Update 12/17/13: The 50k mile offer on the Lufthansa card is dead. All links in this post go to the following offer:

  • Earn up to 35,000 award miles with qualifying transactions
  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Companion Ticket after first purchase, then annually thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

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I chose Hawaii as the subject of this post because getting there is a goal for so many folks. But if you want to take your family on a trip to the continental US, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, or Central America instead, nothing changes in this article except the exact mileage amounts and the taxes on the award.

Families (or large groups of friends) need vacations too! While it’s certainly harder to find four or six award seats than to find one or two, it is not impossible.

In fact, there is fantastic award space for six people to travel to Hawaii together in 2014. And getting the miles for all six passengers is extremely easy–even for one person!

That means you can all travel for only $5 to $10 in taxes each and save your money for the surf lessons. 😉

But you have to start collecting the miles now because the The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard‘s 50k bonus mile offer is scheduled to disappear by this Sunday (12/15/13).

Continue reading for a step-by-step guide to getting six $10 tickets to Hawaii including getting the miles, doing the award searches, and booking the tickets.

The Idea

The basic idea is that United is very generous with releasing Saver award space on its many flights to Hawaii and that United Saver award space is bookable without fuel surcharges by a lot of programs including:

Because so many programs have access to United’s plentiful space and each has its own rewards cards, a family of six can quickly rack up the miles in several programs to book everyone on the same flights.

Getting the Miles

One of the hardest parts about traveling with six people is getting enough miles in a single loyalty program.

My strategy bypasses this problem entirely: instead of getting enough United miles to book six people to Hawaii, we’ll get enough United miles for 2.5 people, enough Lufthansa miles for 1 people, and enough Singapore miles for 2.5 people.

Then we’ll use all three of those types of miles to book all six people on the exact same outbound and return flights.

Trust me that it only sounds complicated, the process will be very easy!

Key Cards:

  • The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard with 50,000 bonus Lufthansa Miles & More miles after spending $5k in the first three months. Offer expires this Sunday (12/15/13).
  • The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN with 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5k in the first three months.
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card targeted offer through CARDMATCH (seen 11/25/13) offering 50k bonus Membership Rewards after spending $1k in three months. For more information, see this post. I’m seeing more reports of people being targeted for this fantastic offer.
  • United MileagePlus Explorer Card with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2k. Offer reported at Chase bank branches.
  • Ink Bold with 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5k in the first three months.
  • Other United miles/Ultimate Rewards options include the Ink Plus and Freedom.

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If travelers in your group got all these cards and met the minimum spending requirements, you’d have 55k Lufthansa miles, 86k Membership Rewards, 52k United miles, and 55k Ultimate Rewards. From there, you just have to make two more moves.

  1. Spend $2k more on either Membership Rewards earning card to get to 88k points.
  2. Transfer 88k Membership Rewards to Singapore Airlines. Transfer 48k Ultimate Rewards to United.

Now you’d have:

  • 55k Lufthansa
  • 88k Singapore
  • 100k United

Lufthansa and United charge 20k miles each direction to Hawaii, and Singapore charges 17,500 miles each direction.

That’s more than enough for one roundtrip with the Lufthansa miles, two roundtrips with the Singapore miles plus one one way, and two roundtrips with the United miles plus one one way. (1 + 2.5 + 2.5 = 6 roundtrips.)

Meeting Minimum Spending Requirements

The cards above have a total minimum spending requirement of $18k in three months. Most people don’t spend that much on cards.

If only one or two parents need to collect enough miles for six tickets, my main two tips are:

  1. Put all your spending on your credit cards. There are ways to pay mortgages, taxes, and credit card bills by credit card.
  2. Don’t get all the cards at once. If you get two now and three later, the spending may be much more manageable.

Searching for Award Space

We are going to fly all passengers on United flights. The best place to search for United flights is united.com. Here’s an article on searching united.com.

If you search united.com without signing into your United account, any United flight that displays Saver award space will be bookable with all the types of miles discussed in this post.

I searched award space from several mainland cities to multiple Hawaiian islands and found excellent award space for six passengers.

For instance, here is San Francisco to Honolulu next fall:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.34.03 PM

And here is the return from Honolulu to San Francisco:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.35.12 PM
Award space isn’t just excellent from the West Coast.

Tampa to Honolulu has great award space for six passengers next fall too.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.40.33 PM

The return calendar is equally excellent.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.40.52 PM

Putting it together, six people could fly these flights:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.41.39 PM

The total cost with United miles would be 240k miles + $60. (This isn’t totally relevant to us, since we’ll be using a combination of United, Lufthansa, and Singapore miles.)

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.41.46 PM

Flights to Oahu have the best award space, but award space is open to all islands. Here is from Newark to Maui for six passengers.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.42.24 PM

The return from Maui to Newark shows even more award space.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.43.32 PM

The itineraries are pretty nice for only $10 out of pocket.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.44.07 PM

Award space to Hawaii is best during the Winter, Spring, and Fall, but there is award space in the summer too. here is San Francisco to Honolulu for six passengers in June and July, 2014. There isn’t much economy award space (green days), but there is first class space every day (blue and green.)

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.52.43 PM

Booking the Awards

Remember the steps so far:

  1. Amass many types of miles.
  2. Search United flights on united.com

Step 3 is to book the awards with our miles. We always book with the airline whose miles we’re using, even if that’s not the airline we’re flying.

So in this case, we’d have to book some of the awards with United miles on united.com, some with Lufthansa miles by calling Lufthansa, and some with Singapore miles by calling Singapore airlines.

Here’s an entire article on the nuances of How to Book Multiple Awards from Different Accounts on the Same Flights.

Enjoy the Trip

While your friends wonder how the six of you could afford to go on vacation, you’ll have your toes in the sand.

Family trips are very possible with miles. With some flexibility, advanced planning, and the right strategy, a family of six can take the vacation of its dreams.

If a domestic or near international trip to somewhere United flies interests your family, start collecting the miles today before the 50k mile offer on The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard disappears and collecting Star Alliance miles in bulk becomes much more difficult.

Application Link: The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard®

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