(EXPIRED) Air France saver business class space to/from Tahiti (though May 2022)

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Air France has released a bunch of business class award space between Los Angeles and Pape’ete, Tahiti (gateway to French Polynesian islands like Moorea and Bora-Bora). Greg received an alert from SeatSpy and things are looking pretty wide open for at least 2 passengers. Availability is better on the way way back to the US, but either way there is certainly more availability than is typical for the route from November 2021 through  May 2022 (and more availability from the US than the last time we alerted readers to availability on this route).

Air France departing Papeete, French Polynesia for Los Angeles.

The Deal

  • Air France has released a nice amount of business class award space between Los Angeles and Pape’ete, French Polynesia between November 2021 and May 2022. Some options for booking include:
    • ~64K miles + $223 departing the US (or $285 departing PPT) via Air France Flying Blue
    • 100K miles + $5.60 departing the US (or ~$52 departing PPT) via Delta SkyMiles
    • 185K/195K miles + taxes each way via Virgin Atlantic

Quick Thoughts

Award space is plentiful between November and May. Keep in mind that Air France only flies this route a couple of days per week, so “plentiful” doesn’t mean “daily”. Still, here’s a look at Pape’ete to Los Angeles in February.

I believe that flight is only offered on Mondays and Thursdays and you can see that it is available on every Monday and Thursday from February into early March. Not quite every day is available through the end of the schedule, but many of them are.

Note that Delta will charge you 100K miles and $5.60 departing the US (taxes are about $50 in the opposite direction).

You can save miles by booking via Flying Blue. All of the dates I checked were 64,000 miles through Flying Blue, though note that you’ll pay surcharges when booking through Flying Blue. The total came to about $223 departing the US or $285 departing French Polynesia. (Also note that Air France has variable pricing, so it is possible that some dates cost more or less)

Virgin Atlantic charges 185K one-way off-peak or 195K during peak dates, making that an entirely unattractive option.

Since this saver availability is readily available on Delta.com and VirginAtlantic.com (along with AirFrance.us), I expect it should be available to other SkyTeam partners as well if you have miles with other relevant programs.

In terms of the flight itself, I traveled this route from Pape’ete to Los Angeles in fall of 2019 after spending just over a week in Bora-Bora. I found the Air France flight to certainly be comfortable, the seats reasonably private, and the food and wine to be about what I’d expect. There didn’t seem to be a great seating option if you were traveling with a partner. I sat across the aisle from my wife and son as that seemed to be the easiest option for Air France’s 777 business class configuration.

And of course Tahiti and Bora-Bora were terrific. I spent a few nights at the Conrad Bora-Bora, which doesn’t feature any view of Mount Otemanu or the lagoon, but is nonetheless quite luxurious and beautiful.

Conrad Bora Bora sunset villas
The view from my villa on the hillside at the Conrad Bora-Bora. As you can see, this hotel faces the open ocean rather than being in the lagoon like most in Bora-Bora.
There is no photoshop at play here. My wife took this on the walk to breakfast one morning with her Google Pixel 3 XL and this is just what it looked like.

Then we spent a few nights at the St. Regis Bora Bora, which is the hotel from the movie “Couples Retreat” (which plays nonstop on the TVs in the rooms on one channel) and features exactly the view you’d expect.

I miss this view daily.
Out on the beach in front of our beach villa.
When we recorded the Frequent Miler on the Ai podcast that week, I set up a desk on the beach in front of my beach villa.

Tahiti was perhaps less idyllic-looking in the sense that it is a place where people live and drive cars and go shopping rather than a place where you are isolated at a hotel away from the world, but we enjoyed exploring its black-sand beaches and beautiful sunsets just the same.

One tip for those interested in visiting French Polynesian islands: you need to pay for a separate ticket from Pape’ete to your island of choice on the national domestic airline, Air Tahiti (not to be confused with Air Tahiti Nui, which is an American Airlines partner). Air Tahiti only operates domestic flights and is not partners with any frequent flyer programs. I booked our tickets to Bora Bora through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal in order to use 30K points for the ~$450 (per person) flights. However, I later found that for less than $100 more, we could have booked island-hopper flights that visited 5 islands if we had booked directly through Air Tahiti. If you’re interested in visiting a few islands, I recommend looking into those package deals.

At any rate, the availability is there through next May. Keep in mind that if you intend to book a Marriott property with Points Advance, you’ll need to have the points to cover it within 60 days of booking – no more holding space for months and months.

If French Polynesia is on your list, this could be a great opportunity to check it off.

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