United Launching Nonstop Dreamliner Flights to Tahiti
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Have you ever been to Bora Bora? Getting from the US mainland to the French Polynesian island's gateway of Papeete, Tahiti can be a pain, especially if you're hoping to redeem miles. Come October 30, 2018, however, there will be a new option.
That's the date United plans to launch nonstop service from San Francisco (SFO) to Papeete (PPT). The airline will fly between the two airports three times per week with a 787 Dreamliner, with seasonal service through March 28, 2019 on the following schedule:
- UA115 San Francisco (SFO) 2:45pm Departure ⇒ Papeete (PPT) 9:25pm Arrival
- UA114 Papeete (PPT) 11:45pm Departure ⇒ San Francisco (SFO) 9:50am (+1) Arrival
Flights will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays in each direction. From Papeete, passengers can continue on to other nearby destinations, including Moorea and Bora Bora, both just a few miles from PPT.
The airline considers Tahiti to be in the Oceania region — based on today's rates, United-operated flights to PPT will run 35,000 miles each way in economy and 70,000 each way in business class, if you're able to find saver availability.
While United tends to be fairly generous with its award space, after some searching on the carrier's site, we're finding that the carrier isn't releasing much saver award space, at least around the date of the inaugural. This means you'll have to fork over a staggering 160,000 MileagePlus miles plus $58 in taxes and fees if you want to fly on the inaugural flight.
If you're looking to fly in lie-flat comfort, get ready to shell out a positively eye-watering 350,000 MileagePlus miles plus the same $58 in taxes and fees.
Given these high mileage rates and slim saver availability, there are a few ways through which you could book these flights that make more sense than shelling out 160,000 or 350,000 MileagePlus miles, depending on class of service. If you're a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, you could book directly through the Chase travel portal where your Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents per point and still earn miles for your United flights. Coach tickets for trips departing on the day of the inaugural flight will run you $1,467 round-trip.
If you're looking to fly in business class and have either The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN or the Amex Business Centurion card, it'll certainly be worth considering using the 35%-point rebate with the Biz Plat, or the 50% rebate that you'll get as a Business Centurion cardholder. Paid business class fares will run you $4,384 round-trip if you depart on the inaugural flight.
The new route is subject to government approval — as are all new international flights — however I can't imagine this not being a hit with a region so dependent on tourism. There are just a few other ways to get to Tahiti from the US, so this add from United will certainly give customers more choice in getting to one of the world's more exotic destinations. Currently, both Air France and Air Tahiti Nui fly nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) to PPT, and Hawaiian Airlines flies seasonally to PPT from Honolulu (HNL).