Air Tahiti Nui adds Seattle route and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partnership
Air Tahiti Nui is headed to the Pacific Northwest, and adding a big partner.
The French Polynesian flag carrier will begin flights between Papeete (PPT) and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) this fall — its second U.S. destination. In addition, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will soon be able to earn and redeem miles on Air Tahiti Nui.
Air Tahiti Nui's Seattle flights will commence on Oct. 4, using the carrier's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The 9 hour, 25-minute long flight from Papeete departs as TN52 on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10:00 p.m. and arrive in Seattle at 10:25 a.m. the next day, all times local. The 9 hour, 30-minute return flight to Papeete departs Seattle as TN51 at 12:40 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays and arrives in Papeete at 7:10 p.m.
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Starting April 1, Alaska Mileage Plan members can earn miles flying Air Tahiti Nui, and Alaska Airlines has already published its earnings chart. Redemptions on Air Tahiti Nui will become available later this spring.
Paid business class fares on Air Tahiti Nui will earn a minimum of 125% of the miles flown, while premium economy earns a 105% minimum. (TPG's Clint Henderson recently reviewed Air Tahiti Nui's premium economy.) Papeete is 4,784 miles from Seattle, and Mileage Plan is the last major U.S. frequent flyer program that earns redeemable miles entirely based on the distance flown.
TPG will be watching closely for Alaska to publish its award chart for Air Tahiti Nui, which will easily become one of the most aspirational Mileage Plan partners.
More: Well worth the wait: Air Tahiti Nui to French Polynesia in premium economy
The new partnership stops short of being a codeshare, so don't expect enhanced benefits if you're connecting via Alaska Airlines to this new flight at the airline's Seattle hub.
"It is with great enthusiasm that we are launching this new direct service to the Pacific Northwest," said Mathieu Bechonnet, Air Tahiti Nui's managing director, in a statement. "This will help the further development of tourism to French Polynesia, including from the market of Western Canada. Alaska Airlines is the perfect partner for this, and we are looking with great excitement at the new commercial opportunities that lay ahead. This will strongly reinforce the position of Air Tahiti Nui as the leading airline for services to and from Tahiti."