Redeem American Airlines Miles: Part 14 — Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia

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Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia. American Airlines partners with Fiji Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui to offer the best options to these distant Pacific Islands.

 

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Partners for Pacific Islands Awards

American Airlines has two partners from outside its oneworld alliance that are based in the in the South Pacific:

  • Fiji Airways
  • Air Tahiti Nui

Award space on Fiji Airways is searchable on alaskaair.com. Here’s how to search alaskaair.com.

Award space on Air Tahiti Nui is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Pricing

From North America to the South Pacific, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles one way in economy
  • 80,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • There are no First Class options to these islands

These miles prices are the same as awards to Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to the miles, you pay government taxes on all awards. There are no fuel surcharges on these awards.

Routes & Award Space

Fiji Airways flies from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu to Nadi, Fiji. Air Tahiti Nui flies from Los Angeles to Pape’ete, Tahiti.

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You can connect to these flights in Los Angeles very easily on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights. This will cost you zero extra miles as long as the domestic award space is at the MileSAAver level, the cabin is the same or a lower tier than the transoceanic flight, and Fiji Airways or Air Tahiti Nui “publishes a fare” from your home airport to your destination, a concept explained in Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need.

Award Space on Fiji Flights

Award space is searchable on alaskaair.com. Any space you see there you can book with American Airlines miles by calling American Airlines. When booking with AA miles, you pay the prices listed above, not the prices listed on alaskaair.com.

You can search one month at a time by selecting flexible dates and then setting the calendar to show the cabin you prefer.

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My searches indicate that award space in economy is available most months, though a little less available during the peak dry season from June through October. Business Class award space is very rare.

All calendars in this section show searches for two people. Dates that say “40k” have economy award space, and dates that say “55k” have Business Class award space.

Los Angeles to Fiji

Here are economy results throughout the next 10 months starting with August (there is no availability in July):Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.21.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.22.56 PM

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Business Class space is super rare, but it does exist for a day here and there, especially if you can book 10 or 11 months out.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.31.00 PM

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Fiji to Los Angeles

Here are the calendars for return flights, which look pretty similar except there is no availability next month nor August.
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Business Class award space just really isn’t there, not even if you book far in advance. Except for this one pocket I found in September.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 1.05.49 PM

San Francisco to Fiji

This route is seasonal. It flies between mid June and mid August, which is peak tourism season. Here is July and August’s availability:

In July, there is award space for two people in Business Class on July 14, and that’s it. Apart from that there is no economy space.

In August, there is space for two people in Business Class on August 7, 11, and 14. Here are the days available in economy for two people:

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Calendar created on Award Nexus

 

There is currently no award space in Business nor economy on the direct return flight to San Francisco from Fiji.

Award Space on Air Tahiti Nui Flights

You can search one week at a time on Expert Flyer by filling in the search screen like this.

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A strong tendency I notice with Air Tahiti Nui award space is that the most Business Class space is available 10 to 11 months in advance. Space deteriorates in Business Class as the departure date approaches, but stays pretty consistently available in economy.

It does look as though they might release some Business Class space last minute, as there are two seats open next week on July 7, flying TN7.
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 1.58.12 PMFor the week I searched in September,  I saw one Business Class seat and up to six economy award seats. Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.07.37 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.08.31 PMFor the week I searched in December, I saw up to seven economy seats and three Business Class seatsScreen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.11.50 PMFor the week I searched in February, I again saw tons of economy seats, and two Business Class seats.

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For the week I searched in May, 10 months out, we start to see tons of Business Class space for two people– on almost every day that week.

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Air Tahiti is Not Air Tahiti Nui

I haven’t mentioned award space to any other French Polynesian islands yet like Bora Bora or Moorea. The reason is that American Airlines partners with Air Tahiti Nui, which flies only a few longhaul flights, all of which go to Tahiti.

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There is a separate airline called Air Tahiti that provides service among the French Polynesian islands. You can NOT book Air Tahiti flights with American Airlines miles.

These Air Tahiti flights are expensive. For instance, a roundtrip from Tahiti to Bora Bora this January would be 43,187 XFP francs, about $389 at current exchange rates.
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Just because you can’t use American Airlines miles on Air Tahiti flights doesn’t mean you have to pay cash though.

  1. You can use the $250 Air Travel Credit on your Citi Prestige® Card (and you’ll earn 3  ThankYou Points per dollar spent for an airfare purchase!)
  2. You can pay with Arrival miles at a net rate of 1.075 cents off the ticket for each Arrival mile redeemed.
  3. You can pay with ThankYou Points earned from the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which can be used like cash toward the purchase of any airline ticket. Points earned on the Prestige are worth 1.33 cents toward the purchase of any flight, so the roundtrip from Tahiti to Bora Bora would be 30,215 ThankYou Points.

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The bottom line is that you can get to the other islands of French Polynesia with points, but it is a separate and expensive ticket from the one that gets you to Tahiti.

Booking the Award

Search segment-by-segment to find award space from your airport to Los Angeles and award space on the flights to the South Pacific separately.

You need to book by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. The good news is that you will pay zero phone booking fee, since that fee was waived when an award can’t be booked online.

Pay your award taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the award taxes and fees on these ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy pay the taxes with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are good for getting to Fiji and Tahiti in economy, offer a smattering of Business Class throughout the year if you are flexible, and have a lot of seats available in Business Class if you can book 10+ months in advance.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles, which is more than enough to book one way in economy to Fiji and Tahiti, and almost enough to book a one way in Business Class.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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26 COMMENTS

    • To Fiji, search on alaskaair.com for your dates and see how space is. To Tahiti, search on aa.com or Hawaiianair.com for the Hawaiian flight. I don’t know which type of miles can book it most cheaply off the top of my head.

  1. I’ve booked an upcoming award ticket using AA miles on HA from PPT-HNL-LAX and then on USAirways from LAX-PHX in 1st class for 62,500 miles. I’ve pieced together other tickets for the outbound. How come no mention of using AA miles on HA?

    • Oversight. Good reminder. Note that from September 1, you can NOT book that award. You can book HNL-PPT-HNL on Hawaiian, but LAX-HNL and other mainland to Hawaii routes will be blocked to AA miles. (So you could book PHX-HNL-PPT with AA miles on US Airways/AA and Hawaiian flights, but not the exact award you booked.)

  2. “Peak dry season is November through April in French Polynesia.” <– do you have this right? I thought dry season was April – Sep. After following your suggestions on accumulating miles now is like to get the family there and getting there in wrong season would suck big time !!

    • Looks like I got that wrong. Wikipedia has great data on this if you ever want to check out rainy/dry season.

  3. Can I use AA miles (or alaska miles) to fly from the U.S. to vanuatu? I know Air Fiji flies from Nadi to Vanuatu, but I’m not sure if I can book it. Thanks!

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