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

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

Million Mile SecretsBook American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 11b – Finding Air Tahiti Nui Awards to France & French Polynesia with ExpertFlyerMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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.

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

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

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!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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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

@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?

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.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@Bora Bora! – Are you seeing coach flights?

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.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@Vaibhav – RJ can be booked on the AA.com website.

*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.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@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.

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