American Airlines Real Life Awards Tahiti

There’s a Burn Notice on my Points: American AAdvantage

Our flights to Tahiti (
Our flights to Tahiti (

Burn Notice: Introduction

Burn Notice: Delta Skymiles Part 1

Burn Notice: Delta Skymiles Part 2

Burn Notice: Hilton HHonors

Burn Notice: American AAdvantage

As I mentioned in my last post, we had to burn our Hilton points due to the impending devaluation. We redeemed our Hilton points for four nights in Bora Bora. So to finish off my burn notice, I had to figure out how to get us there. My wife insisted we go in business class (it’s a de facto five year anniversary trip), so I either needed 300,000 Delta Skymiles or 250,000 American AAdvantage miles. There is a LOT we could have done with 250,000 AA miles, and I tried to convince my wife to go in coach, but to no avail. But it’s okay – points are for burning, right? Here’s how we redeemed the miles for flights to Tahiti.

Booking Air Tahiti Nui Flights

Tahiti is a very small island. Air France and Air New Zealand fly there, but that wasn’t an option for us (Air New Zealand flies only from New Zealand anyway). There is pretty good Air France economy award space if you have Delta Skymiles to use, but like I said, my wife said business class or bust so American Airlines was my only option.

The new Air Tahiti Nui business class cabin should be ready by the time we fly
The new Air Tahiti Nui business class cabin should be ready by the time we fly

To book an Air Tahiti Nui flight with American Airlines miles, you need to call in. I searched space on expertflyer and called exactly 331 days out. Why? Well, 331 days out is when Air Tahiti Nui award space is first bookable, so I called immediately. In fact, I got a little obsessive, but I’ll talk about that in another post. I will say – business class space on Air Tahiti Nui is difficult to get, once the seats disappear they’re gone for good. So it’s best to book 11 months out if you can.

American Airlines has a nice feature where you can hold awards for three days. Air Tahiti Nui flies direct from LAX-PPT, but I needed to get a flight to LAX. Unfortunately, American Airlines, whose flights I would have to take to get to LA, don’t open up their award space as early as Air Tahiti Nui. The solution? I called in, put the Air Tahiti Nui flights on hold, and called back later to add the American segments.

My Plan for our Flights

ANOTHER great feature of the AAdvantage program is you can change dates and routing on award tickets for free as long as the origin and destination remain the same. Our current routing is BOS-ORD-LAX-PPT on the outbound and PPT-LAX-DFW-BOS on the return. Obviously, it’s not ideal to have two connections. So what I did was set flight alerts on expertflyer for the direct flights from BOS-LAX and back. This is why I think expertflyer is worth the cost – imagine if we have to take the longer routing and miss a connection!

What else can you do with 125,000 AA miles per person?

Quite a bit. You could get to Europe, South America, or much of Asia in FIRST class. For 10,000 more miles, you could fly all the way to the Maldives in business class (on partner airline Etihad). Needless to say, there are a lot nicer cabins that you can get into – Cathay Pacific first, British Airways first, Etihad business, etc. – for the same amount of miles. But, if you’re dying to go to Tahiti in business class, you’ll have to pay the premium like we did. Even writing this I am thinking of all the things we could have done, but like I said, I have to make the wife happy!

You can fly to Japan on the Dreamliner in business for the same # of miles!
You can fly to Japan on the Dreamliner in business for the same # of miles!

Final Thoughts

You’ll notice that this post was kind of devoid of details on how I went about the booking. The reason for this is I’m planning on writing a more extensive guide to how to get to Tahiti using American Airlines miles. I spent a lot of time figuring out the process, so I’m looking forward to sharing the information with you all!

Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

One thought on “There’s a Burn Notice on my Points: American AAdvantage

  1. Nice. I’ve heard that Bora Bora is much prettier than Tahiti, so hopefully you guys enjoy yourselves…we did 2 days in Tahiti/Moorea en route to New Zealand, and Tahiti was just OK bc it’s a little older and less isolated than the further islands of French Polynesia (e.g. Bora Bora). Happy 5th anniversary!

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