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Hawaii is one of the top travel destinations in the world and it is certainly a great way to use your points and miles for a dream vacation! Laura and I spent our honeymoon in Hawaii on the islands of Maui and Kauai and it is just a magical place that I would highly recommend to all.
In the below video I take a question from a reader in the San Francisco area who wants to know his options to get a round-trip flight to Hawaii. While this might come from a west coast reader, many of the ‘sweet spot’ redemptions I discuss are applicable to you no matter where in the US you live, so I hope this will be a very valuable video for everyone out there.
Video: The Best Ways to Get to Hawaii with Miles
Hi everyone. This is Brad Barrett. And in this video, I’m actually going to talk you through a reader question that I think is one of the most interesting in all of travel rewards. It is really the combination of a number of different sweet spots actually to get to Hawaii. This will be applicable for most people throughout the country, just in general. But this really focuses on some extra sweet spots from the West Coast, specifically in this case he is coming from the San Francisco area.
So, yeah, I think even if you don’t live on the West Coast, you’re really going to get a lot of value out of this, because I know, obviously, Hawaii is a huge destination of choice for people in general and for travel rewards. So, yeah, let’s get to it.
The very first thing that I did, he is interested in traveling later this year, so in October, I went to the San Francisco Airport Wikipedia page and the Oakland Airport Wikipedia page. That’s generally how I start looking for even what options are available (from a local airport). And he’s interested in going to Honolulu. So I’ll just do a find and see where they fly.
Okay, there’s a Delta flight to Honolulu. There’s Hawaiian Airlines, which will help in some senses, but it’s not exactly a sweet spot. But we’ll see. And then there is United. So there’s a huge United hub at San Francisco. So, okay, so that gives us what’s there. So we have Delta, Hawaiian, and United. And why don’t we do the same here at the Oakland Airport Wikipedia page, so there’s Alaska Airlines, and that will help a lot. Hawaiian again, and that’s it, so Alaska. So it’s really just the four main options.
Now, if we want to just look at the normal award charts for the major airlines, let’s say, United and American, it’s 45,000 miles round trip to Hawaii. That’s whether you live in New York or in San Francisco, which is a whole lot closer to Hawaii, obviously. So that’s the standard award chart. But the cool thing is there are a lot of sweet spots here. And most of them, like I said, are applicable to people throughout the country.
So let’s first look at the American Airlines award chart. So if you just Google American Airlines award chart, here’s what shows up. So what’s especially interesting to us is this. So we’re always looking for MileSAAver. Now, Level 2 is just the regular MileSAAver. Level 1 is what most people refer to as the off-peak chart. So that is where there’s a potential sweet spot. And if you notice here, it says travel between North America and Hawaii for only 17,500 one-way or 35,000 miles round-trip as opposed to the normal 45,000 round trip. So that is nice. That’s 10,000 miles off.
And let’s see, down here, they tell you when the off-peak Level 1 to Hawaii is. So it’s January 12 through March, so two months there, and then good portion of the end of the year, another four months there. So, really, half the year, you can get that 35,000-mile round trip. Now, that’s using American Airlines miles. And so anything that shows up on the AA website, AA.com, as a MileSAAver economy flight will be 35,000 miles round trip during these off-peak times. So, clearly, his October fits in here. So that’s something nice to keep in mind.
United does not have any sweet spots in and of themselves, but we will definitely talk about one kind of neat little end-around for that. So let’s just go through systematically. We’ll start with American Airlines. So this is just aa.com. We’ll do SFO to Honolulu. You have to always click Redeem Miles here. And he wants to go for about a week in mid-October, so, say, the 15th through the 22nd. We’ll just remember that for future ones. So you just click there, and computer thinks for a moment. And then we’re looking for this green economy MileSAAver. So that is great. There are a lot of flights. You can show the full calendar. It looks like every single day in this month that they’re showing, there’s availability, which is just fantastic.
So if you had 35,000 American Airlines miles, you could book these flights today. But let’s dive deeper into this, because there’s actually some interesting ways to get some sweet spots on some of these flights, not all of them but on some of them.
So now, this is October 15. These are all the flight options. So there are a bunch of direct flights. So Hawaiian Airlines, now keep in mind, any of these, if you had AA miles, you could get for the 35,000 round trip. But we actually want to do slightly better than that if we can.
Now, Hawaiian Airlines will not apply (for this sweet spot). So anything that says HA will not apply. But if you can find anything that says AA for American Airlines or AS for Alaska Airlines or US for US Airways, you can apply this sweet spot from the West Coast. This is the only one that’s applicable only to West Coast people.
You can find a sweet spot using British Airways miles on either Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, or US Airways, if you can find this direct flight. So actually, this right here is on Alaska. It’s a direct flight from Oakland in the Bay Area to Honolulu. And if you had British Airways miles, you would be able to book this for only 25,000 miles round trip or 12,500 one-way.
That’s incredible. That’s 25,000 miles round trip as opposed to 45,000 for the normal peak time or 35,000 using AA miles. So it’s the exact same flight. It’s just knowing that if you had British Airways miles, you could book this Alaska Airlines flight. So that is a big, big saving. So that can come in handy for sure. And that’s only from a select number of West Coast airports that have direct flights on those three airlines, but something to keep in mind nonetheless.
We could just go here and see if there’s anything on the way back. So there’s Alaska. So yeah, if he had 25,000 British Airways miles, which are really easy to come across from either the British Airways Visa Signature Card or from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, the Ultimate Rewards points, they’re known as, or you can transfer them from AMEX Membership Rewards and Starwood. So there are a lot of easy ways to get British Airways points. So that is definitely the cheapest way you’re going to find.
So yeah, again, for everyone throughout the country, it is 35,000, easy as can be. And you just search at AA.com. Or from the West Coast, it can be 25,000.
So now, let’s go over to United. Now, there’s a huge United hub at San Francisco, so you would expect to find some availability. So at United.com, we just type in San Francisco and then Honolulu. We’ll do My Dates are Flexible in October. We’ll click Award Travel and then hit Search. And the computer will think for a moment, and then we’ll arrive at a calendar here of two different months. So airlines give you like two months at a glance. You’re looking for yellows and greens (dates on the calendar). So that denotes Saver Award Economy. Now, there are lots of yellows and greens here, 30 of the 31 days.
So just for argument’s sake, we’ll keep with that 15th through the 22nd. We’ll see what we can find. We’re hoping for direct flights. And, yes, this is great. So you’re always looking in the leftmost column. That’s the Saver Award Economy. You’ll see here that’s 22,500 miles one-way for this direct flight on United from SFO to Honolulu. So that would be 45,000 miles round trip. Okay, so if you had United miles, if you had Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you could transfer them to United, and you could book this flight. So he would have a nice easy round trip booked just using either United miles or Chase UR transferred to United.
Also keep in mind that, in all of these examples, you don’t have to fly back from Honolulu. Let’s say you wanted to go visit another island. You could then fly back from Maui or wherever. And you just have to search each leg separately. So that is very, very easily accomplished.
All right, so now a sweet spot that sounds kind of weird when you first hear it is actually using Singapore Airlines miles. And you know me by now that I don’t like to focus on anything that’s too complicated. That’s not my style at all. But this is actually a really cool one. So Singapore Airlines, it’s always based on the award chart, okay, so the award chart of the airline that you have the points in. So that’s where we can find these sweet spots, just like we found that British Airways sweet spot based on distance from the West Coast.
The Singapore Airlines award chart, which we’ll go through right here, so this is their Star Alliance, which United is a member, their Star Alliance Round Trip Awards. Now, if you scroll down a little bit, you’ll notice that it says Hawaii and Central America. So they consider Hawaii and Central America in one award to North America, and this is the economy. It’s only 35,000 miles round trip.
So now, United is a Star Alliance member, one of their partner members. And if you had 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles, you could fly that exact same flight on United Airlines, the exact same airplane. And instead of costing you 45,000, it would only cost you 35,000.
Now, the logical question is, how on earth do you get Singapore Airlines miles? Well, they’re actually really incredibly easy to come across. They happen to also be another Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. So if you had those Chase Ultimate Rewards, instead of sending 45,000 of them to United to book this flight, you would just send 35,000 of them to Singapore Airlines and book through them.
You do have to make a phone call instead of booking online, but it’s one phone call to save 10,000 miles per ticket. And a number of the major transferable programs transfer to Singapore as well. So those are really, really easy miles to come across, actually.
So yeah, this is a nice way to show you how to book a United flight, either using United or that special deal using Singapore. And now, keep in mind, that is regardless of whether you’re on the West Coast or not. That’s throughout the United States. So if you can find a Saver Level Economy ticket, you can use the Singapore Air miles to book it. You would just jot down the date, the time of the flight, the flight number, and just call them up and just book it. It really is as simple as that. So yeah, that’s another major option using the Star Alliance partners.
Now, one program that I don’t normally focus on is Delta. Now, Delta is notoriously bad for award flights, because they often don’t make anything available at the lowest level saver tickets. But it’s certainly worth a shot since we saw that there were flights out of the San Francisco area airports to Honolulu.
The Delta award chart, the lowest level saver would be 45,000 miles round trip. So that’s what we’ll look for. I’m not terribly hopeful here, but at least, it’s worth a shot. So do Round Trip, SFO, I already plugged this in. I did Flexible Dates and then show price in Miles and then Find Flight. Now, Delta prices them out in round trips. So if you see 45,000 when this shows up, that’s something good. That’s what we’re looking for here. So let’s see what we’ve got.
All right, now they do day-by-day here. So this is Monday, October 12. There’s nothing at the lowest level. Now, why the lowest level will matter is there’s going to be another one of these sweet spots where you transfer to a different award partner, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.
So we’re looking for anything that says 45,000. So it looks like on the 13th, it’s 45k, the 14th, 15th. So a lot of these have 45k, which is really great. So let’s click on that. We’ll see what they show. Hoping for non-stop, but it’s not really relevant for the award bookings. So, okay, 45k, yeah, it’s the same deal. So plus $11, that’s the mandatory taxes and fees.
Now, this is 1 stop, 1 stop. And these are from the west coast. You’re not looking to stop. But if you had Delta points, then this could be a great use of them. So you’d have to fly over to LA, stop in LA for a couple of hours, and then fly direct to Honolulu. So again, not ideal but something you can deal with.
And the final sweet spot here is actually using Korean Air miles. This is just another similar thing where you find a sweet spot in their award chart and you book the flight. So the sweet spot in Korean Air is actually the best of all. So this is throughout the United States. You can fly round trip to Hawaii for only 25,000, because they don’t delineate anything between Hawaii being in before Central America or a specific zone. They just consider part of North America.
If you see here on the Korean Air website, it’s Departure, North America, Arrival, North America. Economy is only 25,000 miles round-trip or 45,000 in business or first. That can be a really neat way to get a business or first class flight to Hawaii round trip for only 45,000 miles, which, as you remember, that’s the exact same price you would have paid for a normal flight in economy on United or American Airlines or Delta. So that is a pretty good deal.
If you can find the lowest level saver, and that’s important, with any of these sweet spots with the partners, you have to find that lowest level saver ticket, the Saver at United, the Economy MileSAAver at American, and the 45,000 lowest level saver at Delta. Then you can use these points on the partners.
So it would only be 25,000 miles for this Delta flight that we found. Now, Korean Air is also a transfer partner in a number of transferable programs (but no longer Chase UR). So you have a lot of options to do this, certainly, from the West Coast for very few miles, 25,000 in most cases, 35,000 if you wanted to fly on United. So there are a lot of options, which is really great. And again, most of these are applicable to anybody in the U.S. (not just west coast), except for the British Airways one.
I hope you enjoyed this video on the best ways to get to Hawaii with miles and points. And thanks for watching.