Our crew mates joining us on the boat in French Polynesia are asking: How can I find cheaper flights?
California to Tahiti (the hub for the region) can easily be $1800, but you can pay just $100-400 for an award roundtrip ticket, if you plan ahead…way ahead. Here are options, starting with the cheapest.
United Airlines award travel: $100 +
Most travel time, least available, but cheapest option. Fly with United Airlines via New Zealand, it’s a long haul and long layover, but it’ll cost just 70,000 miles and $100 in taxes. Since there are very few award tickets, and award seats are only made available 11 months in advance, they must be booked as soon as they are available. There’s also an occasional option of flying on Hawaiian Airlines (see below).
What if you have no United miles? The best way to rack up a bunch is by opening up a credit card with big bonus for sign up. The most flexible one is Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards (which can be used for multiple airlines, like Air France, see below).
Below is United Award travel availability as of Nov 5, 2015; notice that no October awards have been made available yet, because it’s not yet 11 months away to an award date.
AirFrance award travel: $376 +
Fastest travel time, lots available, but not many people I know have miles with AirFrance (their program is “Flying Blue” with KLM). The flight is non-stop from LAX to Papeete (excellent!), for as little as 60,000 miles and $376 in fees, but usually a bit more.
The best way to rack up miles with Flying Blue is with Chase Ultimate Rewards card, they have tons of other benefits for travelers. They also are partners with Alaskan airlines, but it’s not apparent that you can use Alaskan air miles to secure these flights.
Bottom line: if you want to fly to Tahiti with flexibility, this is the best way. Here’s the award chart for Air France (LAX-Tahiti) in the middle of the summer holidays, which shows lots of availability; more miles for higher demand times.
Hawaiian Airlines, partial award travel: $896 +
Honolulu to Papeete can be an option; it is a non-stop flight, but only on Saturdays, and not always available. You can take an award flight to Honolulu, and then buy this flight to Tahiti. Try this link on Kayak for the Hawaiian Airlines flight, see sample below.
Air Tahiti Nui / Air France tickets: $1000-$1800
Buy a flight from LAX for as little as $1K, but usually only in the low season e.g. Jan-Apr. Air Tahiti Nui and Air France run direct flights, while Air New Zealand goes through Auckland.
My favorite way to search flights is on Kayak, which offers flexible date calendar and lots of easy toggles for layover times, flight leg time, departure/arrival times, airline choices, etc. Here’s an example link for Kayak, LAX-Tahiti.
High Season vs. Low Season, inter-island flights
Check out our estimates for costs for different Legs on our Cost Calculator.
- Dry Season: May-October.
- High Season: June-September. Tickets as high as $1800 from LAX.
- Wet Season: November-April.
- Low Season: January-April. Tickets as low as $1000 from LAX.
INTER-ISLAND FLIGHTS (each way from Papeete on airtahiti.com)
- Marquesas: $385
- Gambier: $390
- Makemo: $268
- Fakarava: $222
- Rangiroa: $203
- Moorea: $63
- Huahine: $140
- Raiatea: $156
- Bora-Bora: $220
Any Questions, leave a comment or send us a message!
GREEN COCONUT RUN is a cooperative voyage, where crew visit the boat for a week or longer. Sailing our 42 foot trimaran, with 4-6 crew at any time, we surf, dive, and explore islands from California to Tahiti. Read about us: http://www.greencoconutrun.com