The Cheapest Ways to Get to Hawaii

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Update on 9/23/14 to Remove Reference to American Airlines award stopovers and free one ways, which are no longer possible.

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to visit, and judging by the number of inquiries I get about booking awards to Hawaii, it’s clear that many people agree. There are a number of cheap ways to get there that I’ll list in order.

1. Allegiant Air $358+ roundtrip- Allegiant Air is a super-low cost carrier that announced flights to Hawaii that will start in November. Flights to Honolulu from Bellingham, Eugene, Fresno, Las Vegas, Monterey, Santa Maria, and Stockton; and flights to Kahului from Bellingham begin in November. The flights are as cheap as $308 roundtrip, but a carryon will cost $50 roundtrip and a checked bag is $70 roundtrip. Additionally if you want to select your seat or board early, you have to pay extra.

But if you live in one of the cities serviced by Allegiant, don’t mind a middle seat for five hours, and can travel with only one bag, $358 roundtrip to Hawaii is the best deal in my opinion.

One key caveat is that Allegiant flights don’t earn any frequent flier miles or credit of any kind. Since normally flying from the west coast to Hawaii earns about 5,000 miles, and I value 5,000 miles at around $85 depending on the carrier, Allegiant flights must be $85 or more cheaper than the legacy carriers for this to be a good deal. Since the legacy carriers want $600+ from the west coast to Hawaii right now, Allegiant easily meets the criterion.

You can always pay for your Allegiant flights, bag fees, seat fees, and food with a Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. Then you can redeem Arrival miles to remove those purchases from your statement. You could even use your Arrival miles for an airbnb stay in Hawaii or interisland flights.

2. Avios Award 25,000+ Avios and $11+ roundtrip- I love that Avios is a distance-based award chart. Flights like the west coast to Hawaii cost only 12,500 Avios each way plus taxes. For 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly on AA planes from LAX to the four major Hawaiian airports.

Alaska Airlines has way more gateways on the mainland to the four major Hawaiian airports. For 25,000 Avios and $36, you can fly from Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle to Hawaii. The extra $25 on Avios awards comes from the fact that awards on Alaska Airlines can’t be booked on ba.com, and calling BA incurs a $25 phone fee.

Avios is also the best option for anyone who lives close to one of the airports mentioned in this section, since a short hop flight only adds 4,500 Avios and $2.50 to the price each way. That means Tuscon to Los Angeles to Lihue roundtrip would be 34,000 Avios and $16.

Avios can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, it’s still a good idea to go oneway for 12,500 Avios and use another oneway deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from Honolulu to LAX with Avios.

3. Hawaiian Airlines Award 35,000 miles and $11- Hawaiian Airlines awards start at 35,000 miles for Hawaiian Airlines branded card holders. The normal price is 40,000 miles. While this price is no cheaper than an American Airlines off peak award to Hawaii, I think it’s a better deal because Hawaiian Airlines miles are worth less than most programs’ miles. (The reason Hawaiian miles are worth less is their lack of partners, junk long haul first class product, and lack of destinations.)

Hawaiian also has the only direct flight from Honolulu to JFK, which at 35,000 miles and $5 is a fantastic value in terms of low cost and getting a direct flight. The other flights Hawaiian operates from Honolulu to the mainland go to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Hawaiian miles can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, this can be combined with a oneway Avios deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from LAX to Honolulu with Hawaiian miles. The post also includes information on the very useful mile pooling allowed by Hawaiian.

4. Star Alliance options from as little as 35,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 60,000 miles in First.

See this post.

 

46 Responses to The Cheapest Ways to Get to Hawaii

  1. Nice post! What do you think about Alaska Airlines companion pass as a way to get to Hawaii cheaply?

    • That can be a good deal. On a random day this summer, I see Alaska charging $632 r/t from SEA and $1135 r/t from Washington-DCA. That works out to about $360 per person from SEA and $600 per person from DCA, and you both earn mileage credit! So if you have the pass, it beats several of the deals listed.

  2. For HA, don’t you have to have one of their credit cards to get the 35k ticket? Otherwise the normal low level award is 40k.

    • I think you’re right! And I had no idea. Hawaiian does a horrible job advertising the benefit; I thought that was the normal price. Looking over the CC materials, the only thing it says is “access to discounted awards” and the normal price does appear to be 20k oneway not 17.5k oneway. Thank you for correcting me.

  3. Heres another idea:
    Korean air is a partner with both Alaska and Hawaiian airlines and a transfer partner with ultimate rewards. You can fly to Honolulu from the mainland USA for 30,000 pts RT economy, and Korean awards desk is feeless. Not shabby.

    • Thanks for reminding me. This is a very good value. Since I don’t have any Korean miles, I would be using 30k UR, which I value a little above 35,000 Hawaiian miles. But if this award can have interesting routings or free oneways, it would be one of the very top values. I just called the award desk, but they’re closed for the holiday. I plan on digging deeper into this.

      • Did you ever dig into this? I don’t remember seeing anything on it since last June, and I’d love to hear about some creative uses for Korean miles.

  4. Thanks for a great article, I plan to keep it as reference for future bookings!

    As luck would have it, I just booked four tickets (2 from OAK and 2 from LAX) to OGG using a combination of BA, AA, and ThankYou points. I totally spaced out on calling BA for flights on Alaska, so used AA miles for that segment when I didn’t see availability on BA.com. Oh well, more BA Avios for the next trip :)

    As a side note, United also has a non-stop to NYC area (though not JFK): UA 15 EWR/HNL and UA 14 HNL/EWR.

  5. In February I was easily able to find a one week trip on DL from CVG to Kona in late Nov/early Dec for 40K miles. Going via SLC on outbound and LAX on the return. There were actually a few dates to choose from (using some of the strategies espoused by the Delta Points blog). Possibly I have better availability due to Diamond elite status.

    • I just checked LAX-HNL again, and it was 90% medium, 10% high, and zero low for the next 11 months. There may be better availability from other Delta gateways to Hawaii, but using Delta miles to Hawaii is pretty tough.

  6. May I ask if Alaska also leaves from Sacramento (SMF) to Hawaii? Thanks.

  7. the hooker with Korean’s 30G UR points to Hawaii thru partners Alaska and Hawaiian is that it costs 40G to the islands other than Oahu.
    :-(

  8. I’m most intrigued by your first option (American Airlines Award Free Stopover) because I have a ton of AA and Avois miles.

    I live on the east coast (DC). Just got off the phone w/ AA and they said this award isn’t possible because “it’s not the most direct routing”

    Any pointers on how to get this done, I’d like to go to Tokyo with a stopover in Hawaii.

    Thanks

    Miz

  9. What would you say is the best redemption option to fly from JFK or BOS to HNL?

    • From JFK-HNL, you want to fly the direct Hawaiian flights for 17.5k Hawaiian miles each way. From BOS, I would probably look at United miles because I think they offer a ton of space to Hawaii for 20k each way.

  10. Thanks. I was also thinking about doing paying for the flight to the west coast via Virgin or Jetblue and then using miles from the west coast using Avios.

  11. I just stumbled upon this blog yesterday and I’m so happy!! My productivity at work has decreased by 100%, oops. Anyway, let me get this straight. I live in Chicago, so can I book TYO-HNL on JAL for 20K Avios and then get HNL-ORD as the “free stopover” add-on at the end of my trip even though that leg will be on AA? Please let me know if I’m understanding this incorrectly as I just called BA and the guy had no idea what I was talking about.

    • No. The stopover you’re referring to is available on AA awards, not BA awards.

      • Got it, thanks! I need to read more about Avios awards, but good thing I have tons of AA miles too :) So I can use AA miles on JAL from TYO-HNL and then combine that with a free HNL-ORD leg on AA right? It sounds similar to when you were able to combine Qantas with AA for your brother’s trip.

        • you are right. TYO-HNL will price the same as TYO-HNL stop HNL-ORD give or take a few bucks in taxes. Read my Avios series.

  12. I’m trying to do something very similar…

    WAS-HNL (stop) HNL-TYO (destination)
    TYO-ORD (stop) ORD-WAS (destination)

    I have tons of AA and Avios. I would prefer to use Avios. AA website shows availablity for the above routing (using combination of AA and hawaiian, does not show japan airlines availability).

    However Avios website does not. Is it possible to book the above routing using Avios points? If so, can it be done online?

    The second question is – is there any advantage to flying on Japan Air for the above routing, over hawaiian or AA flights?

    Thanks!

    • 1) AA partners with Hawaiian, but BA doesn’t, so you can’t use Avios on Hawaiian.
      2) You should prefer to do that with AA miles. An Avios award on that route would cost tons more miles (because Avios is distance based) and tons more dollars because Avios charges huge surcharges between the USA and Asia.
      3) If you use AA miles for an economy award, I don’t think you’d see much difference between Hawaiian and Japan Airlines.

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  19. Scott,
    I live in Hawaii but need to travel on Detroit to visit family on the holidays. I’m trying to understand if I can get the American Airlines “Free Stopover” deal to work for me. It sounds like I would have to travel to Australia, or somewhere internationally afterwards. Can I delay the international part for 6 months, to go there another time, then fly back home to Hawaii?

  20. Is the HNL stopover en route to Tokyo possible on United?
    WAS-HNL (stop) HNL-TYO (destination)

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  22. My husband and I have 100k AA miles each. Could we book our family of 4 to Hawaii from Boston by transferring to Avios? Can we do a free stopover in California?

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  26. can u help with getting to middle east the cheapest way with miles and which credit card shd i signup would be best for roundtrip from dfw to dxb

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  28. There is also Korean miles which you get from Chase Ultimate Rewards which allow a 30k coach 60k First Class from Continental US on either Hawaiian or Alaska…………

  29. BA used to impose the phone fee on anything that wasn’t bookable online as policy, but not anymore. Now only certain redemptions (Aer Lingus, for example) incur a phone fee, but Alaska does not. Case of hang-up-call-again if an agent insists on charging (though asking for a supervisor will make them look up the policy and it is clearly stated in their manuals).

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