The upcoming Hilton devaluation has me thinking about the best ways to redeem Hilton points before March 28, and one property that interests me is the Hilton Bora Bora Nui.

I’ve been to the Maldives and wouldn’t mind visiting Tahiti/Bora Bora to be able to compare them, but for me it’s not a destination I’d like to visit in and of itself. While I’m sure it’s stunning, I prefer “action” destinations over relaxation destinations. That being said, if I could add a stopover enroute, or even make Tahiti the stopover enroute to somewhere else, it could be worthwhile. The problem is that there aren’t many logical stopover points if booking an award ticket between the US and Tahiti.

There are only two airlines flying nonstop between the US mainland and Tahiti, and those are Air France and Air Tahiti Nui. Air Tahiti Nui has a lot more flights than Air France, but it sure helps to have access to award availability on both airlines, as Tahiti is one of the toughest destinations in the world to get to on miles.

There are two practical ways to book an award ticket from the US mainland to Tahiti:

  • American charges just 125,000 AAdvantage miles for roundtrip business class between the US and Tahiti, and they partner with Air Tahiti Nui. They don’t impose any fuel surcharges on these redemptions.
  • Delta charges 150,000 SkyMiles for roundtrip business class between the US and Tahiti, and they partner with both Air Tahiti Nui and Air France. That being said, they impose fuel surcharges for redemptions on Air Tahiti Nui.

So while American’s rates are substantially lower and they don’t impose fuel surcharges, I’d probably book through Delta since I value their miles less, and since they get you access to Air France and Air Tahiti Nui award space. But the real benefit of booking through Delta is that for the same cost you can actually make Tahiti your stopover point and continue to Australia or New Zealand on the same ticket.

For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui, have a stopover, then continue on them to Auckland (they don’t fly anywhere in Australia unfortunately), and then return out of either Australia or New Zealand back to the US. You could route the return on Virgin Australia, China Southern through Guangzhou, Korean Air through Seoul, or even Aerolineas Argentinas through Buenos Aires if you feel like sending out a fax.


Possible return routings

Now if you have American miles and prefer not returning directly from Tahiti, for 30,000 miles in business class you could book an award ticket between Tahiti and Australia/New Zealand and return from there, making the cost of a similar trip 155,000 AAdvantage miles.

Anyway, just a quick tip for anyone looking to go to Tahiti that wants a bit more excitement than just a roundtrip journey in Air Tahiti Nui’s new cutting edge business class.

  1. March 3rd, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    DavidO said,

    You can also fly Hawaiian Airlines on (I believe) Fridays between HNL and PPT. Another city to put into the mix is Auckland, NZ — not Oakland, CA :-) — which has direct flights to PPT on Air New Zealand.

  2. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    E said,

    Another great option is the hilton on moorea. Save the airfare from ppt to bora bora and just do a few nights in moorea. The over water bungalows have the best snorkeling anywhere.

  3. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    BBD said,

    I thought I read something about using 90k Korean air miles R/T to Tahiti in business?

  4. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    lucky said,

    @ BBD — You can, but the purpose of the post was about going beyond Tahiti. The catch is that it only gets you access to Air France award space, and they release very little space to Tahiti.

  5. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    beachfan said,

    If you take up diving, you will get all the action you need in French Polynesia.

    In the good old days, Air New Zeeland flew between the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, that made for an awesome triangle.

  6. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    shedbasher said,

    You quote 150K on Air France for business. I tried to do this for my upcoming honeymoon but was only able to secure Econ for 100K (only silver this year). Just curious on how you were able to achieve that. Thanks

  7. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Denis said,

    Doesn’t LAN fly to PPT? Ok, that wouldn’t get you any closer to Australia – even though they do fly to SYD and AKL – but you can fly from there to Easter Island.

  8. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    lucky said,

    @ shedbasher — It’s 150K roundtrip in business class pending award availability. It can be VERY tough to come by, though.

  9. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Mike @ The #hustle Blog said,

    How is the Business award availability LAX-PPT for 2 these days?

  10. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Mike — Not good at all. It requires a LOT of flexibility and advance planning, though it’s not impossible.

  11. March 3rd, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Denis — They sure do, though unless it’s a distance based award you wouldn’t be allowed a stopover enroute, and couldn’t legally route via South America to the South Pacific using American miles.

  12. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Jeff said,

    Can we replace SYD with BKK and stopover in Tahiti? How much more (or less) does it cost?

  13. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Jeff — With Delta? No, that would price as two awards.

  14. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Jeff said,

    @lucky, how about with AA?

  15. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Jeff said,

    @lucky, how about CHC? Can we have CHC and Tahiti in one award trip?

  16. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Jeff — American doesn’t allow stopovers aside from the international gateway, so you couldn’t do that on one award.

  17. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Jeff — No SkyTeam airline flies between AKL and CHC, so there’s no way to include that.

  18. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Jeff said,

    Thanks.

  19. March 3rd, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Barry said,

    Once you get there (I’d go with Delta miles) it IS the Hilton Bora Bora Nui you should choose. It is not the most expensive on Bora Bora but it is the most beautiful. Go for one of the deep water bungalows. And while in town go for dinner from the “red truck” on the town square.

  20. March 4th, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Paul said,

    Since I’m a United guy, is there no options for us?

  21. March 4th, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Maury said,

    So you could fly from MIA-EZE-SYD-PPT-LAX-MIA? All on one ticket with Skymiles? How will this be for coach? Approximate cost of surcharges? Thank you

  22. March 4th, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Cody said,

    What about a Zone 7 Oneworld award ticket? Gives 20-25k travel miles and costs 150k. BNA-DFW-LAX-PPT-AKL-HKG-ORD-BNA is 23k miles.

  23. March 4th, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Patrick said,

    So practically speaking, you’d fly coach to Tahiti, and then business to NZ? (on AA)

  24. March 4th, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Britt said,

    I just booked 3 nights at the Hilton Bora Bora in August for 50k a night. The new rate is 95k a night, so best to book now. We have added this stop to a trip to easter island and are taking the once a week flight from easter island to papeete.

  25. March 4th, 2013 at 9:44 am

    lucky said,

    @ Paul — Star Alliance is the worst of the three alliances for Tahiti. In theory you could fly via New Zealand on Air New Zealand, though award space is virtually non-existent. I’d definitely recommend building up either American or Delta miles for Tahiti.

  26. March 4th, 2013 at 9:46 am

    lucky said,

    @ Maury — Well no SkyTeam airline (or partner airline) flies SYD-PPT, so you could do something like MIA-EZE-SYD, then have an open jaw, and then do AKL-PPT-LAX-MIA.

    I’m not sure exactly how much the fuel surcharges would be, but I would think not more than $300 or so.

  27. March 4th, 2013 at 9:47 am

    lucky said,

    @ Cody — Would be a good idea, except you can’t fly Air Tahiti Nui on a OneWorld award since they don’t belong to the alliance. You can only fly them on an all partner award.

  28. March 4th, 2013 at 9:51 am

    lucky said,

    @ Patrick — With enough date flexibility it isn’t impossible to fly business class to Tahiti either.

  29. March 4th, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Ben said,

    Hi lucky, would there be a way to do a stopover in Seoul on the return leg of that kind of award travel?

  30. March 4th, 2013 at 10:16 am

    lucky said,

    @ Ben — When booking through Delta? Only for up to 24 hours, since there’s already a stopover in Tahiti enroute to New Zealand/Australia.

  31. March 4th, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Patrick said,

    If the flexibility was there, would that be business on Air Tahiti Nui? and NOT Hawaiian? (using AA miles)

  32. March 4th, 2013 at 10:45 am

    lucky said,

    @ Patrick — I don’t want to say Hawaiian in business class is impossible, though in the next year I see less than a handful of dates with two business class award seats on Hawaiian to Tahiti. And keep in mind their product isn’t as good as a standard international business class product.

  33. March 5th, 2013 at 3:29 am

    vince said,

    I just did the same things redeeming miles getting a Tahiti ticket and try to use up my HHonors points at Hilton Bora Bora Nui. :)

    Don’t forget you can also redeem from PPT to NRT in the returning leg and transit at Tokyo.

    Air Tahiti Nui NRT to PPT route have a bit more business award seats available than the LAX to PPT.

    I just redeemed two PEK to NRT to PPT business class round trip tickets flying this September. Each ticket costs just 110,000 Delta Skymiles.

    Air Tahiti Nui’s business class award seats are available on every flight date during the period of late September as of today.

  34. March 5th, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    autolycus said,

    What’s the best way to search availability on Air Tahiti Nui?

    Vince mentions a potentially good option: Is LAX – PPT (dest) -NRT (stop) – LAX be a valid routing for DL? It should be, right? And should price at 100/150 for low?

  35. March 5th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    lucky said,

    @ autolycus — Best way is using ExpertFlyer.

    I don’t think that’s actually the routing Vince is referencing. It sounds like he’s originating in PEK and flying to PPT via NRT. Don’t think that’s valid out of North America.

  36. March 5th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    autolycus said,

    @lucky, yeah, it does look like he’s talking about PEK-NRT-PPT, but I was wondering if it’d also be a valid route ex-US. Does DL have a strict set of MPM rules?

    I hadn’t looked at the mileage difference LAX-PPT vs. LAX-NRT-PPT and had forgotten how far east PPT is. My pacific travels have been much further west (Palau, Indonesia, PNG and Solomon Islands), so Japan doesn’t sound as crazy far away as it really is from PPT.

  37. March 5th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    lucky said,

    @ autolycus — In my experience that doesn’t price unfortunately.

  38. April 2nd, 2013 at 7:54 am

    flyer708 said,

    Old post, but nonetheless we are glad to find it! Anyways, we are thinking about going to PPT or even BOB from HKG using either UA miles, UR points, or AA Miles. My initial plan is HKG-SIN-SYD-AUK-PPT via AA miles. The cost is 70,000 miles in business round trip/person. 50,000 with UA. But somehow Air New Zealand only have availabilities in January 2014. Am I missing anything?

  39. April 2nd, 2013 at 7:59 am

    lucky said,

    @ flyer708 — That’s not surprising unfortunately. Air New Zealand is EXTREMELY stingy when it comes to releasing award space in premium cabins.

  40. April 2nd, 2013 at 8:04 am

    flyer708 said,

    Thanks for the prompt response Lucky. I forgot to add, the only available space, is in Jan 2014, in ECONOMY. I would guess TN is not much better either?

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