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Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Types of Awards & Charts
- Part 3 – How Much Will My Award Cost?
- Part 4 – One-way, Openjaws, Stopovers, & North American Gateway Cities
- Part 5 – American Airlines, Alaska Airlines & Hawaiian Airlines for North American Awards
- Part 6 – International Award Routes
- Part 7 – Finding British Airways Award Availability
- Part 8 – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability using the British Airways Website
- Part 8b – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability using Japan Airlines’ Website
- Part 9 – Finding Iberia (& European) Award Availability using the Qantas Website
- Part 10 – Finding LAN & South American Award Availability
- Part 11 – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with FlightStats
- Part 11b – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with ExpertFlyer
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
Go to the Flight Stats homepage and click on “Flights.”
Then click on “Flight Availability” in the drop-down menu.
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”
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.
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.
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!