Best Ways to Book Hawaii on Points and Miles

Using transfer partners to book Hawaii on points

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re kind of obsessed with Hawaii.  Although plane tickets can be pricey and award ticket availability can be scarce, I’ve learned the best ways to book Hawaii on points and miles and now I’m going to share.

Here’s the interesting thing: most options on this list involve flying on one of the 3 major US carriers-United, Delta, and American Airlines- but none of these options involve actually booking through these carriers.  Once again, be sure to read the getting started and redeeming points and miles page so you can learn how important it is to familiarize yourself with airline partners and alliances.

I made a table for quick reference, but keep reading because I will explain how all of this works.

 British Airways AviosSingapore Airlines KrisFlyerKLM/AirFrance FlyingBlueKorean Air SkyPass
Book these flights from the continental US to HawaiiAmerican Airlines and Alaska AirlinesUnitedDelta and Alaska AirlinesDelta and Alaska Airlines
Cost12,500 each way from the west coast or 25,000 roundtrip17,500 each way or 35,000 roundtrip15,000 each way or 30,000 roundtrip25,000 roundtrip in economy on Delta, 45,000 roundtrip in first class on Delta, or 30,000 in economy on Alaska Airlines
Transfer fromSPG and UR at 1:1 or MR at 250:200SPG, UR, and MR at 1:1SPG, UR, and MR at 1:1SPG or UR at 1:1
Roundtrip required?NoNoNoYes
Can I put an award ticket on hold?NoYesYesYes

If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints:

You can use all four options listed below to book tickets from the continental US to Hawaii.

  • British Airways Avios
  • Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
  • KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue
  • Korean Air SkyPass

If you have American Express Membership Rewards:

You have three options.

  • British Airways Avios- but Amex MR transfer to BA Avios at a 250:200 rate.  This is still a good deal, but if you also have Ultimate Rewards and/or SPG, you can transfer to BA at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
  • KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue

Update 7/2017: Great news!! British Airways and Iberia are now 1:1 transfer ratios. Even better news: through September 2017, Amex is giving a 40% bonus when transferring membership Rewards to British Airways.  This means that for every 1000 MR, you get 1400 BA Avios!

 

Napali coast Kauai, Hawaii, Mauna Loa private helicopter tour, jurassic park

Napali Coast

Best Ways to Book Flights to Hawaii on Miles and Points (June 2017)

It is a good idea to go ahead and sign up for each of these 4 loyalty accounts.  It is free to sign-up and it will save you time when you are ready to book.  Be sure to keep a list or spreadsheet of all of your usernames, loyalty account numbers, and passwords.

1. British Airways Avios to book American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights

Transfer from: SPG or UR at a 1:1 ratio or from MR at 250:200

  • Since BA has a distance-based award chart, tickets to Hawaii from the US west coast are a great value.
  • British Airways partners with Alaska Airlines and American Airlines
  • British Airways charges 12,500 Avios each way or 25,000 round-trip for flights to Hawaii in economy on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines from these cities:
    • Anchorage, Alaska
    • Bellingham, WA
    • Los Angeles, CA
    • Oakland, CA
    • Phoenix, AZ
    • Portland, OR
    • Sacramento, CA
    • San Diego, CA
    • San Jose, CA
    • Seattle, WA
  • Flights booked with American Airlines AAdvantage miles or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles cost 35,000-45,000 miles roundtrip from the continental US to Hawaii.
  • If you live on the east coast, it could be worth booking a “positioning” flight to the west coast to take advantage of this British Airways sweet spot.  I will do a separate post on positioning flights but here is a quick example.
    • You live on the east coast and have 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points and want to book 2 tickets to Hawaii.
    • You find “sAAver” availability on a roundtrip flight from LAX to Honolulu on American Airlines.  This would be 25,000 British Airways Avios per person or 50,000 total.
    • You find a cheap flight from your east coast city to LAX on Southwest. You can either book this flight with cash or you can even transfer Ultimate Reward to Southwest Rapid Rewards and book those tickets on points.
  • How to book: check availability on American Airlines and/or Alaska Airlines first, then you can book online with British Airways.
  • One-way tickets are allowed
  • British Airways does not allow holds on award tickets, but if you’re transferring from MR or UR, you should have the points immediately

2. Singapore Airlines Krisflyer to book United

Transfer from: SPG, UR, or MR at a 1:1 ratio

  • Singapore Airlines and United are both in the Star Alliance, so you can book United flights with Singapore Airlines miles.
  • For the same flight from the Continental US to Hawaii on a United flight, Singapore Airlines charges 35,000 miles roundtrip, whereas United charges 45,000 for the exact same flight.
  • Although you can transfer Ultimate Rewards to United to book, you save points by booking the exact same flight with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program.
  • How to book: check availability for United flights on United’s own website first.  Once you find an award at the saver level, write down the dates and flight numbers.  You will have to call Singapore Airlines to book.
  • One-way tickets are allowed
  • The official policy is that they do not hold award tickets, but I have personal experience of putting tickets on hold by calling Singapore Airlines.  The tickets were held for 2 days.

3. KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue for Delta or Alaska Airlines

Transfer from SPG, UR, or MR at a 1:1 ratio

  • Although there is one more partner that has an even better value (see number 4 on this list) for booking Delta flights, this is my favorite.
    • First of all, KLM’s online booking process is easy, and it is easy to search for availability.
    • Second, availability on Delta tends to be pretty good especially when booked in advance.  I have a personal anecdote: I booked 7 tickets for our entire family for a Hawaii vacation next year.  I transferred Amex MR and Chase UR to KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue to book all of these tickets.
  • Delta’s lowest redemption rate to Hawaii from the continental US is 45,000 Skymiles roundtrip.  This is in economy.
  • KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue only charges 15,000 miles each way or 30,000 roundtrip from the mainland to Hawaii.
  • How to book: KLM’s website makes it very easy to view availability.
  • One-way tickets are allowed
  • You can call to put tickets on hold for 2 days
  • Delta tickets can be booked on KLM/AirFrance’s website, but Alaska Airlines tickets must be booked over the phone

4. Korean Air SkyPass for Delta or Alaska Airlines

Transfer from: SPG or UR at a 1:1 ratio

  • Korean air is the best value, especially for first class tickets to Hawaii
  • Korean Air charges 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy or 45,000 miles roundtrip first class on Delta.
  • You read that right. 45,000 for first class! That is the same amount Delta charges for a rountrip economy ticket if you book through Delta.
  • Alaska Airlines is a non-alliance partner of Korean Air, so those flights are also bookable but it will cost 30,000 miles roundtrip in economy. (Korean Air has different award charts for their alliance and non-alliance partners)
  • Delta flights can be booked online, but the process is a little convoluted.  You will have to call to book Alaska Airlines flights.
  • Unlike most other programs, Korean Air only allows flights to be booked for yourself and family members.  You have to register each family member.
  • Only round-trip flights can be booked
  • You can call to put tickets on hold for 2 days

A few notes:

  • Korean Air to book Delta is definitely the best value for a Hawaii ticket, but it requires a roundtrip ticket.  This means that Delta must have availability.
  • If you have trouble finding roundtrip tickets, consider using the other three options for two one-way tickets. For example, use Singapore Airlines to book your flight on United to Hawaii and then use KLM to book a Delta flight from Hawaii.
  • Consider calling to place the ticket on hold if possible before transferring the points
  • Remember that Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards transfers tend to be instant, but Starwood Preferred Guest can take a few days.

You can get 2 tickets to Hawaii with just 1 sign-up bonus!

The current offer for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards. Two tickets to Hawaii on Korean Air cost 50,000 miles total.  The sign-up bonus pays for your tickets!

ultimate rewards redeem for hawaii

apply here

 

molokini crater snorkeling, hawaii on miles and points

Cooling off on the way to snorkel at Molokini

Na Pali experience boat cave tour kauai, hawaii on points and miles

The beautiful Na Pali Coast in Kauai

mauna loa private helicopter tour kauai, hawaii on points and miles

We hiked the Awaawapuhi trail then went through the Awaawapuhi valley by helicopter

Hawaii on points, redeem miles, ultimate rewards

Helicopter view of the open ceiling cave on the Na Pali coast

sea turtles maui, hawaii on points, chase ultimate rewards

Swimming with turtles in Maui

grand hyatt kauai, hawaii on points, ultimate rewards

Saltwater Lagoon pool at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

road to hana maui hawaii waterfall, hawaii on points

Waterfall off the Road to Hana drive

 

 

 

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