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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
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.
Step 2 – Enter Search Details
Let’s say I want to check availability from Los Angeles to Papeete on June 25, 2013.
- “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!
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 on “Search” 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.
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
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“
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.
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!