Flying to one of the most gorgeous places in the world, French Polynesia, can be quite expensive on a revenue ticket – especially from North America or Europe. Flights from Asia/Australia to French Polynesia are a bit less expensive, but still can be insanely priced. Thankfully, airlines from all major alliances – Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam operate flights to the capital of French Polynesia, Pape’ete.
While you can theoretically redeem miles from all alliances for travel to Pape’ete, award availability isn’t exactly great to come by – however it isn’t impossible. As always, you should be collecting AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards to maximise your miles and maximise the possibility of travelling to such exotic locations.
Flying Within French Polynesia/Surrounding Islands
Before we jump to the intercontinental flights, you should decide where in French Polynesia or the surrounding islands you will travel to. Air Tahiti operates flights within French Polynesia and beyond to a number of destinations. There aren’t really any practical ways of redeeming miles on Air Tahiti so you will likely have to pay cash for the flights.
Air Tahiti operates flights from Pape’ete to:
- Bora Bora
- Nuku Hiva
It is best to simply book these flights with the airline directly. Keep in mind to build in extra time if you will be simply connecting off of your intercontinental flight to one of these shorter flights.
Flying to French Polynesia
If you are flying to paradise, you will most likely need to fly into Pape’ete. A number of major airlines operate flights and therefore it is theoretically possible to redeem miles to travel to paradise, however it may not always be easy as award availability isn’t great on these exotic routes.
Here is a list of all the airlines that fly:
- Air France: Los Angeles (and onward to Paris)
- Air New Zealand: Auckland
- Air Tahiti Nui: Auckland, Los Angeles (and onward to Paris), Tokyo
- Aircalin: Nouméa
- French Bee: San Francisco (and onward to Paris)
- Hawaiian Airlines: Honolulu
- LATAM: Easter Island (and onward to Santiago)
- United Airlines: San Francisco (begins 30 October 2018)
As you can see, you can redeem Star Alliance miles on Air New Zealand or United, you can redeem SkyTeam miles for travel on Air France, you can redeem all oneworld miles for travel on LATAM, and in addition, you can also redeem American Airlines miles for travel on Air Tahiti Nui.
Flying Star Alliance
Your only options of flying to paradise on Star Alliance include from Auckland on Air New Zealand and from San Francisco on United Airlines, once the flight begin later this year. Please note that award availability is nearly impossible on Air New Zealand in Business Class and availability in Economy exists, but is hard to find.
United’s flight will be extremely popular and therefore don’t expect lots of availability in Economy (or in Business).
For both of these flights, you can redeem ANY Star Alliance miles. Expect no fuel surcharges if flying United Airlines and if your frequent flyer program charges fuel surcharges, you can expect them on Air New Zealand.
If you want to fly SkyTeam, your only option is Air France’s flight from Los Angeles. You can redeem Delta, Air France, or any SkyTeam miles for this flight… if you find award availability. Personally, I would redeem Delta miles if you can find award availability on the flight.
Air France’s flight continues onward to Paris after making a stop in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t ever fly the entire journey in “one go” and would rather break up the journey in America and visit California for a few days.
If you have American Airlines miles, you are golden. American partners with Air Tahiti Nui which operates flights to North America, the South Pacific, and Asia. You can redeem AA miles on ANY Air Tahiti Nui flight – so AA miles are extremely valuable if flying to French Polynesia.
If you have other oneworld miles, you can only redeem those on LATAM – which flies from Santiago to Easter Island to French Polynesia. However, this flight is nearly impossible to redeem miles on due to the extreme popularity… and the fact that you would need to position to Chile. It is best if you just have American Airlines miles and redeem on Air Tahiti Nui.
There are a few other airlines which operate flights to French Polynesia – however with the exception of on Hawaiian Airlines, there aren’t good ways to redeem miles. You can redeem Hawaiian Airlines miles on their flight from Honolulu to French Polynesia, but I personally wouldn’t as the flight isn’t that long and Hawaiian Airlines don’t have the best product.
The single, best way to travel to paradise is by redeeming American Airlines miles on Air Tahiti Nui – from North America or Asia. Alternatively, you can redeem Star Alliance miles to fly on United or Air New Zealand, but availability is extremely limited on those airlines and those routes.
Redeeming miles to fly to paradise can be a challenge… however it isn’t impossible if you have the right miles and are flexible on your dates of travel. Remember that travel from Asia on miles will be much easier than from North America – therefore you could build in a trip to paradise if you are already exploring Asia.
You can travel to French Polynesia during any period of the year – you will enjoy the sun, the beach, the warm locals, delicious food, and true paradise. If you have hotel points, you can for sure redeem them for luxurious hotel stays on the islands as the nicer hotels tend to be expensive.