Coming Up: Air Tahiti Nui & Fiji Airways Business Class Reviews!

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post about the 16 airlines I want to review in 2016. I’ve heard the feedback loud and clear that you guys want me to review new airlines (especially in business class), so I’ve been making an effort to do so.

So far in 2016 I’ve checked the following products off my list:

Finnair-Business-Class-A350 - 5
Finnair A350 business class

Well, I’m happy to report that I just booked an award which will allow me to review two new airlines. Unfortunately they’re also the only airlines I’m wanting to review which don’t offer flat beds in business class, but perhaps that will make the review all the more interesting.

Specifically I’ll be flying Fiji Airways from Los Angeles to Nadi to Auckland, and then Air Tahiti Nui from Auckland to Papeete to Los Angeles.

LAX-AKL

Let me explain the logic of why I booked this.

Fiji Airways business class award

One of Alaska Airlines’ unique airline partners is Fiji Airways, which operates a flight between Los Angeles and Fiji.

Alaska Airlines charges just 55,000 miles for a one-way business class award between Los Angeles and the South Pacific.

Fiji-Award-Cost

The best part is that you can do a stopover in Fiji, meaning for 55,000 miles I could book Los Angeles to Fiji, have a stopover, and then Fiji to Auckland.

Fiji-Award-1

As I’ve explained before, I consider this to be one of the best uses of Alaska miles, and it’s the Mileage Plan award which has intrigued me most.

While the purpose of this trip is to review new airlines, I’ll be doing a stopover of a few days in Fiji, which I’m really excited about.

Fiji-Award-2

Fiji has long been on my list of places to visit, though I can’t say it has been at the top. So I’m excited to be able to visit the country without actually making it my destination.

Sheraton-Fiji
Sheraton Denarau Fiji

Historically business class award availability on Fiji Airways isn’t especially good, though I’ve seen a good amount of space lately, especially if booking in advance.

Fiji-Airways-Business-Class
Fiji Airways business class

Air Tahiti Nui business class award

While my primary motivation for this trip is to review Fiji Airways thanks to the excellent value using Alaska miles, and secondarily to visit Fiji, the timing of booking this was motivated by the American devaluation, which is in a couple of days.

I’ve never reviewed Air Tahiti Nui, and they’re an AAdvantage partner.

For 62,500 miles I was able to took Auckland to Papeete to Los Angeles. American doesn’t allow stopovers on awards, so in this instance I’m just connecting in Tahiti, unfortunately.

I’m curious to see what they’re like, given that they’re a popular airline for those flying between Los Angeles and Tahiti, and also an option if flying between Los Angeles and Paris. Besides, I want to try their cutting edge new business class product. 😉

The one way award cost 62,500 AAdvantage miles. If I had booked this after the devaluation, I would have paid 80,000 miles instead.

Air-Tahiti-Nui-Business-Class
Air Tahiti Nui business class

Bottom line

I’m excited to have finally booked this trip, which will allow me to sample two pretty exotic airlines, and also to finally visit Fiji.

I’ve been putting off booking this trip, though the combination of finding Fiji Airways award space and the American devaluation finally prompted me to pull the trigger.

Are you more interested in reading a review of  Air Tahiti Nui or Fiji Airways?

Comments

  1. I’m looking forward to your review of Air Fiji – when I was looking for fares to Australia last year, Air Fiji was significantly cheaper than Qantas (when paying cash, not awards), but the stopover in Fiji was what prompted me to discard that flight; I ended up paying $700 extra for a non-stop flight to Sydney. No regrets on doing that, but would be interested in reading your review anyway.

  2. Looking forward to your review on ATN Business class.I have flown it several times between LAX and CDG return.I find it an easy reward to obtain via AA. Excellent service,decent food and good enough seat.
    I have heard that they are upgrading to 787 in early 2017?Maybe you can verify this upgrade in your review.

  3. I shall, as always, be eagerly anticipating the trip reports.

    Ben, I hope you forgo using points for a chain hotel in Fiji and splurge for one of the great independent resorts. I’m personally very fond of the peaceful Royal Dauvi. Laucala looks stunning and apparently is a bounty of unique activities; I’ve never been but a very picky friend of mine says it is truly spectacular. And it should be since even a short, stopover stay would set you back several thousand dollars.

    Are we going to have the pleasure of reading about this past experience with Emirates and your curiously brief stay in Mauritius? I may be in the minority but I still do enjoy the Emirates’ reviews.

    Did you decide to do Russia?!? Oh, I so hope you’re going.

  4. Argh I’m jealous — I couldn’t find availability for this summer (started looking at the window too) for NAN-HKG or NAN-LAX so I ended up booking NAN-BNE-SYD-HND/NRT-ORD-DCA as two separate awards. I will have to vicariously enjoy your long-haul FJ experience.

  5. Congrats, not only it’s nice the new carriers but also the new destinations. You sure do listen to your readers.

  6. Definately Fiji Air…please include lounge options/experiences!! Also wine and liquor selection on board.

    I pretty much cashed out my AA miles on 777-300 First to HKG, and I don’t imagine collecting more, so AS miles are where I’m focused now.

    Have a great trip!

  7. Change your booking, Ben, so that you have a proper stover in Tahiti (I realize it’ll cost more) and invite your bf for a Bora Bora vacation. Then you can compare Bora Bora to the Maldives.

  8. Ben, you should have booked an award trip to Auckland with air Tahiti and then booked a revenue flight back through Fiji. That flight in business class is only ~$1200 and you get to earn AS miles.

  9. Wow – nice job finding TN J awards! Just curious though how did you find the space? Did you seriously call everyday and check? Do you know the algorithm that TN uses to release space? Did you have someone else call on your behalf and check? AFAIK the only way to find TN space is to call, correct? TN space isn’t displayed on BA or AS or anywhere else?

  10. @ stu — I searched the space on ExpertFlyer, and after searching across a few weeks of dates managed to find availability.

  11. Ben! Super pumped for fiji trip report! We have the middle parts of our trip locked in. NAN-SYD-DOH. And looking at different options to get to fiji. Thanks so much!

  12. I am very interested in this story segment because I am currently planning this trip. I hope you will write about undiscovered nuggets that make the trip more cost effective and pleasurable.

  13. Ben, I flew TN LAX-PPT/PPT-LAX business class last August and was surprised to find out that not all of their A340s are equipped with the new angle flat business class seats.

    TN 102 that does AKL-LAX with a 2hr layover in PPT does usually have the new angled flat business class seats. Also, TN 8 that does PPT-CDG with a 2hr 20 min layover in LAX does have the new business class seats that you mentioned. Air Tahiti Nui LAX-PPT/PPT-LAX is equipped with the old 6 lie flat first class seats up front and 24 angled flat business class seats.

    The old seats was trashy and some didn’t recline. You picked a good flight to review the new business class seats, but I wish you would review the old business class in the future. It would be interesting to have your take on the old business class seats.

  14. As an Australian who has been to Fiji lots I can tell you flying 10 hours will be a letdown. While it is somewhat beautiful service is noticeable bad they call it “Fiji time” and all the hotels at denaru are average at best. Sheraton and Westin noticeably run down. But I am looking forward to your take on the islands and Fiji Air as for Australians it is a lot easier to go for a 2-3hour joint to get there than for Americans.

  15. @Henry, SeatGuru is only showing the updated configuration now. And the TN website doesn’t mention first class at all. I wonder if they’ve finished updating all of the 340-300s.

    @Donn, unless something has changed from the news reports at the time the 787 order was placed, they won’t get them until 2018.

  16. Ben, did you have any issues getting FJ seats? I am in the middle of booking a TYO-SYD-NAN-SYD-TYO trip at the moment. Last night managed to get the TYO-SYD and SYD-TYO legs on JAL, but the AAdvantage call centre – by amazing coincidence a lovely Fijian lady! – could not get the SYD-NAN and NAN-SYD legs. Inexplicably, they were showing as open for award booking, but when trying to get she kept getting the message that FJ had not released the awards. She then tried the same for a number of other dates and earlier months – same issue. However the same dates and flights are definitely bookable through the Alaskan awards site, so FJ have opened them up. So I wonder if FJ are deliberately holding back award seats to AAdvantage now, while the award chart devaluation is happening? What do you think?

  17. Ben,

    I lived and worked on Tahiti for a year awhile back and thus had several opportunities to fly on TN; however back then they were flying the a340 BEFORE the upgrade to what’s currently in use.

    Nonetheless I always enjoyed flying TN and am thus quite curious to read your report so I can compare the two. Safe and happy travels to you.

  18. I’m taking Fiji Airways from Hong Kong to Nadi in September so looking forward to read your report before my flight. Even more keen on the review of SPG properties in Fiji, help me make a good choice between the three they have there.

  19. Really looking forward to this one!
    LAX To NAN in economy with a 2 year old on what was then Air Pacific was one of our worst flight experiences ever. Only redeeming feature was that they served Fiji Water! Would love to head back to Fiji though.

  20. Flew LAX to Nandi and return on Fiji Airways last October in economy. It is a very long and uncomfortable flight and the food was mediocre from LAX and awful from Nandi on the return. Hope business class is a vast improvement. The Fijians are an exceptionally nice group of people however and the snorkeling was great so hope you get to snorkel while you are there. I can recommend the Blue Lagoon Cruises without reservation- the crew of that Fiji Princess ship could not have been nicer or more helpful and accommodating. Enjoy your stay there!!!

  21. Looking forward to Fiji review. I’ve been trying to book this as the first leg of a larger Australian holiday, but so far no luck.

  22. I’m interested in both of your reviews, although I wish you were going earlier to Tahiti to review ATN since I’ll be going at the end of June (on points of course!)

    Also very interested in your Fiji review as the stopovers really intrigue me on this award

  23. Some others have mentioned here – don’t stay at a hotel in Nadi. The Westin last year sucked. So bad that my wife tweeted to Westin in the middle of the night about the bed. Clearly the Heavenly Bed budget was spent elsewhere.

    Nadi is close to the Yasawa islands, where the people are the best part of the experience. Do whatever you can to get away from the Nadi area and see the real Fiji.

    I will note that Fiji is still recovering from the second largest storm ever measured to hit land. But the people will still welcome you.

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