Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 11 – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with FlightStats

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Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:

Air Tahiti Nui routes

Air Tahiti Nui flies 2 important routes from the US.

  • Los Angeles to Paris
  • Los Angeles to Papeete (capital of French Polynesia)

The Los Angeles to Paris route usually has great award availability, particularly in coach, so it is a great way to get to Europe using AA miles.

The flights from Los Angeles to Papeete (the capital of French Polynesia) are a lot harder to get, particularly in business class.  However, coach availability isn’t that bad and it is a night flight so you will hopefully be asleep through most of the flight.

Papeete is the furthest you can go from the US using miles to get to Bora Bora and other islands in French Polynesia.

Air Tahiti Nui has coach, business, and first class seats, but you can only book coach and business class seats on Air Tahiti Nui when you use American Airlines miles.  You can’t use American Airlines miles to fly First Class on Air Tahiti Nui.

Searching for air tahiti nui awards

The best free way to check Air Tahiti Nui award availability is by using the FlightStats website. 

However, I prefer using ExpertFlyer (a paid service) because you can set seat alerts and receive an email when award availability opens up and because it is easier to use. You can also search for up to 1 week at a time with ExpertFlyer.

I’ll cover using ExpertFlyer in tomorrow’s post.

We’ll be looking for “I” (business awards) and “W” (economy awards) on Air Tahiti Nui.

How to find air tahiti nui Award availability

Let’s say I want to find 1 seat from New York to Papeete, French Polynesia on June 25, 2013 in coach.

I can search on AA.com, but it won’t show Air Tahiti Nui award availability and will prompt me to call the reservation department.

So I break up my flight into segments.  I’ll first look for award availability from:

  • Los Angeles to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui using Flightstats or ExpertFlyer
  • Then New York to Los Angeles using AA.com

All these segments will cost me 37,500 miles for a 1-way coach award (or 62,500 for a 1-way business award) using American Airlines miles.

I’ll still pay 37,500 miles even if I book a flight with up to 4 segments or a direct flight with only 1 segment since American Airlines has a zone-based award chart.

After finding flights which work for me, I’ll write down their details (flight number, departing city, destination, departure time and date).  Then I will call American Airlines and feed the agent the flight numbers, segment by segment, to book the flights.

Using FlightStats for Air Tahiti Nui Awards

Segment 1  – Los Angeles to Papeete

Step 1

Go to the Flight Stats homepage and click on “Flights.”

Then click on “Flight Availability” in the drop-down menu.

Step 2

Let’s say I want to check availability from Los Angeles to Papeete on June 25, 2013.

I enter “Los Angeles” in the “Departure ” box and “Papeete” in the “Arrival” box and enter my Departure Date

I click the “Advanced” button because I want to specify results for only Air Tahiti Nui in the “Airline” field

Note:  Air Tahiti is the domestic airline within Tahiti, so make sure you select Air Tahiti Nui, and not just Air Tahiti.

And finally, I click on “Search Flight Availability

Step 3

I then see options for Air Tahiti flights.  Ignore the flight options from LAS (Las Vegas) to Los Angeles (LAX) because we’re only interested in the option from Los Angeles to Papeete.

Click anywhere in the box to see the options.

Nui Award Booking 3

Step 3 – Click to See Your Options

Step 4

We see that flight TN 101 has no seats in the “I” inventory bucket for business class awards, but has 4 seats in the “W” inventory bucket for coach awards.

AIr Tahiti Nui Award Booking 4

Step 4 – Flight Results

At this point, write down the flight details.  For example, I’d write down:

TN 101  from Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT) departing at 23:30 on June 25 and arriving in Papeete on June 26 at 05:00 am in coach.

If you want to search for business class awards, repeat step 1 to 4 above, but search for “I” inventory.

Segment 2  – New York to Los Angeles

Go to AA.com and search for MileSAAver (low-level) awards from New York to Los Angeles.

Check out Part 5 in the “Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro”series for more on how to use AA.com

I’d write down my flight information and then call American Airlines to book the sequence of flights for me.

Taxes and Fees

Booking an Air Tahiti Nui award using American Airlines miles is very cheap.

For example, it costs only $2.50 in taxes and fees for a coach award ticket from Los Angeles to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui.

And $49.10 for the return flight from Papeete to Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui.

You’ll have to pay a $25 telephone booking fee, but it is totally worth that fee to get access to partner airlines.

Calling American Airlines to make the booking

I’d then call American Airlines (1-800-433-7300) and ask them to put on hold (for up to 5 days) these specific flights which I found.

I’d then double check the flight on hold (dates, time, destination etc.) online and call back to ticket the flight.

Bottom Line:  FlightStats only lets you search for flights 1-day at a time, but it is free!  With a little practice, you’ll soon be able to  search for partner airline awards seats.

Or you can use ExpertFlyer for up to 1 week at a time, and set seat alerts to find award availability to French Polynesia and have Big Travel with Small Money!

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59 responses to “Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 11 – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with FlightStats

  1. When using FlightStats, and you want to look at various airlines, where do you find the info as to what code is for award seats for first, business, or coach?
    Thanks

  2. Awesome post, Darius! This is the type of information that makes your site one of my favorites. Looking forward to meeting you in LA in a few weeks. Coffee’s on you!

  3. Great post, thanks. Is this method also practical for other OW airlines?
    Also, do all airlines represent their award inventory by I and W codes, or just TN?

    • @Max – Air Tahiti Nui doesn’t partner with other oneworld airlines (not sure if that was your question). You can use Flight Stats to see availability for other airlines – see the fare bucket list in the posts in my reply to BBD above.

  4. Dariaus,
    I dont see Air Tahiti Nui being part of Oneworld, so how can you use AA miles to redeem on Air Tahiti Nui. Please enlighten me.
    Thanks!

  5. Dariaus,

    Just checked AA’s website and it is their expanded relationship with Air Tahiti Nui. This is wonderful! Maybe my spouse and I can get there on AA miles for our 20th anniversary. 🙂 Looking forward to more of your blog on your honeymoon2 ! 🙂 Congrats again!

  6. Every year I travel from NYC to SCL on LAN using AA or BA Miles. I usually book my tickets in September for Febuary the following year and every year I haven’t had a problem finding 40K round trip Economy Saver Off Peak tickets. Yesterday I attempted to book my flights for Febuary 2013 and I encountered 2 issues. The first issues is that the 20K each way super saver off peak is very very scarce. There was only 2 or 3 day per month where as in the past if I recall correctly there could be 20 days in a month at 20K. The second issue I encountered is when I contacted AA’s call center they told me that there system with LAN for booking award travel was being updated and it is not available. I asked a friend to day who works in corporate sales at LAN what the story was and he was aware of a system upgrade, but didn’t know how long it was going to take and what impact it will have on booking award travel in the future. I have two part question: 1. Does anyone know why there are fewer Economy super saver off peak tickets as compared to last year? Do you think availability of those super saver seats will open up later? and 2. Does anyone know about the upgrade to LAN’s award ticket booking system? How long will it take? Is only AA affected or is BA affected too? And what impact will this have for AA or BA mile holders looking to fly on LAN? Thank you in advance for any feedback.

  7. can we get a posting on how to use delta miles on partner airline? or is there one some where?

  8. Love your blog!
    I also had a question regarding Delta SkyMiles.
    I wanted to redeem miles for a trip for March 2013 LAX-CDG-JNB for AF business class. I was planning the trip last month on Delta.com. There were plenty of award seats available online at that time. One month later, I’m ready to book the trip now, but there is NOT ONE award seat available for AF business class for the entire month of March to CDG… I just checked Flightstatus for AF 65 for LAX-CDG on March 12, 2013, and it shows I/9 (I guess 9 seats avail for award?). Very confused…

  9. Is anyone able to pull up the flight availability for LAX – paris on air tahiti nui? I have tried several dates even without the advanced options and it returns not results.

    Thanks for the great info!

  10. Never mind, it seems to be working now.

    Would it be possible to do the free one way ticket trick flying air tahiti nui CDG – LAX (stop) – Hawaii booking with AA miles?

    • @Nick – Delta’s systems are broken, and you may need to call Delta (more than once!) to get it booked. For Air France “O” is the code for business awards.

      @hector – I’ve never tried it, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

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  12. did they remove TN? i can select it but queries always return zero results!

  13. I can’t seem to find any availability on Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Paris for any dates that I enter on Flightstats. It always returns zero results.

    • @jason @Doug Janette – I found a seat on ExpertFlyer in W class and it matched what FlightStats showed. Expertflyer could be easier to use since you can search for up to 1 week at a time. It also helps to search for 1 seat at a time.

  14. Can AS miles be used with this same process?

  15. Will flightstats be 100% correct as far as availability? I can’t see any LAX-PPT flights past 10 months out, yet if I look on ATNs website, they have flights right now for 11 months out. Also, when I search AA.com for LAX-PPT flights, it seems to show availability for certain dates almost 11 months out (though if I click on them, it says not available, so I’m not sure if they are available and I’d have to just call AA, or if it’s just an error). Any insight?

  16. Hi –

    Question – to check for award flight with Air Tahiti Nui using Delta miles – is it the same as with AA miles – same booking classes to check on FlightStats – or do I have to check for a different class?
    THX

  17. I see – thx – but now I saw that Delta requites 50K miles for a ticket – AA “only” 37.5K 🙁
    I have a lot of miles on my Amex and would like to use them – but AA is not part of the Amex program anymore. Any ideas how to get/transfer miles to an AA account?

  18. Hi,
    While flightstats shows Air Tahiti Nui flights for LAX > CDG with some availability, it doesn’t show any flights at all in the other direction CDG > LAX. I am not talking about seat availability, just flights. Do you know why this is?

  19. I tried to book a flight today by calling American. I looked up the LAX flight on flight stats and then called to book the reservation. I was told there was no availability at all on the LAX to CDG for any dates. Am I missing something?

  20. What are the rules for how far ahead FlightStats will show availability? I just tried to look for 330 days ahead with no luck – seems to be more like 300 days. That is not super useful since many people are snatching the seats at the 330 window. Suggestions, aside from EF?

  21. Pingback: AA and Partner Airline Award info, rules (NOT for oneworld Explorer Awards) - Page 250 - FlyerTalk Forums

  22. Hi, D! Because of this article, I was able to book 2 award coach fares LAX to PPT for my husband and I. I followed the steps you outlined above and it worked like textbook with a little bit of luck on my side as far as the dates I wanted ( leaving late October). THANK YOU 🙂
    – I only wish I can have the patience to learn how I could have tacked on a free leg/segment/stopover (to use for a future trip) with the award reservations I made 😮
    – I realize this has been covered before elsewhere…but perhaps a post (yes, AGAIN!) explaining better what are the different alphabet codes used by partner alliances for reward seats in economy, business and first class?

    • @airgypsy – Congratulations and thanks for sharing! You can have a stopover from LAX to anywhere in the US after you fly back to LAX from PPT. If you’ve already booked it may cost $150 to add, so may not be worth it.

  23. Pingback: The Wild Side of Tahiti: French Polynesia for cheap using Delta and American miles | Mile Adventures

  24. Thank you! just booked honeymoon to ppt using 150k AA miles from LAX! Followed your post exactly and it worked like a charm. Also added a leg to JFK for sometime next year for free!

  25. I also tried to book the LAX to CDG and see that there are W sears available but the AA agent (over 3 of them now), says there is no availability. Has this option changed?

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  27. Pingback: Air Tahiti Nui Awards | Million Mile Secrets

  28. Looking to get to PPT from HNL using UR on Hawaiian with converting the UR to KE miles. I’ve read it’s 30K in Y and 60K in F?

    Is that still the case?

    Thanks

  29. Anthony Sidlowski

    Darius, THANK YOU so much!
    I couldn’t find award flights on the American Airlines site for our vacation to Tahiti. It showed some seat availability, but not what we needed. My wife came across your website and sent me the link.
    I followed your instructions and found the EXACT award fares on the flights we wanted via the FlightStats site and called American with the info and now we are booked and ready to go!

    To anyone doubting your method, all I can say is try it because the airline systems don’t show all of the award availability and you may get lucky and find exactly what you want, just like I did.

    Being able to book the flights using my miles saved me from paying $3,400 out of pocket for the same seats I’m paying only $161 to cover taxes and booking via telephone fees!

    Thanks again,
    Anthony

  30. Thank you so much for this post! We’ve finally saved enough for another trip out to Bora Bora and I’ve been checking the AA.com website every day thinking we weren’t going to be able to do it because when I went to “Book Award Travel” absolutely no dates were showing up for us to even book! Or the ones that were showing up were few and far between and didn’t match up with the number of days we wanted to travel. I haven’t tried to book yet because our trip is a little ways out, but judging from the other comments I should have no problem. Thank you!!

    • @Rebecca – You’re welcome! Since this is a big trip, you could search for awards on a random day and then call AA to put them on hold. That way you get a bit of practice before it is time to book your award!

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  32. Hi,

    with flightstats.com, I use the method you mentioned to try Fiji Airways to fly from LAX to Nadi, or Air New Zealand to fly from Auckland to LAX. I did not see ‘I’ for business class in both cases (but I see W). Does that mean business class is not available?

    Which website can I check availability of Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand?

    Thank you very much for your info!

  33. Hello Darius, do you know if AA considers Tahiti for economy off-peak award any time of the year? Or if you could point me to where I can find the info…much appreciated.

    Thanks

  34. @greentea

    I believe you can use Alaskan Airlines website for award flights to Nadi on Fiji Airways.

  35. Hi,

    I have a question about AA policy. I was trying to book a flight from Europe. There was availability on US airways to PHL and I found on AA milesavver to my destination. However the agent told me that it would be 20000+12500 miles? I thought it was by segment and would totally cost 20000 to US.

    Thanks.

  36. The flightstats website has changed. I am not being able to see Flight availability. bummer

  37. Flightstats.com no longer has “FLIGHT AVAILABILITY” as one of the options listed

  38. Thanks so much for all the info. I have a flight to Tahiti booked for September thanks to your help. Unfortunately Hilton was ridiculously expensive via points (150,000/nt) so I have just applied and gotten approved for the IHG card (80K bonus). That’s an easy 1K spend. I hope they still have availability in another month. We are actually going on a 10 day cruise, so I only need 3 nights before (one in Papeete and 2 in Moorea). I used the Expert Flyer free 5 day trial to see the award availability but now that it is up, I don’t know if I travel enough to justify the $10/mo. I was hoping to monitor the flights so that after American and US airways merge I would have enough miles to upgrade to Business if I can find availability. I tried to use Flight Stats but all I see in the drop down under Flights is Flight Status and Flight Tracker, no option of “Flight Availability” is listed. Am I doing something wrong?

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  42. Just wanted to drop in and say thank you so much for the wonderful information! I just got home from Paris to LA last yesterday on Air Tahiti Nui. We flew business class on AA Advantage Miles on a lovely Airbus 340-300. While the seats were not completely lie flat the configuration was great for a restful flight. We departed from Terminal 2A at CDG and came right to a gate at LAX. The food and service on this flight was the best I have had on any long haul Business Class flight. Just wanted to take a moment to say thanks and affirm to other travellers that this is an excellent way to travel to Europe on AA miles.