French Polynesia is an award I get asked to book frequently through my Award Booking Service, including awards to the main tourist islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Mo’orea. Award space is excellent to French Polynesia with American Airlines miles year round.

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Here’s the thing: you can only book awards to Tahiti. To get anywhere else in French Polynesia, you need to book a paid flight (or redeem Arrival miles) to Mo’orea or Bora Bora.

American Airlines miles are the best way to get to Tahiti from the United States, flying on partner Air Tahiti Nui (which is separate from Air Tahiti.) American considers Tahiti to be a part of the South Pacific, so it charges:

  • 37,500 miles each way in economy
  • 62,500 miles each way in Business Class
  • there is no way to use American Airlines miles to fly Air Tahiti Nui First Class

Air Tahiti Nui Award Space

Air Tahiti Nui’s only flight to the United States is to Los Angeles. To book an American Airlines award from somewhere else to Tahiti, you will search from your home airport to Los Angeles on aa.com.

You can search for Air Tahiti Nui space for free by calling American at 800-882-8880, but I do my research before calling on Expert Flyer. See Free First Class Next Month: Using expertflyer.com.

The fare classes to check are I for Business and W for economy. If you check A, you can see First Class space. Unfortunately Air Tahiti Nui doesn’t release First Class space to AA, or AA blocks the space, so adding class A to the search is not necessary.

You can search Air Tahiti Nui award space up to 331 days in advance. Eleven months out, Air Tahiti Nui often releases 2 Business Class and 4 or 6 Economy Class seats, though that is not uniform on every flight. Here is the award space for 11 months from now from Los Angeles to Tahiti. Four of the six flights have 2 Business Class seats, and all the flights have 4+ economy seats.

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The flights from Tahiti to Los Angeles show the same pattern.Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.03.02 PM

High Season

Unfortunately 11 months from now is the rainy season. The high (and dry season) in French Polynesia is April to October. Award space is much more widely available during these months of 2015 in economy. For instance, these flights from April 8 to 10 have 2-7 economy award seats per flight, but none in Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.05.19 PM

The return also shows a lot of economy space, though it also shows 3 Business Class seats one day.
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Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

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Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate in April 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase on this card will disappear soon. All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles

Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by April. That’s enough for two roundtrips with American Airlines miles to Tahiti.

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