Getting To Bora Bora
So we talked about when to go to Bora Bora, and now we’re going to talk about how to get there. There aren’t a lot of airlines that service Bora Bora. In fact, there’s only one. Air Tahiti has that monopoly thing going on, and you’re going to pay big bucks to get there.
But, before I get into that, you’re going to need to get to Tahiti (or some other “major” French Polynesia island). Since Tahiti is the one that services International flights, I’m going to focus on that. While there aren’t a ton of options airline-wise, there are a few, and here are some of the big guys:
– Air Tahiti Nui (nonstop to Tahiti from Los Angeles, Tokyo, Auckland, and Paris)
– Air France (nonstop to Tahiti from Los Angeles)
– Hawaiian Airlines (nonstop to Tahiti from Honolulu)
If you plan on using points to get here, it’s possible, but not easy. It’s been done before by many, but you’re going to be giving up a lot of points, especially if you’re using a partner airline. For example, it’s only about 60,000 points per roundtrip economy ticket to fly to Tahiti from LA on Air France, which isn’t terrible if you belong to that airline’s reward program and are willing to pay the $400 or so fee per ticket. If your miles aren’t on Air France, don’t worry. This is where one of those partner airlines come in. Air France is part of the Flying Blue program, and so is Delta. Chances are, you may have more points with Delta, since here in the US, Delta is more common than Air France. However, to use your Delta miles/points, be prepared to shell out at least 100,000 points per round trip ticket.
Air Tahiti Nui is another popular airline that flies nonstop from LA to Tahiti. Luckily, it’s also a partner of American Airlines, so it’s possible to use your AA miles. It’s tricky, and you’ll most likely have to book your ticket over the phone, but it only costs about 75,000 miles per ticket, which isn’t too shabby.
The third most popular is the partnership between Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin America. Virgin America’s points system is a little weird, and to be honest, I haven’t figured them out yet. I have a bunch of points through them, but not nearly enough to fly to Tahiti so truth be told, I didn’t even investigate it.
Of course our major points system isn’t through any of the airlines mentioned above (thanks, United). I believe we could go through a partner airline (like Air New Zealand), but honestly, it’s such a hassle that I don’t want to deal with the numbers. Therefore, we’re paying out of pocket for our flights. At first, I even looked into saving some money and using our points to get us to Los Angeles, however, after researching further, it didn’t save that much and wasn’t worth shelling out our points for.
So, we booked our flights and the weirdest thing happened: I was brought back to a time where travel agents ruled the world. This is probably one of the only major destinations left where people still use them (not to mention, it’s common). So bizarre!
We ended up booking our flight on Air Tahiti Nui and couldn’t even select our exact seats online. We had to call the airline directly (or have our “travel agent” do so). It’s not a super difficult thing to do, and they don’t charge for it, but it’s just odd not to find an interactive seating map. We obviously aren’t using a travel agent, so I called the 1-800 number and did it all myself. I asked for something close to the front of the plane and that was that (Yes, that’s right, we’re flying economy). We have been on longer flights than this before, so I’m sure we will be fine. The eight hour or so hour flight from LA to Tahiti seems like a piece of cake. It’s like a flight to Europe, and the flight from New York to Los Angeles isn’t a big deal either. In fact, we just recently did it this past July.
The real sticker shock comes into play when you book your flight to Bora Bora. While you may fly Air Tahiti Nui to Tahiti, you’ll be flying Air Tahiti (without the Nui on the end – it’s different) to Bora Bora. Air Tahiti connects Tahiti to the rest of the little islands and it’s the only airline that does this. This is where the whole monopoly thing I was talking before about comes in. Expect to pay just over $800 for two people for a round trip 50-minute flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora. I’m not kidding. Crazy!
Our flight breakdown includes:
$3,151.90: Round trip from New York to Tahiti (with a stopover in LA) on Air Tahiti Nui
$1,014.04: Inter-island flights on Air Tahiti
$4,165.94: Total air for two people
So you’re probably looking at this thinking, ‘but I thought you said it’s around $800 to fly to/from Bora Bora?’ Well, we ended up adding a few days in Moorea, another island in French Polynesia, onto our trip. In my next post I’ll detail why you should consider visiting additional islands while there too!