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Out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check Delta’s award availability from Los Angeles to Honolulu. I have checked in the past and seen literally zero low-miles-price award seats from Los Angeles to Honolulu for 330 days.

To my great surprise, there was great award availability from Los Angeles to Honolulu, but only at certain times and in certain cabins.

Where’s the space?

Delta has three tiers of award availability: low, medium, and high. We only want the low miles price, but Delta is by far the stingiest US-based airline about releasing low level award availability. Here are the low, medium, and high miles prices to Hawaii from the continental US in economy and first class.

A few things should be noted about this chart:

  • These miles prices are each way based on a roundtrip purchase. Delta charges the same price for roundtrips and one way awards, so you should always book a roundtrip award.
  • The slashes on the right side show the First Class price followed by the Business Elite price. First Class is cheaper because it’s just domestic first class, a slightly wider economy seat with a little more room. Business Elite fully flat beds are on some Hawaii flights, and they command a 5k mile premium over First Class.
  • A roundtrip in economy at the low level is 40k miles. A roundtrip in first class at the low level is 75k miles. A roundtrip in Business Elite at the low level is 85k miles.
  • You can mix-and-match cabins and low/medium/high at will. If you went one way in low-miles-price economy (20k) and one way in high-miles-price Business Elite (95k), the total price would be 115k miles.

To most places in the world, Delta’s price for low-miles-price awards is about the same as their competitor’s saver award prices. The reason Delta miles are often less valuable than their competitors’ miles is that Delta releases very little low-miles-price availability, so unless you are very flexible, the medium price usually prevails.

The medium-miles-price is usually far more expensive than the low-miles-price, on the order of 60% more. For instance a medium-miles-price roundtrip award to Hawaii would be 65k miles in economy and 135k-145k in a premium cabin. That’s astronomical.

The good news is that from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Delta currently has great availability to Honolulu in First Class and Business Elite for the next two months. Green means low-miles-price premium cabin space.

Business/First LAX-HNL July 2013
Business/First LAX-HNL August 2013
Business/First HNL-LAX July 2013
Business/First HNL-LAX August 2013

For Delta to and from Hawaii, that’s a whole lot of green! The green could mean that there is award space in First Class, a recliner seat for 37.5k miles or Business Elite, a bed for 42.5k miles.

On the search results, you can tell those apart a few ways. The first is the price.

The First Class space will show as 75,000 miles plus taxes. The Business Elite space on the outbound will show as 80,000 miles because that would be the price if you combined it with the cheaper First Class space on the return.

The second is the aircraft. Clicking Show Details displays the aircraft. Business Elite beds will be 76W. First Class recliners will be 753.

For other aircrafts, click View Seats. First Class seats will be 2-2, and Business Elite beds will be 1-2-1.

1-2-1 beds on the 76W
2-2 Recliners on the 753

The space I’ve found is in premium cabins in the next two months from Los Angeles to/from Honolulu. Economy space is miserable on the route.

LAX-HNL in economy this month. Yellow is medium. Blue is high.

Direct flights on other routes to Honolulu is also limited.

The best bet to use Delta miles to Hawaii is through Los Angeles in a premium cabin or on Alaska Airlines flights (searchable on Delta.com, but they don’t usually display on the calendar.)

Racking Up Delta Miles

You can earn Delta miles on the Delta personal card, Delta business card, any card that earns Membership Rewards that transfer 1:1 to Delta miles, or any card that earns SPG points that transfer 1:1.25 to Delta miles. All of these cards are issued by American Express.

The two best are:

Getting both cards and meeting the minimum spending requirements would earn 105k Delta SkyMiles.

Recap

Delta, Hawaii, and low-miles-price don’t usually mix, but Delta seems to be opening up space between Los Angeles and Honolulu both directions in premium cabins two months out.

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