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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

Summer is around the corner and you’re wondering, “How could I even afford a holiday to a tropical island?” Its been a hard year for the travel industry but it seems that the backlash of the financial crisis is letting up and discounts are appearing, encouraging travellers to pull out their suitcases for summer holidays they may have not planned to take.

Why is it so expensive to fly to Tahiti? What’s the best way to travel to French Polynesia without breaking the bank?

Fact: there is little competition on long-distance routes

Lets just start by pointing out that more than 9500 miles (15 380 km) separates London from Papeete, the main city in the Tahitian islands. It is a journey that takes more than 20 hours, with at least one stop over. Keeping in mind the cost of fuel today, airlines tax passengers at a per kilometres rate. On a flight London to Tahiti with Air France for example, around 25% of the airline ticket is made up of fuel surcharges.

As for competition, after Corsair folded in 2003 there are only two airlines operating flights from London to Papeete, Air New Zealand and Air France. The two airlines therefore have very similar fares. Other airlines serving Tahiti from Europe include Air Tahiti Nui and LAN Chile, with at least 2 stopovers. Choices are limited especially since there is only one international airport in Polynesia, Papeete Faa’a (IATA: PPT).

Today the average price for a round-trip flight ranges between £1400 and £2000, not including promotional offers which bring the price down somewhere around £1000. Opening the airline market to a third airline company would require the agreement of governments on an Open Skies Agreement.

How to find the best flights to Tahiti?

It’s a matter of knowing where, when and how to look when searching for cheap flights to Tahiti that will cost less than £1400. Here’s a list of our tips for finding the best flights at the cheapest prices to French Polynesia.

  • Try searching for flights departing from Amsterdam or Paris: don’t limit your search to only flights from London. With a little luck, you’ll have greater chances of finding a cheaper flight from Paris or Amsterdam.
  • Start your search at least 6 months in advance: we can never say it enough; on long-haul destinations like this one you’ll find the lowest fares as soon as the tickets become available.
  • Avoid travelling in summer and during Christmas: these are the most expensive and most demanding times to travel during the year so try a vacation in January or late-summer.
  • Catch the promotions: create an email flight alert on and join airline newsletters to be the first to know about the latest deals available on the web right in your inbox.
  • Combine your flight London / Los Angeles with a flight from Los Angeles to Papeete: if you are flexible with your travel dates, try searching for the cheapest flights from London to L.A (we’ve already seen this flight for as little as £319 on, then combine it with a flight from Los Angeles to Papeete (the best fares are around £791). It takes a little flexibility to come out on top with this combination but it’s worth a try!

Have you travelled between London and French Polynesia before? How did you find your flight? Do you have any more advice for finding the lowest fares?

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