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

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

Don’t forget to follow me on  Facebook or Twitter!

Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:

Note:  You can search for award flights on Air Tahiti Nui using FlightStats as well, but I prefer using ExpertFlyer because it is easier to use and has more features including the ability to send you an email when an award seat opens up.

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

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

However, I prefer using ExpertFlyer which is 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.  The links to ExpertFlyer in this post are my referral links, but I’ve had a paid subscription to ExpertFlyer for over 2 years.

ExpertFlyer offers a 5-day free trial or you can buy a 12 month subscription for the price of 10 months.

You can also search for up to 1 week at a time with ExpertFlyer instead of 1 day at a time with FlightStats.  This makes it quicker to zero in on award availability.

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.

Do note that American Airlines has a strange rule which requires the international airline, Air Tahiti Nui, in this case to have a published fare in order to book it on an award ticket.

For more details, see #3 in this post by MileValue.

Using Expertflyer for Air Tahiti Nui Awards

Segment 1  – Los Angeles to Papeete

Step 1 – Log-In

Log into your ExpertFlyer account and click on “Awards & Upgrades” in the blue column on the left.

Air Tahiti Nui Awards

Step 1 – Click “Awards & Upgrades

Step 2 – Enter Search Details

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

2 A) I enter:

  • “Los Angeles” in the “Departing Airport” box
  • Papeete” in the “Arriving Airport” box
  • 06/25/2013” in the “Depart Date” box

Be sure to:

  • Click on the box which says “Exact Date” and
  • Select “+- 3 days” to see award availability for 7 days or 1 week at a time!
Air Tahiti Nui Awards

Step 2 – Enter Your Search Details

2 B) I then select “Air Tahiti Nui” from the “Airline” drop-down menu.

2 C) I then click:

  • Business – Award (I) and/or
  • Coach – Award (W)

You can book 1-way awards on American Airlines, so it doesn’t hurt to see award availability for both business and coach.

And finally, I click onSearch at the bottom of the screen.

Step 3 – Results

We then see options for  the 2 Air Tahiti flights from Los Angeles to Papeete.  Since we selected the “+-3 Days” option we see award availability for 7 days – from the 22nd to the 28th of June.

Air Tahiti Nui Awards

Step 3 – Air Tahiti Nui Award Availability

I see that flight TN 7 has 1 award seat in Business Class and 4 seats in coach.

Flight TN 101 has no seats in business class, but 7 seats in coach.

Step 4 – Write Down Flights

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

TN 7  from Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT) departing at 16:30 on June 25 and arriving in Papeete on June 25 at 10:00 pm in business.

If you want to search for coach class awards, repeat step 1 to 4 above, but search for “W” inventory or “Coach – Award.”

Step 5 – Set Seat Alerts if Needed

You can set an alert in ExpertFlyer which will email you when an award seat opens up.  This is one of the main reasons why I pay for ExpertFlyer.

Let’s say you want to set an alert for 1 business class seat on flight TN 101.

Click the little Exclamation Sign (!) at the right of the search results

Air Tahiti Nui Awards

Step 5 – Set a Seat Alert

Then follow these steps:

  • Assign a name to your seat alert
  • Select which class – in our example “Business – Award (I)
  • Click the box which sets “Send Test Email
  • Click “Verify and Create
Air Tahiti Nui Awards

Enter Seat Alert Details

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

You can use ExpertFlyer to search for Air Tahiti Nui awards 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!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 6,500+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in a RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update on award searches!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

  1. Loved the walk-thru! It makes me want to go!

  2. Since BA is also One World would the same apply for BA?
    I know that Quantas code shares with Air Tahitia Nui, but I have never been able to find availability on BA ,LAX-Papetee

    • @Kimbra – Unfortunately, BA is not a partner of Air Tahiti Nui so you can’t use BA miles for the flights from the US to Tahiti. Air Thahit Nui is not a oneworld airline – it just happens to have a partnership with AA (and with Delta).

  3. @MMS, thank you for the clarification, love my BA avios, so I will just us on AA instead. Thanks for all your tips!!

  4. Hello Darius,
    Excellent post. I need your help with “Avios” points!
    I have heard that I can use Avios to book flights on AA to Hawaii. Can’t figure out how to do it.
    Would please point me to one of your posts. I am sure you have posted something on this. I simply can’t find it. I need to decide whether to transfer my MR points to Avios at 40% bonus within couple days!! If I can make use of Avios properly on domestic travel, I am going. Also, I have SW companion card. Since SW does not fly to Hawaii, I find value in booking using Avios, otherwise SW is as good for domestic travel. Thanks a bunch!

  5. @ vrt, you can find availability using avios from LAX – HNL on AA flight. I live in dallas its easier to my experience its easier to find availability from West cost then from other. Since you have the Companion pass in SW, you can easily find on from LAX, i just looked up on on oct 14 to oct 22 on BA.com, wekk Darius will have better knowledge from other cites.

  6. thanks adnan. I can see AA availability on AA.com But how do i use Avios?
    Also if I am not mistaken, if I use Avios I end up using less points compared to AA points.

  7. Yes you use less point, log on to BA website, then select
    Spending Avios (on the left column)–>Book Flights with Avios–>
    Select your airports–> then BA will give you msg that it does not fly there then click on Include Partners, then you will see if there are any flights, it might show, there is no available flights, you can click on “search 7 days late” or “7 days erlier” to see when they have one available, one person return fom lAX to HNL is 25000 avios…

  8. Hmm… I could get to Spending Avios (on the left column)–>Book Flights with Avios–>
    Select your airport. But couldn’t find option to click on “include Partners”. I get this message “British Airways and its partners do not fly this route. Please consider alternative destinations or call your Executive Club Service Centre.” I trying to book pdx–>hnl

  9. Ok. The screen came up when I changed from pdx to lax

  10. Great post!
    As you mentioned in your prior post, Korean Air seems to be a better option since it only require 60k for coach and 90k for business. I personally only flew Korean Air once on coach and am very satisfied with the airline. Do you mind start a review on Korean Air and how to use Korean Air miles to fly to Bora Bora? Korean Air could be a dark horse that we all overlooked and it is also an instant transfer partner with Chase points.

    Something off the topic – I was jealous after reading you Bora Bora trip and am motivated to start my credit card churn. Thanks a lot!
    Since I need to get an mortgage pretty soon, my churning applications are actually all under my wife’s name. Here is what I got today:
    1. US Airway Barclay World Master 60K – instant approved
    2. Chase Priority Club Visa Signature 80K – called Chase reconsideration line and approved in 1 minutes
    3. Citi Hilton Visa Signature 50K – instant approved
    4. same to 3 using 2-browser trick 50K – instant approved
    5. Amex Hilton HHonors 50K – instant approved

    Thanks a lot for the good work and providing me enough incentive to my 290K miles and points. A day not too shabby for me.

    • @vrt – If you see low level (MileSAAver availability) on AA.com, you can call BA to book those same flights if you can’t seen it on the BA website.

      @Adnan – Thanks for helping out!

      @JX – Korean Air doesn’t fly to Tahiti, but their partner airline Air France does. I’ll do some digging on how to book a flight with them. Congrats on the churn. Looks like you’re getting the hotel stay in Tahiti taken care off!

  11. Mr. MMS and friends, please help out here on my planning of Vegas trip.
    Here is the background – I plan to spend a week in the sin city starting 12/30 (+/- 1day) to 1/6 (+/-1day) for my family of 3. My wife’s flight and 4 nights of hotel will be reimbursed by her employer.
    Here is my plan –
    1. fly US Airway from Chicago to Las Vegas, using 2 $99 companion tickets; this option is subject to blackout dates 12/30, 1/5 and 1/6.
    2. using Point to stay at Pallazo/Venetian (Priority Club), or Westin (SPG), or Cosmo (Marriott).
    I am not so concerned about my hotel stays but would like to know if there are other better way to handle my commute from Chicago to Las Vegas. Yes, I thought of getting the Southwest companion pass but we have 3 persons. Plus, I would like to wait till next January to do that to get my companion pass status for 2013 AND 2014.
    Any helps or comments are appreciated. Thanks,

  12. @Darius enjoyed this post.. waiting for the whole, i think i m going to book a trip once you finish posting rest of the post.

    • @JX – If you have British Airways Avios points, it will be only 10K each way for the same flights which American Airlines would charge 12.5K for. If American Airlines has availability at the MileSAAver level, you can book those same flights with British Airways. Another option could be to use Citi Thank You points (if you have them) for the air fare.

      @adnan
      – It will take a while for me to complete, but I’ll try to finish it as soon as possible.

  13. @ Darius .. take your time…. i figured it will take time like the post on paris, i dont plan to go till June/july

  14. @ Darius ..
    Thanks a lot. The problem for flying around peak season is no saver available at AA. As for Citi Thankyou points, would you please elaborate a bit on why this is a good option? Thanks much,

  15. Thanks Darius.

  16. did EF get rid of this functionality? I dont see the upgrade/award section when i log in anymore?

  17. I will be booking a round trip first class to Amsterdam in a week or so, using both AA miles and United miles. How do I know which aircraft I would prefer to book on, or will it change in the next 10-11 months anyhow?
    Thanks, I love your blog!
    Gail

    • @Gail – Thanks for reading! You can use seatguru to see the different types of planes, but there might be schedule changes where the plane changes. But I wouldn’t stress too much on the type of plane!

  18. Pingback: Cathay Pacific Redeem | Million Mile Secrets

  19. Pingback: Air Tahiti Nui Award Booking | Million Mile Secrets

  20. *takes a bow* to the gurus of award travel.

    I cannot thank Darius enough for the enlightening post for AAdvantage powered vacation to FP.
    I’m following the post step by step to ensure the benefits highlighted. I’m wondering how to get around from Tahiti to Bora Bora for less. Air Tahiti (not Nui) offers round trips at XPF 37500, which obviously seems outrageously expensive. Are there any other options? Should I take a different approach than simply going to their website and looking up fares?

    I am sure many of the visitors here would have some thoughts to share on this. Please pour in.

    Thanks aprior.

    • @AA – You can get 2 Citi Thank You cards for 50K points or ~$665 in travel on any airlines when booked through their travel portal. You can then use these points to buy the flights from Tahiti to the other islands on Air Tahiti.

  21. Pingback: 6 Great Places to Dive with Sharks – Part 2 | Mile Adventures

  22. Hey Darius, Since this is the last post of this series could you add one more on the series with booking for Royal Jordanian. I could not find any resource explaining how to find RJ awards from DTW.

  23. Hey D,

    I’m looking to book a flight to Bora Bora for my wedding next August.

    How far out do you generally see availability for this flight? I just tried to do some basic checks on ExpertFlyer. Tried August of this year –> February of next year, choosing the first Sunday to the next Wed. +/- 3 days and I found no award availability from LAX to PPT on any flights! Just business upgrages?

    Any thoughts on this? I created an alert for a flight for May of next year to see if anything pops up and hopefully that gives me a heads up for when August is going to be available, but figured you might have insight.

  24. @Million Mile Secrets

    I wasn’t. I tried searching directly for Air Tahiti Nui instead of AA on ExpertFlyer and saw some options, is that what I need to do? Then I’ll just call AA with the Air Tahiti Nui flight?

  25. Love your site! Been trying to read and absorb all this information so I can book my honeymoon next year. I’m looking to go to Bora Bora and New Zealand towards the end of September 2015 and into October 2015 for about three weeks. I’ve seen postings for Bora Bora, but haven’t seen much for using points to book flights to New Zealand. Any recommendations on booking the legs from Bora Bora to New Zealand and back to LAX? We currently have the following miles:
    Citi Business – 50k
    Citi Platinum – 50k (spouse has same deal)
    Barclay US Airways – 50k (spouse has same deal)
    Chase Ink – 100k available up to date (spouse has same deal)
    SPG – 50k

  26. Pingback: Air Tahiti Nui airlines flight: Tahiti to Los Angeles