Visiting Hawaii is one of those things that is on almost everyone’s travel list. It’s no surprise that Hawaii can be expensive, but you can save money on flights and hotels by getting to Hawaii with miles and points.
Meet Tim Brooks, the man who recently dropped so much great Hawaii knowledge on the Saverocity Observation Deck podcast (listen below!) that I felt like I was drinking from a firehose. He has lots of experience helping his family and others get to Hawaii with miles and points and has kindly agreed to write up a few guides on the subject.
Today in Part 1, Tim looks at what airlines fly to Hawaii, where they fly from and what programs you can use to book those flights with miles and points.
What airlines fly to Hawaii from the continental United States?
Before you start searching for award space, it’s important to know what airlines you are working with. The five airlines above, plus Southwest later this year, fly from the continental U.S. to Hawaii.
In general, however, using the miles of the airline you are flying to Hawaii is a bad idea. All of the above airlines have partners that offer the same exact flight (same seat, same airplane) for a better price. Not only that, but most of these partner miles can be transferred from credit card and hotel programs. So not only is it cheaper, but it’s often easier to amass miles in these partner programs.
Airports that connect to Hawaii
Before you begin searching for award space, it helps to know who flies where from your home airport(s). Familiarize yourself with your home airport by visiting its Wikipedia page. A bunch of #avgeeks out there are constantly updating your airports page with a handy “Airlines and Destinations” section that lets you see where you can travel non-stop with each carrier. You can also use a travel search engine like Kayak or Hipmunk to do a search from your home airport to HNL (Honolulu/Oahu), and see which carriers show up in the results. (Ed. note: I prefer using Google Flights, and here’s a primer if you’re unfamiliar).
I’ve made the figure below to help you determine which carrier flies to Hawaii from which cities. If your city is included below, or your home airport has good service to one of these airports, figure out which airlines fly to Hawaii. This should give you good options for looking for available award space to Hawaii.
List of airlines and airline partners whose points you can use to get to Hawaii
Now remember, as we’ve said above, it’s likely that partners will offer you a cheaper and easier way to get an award flight to Hawaii. See the chart below to find out who partners with whom. You can also see the different ways to transfer miles into those partners.
Let’s take a look at an example of how I would use these charts in practice. If I am flying from SLC to Hawaii, I can use Figure 1 to determine that I can fly on Delta planes. However, I can use Figure 2 to see that I could use Delta, Flying Blue, Korean, or Virgin Atlantic miles. Just look at the center box you want and follow the arrows backwards.
How many miles does it cost to fly to Hawaii?
The following table shows you how much each of the U.S. carriers charges for flights with its own miles. Since Southwest miles prices vary due to cost, they aren’t included here.
|One-way Rates (OW)|
As you can probably surmise, prices can vary wildly. The “low” column represents the cheapest awards, often referred to as “saver” awards. In general, only the low level awards are made available to partners. Even then, not all low level awards are made available. Many times partners have access to an even more limited subset of those low awards.
What that means is, if you want to book that award space with partner award miles, you need to know which flights will be eligible for partner awards.
Partner eligible award searches – figuring out which flights can be booked with partners
Here are some general guidelines for each airline in regards to what award flights can be booked by partners. These aren’t always 100%, but they should be a good starting point for finding awards on partners.
Anything that prices as 15K or 17.5K on Alaska’s site should be bookable by its partners.
Anything that shows up on AlaskaAir.com should be bookable by partners. Any AA non-stop flight to Hawaii found at AA.com and priced at 20K or 22.5K should be available through partners. This includes the 12.5K Avios sweet spot.
Delta is trickier. The best partner search engine is Air France’s site. You have to login with your FlyingBlue credentials to search. It’s likely anything you see here is bookable by another Delta partner, but that’s not always the case. Korean’s site is a pain to search and often won’t show flights that their call center can see. If booking with Korean, I’d call and feed them the flight #s you find on FlyingBlue’s search results. Virgin Atlantic’s site is also 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.
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. (Ed. note – gross.) 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.
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.
Hopefully Part 1 of this guide gives you a good starting point for looking to get to Hawaii with miles and points. Like I said above, usually you can spend fewer miles and points by leveraging partners to book the award space. In Part 2, we’ll take a deeper dive into each airline flying to Hawaii, how much it costs to fly partners, and how to go about booking award space. I (Joe) can’t wait!
Questions? Follow Tim on Twitter!
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