Award Booking Destinations Hawaii

Hawaii miles and points guide Part 2: Best award rates

In Part 1, we discussed who flies to Hawaii, how to find out which carriers might work for you, and how using partners can save you miles. In Part 2, we’ll take a deeper look at using partner miles and the best award rates to Hawaii. Let’s review how much US airlines (the ones actually flying from the mainland) charge for their own Hawaii flights.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

  One-way Rates (OW)
  Economy Business
Name Low Standard Low Standard
Alaska 15-20K 30-50K 40K 80K
American 20K-22.5K 40-50K 40K 67.5-90K
Delta ~25K ~50K
Hawaiian 20K-30K 40-60K 40K 80-130K
United 22.5K 45K 40-50K 90-95K

While these rates aren’t horrible, partners can do better. We’ll do a breakdown of each Hawaii carrier’s award options, but first, here are the highlights of your best options.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

Award Sweet Spots

  • Alaska
    • For non-stop West Coast Alaska flights, British Airways and Singapore are your best bets.
    • For connecting/East Coast flights, consider using Alaska’s own miles with a “stopover”, or AA miles.
  • American
    • West Coast AA non-stops are 12.5K with British Airways Avios, DFW is 20K.
    • For connecting/East Coast flights, consider using Alaska’s miles with a “stopover” or AA if they offer any double-connection awards nobody else does.
  • Delta
    • For all flights, use Korean SkyPASS 25K RT if you can deal with their antiquated rules and processes, or if you need a stopover.
    • Air France/KLM Flying Blue for 15K OW are a good option if you don’t have UR or want to save them for other purposes.
  • Hawaiian
    • Its easiest to just use Hawaiian’s own miles, but give any partners you can use a call and see what they have available.
  • United
    • If there’s space, use Singapore. But if you have the United card, do check for expanded cardholder XN space.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

Useful phone numbers of note (click links for other contact numbers)

Air France/KLM: 1-800-375-8723 (M-F 8:00AM-10:00PM, Weekends 9:00AM-7:30PM, all times EST)

Alaska Air: 1-800-252-7522 (24 hours)

British Airways UK call center: +44 191 4907901 (2:30AM-3:00PM EST)

British Airways US call center: 1-800-247-9297 (7AM-11PM EST)

Korean Air: 1-800-438-5000 (24 hours)

Singapore Airlines call center: 1-800-742-3333 (24 hours)

Carrier-by-Carrier Breakdown

By now you should be able to know who to search and where to search, so the last part is figuring out what miles/partner to use. I’ve broken it down below by each airline flying to Hawaii. At the bottom I’ve listed some phone numbers you might find come in handy.

Alaska

    One-way Rates (OW)  
    Economy Business  
Partner Miles Program Lowest Highest Lowest Highest  
Alaska Mileage Plan 15K 50K 40K 80K Link
American AAdvantage 22.5K 50K 40K 90K Link
Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles1 22.5K 60K 52.5K 135K Link
British Airways Executive Club/Avios2 12.5K 25K+ 37.5K 75K N/A
Emirates Skyward3 20K   37.5K   Link
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank4 21K 37K 65K 100K Link
Korean Air SKYPASS3 15K   30K   Link
LATAM LATAM Pass5 10.875K 21.75K 39K 78K Link
Qantas Frequent Flyer6 28K   66K   N/A
Singapore KrisFlyer7 12K 12.5K 42K 47K Link

Notes

  1. Pricing is OW based on a RT flight. OW is 50% more.
  2. Pricing per segment, distance-based
  3. RT required
  4. Total-distance based
  5. Price shown based on a RT, total distance based
  6. Chart price doesn’t match search engine
  7. Zone based, per segment, no connections allowed.

Alaska is a great source for Hawaii awards from the west coast. Before their merger with Virgin America, they only served smaller California airports, as well as Seattle and Portland. But Virgin America is now fully absorbed into Alaska, and they compete with the legacies from LAX and SFO. There are two main sweet spots, in addition to Alaska themselves: Singapore and British Airways. They are fantastic options for Alaska flights, but only from the west coast. Both are segment and distance based, so the non-stop flights to Hawaii are 12K with Singapore, and 12.5K with British Airways. Booking both is not fun, as both require calling in to redeem. As discussed previously in Part I, you can find partner-eligible flights on AlaskaAir.com, where non-stop 15K/17.5K flights are almost always available via partners. You can also search for AA.com for Alaska award space. Anything that shows up should be bookable with other partners too.  If you’re flexible, availability is pretty great. Check out this September from LA to Maui. Only one day doesn’t have space available, and that one day does have AA award space. 

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

Singapore KrisFlyer

Singapore uses a zone-based chart.  For Hawaii, this is simple. California, Seattle, and Oregon cost 12K for a OW flight and Alaska costs 12.5K. While they list similar cheap prices for every other state to Hawaii, they just don’t fly those routes so it’s a non-starter. Their business rates are extremely high and Alaska business is probably the worst of all carriers. The award chart doesn’t allow transfers, making each segment price separately. So you need to find non-stop flights for the 12K-12.5K price.

Singapore awards on Alaska cannot be booked online. You’ll have to call Singapore’s call center. Singapore is the easiest to get ahold of, as their call center is always open, and hold times are low. Their agents however are not very knowledgeable about their new Alaska partnership. It might take a couple calls to find one that knows how to search and book these awards. The change fee is currently $50, and redeposit fee is currently $75.

If you’re booking for anyone other than yourself, save yourself some time and set up your passengers as “Redemption Nominees” in your KrisFlyer account before calling in. Singapore transfers are not instant (1-3 days, or more) and they don’t allow holds for Alaska awards. I’ve never had an issue where Alaska Hawaii flights found on AA.com weren’t bookable by Singapore, but I have run into issues where Singapore couldn’t see domestic routes that were bookable on AA.com.  If you don’t get your Alaska PNR while booking with Singapore, you can use the CheckMyTrip app and the Singapore PNR to get the Alaska PNR. With that you can choose seats and enter passenger data on the Alaska website.

British Airways Executive Club/Avios

Like Singapore, British Airways awards are priced per segment and are distance based. All of Alaska’s Hawaii flights fall in the 12.5K OW price. You’ll have to call in to British Airways to book Alaska flights. That can be quite a pain. It’s ridiculous, but their US phone number only works during east coast business hours, even though it’s staffed in the UK. Hold times often exceed 30 minutes. The workaround to these two issues is calling one of the international numbers. If you have access to cheap/free int’l calls, consider this. I’ve found calling early (for the US) helps with the wait times. The good news is that the reps are very competent and friendly once you do get through. Just like with Singapore, you can use your BA PNR and CheckMyTrip to get your Alaska PNR for choosing seats on the Alaska website. Conveniently, British Airways lets you cancel/redeposit your miles with just the forfeiture of the $5.60 taxes on each segment.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

If you live in a city that Alaska serves, but does not have non-stop Hawaii service, consider using Alaska miles. Their prices are lower than most other legacies. They also shockingly allow stopovers on one-way awards still. As discussed on the podcast, that can be useful for not only splitting up the long trip from the Midwest/east coast, but also opens more options for piecing together awards without the 4-hr limit for domestic connections that many carriers have. It will cost a little more, at 22.5K, but you can also pair Alaska flights with AA flights if that works for your needs.

Other Partners

I’ve compiled other Alaska partners award rates, but I don’t have any experience actually booking them. The prices aren’t great and they aren’t easy programs to deal with, so I’d recommend avoiding them unless you somehow already have miles in that program. LATAM might look good on paper but that program is in flux and is a nightmare to deal with at the best of times.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

American

    One-way Rates (OW)  
    Economy Business  
Partner Miles Program Lowest Highest Lowest Highest  
American American 20K 22.5K 67.5K 90K Link
Alaska Mileage Plan 22.5K   40K   Link
Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles2 22.5K 60K 52.5K 135K Link
British Airways Executive Club2 12.5K 25K+ 37.5K 75K N/A
Etihad EtihadGuest3 17.5K 22.5K 37.5K 47.5K Link
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank4 21K 37K 65K 100K Link
LATAM LATAM Pass5 10.875K 21.75K 39K 78K Link
Qantas Frequent Flyer6 28K   66K   N/A
Qatar Qmiles5 25K 37.5K 50K 75K Link

Notes

  1. RT pricing. OW ~50% more
  2. Segment-distance based
  3. Based on AA’s old award chart, off-peak Hawaii is (1/12-3/8, 8/22-12/15)
  4. Total-distance based
  5. Based on RT, total-distance based
  6. Online chart probably wrong

American’s sweet spots are more limited to the west coast, but availability is pretty good. This year I even saw 7 seats being release for the ultra-peak season between Christmas and New Year’s. AA has multiple flights daily to all four Hawaiian Islands from LAX. British Airways for 12.5K OW from the west coast is an incredible deal. Etihad uses the old AA award chart and routing rules for now, which could be useful. You can transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Etihad, but their customer service can be very poor. Proceed at your own risk.

British Airways Executive Club/Avios

British Airways awards are priced per segment, and are distance based. All of AA’s (and Alaska) Hawaii flights fall in to the 12.5K OW price. Delta also flies from DFW to HNL and OGG. And unlike Alaska, who services the entire west coast, AA only has LAX and PHX at this price point. These awards can be booked online (and the transfer from UR/MR is instant). There is currently an issue on the BA website that forces you to search about 5-15 times before AA award flights show up, but BA/AA are aware and are looking into it. You might have better luck calling in. The BA Executive Club US phone number only works during east coast business hours, even though it’s staffed in the UK. Hold times frequently exceed 30 minutes. The workaround to these two issues is calling one of the international numbers. If you have access to cheap/free int’l calls, consider this. I’ve found calling early (for the US) helps with the wait times. The good news is that the reps are very competent and friendly once you do get through. You can use your British Airways PNR directly on the AA website to choose seats. There has been a unique perk for many years when booking AA flights with Avios: Priority AAccess. If you have this on your boarding pass after checking in, you get access to premium check-in, security, and boarding.  

Alaska Mileage Plan

Alaska miles can be a good option to Hawaii, as you can pair Alaska and AA flights, and take advantage of Alaska’s very generous stopover policies. They allow stopovers on one-way flights, and they also charge the same for Hawaii-US as they do for Hawaii-Europe. So you can find gems like this one below. Hawaii to LA, then a week later LA to London. For only 22.5K. There is no limit on the stopover other than the 330-day booking window.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.
A good use of Alaska’s free stopover on a one-way award

Other Partners

I’ve compiled most of American’s partners award rates, but I don’t have any experience actually booking them. The prices aren’t great and they aren’t easy programs to deal with, so I’d recommend avoiding them unless you somehow already have miles in that program. LATAM might look good on paper but that program is in flux and is a nightmare to deal with at the best of times. Qantas seems to have different rules based upon where you reside. I’ve heard people use Etihad for American awards before. Their customers service is awful but their routing rules were still the pre-deval AA prices, so you might find a gem with some work, luck and risk.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

Delta

      One-way Rates (OW)
      Economy Business
Partner Miles Program Flying On Lowest Highest Lowest Highest
Air France/KLM Flying Blue Delta 17.5K   ?  
Korean Air SKYPASS Delta 12.5K   20K  

Delta’s chart-less SkyMiles program is rarely a good deal to Hawaii. The lowest I’ve seen Hawaii flights go for with SkyMiles lately is a little under 25K OW. While we’ve seen some rock-bottom award rates to the Caribbean, I’ve yet to see any sort of Hawaii prices that would make me consider using them from the west coast. They do release a good amount of space to partners, but it can be seasonal. Sometimes they’re super generous, other times they can zero out everything for months. The best partner search engine used to be Air France’s site, but they recently killed their calendar search as an option on their main site. You’ll just get an error unless there is space available on your dates, both coming and going. It’s likely anything you see here is bookable by a partner, but that’s not always the case. Korean’s site is a pain to search, and often it won’t show flights that their call center can see. Virgin Atlantic’s site is a bit of a pain, you have to search by country/state to select the airports, but it will show Delta Hawaii award flights with a little massaging of the inputs, and you can expand your search to a 5-week period. This is probably your best search engine for Delta partner flights now. I’d recommend finding available flights with Virgin’s site first, then calling or using the website of Korean/Flying Blue.

Korean SKYPASS

Korean offers one of the best deals to Hawaii, mostly because they don’t consider Hawaii any different than the rest of the United States. There’s no separate zone for Hawaii in SKYPASS’s Delta chart.  The only issue is Korean’s archaic rules and booking process. Technically you can only book for family members. And you’ll have submit paperwork such as birth certificates and marriage licenses. Thankfully, Korea will let you hold awards for ~30 days. So if there’s space, you can secure the seats then deal with the paperwork later. It takes roughly a week for them to approve your family after you submit the documentaiton. Korean is pretty flexible for routing, and even allows a stopover. Here are their rules (with my notes on the realities in parentheses).

  1. Up to two transfers permitted between city of departure and destination each way (Up to three segments allowed each way).
  2. One stopover (over 24 hours) is permitted during the entire journey, and is included in the number of transfers. One surface segment is permitted at the destination, and is not considered a stopover. (1 stopover per trip, and open-jaw is allowed, but #3 below means any connection over 4hr is a stopover)
  3. Standard for stopover North America Domestic: Stay over 4 hours (anything over 4hr is a stopover, anything under is just a transfer/connection).
  4. Transfers cannot be made at the city of departure and destination (you must return to your original departure city, no using your stopover for a free one-way).

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue customer service is pretty abysmal in my experience, but they provide a very easy way to quickly book a Hawaii flight on Delta flights. Transfers from MR/UR/TYP should be instant. And if you’re thinking of using FlyingBlue, create an account right away. They can block brand new accounts from making reservations, especially ones that are close to departure. You’ll also need one to search. They used to allow layovers on awards, but those are now completely gone.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

Hawaiian Miles

      One-way Rates (OW)
      Economy Business
Partner Currency Name Flying On Lowest Highest Lowest Highest
Hawaiian HawaiianMiles Hawaiian 17.5K-30K 40-60K 40K 80-130K
JetBlue TrueBlue Hawaiian 22K 30K 45K 70K
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Hawaiian 20K 40K 40K 65K
Korean SKYPASS Hawaiian 15K   30K  
             
  Inter-island          
  American1 Hawaiian 7.5K 15K 15K 30K
  Delta Hawaiian 7.5K      
  JetBlue Hawaiian 6K   12K  
  Korea1 Hawaiian 5K 10K 20K 40K
  United Hawaiian 7.5K      
  Virgin Atlantic Hawaiian 7.5K      

Notes

  1. Priced per segment

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

Hawaiian offers nice service, going so far as to offer a hot meal still. It’s still awful airline food though. Most of their planes are widebodies, but they’ve recently started taking delivery of A321 narrowbody aircraft. If you see awards on hawaiianair.com at 35K-40K RT, then call the partner and have them check for you. Hawaiian releases space differently to each carrier, so you’re at the mercy of the redeeming program. You have to pick up the phone and call (PUTPAC). Recently, Hawaiian had tons of space on a new route with their own miles at their own Low rate, but JetBlue only saw 3 seats max. But they saw those 3 seats every day for a whole month. None of the partners offer any other carriers flights as part of their Hawaiian awards, so you have to start in a city with Hawaiian service. You can also use a variety of currencies to book your Hawaiian inter-island flights, if you’re planning on visiting more than one island on your trip. My general recommendations for island-hopping are: 1-7 days 1 island, 7-14 days 1 or 2 islands, 14+ clearly you’re from Europe with that much vacation time so go nuts, see it all.

Boat Snack

United

    One-way Rates (OW)  
    Economy Business  
Partner Currency Name Lowest Highest Lowest Highest  
United Mileage Plus 22.5K 45K 40-50K 90-95K Link
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 17.5K   30K   Link
Aeroplan Aeroplan 22.5   40K   Link
Lufthansa Miles & More 20K   35K   Link
Avianca LifeMiles 24K   42.5K   Link

Anything with only United flights that shows up at United.com at 22.5K should be bookable by partners, apart from flights marked “Exclusively available to you as a Chase cardmember”. Those are XN seats and can only be used with United miles, while logged in to your United account. I’ve often seen XN seats available for peak dates when nobody else is offering any award space. Keep that in mind if United is an option for you.

Singapore KrisFlyer

Singapore KrisFlyer is almost always the best option for booking Hawaii United flights. You can transfer from UR/MR/TYP. They allow a stopover, which can be useful both for the stopover and expanding your award options.

United Mileage Plus

MileagePlus can be useful for United’s partnership with Hawaiian, as they allow tacking on an inter-island segment at no extra cost. You can also take advantage of their new “Excursionist” perk with a free inter-island segment. Useful if you already have MileagePlus miles, but you’re still better off transferring to Singapore I’d you’re starting from scratch.

Other Partners

These should be a last resort, but they are an option if you already have the miles and can’t think of a better use of them. Avianca can be a nightmare to deal with, proceed with caution.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

Southwest

Southwest recently announced that they’ll be flying to Hawaii starting early 2019, and maybe late 2018. They’ll be flying from tertiary California airports to start: OAK, SJC, SMF, and SAN, and will fly to each of the major airports in Hawaii. They even announced that they will start flying inter-island, but not until late 2019.

Companion Pass

Well as I’ve shown above, there are tons of cheap awards to Hawaii. And if you’re paying cash, Alaska’s Free Companion Fare is a fantastic option, and available right now. And many won’t even be able to get to Hawaii on a single ticket. If you’re not flying out of one of the four airports they’re flying to Hawaii from, and think you’re going to score an awesome deal with your shiny new Companion Pass, you’re dead wrong. It’s highly likely they won’t even SELL you a single ticket to Hawaii, as they never sell flights with overnight connections. You can’t get to the west coast early enough to catch the flights to Hawaii. And you get back to CA way too late to catch a connecting flight. The ideal Hawaii flight for us Californians is early morning to Hawaii, then an afternoon flight back. That means a flight will leave ~7-9AM, and return around ~8-10PM. This is how their competition is flying almost every single flight from SMF/OAK/SJC/SAN. I don’t see them starting new service with the worst times. If you want to use your companion pass from a town without a shorthaul, early, non-stop to those CA cities, you’ll have to buy two tickets. Maybe they’ll overhaul their system and finally allow these types of tickets to be sold? Unlikely. Don’t believe me? Go try and book a flight from one of the announced CA Hawaii cities, such as SMF-GCM, SAN-AUA, OAK-LIR, or SJC-NAS. You’ll just see this.

This could be remedied when they fly inter-island, as it would make sense to overnight planes and/or fly red-eyes. But they said that’s only a maybe for late 2019. When they start they won’t have a lot of planes capable of making this flight. They certainly won’t have enough planes for multiple flights daily to one island.

I’ll admit I’m not a fan of Southwest, but I will make the bold statement that they are going to offer one of the worst flight experiences to Hawaii.

  • No food for purchase
  • No in-seat power
  • Armrests thinner than a quarter, uncomfortable for one arm, impossible for two to share
  • No seatback IFE
  • Streaming IFE available, but you need a separate app
  • Family boarding after Group A means Group B might have a tough time finding seats together. A lot of families on Hawaii flights.
  • No codeshare agreements
  • It’s unlikely that they’ll have onboard WiFi to Hawaii, but that could change because they are installing modern satellite WiFi systems on their new planes.
You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.
Kauai’s west coast from the helicopter

Flying Business/First to Hawaii

In general, don’t bother. If you can score a widebody or lie-flat seat, at a low rate, then it’s worth considering.  Currently anything east of DEN is serviced with a widebody plane. Occasionally hub flights to HNL, sometimes OGG and KOA, could be on a 767/777/330. And the occasional AA/Delta/United plane to HNL/OGG Occasionally an AA/Delta/United plane might have a 757 with lie-flat seats. This is happening more often as ex-transatlantic 757s get old. But those could be subbed with domestic F, or even a 737/321 at any point. Be cautious paying a premium for that.

Widebody “Low” premium seats are extremely rare these days.  With the proliferation of the variable-priced “Standard” award, they throw any excess premium space at the lowest Standard rate and it’s snatched up quickly by the road warriors who have more miles than time off, and take their family on their yearly vacation in style. It’s a win-win for the airline. Their own elites are happy and they get more miles off the books. And service to Hawaii varies wildly from crew-to-crew, flight-to-flight. It’s more likely worse in J/F than in Y, as it’s a popular route among senior FA’s. Sure, you get a free Mai Tai, but anything with a fruit juice other than lime ain’t a god damn Mai Tai.

Hopefully you’ve found this info helpful.  Stay tuned for Part 3 where I discuss all of your options for booking hotel awards.  I promise plenty of boring tables and diagrams for that too.

Questions? Follow Tim on Twitter!

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You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

You have lots of options for how to book flights to Hawaii using miles and points. We take a look at the best award rates to Hawaii and how to book flights with miles to Hawaii.

TJ

4 thoughts on “Hawaii miles and points guide Part 2: Best award rates”

  1. definitely interesting write-up! totally forgot about the Jetblue Hawaiian partnership as I have extra TrueBlue points sitting around… made me rethink my Hawaii strategy from BOS…. still difficult… but not impossible

  2. I love Alaska’s stop-over feature on award redemption. I just redeemed 17.5k miles for YVR-SFO-KOA plus taxes and it’s about 1.92 cents per mile redemption at the time of booking. It would have been a higher redemption but there are high taxes when departing Canada. Now that they fly to a lot of Hawaii airports direct from a bunch of major airports in the west coast, then it’s even better.

  3. Not loving your lack of information on the forward cabin, but I can’t disagree with your conclusion. Trying to find 3 J lieflats even months ahead has been an exercise in frustration. Best solution I can come up with is to do domestic J to Cali and then suck it up and use Avios for the Y hop across the Pacific.

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