Who Can Explain This Flight? But It’s Wide Open For Business Class Awards to Tahiti

French Polynesia is one of the toughest award tickets to book. That’s because there are only three airlines flying between the U.S. and Tahiti:

  • Air France three days a week Los Angeles – Papeete
  • Hawaiian Airlines once a week on Saturdays Honolulu – Papeete
  • Air Tahiti Nui 13 flights a week Los Angeles – Papeete

For the most part, flights are either available on points or they aren’t on a given day that you want to travel. There just aren’t any ‘tricks’ to it.

Here’s the strange thing. One day only (July 9), Delta and American partner Air Tahiti Nui appears to be operating a flight from Dallas Fort Worth to Papeete. (HT: millionmiler)

On that flight, award seats are wide open in both economy and business class.

Then, on July 21, they are flying Papeete – Dallas. Just once. (HT: Kyle) And again, award space in economy and business class wide open.

Until Air Tahiti Nui gets its 2 new 787s its ‘new’ business class onboard the A340 is angled.

You’d still have to buy domestic flights if you want to get to, say, Moorea or Bora Bora. I didn’t find Tahiti itself especially interesting. But Bora Bora was strikingly beautiful for sure. And you could make a nice strip to Bora Bora and another island or two with a July 9 – 21 trip.

Any theories what’s going on here? It seems like Air Tahiti Nui is bringing an aircraft to the US, maybe as a charter, and then offering it for sale as it flies the plane back to Tahiti. And then it needs to fly the plane back to the US, offers it for sale, and then charters is back. Although that’s pure speculation.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I am not an expert on airline regulation by any means but don’t new routes have to be filed and stuff? Isn’t there some red tape involved? Just curious.

  2. My guess is that it is coming into the US for its annual (maintenance) and is being flown direct to the service bay, then being returned to service. I have a nephew who is a head mechanic and he flies a lot of one-way trips to, from, and in-between odd locations on otherwise empty aircraft (except for crew) for reasons I still don’t quite understand the logic behind.

  3. @kimmie – That would be a perfect explanation except that the plane is going in the wrong direction. Of course, it could be two planes being serviced but then you’d expect to see four flights. Plus, I’m pretty sure there are no Airbus heavy-maintenance facilities at or near DFW.

  4. I am thinking a convention in Dallas, speculating either political or acedemic, where the Tahitian gov’t (or Uni/org) has chartered flights to DFW for a two weeks stay. Hence the revenue flights on the opposite direction. We really enjoyed Moorea

  5. Air Tahiti Nui is definitely NOT operating angled flat business class on all flights. I took an LAX-PPT flight with their old RECLINER business class on July 3 and was extremely unhappy. I used AA miles for business class with the intention of sleeping. (I sleep fine in angled flat.) Instead my wife and I arrived in Tahiti exhausted and lost most of our first day in Tahiti napping. Now, on my return red-eye leaving in a few hours, they have us on the same plane. This is even worse as I have a job interview tomorrow and need the rest. Now I am livid. What course of action would you recommend? I don’t know if I should complain to AA, TN, or both. While it would not truly make up for the lost vacation time nor impact on my future (a promotion I probably won’t get now), I believe fair restitution would be a refund of the miles difference between coach and business, since I slept about as well in their inferior business class as I would have in coach. To make matters worse, there is no way to know what plane or configuration a TN flight will be until you arrive at the airport and it’s too late. Had I known, I would have gladly cut my vacation short to fly home in comfort on an earlier flight. I wonder if my dilemma has anything to do with one of their planes on a charter run to DFW. Very very disappointing. Thanks for any advice you can give.

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