Cheapest Mileage Award Tickets To Tahiti

Tahiti is one of the most aspirational destinations out there, and also one of the toughest to get to on miles.

That’s because only two airlines fly there direct from the US mainland:

  • Air France flies direct to Los Angeles 3-4x per week
  • Air Tahiti Nui flies direct to Los Angeles ~10x per week


Air Tahiti Nui business class

With that in mind, there are a few ways to redeem miles for business class to Tahiti:

160,000 Delta SkyMiles roundtrip

Partner airline(s) to Tahiti: Air France and Air Tahiti Nui
Fuel surcharges: Yes, on Air Tahiti Nui only

The benefit of booking through Delta is that they’re the only carrier to partner with both Air France and Air Tahiti Nui. Since both carriers are fairly stingy with releasing award space to begin with, it’s awesome to have the flexibility to book both on a single award.

If you’re going to go the route of redeeming SkyMiles on travel to Tahiti, you can for the same price make Tahiti your stopover point and add on a side trip to Australia. That’s an option that’s tough to beat, given that neither Air Tahiti Nui nor Air France have an amazing business class product. That way you can fly them just one way, and then return on Virgin Australia, Delta, or Korean Air.

90,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles roundtrip

Partner airline(s) to Tahiti: Air France
Fuel surcharges: Yes

Korean Air partners with Air France, and they charge 90,000 SkyPass miles for a roundtrip business class award between the US and Tahiti. Assuming you can find award space on Air France, that’s one of the better values out there.

Korean-Award-Tahiti

62,500 American AAdvantage miles one-way

Partner airline(s) to Tahiti: Air Tahiti Nui
Fuel surcharges: No

American partners with Air Tahiti Nui, so for 62,500 American miles you can fly one-way between the US and South Pacific. American doesn’t allow stopovers of over 24 hours, though.

60,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles one-way

Partner airline(s) to Tahiti: Air France
Fuel surcharges: No

Alaska partners with Air France, so for 60,000 Mileage Plan miles one-way you can fly between the US and Tahiti. You can include your positioning flight to Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines on the same award, and can even have a stopover in Los Angeles if you’d like.

Alaska-Award-Tahiti

It’s worth pointing out one other mileage program which I’ve never seen mentioned for awards to Tahiti, which actually has the lowest mileage redemption rates of any airline:

65,000 Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles roundtrip

Partner airline(s) to Tahiti: Air France
Fuel surcharges: Yes

Japan Airlines has a distance based award chart, and one of the more interesting partnerships they have is with Air France (given that Japan Airlines is in oneworld and Air France is in SkyTeam).

Los Angeles to Tahiti is just over 4,000 miles one-way, so roundtrip you’re looking at 8,000+ miles. If you look at Japan Airlines’ award chart, that makes the roundtrip cost of an award on Air France 40,000 miles in economy or 65,000 miles in business class.

JAL-Award-Chart

That’s by far the lowest mileage cost of any program to Tahiti.

As I mentioned above, Japan Airlines does impose fuel surcharges for travel on Air France, which are ~$486 roundtrip in business class.

Air-France-Fuel-Surcharges

Still, that’s a heck of a deal, and by far the best value for roundtrip travel to Tahiti… assuming you can find award space on Air France.

How to accrue Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles

The one challenge with accruing Japan Airlines miles is that they don’t partner with very many “flexible” points currencies. The only program from which you can transfer points is Starwood. That’s at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. So at 65,000 miles roundtrip, that means you need only 55,000 Starpoints for that trip.

Bottom line

There are lots of options for redeeming miles to Tahiti. The biggest challenge isn’t which mileage currency to use, but finding the actual award space, which can be tough to come by. Tahiti is one of those destinations you want to book award travel to as soon as the schedule opens, if possible.

(Tip of the hat to @robertplafker)

Comments

  1. miramar1 says

    How about Alitalia MilleMiglia? I think they ask 90K r/t business to Tahiti on Air France, and they’re an AMEX transfer partner. I do think they charge fuel surcharges though.

  2. MJA says

    Between the two airlines which has the better business class? Is one safer than the other?

  3. Josh says

    I’d never noticed that JAL’s price for New York to Europe is 63k roundtrip in business class. That’s amazing value too. Can you mix partners on a JAL award (e.g. Iberia to Madrid + Air France to Paris?)

  4. nemme says

    @miramar1 I read somewhere (and don’t know at all if it’s true) that Alitalia requires a percentage of miles for redemptions to be miles earned through flying, i.e., not all Amex points.

  5. Tony says

    I’ve seen the Korean Air award for a while (first read about it when researching for a Bora Bora trip 2 years ago). Ben, do you know anyone that’s actually been able to book the trip? Even the 60k economy rt award?

  6. Lee says

    A trip to Tahiti on miles is about as easy as it gets….so long as you book in advance. On almost every Air Tahiti Nui flight there are 2 biz seats and 7 or more coach seats 330 days out. AA is basically giving their miles away so why in the world would anyone pay fuel surcharges and/or and waste SPG points transferring to Japan Airlines???

    Air Tahiti Nui availabilty is shown on Expert Flyer for those that asked.

  7. smittytabb says

    Booked mine on AA about six months out and Justin it is 62,500 each way in Business. Cannot wait to do it!

  8. says

    @ MJA — They both have fine safety records, and both have angled business class seats. So don’t think there’s a clear winner here. I’d maybe pick Air Tahiti Nui for some more “local flair.”

  9. says

    @ Josh — On a oneworld award yes. Just keep in mind they charge $800+ roundtrip in fuel surcharges. Still potentially a great value, though.

  10. miramar1 says

    @ lucky and nemme–Are you guys sure that MR points transferred from AMEX do not count towards the 25% of the required Alitalia miles that must be “earned” for an award? Alitalia’s policy only requires that 25% be “earned miles with Alitalia or MilleMiglia Partners”, and AMEX is a partner. Here is at least one datapoint suggesting MR count as “earned” Alitalia miles: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/20785839-post5.html. Have you tried and failed to get an Alitalia award using only MR points? I’m really curious to know, since I might try this option if it’s viable. Thanks!

  11. says

    @ miramar1 — I could very well be wrong. Thanks for points to the data point, seems Membership Rewards transfers do qualify.

  12. Duncan says

    Apart from Hawaian, Air Tahiti Nui, JAL you also have LAN via Santiago. Air NZ also has a flight via Rarotonga once a week and Air Catalan from New Caledonia. While Air NZ code shares with Air Tahiti Nui on Tahiti metal however from late November to Feb this year the are increasing the number of flights but one is their own metal so should be possible using points on Star.

  13. says

    It’s 150k DL miles for travel before June 1st 2014 and 160k thereafter so the 150k mile pricing is almost not possible.

    I booked a LAX-PPT(stop)-AKL(open) SYD-LAX for 160k and about $400 in taxes.

  14. Beachfan says

    Wow, I thought air NZ cancelled the Rarotonga – PPT flight long ago. I did lax-ppt//raratonga-lax and island hopped in both island chains, it was awesome. Liked the Cook Islands even more. But no chain hotels there means no f
    Re nights, and I thought that Air NZ Award space was unobtanium. But maybe there is award space on the RAR-Ppt flight.

    I’m going in September via TN using Aa miles, staying in Moorea on Hilton pre-devaluation points and on bora bora at the IC Thalassos, buying points for that.

  15. Duncan says

    Air NZ RAR-PPT is a short haul weekly service for the local Polynesians. They often increase flights for Fete in Tahiti Jul/Aug. Haven’t done it myself but you should be able to book on Virgin Australia LAX-SYD-RAR with SYD being the stop over VA do SYD-RAR a few times a week direct or via AKL daily but adds hours to the trip. If you want to take your time and make it a Pacific sojurn look at Air Carlin though frequencies are weekly though you should be able to get Nouméa as a stop over then you can visit Tahiti,s sister in the Pacific same currency, prices, language etc. The coral in Nue Caledonia is vastly superior to Tahiti greater range, variety, species etc. If you stop over in Nouméa your options for flights to the more exotic and remote parts of the pacific are wide open Vanuatu, Solomons, Fiji, Tonga and how about Tunis & Wallis? IMHO island hoping through the Pacific is one if the last great air journeys. Class options are at best J and they vary dramatically from airline though most segments are only a few hours. Moorea wins hands down over Boring Boring.

  16. Lee says

    What are the options for getting from Australia to Tahiti? I have quite a few UA and AA miles, but don’t know the best way to get there.

  17. arraitch says

    @ Lee – 20/30K AA miles will get you there on QF and TN via AKL. As others have indicated, EF will show inventory and some lead time will certainly help. At least, it did for us last year. :-)

  18. says

    @ Lee — Air Tahiti Nui flies the route, so you can most easily redeem Delta or American miles for the route.

  19. Ivan Y says

    @ Lucky – thanks! I guess whenever AF does upgrades to J, that may be a better choice. Will keep Delta redemption in mind for sure :)

  20. the global traveller says

    @Duncan NZ dropped RAR-PPT some time ago.

    AKL-PPT vv on NZ is never available for awards (at least in business class).

    @Lee there are no direct flights between Australia and Tahiti on any airline. You need to transfer at AKL, SCL, HNL or NOU.

  21. Mr. Cool says

    @lucky
    in your opinion, whats the best mix of airlines & miles to book 4ppl, economy, USA east to SCL stopover, easter island stopover, papeete tahiti stopover, back to US (or reverse) please?

    USA-SCL-IPC-PPT is pretty straightforward. though the only-once-weekly IPC-PPT flight makes planning less flexible.

    the hard part (for me) is PPT-USA (or reverse).. 4ppl, 1way, economy…how far in advance would i realistically need to book & where to search award availability please?
    thanks

  22. says

    @ Mr. Cool — No airline will allow that as a roundtrip, so you’ll have to book it as three one-ways. Therefore American or British Airways might be good airlines to book through.

    As far as how far in advance to book, I’d say the sooner the better. If you can book 10 months out that’s ideal, but really depends on how flexible you are on dates and what time of year you’re traveling.

    Good luck!

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