Paul — Star Alliance is the worst of the three alliances for Tahiti. In theory you could fly via New Zealand on Air New Zealand, though award space is virtually non-existent. I’d definitely recommend building up either American or Delta miles for Tahiti.

  20. lucky says

    @ Maury — Well no SkyTeam airline (or partner airline) flies SYD-PPT, so you could do something like MIA-EZE-SYD, then have an open jaw, and then do AKL-PPT-LAX-MIA.

    I’m not sure exactly how much the fuel surcharges would be, but I would think not more than $300 or so.

  21. lucky says

    @ Cody — Would be a good idea, except you can’t fly Air Tahiti Nui on a OneWorld award since they don’t belong to the alliance. You can only fly them on an all partner award.

  22. lucky says

    @ Patrick — With enough date flexibility it isn’t impossible to fly business class to Tahiti either.

  23. Ben says

    Hi lucky, would there be a way to do a stopover in Seoul on the return leg of that kind of award travel?

  24. lucky says

    @ Ben — When booking through Delta? Only for up to 24 hours, since there’s already a stopover in Tahiti enroute to New Zealand/Australia.

  25. Patrick says

    If the flexibility was there, would that be business on Air Tahiti Nui? and NOT Hawaiian? (using AA miles)

  26. lucky says

    @ Patrick — I don’t want to say Hawaiian in business class is impossible, though in the next year I see less than a handful of dates with two business class award seats on Hawaiian to Tahiti. And keep in mind their product isn’t as good as a standard international business class product.

  27. vince says

    I just did the same things redeeming miles getting a Tahiti ticket and try to use up my HHonors points at Hilton Bora Bora Nui. :)

    Don’t forget you can also redeem from PPT to NRT in the returning leg and transit at Tokyo.

    Air Tahiti Nui NRT to PPT route have a bit more business award seats available than the LAX to PPT.

    I just redeemed two PEK to NRT to PPT business class round trip tickets flying this September. Each ticket costs just 110,000 Delta Skymiles.

    Air Tahiti Nui’s business class award seats are available on every flight date during the period of late September as of today.

  28. autolycus says

    What’s the best way to search availability on Air Tahiti Nui?

    Vince mentions a potentially good option: Is LAX – PPT (dest) -NRT (stop) – LAX be a valid routing for DL? It should be, right? And should price at 100/150 for low?

  29. lucky says

    @ autolycus — Best way is using ExpertFlyer.

    I don’t think that’s actually the routing Vince is referencing. It sounds like he’s originating in PEK and flying to PPT via NRT. Don’t think that’s valid out of North America.

  30. autolycus says

    @lucky, yeah, it does look like he’s talking about PEK-NRT-PPT, but I was wondering if it’d also be a valid route ex-US. Does DL have a strict set of MPM rules?

    I hadn’t looked at the mileage difference LAX-PPT vs. LAX-NRT-PPT and had forgotten how far east PPT is. My pacific travels have been much further west (Palau, Indonesia, PNG and Solomon Islands), so Japan doesn’t sound as crazy far away as it really is from PPT.

  31. flyer708 says

    Old post, but nonetheless we are glad to find it! Anyways, we are thinking about going to PPT or even BOB from HKG using either UA miles, UR points, or AA Miles. My initial plan is HKG-SIN-SYD-AUK-PPT via AA miles. The cost is 70,000 miles in business round trip/person. 50,000 with UA. But somehow Air New Zealand only have availabilities in January 2014. Am I missing anything?

  32. lucky says

    @ flyer708 — That’s not surprising unfortunately. Air New Zealand is EXTREMELY stingy when it comes to releasing award space in premium cabins.

  33. flyer708 says

    Thanks for the prompt response Lucky. I forgot to add, the only available space, is in Jan 2014, in ECONOMY. I would guess TN is not much better either?

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