Deal alert: Wide open business-class award availability to Tahiti
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 Platinum Card® from American Express: 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines or with American Express Travel (earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5 points perp dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel (including Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of account opening. Earn 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x points), 3 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines or American Express Travel and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- American Express® Green Card: 45,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Earn 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, travel and transit (including flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, and ridesharing services) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. ($150 annual fee; see rates and fees).
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.
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 courtesy by Summer Hull/The Points Guy
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