Back in December, we shared news that United was launching flights this coming October from San Francisco to Tahiti. Well, they already have a competitor on the route! French low-cost carrier French Blue plans to start service on the same route in just a few weeks. In order to avoid any confusion of a partnership with JetBlue, the airline has decided to change its name from French Blue to French Bee. The carrier will kick off service from Paris Orly-San Francisco-Papeete on May 11, with two flights a week aboard a new Airbus A350-900. The route will increase to 3x weekly from June 20, 2018 – November 2, 2018 with both classic and premium seating (not fully flat). The airline is not partners with any programs that would allow redemptions, but given the extremely low fares, this might be an awesome opportunity to use cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus for a redemption. Fares are as low as €130 each way!
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.
Unfortunately, United’s availability has been pretty 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! United will operate nonstop service three times weekly with Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.