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How to fly to Tahiti (and Bora Bora) with miles

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Tahiti, and its French Polynesia neighbor island Bora Bora are near the top of any exotic honeymoon bucket list.

Getting there isn’t cheap, and you’ll usually pay well over $1,000 for a ticket, so saving up miles can be a big money saver that lets you spend more on an overwater bunglaow.

If you want to fly direct from the U.S., you have three options to Papeete, the international airport in Tahiti:

  • Los Angeles – Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui (use American AAdvantage® or Delta SkyMiles®)
  • Honolulu – Papeete on Hawaiian Airlines (use Hawaiian Miles or Korean Skypass)
  • Los Angeles – Papeete on Air France (use Air France Flying Blue, Korean Skypass, Delta SkyMiles®, or Alaska MileagePlan)

From there you can get to Bora Bora with a quick flight on Air Tahiti, but Air Tahiti isn’t part of any mileage program, so you’ll have to book that ticket with cash or points that turn into cash for travel. Tickets usually run around $350 roundtrip.

Award space on all flight options to Tahiti is relatively difficult, so you’re going to have to search several options.

You can search for space on Air France flights by setting up a free account on the Air France website. Hawaiian space can be found on Hawaiian’s website, which also involves setting up a free account.

Air Tahiti Nui space can be verified by calling American Airlines or using ExpertFlyer.com, a paid service.

Best bets with Chase, Amex, or Citi Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used to book flights on both Air France and Air New Zealand.

Book With… Fly With… Economy Price (Round Trip) Business Class Price (Round Trip) Transfer Ratio Transfer Time
United MileagePlus Air New Zealand 70,000 150,000 1:1 Instant
Singapore KrisFlyer Air New Zealand 110,000 195,000 1:1 Within 2 business days
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Air France 60,000 150,000 1:1 Instant
British Airways Avios LATAM 110,000+ 330,000+ 1:1 Instant

Expect to pay about $450 in fuel surcharges roundtrip when flying Air France Business Class to Tahiti, when you use Air France miles, and finding award space is spotty. If you want to fly in Economy, fuel surcharges will be a much more reasonable $100 or so.

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United MileagePlus and Singapore KrisFlyer miles can be used to book flights on Air New Zealand, but finding award space is tough given you have to fly through Auckland and the Auckland to Papeete flight runs only 2 or 3 times a week.

If you can score it though, United will let you book a free stopover in New Zealand as part of its Excursionist Perk program.

British Airways Avios can be used to book flights on LATAM through Santiago. British Airways has a distance based award chart, so pricing is dependent on how long your flights are and how many segments you have.

American Express Membership Rewards®

American Express Membership Rewards points® present even more options for booking flights to Tahiti. Note that some of these airline programs are also transfer partners for Chase, so they provide the opportunity to pool points into the same program if you wouldn’t otherwise have enough.

Book with… Fly with… Economy Price (Round Trip) Business Class Price (Round Trip) Transfer Ratio Transfer Time
ANA Mileage Club Air New Zealand 75,000 120,000 1:1 2-3 Days
Asia Miles (LAX – AKL – PPT) Air New Zealand 90,000 145,000 1:1 ~1 Day
Air Canada Aeroplan Air New Zealand 90,000 160,000 1:1 Instant
Singapore KrisFlyer Air New Zealand 110,000 195,000 1:1 12-24 Hours
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Air France 60,000 150,000 1:1 Instant
Delta SkyMiles Air France, Air Tahiti Nui 110,000+ 230,000+ 1:1 Instant
British Airways Avios LATAM 110,000+ 330,000+ 1:1 Instant
HawaiianMiles Hawaiian 95,000 175,000 1:1 Instant

Air France / KLM Flying Blue and Delta SkyMiles can both be used for flights on Air France. While Flying Blue charges you the $100 or so in fuel surcharges in Economy and $450 in Business Class,  you’ll pay about half the number of miles compared to Delta SkyMiles, so you’re better off booking with Flying Blue. Delta miles do let you book Air Tahiti Nui flights though, giving you more award space options.

ANA, Asia Miles, Air Canada, and Singapore KrisFlyer miles can all be used to book flights on Air New Zealand, if you can manage to find space down to Auckland.

British Airways Avios can be used to book flights on LATAM through Easter Island. British Airways also has a distance based award chart, so pricing is dependent on how long your flights are and how many segments you have. If this is the way you are set on going, transferring Chase points presents better value than transferring Membership Rewards points

Citi ThankYou® Points

If you have only Citi ThankYou points, all of the options are on the expensive side except for Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles and Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles.

Book with… Fly with… Economy Price (Round Trip) Business Price (Round Trip) Transfer Ratio Transfer Time
Asia Miles (LAX – AKL – PPT) Air New Zealand 90,000 145,000+ 1:1 1 Day
Singapore KrisFlyer Air New Zealand 110,000 195,000 1:1 2 Days
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Air France 60,000 150,000 1:1 2 Days
Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles LATAM 54,000 96,000 1:1 2 Days

Malaysia Airlines award redemption process isn’t well known, and you will still have to pay fuel surcharges. Pair that with an unknown transfer time and you might be better off spending extra miles to book with Air France, especially if you are booking in Economy.

Alaska MileagePlan Miles

Alaska Airlines MileagePlan presents good value redemptions as long as you can find the award space and actually get your hands on Alaska Airlines miles.

Alaska Airlines is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest® at a 1:1 ratio. You will receive a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer in increments of 20,000 points.

Book With… Fly With… Economy Price (Round Trip) Business Price (Round Trip)
Alaska Airlines MileagePlan Air France 80,000 (ends March 2018) 120,000 (ends March 2018)

The nice thing about using Alaska Airlines miles to book flights on Air France is that no fuel surcharges will need to be paid, but unfortunately as of March, 2018, Air France flights to Tahiti won’t be bookable with Alaska miles.

Business Class already costs fewer miles than booking directly through Air France, and while Economy Class costs more the cash savings probably make it worth it.

A great benefit of Alaska Airlines miles is that a stopover is allowed on one-way bookings. This means if you book a round trip ticket, you can stopover somewhere on both the outbound and the inbound flight. The downside, however, is that partners cannot be combined on a one-way booking. You can only fly on a single partner plus Alaska Airlines’ own flights.

American AAdvantage® Miles

American AAdvantage® miles are probably the most useful for getting to Tahiti.

You can use AA miles to book flights to Tahiti with Air Tahiti Nui, Qantas, and Fiji Airways. Routing is also available on LATAM if you’re willing to spend more miles.

Book with… Fly with… Economy Price (Round Trip) Business Price (Round Trip)
American AAdvantage Air Tahiti Nui 80,000+ 160,000+

Using AA miles to fly Air Tahiti Nui is the most direct way to Tahiti from the U.S., but you can also redeem your AAdvantage® miles via Australia/New Zealand on Qantas or American Airlines, and via Nadi on Fiji Airways.

Air Tahiti Nui tends to have pretty decent award space in Economy Class, less so in Business Class, which is also an angled lie flat product, so keep that in mind.

You can use American Airlines miles to fly LATAM via Santiago, Chile, but this will force two separate awards to price for a total of 90,000 miles in Economy and 165,000 miles in Business.

This is a very small premium to pay if that’s the only availability you can find, but it’s not an easy routing for availability anyway – your best bet for booking is exactly 331 days in advance if you want to go this route.

Which is best?

The best option for booking your flights to Tahiti is probably going to end up being whatever is available.

Availability for award travel to Tahiti tends to be quite difficult to find, and the less flexible you are, the less likely you will be able to find available seats. Air New Zealand is pretty stingy with award space and Air Tahiti Nui isn’t much better (and they also have an angled flat Business Class).

You have a decent chance of finding LAN award space as long as you look exactly 331 days before booking.

Keep in mind that most flights to Tahiti don’t operate every day, and some operate as little as once per week. This can make flexibility even more important because options are already limited.

In terms of the best deals, assuming you have your choice of availability or are infinitely flexible, United and Alaska are the way to go. Both airlines offer competitive mileage prices, don’t pass on fuel surcharges, and allow one-way bookings for half the price of a round trip which provides more flexibility for your planning.

Should you use bank points as cash instead?

Booking with cash or bank points may well end up being your only option, considering that award flight availability to Tahiti is quite difficult to come by. Remember, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each toward travel purchases through the Chase Portal. If you are having trouble finding availability for your dates of travel, this may be the best way to go.

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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