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Hawaii is one of our favorite places, but it can be an expensive vacation. Using miles and points to help with plane tickets and hotels can help significantly. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the best ways to book flights between the lower 48 and Hawaii on points and miles.
Here’s the interesting thing: most options on this list involve flying on one of 3 major US carriers-United, Delta, and American Airlines- but only a few of these options involve actually booking through these carriers.
My favorite credit cards are cards that earn transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. You will see that having either of these points will give you several options for flights to Hawaii. I will go over which airline partners work best with each of the 2 currencies.
Earn your first 100,000 points so you can fly to Hawaii for free!
If you do not already have a transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the first card I suggest for almost anyone. No matter what your travel goals are, the welcome bonus is worth at least $1250. If you use transfer partners as I’ve outlined in this post, the bonus could be worth even more! Click here for a list of other valuable ways to spend 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
Book flights to Hawaii with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards partners
I made a table for quick reference, but keep reading because I will explain.
|British Airways Avios||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue||Etihad Guest||Southwest Rapid Rewards|
|Book these flights from the continental US to Hawaii||American Airlines and Alaska Airlines||United and Alaska Airlines||Delta||American Airlines||Southwest|
|Cost in economy||12,500 each way (from the west coast)||17,500 each way on United; 12,000-12,500 each way on Alaska Airlines (from select cities only)||As low as 17,500 each way||17,500 or 22,500 each way||Depends on the current fare; I’ve seen it as low as 9,000 Rapid Rewards points one way|
|Cost in business/first||37,500 each way (from the west coast)||30,000 each way on United; Alaska is LOL. Not even worth considering for biz/first||Uncertain as I could not find availability and there is no chart||37,500 each way||N/A|
|Transfer from||Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards||Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards||Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards||Amex Membership Rewards||Chase Ultimate Rewards|
If you have American Express Membership Rewards points, these are the best partners to book plane tickets to Hawaii:
You can use all four options listed below to book tickets from the continental US to Hawaii if you have American Express Membership Rewards points.
You will need to register for a frequent flyer account if you do not already have one to search for availability and book with some of these programs. It’s free. No credit card required.
If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can use these partners to book plane tickets to Hawaii:
These partners usually have the lowest redemption costs:
- British Airways Executive Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
Best Ways to Book Flights to Hawaii on Miles and Points
Remember, never transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards before confirming availability for your dates. Transfers are permanent. I will explain how to search for availability in each section.
1. British Airways Avios to book American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights
Transfer from: Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards
Since BA has a distance-based award chart, nonstop routes to Hawaii from the US west coast are a great value. British Airways Avios (miles) can be redeemed for flights operated by Oneworld partners Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. One-way tickets are allowed. British Airways does not allow holds on award tickets, but if you’re transferring from Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards, you should have the points immediately after transferring.
British Airways requires 13,000 Avios each way or 26,000 round-trip for flights to Hawaii in economy on nonstop flights operated by American Airlines or Alaska Airlines from these cities:
- Anchorage (ANC)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- Portland (PDX)
- San Diego (SAN)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- San Jose (SJC)
- Seattle (SEA)
(Note that some of these routes may be seasonal and/or may not operate daily)
To compare, flights booked with American Airlines AAdvantage miles or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles usually require 35,000-45,000 miles roundtrip from the continental US to Hawaii.
Cities further east would require more since the distance would be more. For example, DFW to Maui would be 20,750 each way in economy for 41,500 roundtrip.
How to book Alaska Airlines or American Airlines flights with British Airways Avios
You can redeem British Airways Avios for American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights at BA.com, but if your dates are flexible, BA does not have a great way to search for flexible dates if you’re trying to book partner operated flights. The best way to search for AA or AS availability if you have flexible dates is with Qantas.com. If Qantas shows an American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flight that is available to book with Qantas miles, that same flight should also be bookable with British Airways Avios. Then you can head to BA to confirm the availability and redemption total. After that, you can transfer the Amex or Chase points to your British Airways account and then complete the booking.
2. Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles to book United or Alaska Airlines
Transfer from: Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards
Singapore Airlines and United are both in the Star Alliance, so you can book United flights with Singapore Airlines miles.
Although you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to United to book United flights, you can save points by booking the exact same flight with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program. This is subject to availability. United does not make every award ticket that is bookable with United miles available to partners such as Singapore Airlines.
For a flight from the continental US to Hawaii operated by United, Singapore Airlines requires 35,000 miles roundtrip. One way tickets are allowed and the cost is half roundtrip (17,500 KrisFlyer miles). United requires 45,000 miles (or more) for the exact same roundtrip flight.
The official policy is that Singapore Airlines will 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. Since Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards transfers to Singapore Airlines are usually immediate, this probably is not necessary.
How to book United flights with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles
You should be able to search for availability and book on the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer website. Again, if you search on United.com, the availability may not match what is made available to partners such as Singapore Airlines.
Alaska Airlines is a non-alliance partner of Singapore Airlines. Instead of the Star Alliance award chart, Singapore has a separate award chart for redemptions on flights operated by Alaska Airlines.
Depending on your departure city, the cost is only 12,000-12,500 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles each way. At first glance, this award chart seems great. Zone 3 (Texas) to Zone 5 (Hawaii) prices at 12,500 miles. But the catch is that this works like British Airways in that you’re charged per segment. If nonstop flights from DFW to Hawaii were available on Alaska Airlines, that would be great! But the reality is that from DFW, you’re looking at 2 or 3 segments each way.
If you live in a city with nonstop flights to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines, this is one of the cheapest redemption options available! These cities include Los Angelos, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, San Jose, and San Diego. If you do not live in a city with nonstop flights, it could be worth booking a positioning flight to an airport that does have direct Alaska Airlines flights to Hawaii (you would need to look at the paid fares and do a little cents per point math to see if it’s worth it).
How to book Alaska Airlines Flights with Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles
Singapore Airlines has slowly rolled out online booking with partners, but you may have to call Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to book award flights operated by Alaska Airlines.
The easiest way to search for availability is on Qantas.com. But you have to make sure it’s an Alaska Airlines operated fight since American Airlines flights are not bookable with Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles. Any Alaska Airlines award space that is bookable with Qantas miles should be made available to book with Singapore Krisflyer miles.
Once you find the Alaska Airlines flights you want on Qantas.com, write down the dates and flight numbers. Then you will need to call Krisflyer to book.
3. KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue for Delta flights
Transfer from Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards
Since AirFrance/KLM are SkyTeam alliance partners with Delta, you can use FlyingBlue miles to book Delta flights. A couple years ago, I booked 7 tickets for our entire family for a Hawaii vacation.
Like Delta, AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue does not publish an award chart, but the lowest cost between the US and Hawaii seems to be 17,500 each way. The amount of miles required by KLM does not seem to change if you have multiple segments. In other words, the redemption price from DFW-KOA, which has a connection, is the same as the redemption cost from LAX-KOA, which is a nonstop flight.
How to use Airfrance/KLM FlyingBlue miles to book Delta flights
You can search for and book Delta operated flights to Hawaii online at Airfrance or KLM’s website. If you try to search on Delta.com, you may find that Delta has award tickets that do not show when you search on KLM/AirFrance Flying Blue. This is normal. Most programs make more tickets available for their own frequent flyer members (though they may require more miles than a saver ticket).
Log into your FlyingBlue account, plug in your departure, destination, and dates, and search. If flights are available, the flight options and amount of miles will show.
Once you have confirmed availability, you can transfer the appropriate amount of Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards and then book.
4. Etihad Guest miles for American Airlines flights
Transfer from American Express Membership Rewards
Etihad is not in an airline alliance. But there are several non-alliance partners. One of these partners is American Airlines. You can use Etihad Guest miles to book American Airlines flights to Hawaii.
The redemption cost is the same or better than if you were to use American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book a milesAAver flight. Etihad is ideal for those on the east coast because this is not a distance based chart. The catch is that Etihad will require more miles if you need a connecting flight, so nonstop flights are ideal.
For economy, the redemption cost is 17,500 or 22,500 Etihad Guest miles each way depending on dates. Off peak dates usually change every year, but this year, the dates are January 12 – March 8, August 22, and December 15.
For first class, the cost is 37,500 miles each way. To compare, the AAdvantage cost is 40,000 miles each way.
How to book American Airlines flights with Etihad miles
Etihad’s website does not have the capability to book American Airlines award tickets at this time. You will have to call to book. The process is relatively painless as agents are well-trained. I’ve never had to wait on hold for very long, either.
The best way to find availability is with Qantas. Remember, you are looking for flights operated by AA only. Since Etihad is not in the oneworld alliance, flights operated by Alaska Airlines cannot be booked with Etihad miles. Once you find the flights you want, you can call to complete the booking. Click here for step-by-step instructions for booking American Airlines flights with Etihad miles.
5. Southwest Rapid Rewards points to book Southwest flights
Transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards
The advantage of using Southwest is that you don’t have to deal with availability like you do with the other options in this list. As long as a seat is available on a Southwest flight-as in, available to book with cash-you can use Rapid Rewards points to book that ticket. The potential problem with Southwest is the way that award tickets are priced. Unlike the other options in this post, Southwest prices award tickets based on the fare of the flight.
If you find a cheap ticket to Hawaii, that means the amount of Rapid Rewards points required will be on the lower end. If tickets for your dates are expensive, you’re going to have to redeem more points.
Without having exact dates and destinations, it’s tough for me to say exactly how many Southwest Rapid Rewards points will be required for an award ticket to Hawaii.
Southwest points are now generally thought to be worth about 1.2 cents each. To give an example, I checked Southwest.com for flights from San Jose, California (SJC) to Honolulu. In November, I found tickets for around 10,000 points each way.
Remember, Southwest Rapid Rewards points become twice as valuable if you have the Southwest Companion Pass.
How to book Southwest flights with Southwest Rapid Rewards points
You can search and book Southwest award tickets online by logging in to your Rapid Rewards account. Another great thing about Southwest is that if you need to cancel an award ticket, you can get your points back and there are no fees.
A few final notes:
- It’s always good to check the options in the Chase redemption portal. Your points are worth a fixed value, but when fares are low, it sometimes makes sense to redeem this way rather than with transfer partners.
- Check Southwest if you live in a city served by Southwest, then compare the redemption cost to that of the other options
- If you live in a city with nonstop Alaska Airlines flights to Hawaii, British Airways or Singapore Airlines are likely going to have your lowest redemption costs.
- If you live on the west coast with nonstop American Airlines flights to Hawaii, British Airways is probably going to be your best bet.
- For those who live on the east coat or in a city requiring a connection, KLM/AirFrance to book Delta, Etihad to book American Airlines, or Singapore to book United is probably going to be the best value for a Hawaii ticket.
One credit card welcome bonus is more than enough for a plane ticket to Hawaii!
The current bonus offer for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card can be redeemed for at least one ticket to Hawaii, but possibly two or more if you use the right partners!
Current offer: Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth a lot more than that.
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to 11 different airline frequent flyer programs or 3 different hotel loyalty programs. You can also redeem the points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.
This card earns 5 points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases, 3 points per dollar on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout), 3 points per dollar on select streaming services, 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (this excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Also, receive credit of up to $50 annually on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards. New cardmembers will receive this credit immediately and existing cardmembers will start earning after the next anniversary.
Each anniversary, you’ll receive bonus points equal to 10% of total purchases made the previous year. This excludes any welcome bonus points, so it’s only on points earned from spending.
Also, you’ll receive a year of DashPass (normally $9.99 per month) for free. You must enroll by 12/31/21.
This premium card has a welcome bonus of 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points
Unlike typical credit cards, the Platinum Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
Current offer: Earn 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. Also, new cardmembers receive 10 points per dollar on purchases at restaurants and when you shop small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during the first 6 months.
Amex points can be transferred to several different airline and hotel programs.
This card has one of the highest earn rates on flight purchases. Earn 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly through airlines or through amextravel.com on up to $500,000 per calendar year. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
The annual fee is now $695 [rates and fees], but if you’re able to utilize the benefits and statement credits that are available, you can make up for the annual fee. The current welcome offer of 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points also helps offset that annual fee. If you are an active duty military service member, American Express waives annual fees on any card you open, including this card!
My favorite benefit: You will receive complimentary access to Global Lounge Collection airport lounges around the world. The Platinum Card from American Express gives you access to their amazing Centurion lounges (where available). These lounges have complimentary food and drinks. Some locations even have spa services such as massage and manicures!
Amex Rates and Fees:
- The Platinum Card from American Express [rates and fees]
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