United has gotten plenty of praise in this blog for its regular award discounts, a nice tie-in with its current advertising claim that Mileage Plus is “the mileage program that wants you to use your miles.”
American, not so much.
So the new discount offering award flights to Tahiti for 20 percent fewer American miles is a welcome addition to the frequent flyer landscape.
Between September 18 and October 15, American AAdvantage members can book award flights on Air Tahiti Nui for 20 percent fewer miles—59,000 miles for round-trip coach, 99,000 miles for round-trip business class.
Travel at the discounted rates can take place any time between September 15, 2010, and March 31, 2011, except for the following blackout dates for business-class travel: December 18 to December 29 for flights from Los Angeles to Papeete; and December 18, 2010 to January 7, 2011, for flights from Papeete to Los Angeles.
The award discount is being promoted together with a 2,500-mile bonus and fourth night free for stays at any of seven South Pacific Management hotels in Tahiti. Booking requirements and stay dates are the same as for the award flights.
Deal or No Deal
Twenty percent is a decent discount. And Tahiti is a desirable destination. So if you’re inclined toward the sun-and-fun end of the travel spectrum—and you have some AAdvantage miles to burn—this offer certainly warrants consideration.
The caveat would have to be in the area of expectations management.
Discounting awards on a particular route strongly implies that there are in fact plenty of available award seats on that route—either because consumer demand is weak, or due to a conscious effort on the airline’s part to allocate more seats for mileage redemption. But that isn’t always the case.
Air Tahiti Nui’s Los Angeles – Papeete flights operate nine times per week, using Airbus A340 jets with about 250 coach seats and 24 business-class seats each. That’s not a lot of seats.
Will Air Tahiti Nui make enough awards available to meet the increased demand this discount will inevitably create? As always with frequent-flyer seat availability, only the airline knows for sure.
Reader Reality Check
Anyone with first-hand experience booking award travel on Air Tahiti Nui?
Were award seats easy to come by? Difficult? Impossible?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.