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Deal alert: Wide open business-class award availability to Tahiti

July 24, 2021
7 min read
InterContinental Tahiti pool overlooking the ocean
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French Polynesia became a popular getaway for Americans when it reopened without a quarantine to those coming from the U.S. last year. It then experienced some setbacks and had to essentially close to international travelers for a number of months earlier this year. However, as of May 1, 2021, those traveling from the U.S. can again travel to Tahiti quarantine free with a negative laboratory RT-PCR test performed less than 72 hours before departure or an antigen test performed less than 48 hours prior to departure.

French Polynesia, which includes the postcard-perfect sought-after islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, is one of the most sought-after travel destinations on the globe.

With that, it has historically been one of the hardest places in the world to find low-priced airline award availability, especially in premium cabins. However, right now is an exception to that general rule as it appears Air France has brought the Los Angeles to Tahiti flight back to the schedule and there is currently wide-open availability to the tune of more than nine seats in the business class cabin on some flights next spring.

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The deal

We are currently seeing the best availability via Air France/KLM Flying Blue where one-way tickets from Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT) are available for 64,000 flying blue miles plus taxes and fees. While it was pretty hard to find good availability beyond that, I was able to book a business class award from New York (LGA) - Dallas (DFW) - Los Angeles (LAX) - Papeete (PPT) for 86,500 Flying Blue miles.

It's also worth knowing that Flying Blue is offering a transfer promotion of 30% on points transferred from American Express. That means there are really only 50,000 American Express points required for a one-way award ticket to Tahiti in business class.

Air France Boeing 777 F-GSPY Aircraft at PPT Tahiti (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

Your options for flying to Tahiti are quite limited despite it being a bucket list destination. Options from the United States consisted of just five routes prior to the pandemic.

  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT) on Air France: 3-4x per week
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT) on Air Tahiti Nui: 1-2x daily
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Papeete (PPT) on United: 3x per week
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Papeete (PPT) on French Bee: 2-3x per week
  • Honolulu (HNL) to Papeete (PPT) on Hawaiian Airlines: 1-2x per week

Related: The best ways to get to Tahiti using points and miles

Is it worth it?

While Air France has not officially announced the resumption of this route, it looks as if it returns to the schedule on Sept. 9, 2021.

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While award availability is relatively hard to find this fall, award availability is wide open next spring. What makes this so notable is prior to the pandemic, finding an award flight to Tahiti was nearly impossible.

(Photo by Erik SAMPERS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

According to some research by our own Nick Ewen on pre-pandemic flights to Tahiti via Air France, just four of the 9,505 total searches for business-class awards were successful (0.04%). However, after some research the past few days, I am currently seeing up to 12 award seats in business class on many flights for the month of May.

Related: TPG Points Lab: Finding award availability on flights to Tahiti

Sample Itinerary

As mentioned, the award availability for this fall is nothing too notable, looking similar to pre-COVID results. However, the winter and spring months are where we are seeing availability.

Here are examples of what we found available:

(Screenshot courtesy of FlyingBlue.com)
(Screenshot courtesy of FlyingBlue.com)
(Screenshot courtesy of FlyingBlue.com)
(Screenshot courtesy of FlyingBlue.com)

Boosting your Membership Reward balance

The best way to earn Flying Blue miles is by using a transferrable points credit card.

You can transfer points to Flying Blue from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Amex, Citi and Chase transfer at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One transfers at a 1:1.5 ratio and Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus awarded for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

However, as mentioned, American Express Membership Rewards is currently offering a 30% transfer bonus to Flying Blue. This bonus drops the effective rate of a 64,000-mile award to around 50,000 Membership Rewards points if you have those available to transfer.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite Amex cards and their current welcome offers. Each of these cards has its own set of benefits and fees, so you'll need to do a bit of research to see which is best for you.

The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Move over Sapphire: Why I almost always go for Membership Rewards instead of Ultimate Rewards

Bottom line

It is incredibly rare to see such widespread business class award availability to Tahiti. Pre-pandemic, we would sometimes have trouble locating even one ticket in the entire published schedule, so nine on one flight is virtually unheard of. If you want these flights, we recommend locking them in now. As we have learned in the past, the airline's schedule could always change that far in advance, but it may be worth it to have these in your pocket just in case it all works out.

For rates and fees of Amex Platinum, please click here

For rates and fees of Amex Gold Card, please click here

For rates and fee of Amex Green Card, please click here

Featured image by InterContinental Tahiti (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more