United flew their inaugural flight to Tahiti yesterday.
When the route was announced last year it was supposed to run for the winter season only. That was a curious decision as French Polynesia has its least rainy weather during the US summer. United probably wanted to gauge interest in the route during the winter season when their aircraft utilization is lower, but it struck me as odd to test it during the low season for the route.
At any rate, the test must have gone well, as United has now announced that route will run year-round!
Flights from San Francisco to Papeete currently operate on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 2:00pm and arrive at 8:40pm. Flights from Papeete to San Francisco currently operate on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 10:40pm and arrive at 8:45am the next day.
Starting in April, flights from San Francisco to Papeete will operate on Tuesday Thursday, and Saturday at 1:15pm and arrive at 6:50pm. Flights from Papeete to San Francisco currently will operate on Tuesday Thursday, and Saturday at 9:15pm and arrive at 8:25am the next day.
A flight from the US to Tahiti costs 35K United miles in coach or 70K United in business class each way, based on saver award availability. You can also transfer AMEX or Marriott points to ANA and book a round-trip ticket for 75K miles in coach or 120K miles in business class. ANA requires round-trip bookings, so you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of using American or Delta miles one-way to fly on their partner airlines and fly one-way on United.
From Papeete you can take a ferry or short flight to the beautiful island of Moorea, to the stunning resorts of Bora Bora, or to the many other islands of French Polynesia.
Unfortunately the arrival times into Papeete mean that you will have to overnight there as there are no later flights to connect to other islands in French Polynesia. That’s a shame.
Bora Bora and the Maldives are both famous for luxury resorts with incredible overwater bungalows. I’ve been to the W Maldives and the S. Regis Maldives, but I’ve yet to go to Bora Bora. That’s been partially due to how easy it is to find amazing business and first class awards to the Maldives, point deals that I’ve taken advantage of, and the ideal Maldives weather taking place during winter in the US.
Bora Bora has its least rainy weather during the US summer, which makes it somewhat less attractive to me, though its definitely on my bucket list as most people that I know that have been to Bora Bora and the Maldives seem to prefer Bora Bora.
As for point hotel options, IHG has 2 properties in Bora Bora, Marriott has 2 properties, and Hilton has 1 hotel there.
You can book stays in the Le Meridien or the S. Regis on the Marriott app for 60K points/night, though it won’t be in an overwater villa.
IHG has hotels in Papeete and Moorea and Hilton has a Moorea property as well.
Papeete even has a Jewish community and an Orthodox shul, though unfortunately it’s not within walking distance of the Intercontinental Tahiti. There’s little information about it online, so I’d love to hear about it if you’ve been there.
Have you been to French Polynesia? Do you have plans to go in the future?