United Launching San Francisco to Tahiti Service! Award Availability Ehh

Good news (?) for those looking to redeem points / miles to Tahiti, United will be launching non-stop service from San Francisco (SFO) to Pape’ete (PPT), the capital of Tahiti, the South Pacific’s gateway to more than 118 islands in French Polynesia including Bora Bora, Moorea, the Marquesas and Raiatea beginning in October 2018 through March 28, 2019.

Previously, the only airlines operating non-stop service from the US were Air Tahiti Nui and Air France, both from Los Angeles.  Every day our award booking service Juicy Miles receives Pape’ete award booking requests. Both American and Delta miles are useful for redemptions on Air Tahiti Nui, though Business award space has tightened in recent months (Expert Flyer is your friend). Air France redemptions are almost never available in the premium cabin.

United will operate nonstop service three times weekly with Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. This is a HUGE upgrade on the route given Air Tahiti Nui’s current business class offering which are still angled seats when fully reclined. Air France offers a lie-flat option, but they are never available for redemption.

While United will now service PPT, award availability thus far looks horrible.  No saver awards are available in business or economy from the launch date (Oct 31, 2018) through the end of the current schedule.  Instead, Economy seats are available for 80K, while Business awards will cost 175K. There are economy seats if you want to connect in Auckland via Air New Zealand (adding about 11 hours to your travel time). Hopefully availability increases a bit as the 2018 schedule continues to be released (or an Air New Zealand schedule change could now help you get on the direct UA flight). Again, I think this will be huge when playing the schedule change game!

“We are excited to announce Tahiti as our 13th new international route this year, and we are even more thrilled about offering our customers a whole new world of vacation opportunities,” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of International Network. “We know our customers want more destinations to choose from to escape the winter weather, and we look forward to being the airline that connects them to this corner of paradise.”

United’s service from San Francisco will connect customers to the South Pacific’s most pristine waters, white sand beaches, stunning turquoise lagoons, coral atolls and volcanic mountain peaks. Visitors to the islands experience a tropical paradise and countless spaces to relax and reconnect in natural beauty and authentic French Polynesian island culture.

Winter 2018 schedule – Subject to government approval

Flight

City

Frequency

Depart*

Arrive*

UA 115

SFO – PPT

Tues/Thurs/Sun

2:45 p.m.

9:25 p.m.

UA 114

PPT – SFO

Tues/Thurs/Sun

11:45 p.m.

9:50 a.m. next day

*Flight Times Subject to Change

United’s Long History Connecting Customers to the Pacific Islands

United’s love affair with the Pacific islands started more than 70 years ago and continues today. It began in 1947 with United’s first flight across the Pacific from San Francisco to Honolulu, making the Hawaiian Islands an easily accessible destination for tourism and business. Today, United offers more flights between the mainland and the Hawaiian Islands than any other U.S. carrier.

In 1968, United expanded its Pacific network linking the Hawaiian Islands, the Marshall IslandsMicronesia and Guam. Today, nearly half a century later, United’s Island Hopper – Flight 155 – departs Guam in the morning and makes a series of five, one-hour flights to the islands of Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae; Kwajalein and Majuro. In addition to the airline’s popular Island Hopper service, United connects customers from Guam to other island destinations including Palau, Yap and the Philippines.

In 1986, United began nonstop service from its West Coast hubs in the U.S. to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. Today, United is the largest U.S. carrier to serve Australia, offering the most seats to Sydney and Melbourne with its daily nonstop service from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Building its powerful Pacific network, last year United began nonstop service from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand, becoming the largest mainland U.S. carrier to serve the City of Sails.

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  1. This is wonderful news. Even the older United business class seats are true lay flat seats that are womderfully superior to those of Air Tahiti Nui (and I’d say they are as good if not better than those on Air France, too).

    Now if United would also add SFO or LAX to NAN Fiji, which is only served now by Fiji Air. That would give United total coverage of the Pacific to every major destination possible in the Pacific Rim.

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