My husband and I always wanted to go to Hawaii and I had been collecting points long enough to see my points balances rising steadily. I was already planning on booking our flights with miles, but I had no idea that I was going to be able to also get our hotels for a fraction of what we had budgeted. Turns out, not only did we get our hotels for less than 700$, we also were able to add a one way business class ticket to Europe to our flight home after an 8 month “stopover” in our hometown of Dallas.
We only had about a week of vacation time for the Hawaii trip and we were having trouble deciding between Maui and Kauai. Since we live in Dallas, we were able to save time getting to Hawaii since there is a direct flight to Maui, so we decided to split our week between both islands.
1. Flights to Hawaii
- 20K American Airlines points per person plus 5.60$ in taxes and fees for direct DFW to OGG flight
- The Citi AAdvantage platinum credit card will get you 10% of redeemed miles back (on up to 100k per year) so technically this is 18K per person
- This flight would have cost ~$600 per person
Note: AAdvantage is not the cheapest way to get to Hawaii in economy, but since we had a large stash of AA miles, it made sense for us to use them. For example, if you have AMEX Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards you can transfer them to KLM/Air France Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio and redeem 15k miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees each way for Delta flights from the continental US to Hawaii. More on AMEX and Chase points coming soon but you can read a little preview in this post
2. Hotel in Maui
- 2 nights at the Andaz Maui using free nights from the Chase Hyatt credit card sign-up bonus
- 1 night at the Andaz Maui on cash and points (12.5K points and $150).
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Hyatt
- Average rates at the Andaz Maui are ~$420 per night
Note: The Andaz Maui does charge a daily resort fee, however, when an award stay is booked entirely on points, the resort fee is waived. Unfortunately, if booking with cash and points, the resort fee is charged, but the only way to use Tier Suite Upgrades (formerly known as Diamond Suite Upgrades) on an award stay is to book with cash and points. At the time, we had diamond status so we were not charged a resort fee even on the cash and points night.
Total spent: $150 and 12.5K UR points
Total value: ~$1260
3. Flights to Kauai
- 2 Hawaiian Airlines flights from OGG to LIH for 7.5K American Airlines points each plus $5.60 in taxes and fees*
*Inter-island Hawaii flights are very reasonable (~$110 per person) but again, we had so many AA miles we decided to use them instead of paying cash for these flights. Depending on how you value AA miles, it may or may not be worth it to book inter-island flights on points
Total spent: $11.20 and 15K AA miles
Total value: ~$220
4. Hotel in Kauai
- 3 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai using cash and points for 12.5K + $150 per night
- Average rates are ~$400 per night
Note: As stated above, the resort fee was waived since I had diamond status, but since this was booked on cash and points, we otherwise would have been charged the daily resort fee.
Total spent: $450 and 37.5K UR points
Total value: ~$1200
5. Flight from Kauai to Dallas
- LIH to DFW in first class on Alaska Airlines for 50K points and $5.60 per person
- Alaska Airlines is a transfer partner of my personal favorite loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest.
- cost of this flight is ~$1,000 per person
Total spent: 100K Alaska Airlines miles and $11.20
Total value: $2,000
6. Flight to Europe
- Alaska Airlines and American Airlines charge 40K miles each way for first class to and from the continental US to Hawaii. Alaska Airlines partners with American Airlines, therefore, it is possible to book European trips using Alaska Airlines miles.
- The cost of US to Europe in business class on American Airlines using Alaska Airlines is 50K miles. The best part about an award ticket to Europe on American Airlines? No fuel surcharges! Looking at you, British Airways.*
- Alaska Airlines allows you to make a gateway city in the continental US your stopover when booking an award ticket from Hawaii to Europe. This means you can book a trip from Hawaii to the US, enjoy a long stopover (in our case, 8 months in our home city of Dallas), and then continue on the same ticket to Europe. The cost of the trip will be the greater of the two legs (LIH to DFW in first is 40K, and DFW to MAD in business is 50K), so in this case it’s 50K per person.
- Since my husband and I had a trip to Europe in mind for the near future, I decided to try booking this. I was able to find availability in first class from Kauai to Dallas and then months later a direct flight from DFW to Madrid in business class on American Airlines.
- I cannot find business class from DFW to Madrid for less than $2,500 per person, and that is not even a convenient direct flight like the one we had.
- Alaska Airlines charges a $12.50 partner booking fee per ticket even when booked online. I’ll gladly pay that.
- Bonus: Alaska Airlines does not charge a change or cancellation fee if you change or cancel before 60 days of the travel date
Total spent: $22.40 in taxes and fees, $25.00 partner booking fee, and the same 100k miles mentioned above.
Total value: at least $5,000
*I actually love British Airways Avios for booking domestic and short-distance flights on American Airlines. I will cover this in a future post
The Bottom Line
Total taxes and fees: ~70$
Total cash: $600
Grand total spent: less than 700$ and less than 200,000 miles and points
55K AA miles (49,500 after 10% back)
50K Ultimate Rewards
100K Alaska Airlines miles
Grand total saved: at least $10,000
If all of this sounds too complicated, I promise it’s not! I used to think it was too good to be true but I’m here to tell you it’s not! Stay tuned and I will break everything down for you in the simplest way I can. I will teach you how to spend your money on fun experiences rather than airfare and hotels!