United Will Fly To Tahiti Year-Round!

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Samuel Etienne [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
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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?

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12 Comments On "United Will Fly To Tahiti Year-Round!"

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sak

How do you pronounce Papeete and Moorea?

uk

I believe it is pah-pee//eh-teh

Robert

Nice!

I prefer Bora Bora over Maldives too. And a overnight stay is almost always required in Tahiti at the beginning or end of the trip.

earl

No. Air Tahiti does a red eye that arrives in PPT at 530AM.

Robert

Almost always.

I think you mean Air Tahiti Nui, not Air Tahiti.

Chapshnell

I have a booking for December. Hopefully we dont get rain 🙂

Moisheyb

The difficulty with bora bora and the pacific ocean vs the Maldives boils down to what day do you keep shabbos 1 day, 1.5 or 2 days.

rob

One of the IC’s in BOB, the standard room is an overwater bungalow (and an 1100 sqft one at that) and overall far more luxurious than the other IC. However, points availability is tough to come by and the only way to do anything off-premises in BOB is to take a ferry to the other IC which is about 45 minutes each way.

The other IC is nice but nowhere on the same level. You won’t get an overwater bungalow without a cash outlay, but they weren’t as nice anyways. However you can easily get points availability, and it’s on the main island, so you are near civilization and aren’t confined to hotel prices for activities or food (there are grocery stores in walking distance which is helpful for people who keep kosher)

PPT is a bustling city that’s fun to explore for a day or 2, and luxurious by any standard other than BOB/MLE but it looks like a 3rd world country compared to BOB.

Moorea is a good middle ground – it’s easy/cheap to get to from PPT, almost as luxurious as BOB, but you’ll still feel like you’re in civilization. Personally, unless money is no object and/or you want to brag to your friends that you went to BOB, I would save the $500++ per person it costs to get to BOB and just enjoy Moorea. You’ll still have the bungalows, you’ll still have the crystal clear water. You’ll just have slightly less isolation, and the luxuriousness will be slightly less over the top.

Hatikvah

Highly recommend BOB. Recently spent 5 nights at the IC LM. Also hard to get availability for but if your extremely persistent you can book one night at a time and merge together. There is a boat ride to other IC but not much to do there except for the Spa use if your coming from the LM.
Bungalows are gorgeous there, was able to get upgraded to OWB but the beach ones are nice also and not even 2 minute walk from the OWB.
Convenient to also go to main island when needed. Great grocery store near main boat area on Vatipe and smaller one near the IC. I reccomned renting a scooter from hotel and riding around the island, roads are relatively empty and it’s unbelievable scenery.
IC is reasonable on points and has free activities there to do also.

Multiple ppl told me Moorea was nicer for snorkeling. If your looking to save on the flight and hotel Moorea is fine, otherwise once your at that area of the world BOB is as nice as it gets.
To me BOB is nicest place in the world.

rob

The snorkeling is better in Moorea, but it’s otherworldly in both places so not a huge differentiator. I didn’t think the IC LM was any better than what you can get in Moorea, but more expensive. The other IC certainly stands out, but if you’re not going to stay in one of the “private” resorts (aka no on Vaitape), it’s even less worth going to BOB over Moorea than it already was.

It’s like paying $1000 dollars to sit courtside at a basketball game, or paying a fraction of that to sit in the 2nd row. If you have money to blow, knock yourself out. But from a value proposition standpoint, it’s no contest unless you put a really high monetary value on bragging rights.

Dima

Did they upgrade you for free? if not how much the upgrades go for in IHC Le Moana these days? Thanks

rob

At the other IHG, the base award room is an overwater bungalow. At the IC LM, pretty sure you need to pay (i didn’t because I already got the experience at the other IC).

I’m not aware of any other points property in either BOB or Moorea where the standard award rate is an OB, but it’s been years so maybe something changed.

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