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A lot of people read about incredible international business and first class beds, and they want to enjoy those beds on their next trip. Unfortunately their next trip is to Hawaii, which is almost exclusively served by planes that are configured with domestic first class–recliners with 8″ of extra pitch compared to economy class.

I’ve written before about how to get to Hawaii in a bed, and I am reprising the subject because I see amazing availability to Hawaii in international-style first class and in flat beds for as little as 40k miles.

United is flying flat beds to Honolulu from Denver, Houston, Newark, Dulles, and San Francisco throughout 2013.

The tell-tale sign that a Hawaii flight has flat beds is that it lists space in the third column on the search results labeled “First (three-cabin flights).”

Additionally, you can click View Seats in the bottom right corner of a search result. Beds are displayed as a bed-shaped icon, while normal seats are a square. Color denotes class name, which does not always correspond to whether something is a seat or bed, so check the icon.

Only the maroon (first) icons are the bed icon. Orange (business) and blue (economy plus) are seats.

Denver

I am currently seeing space from Denver to Honolulu on United flight 328 leaving Denver daily at noon and arriving in Honolulu at 3:13 PM. From studying the flight schedule, it looks like this flight is operated by a 777-200 with flat bed first class from March 1 to August 12, 2013.

A quick search showed availability in first class on most days.

First class oneway is 50k, a 10k premium over normal domestic first class style seats. Business class on the flights are recliner seats. They feature 55″ of pitch, more than a foot more leg room than normal domestic first, and cost 40k each way. Economy seats are the normal economy seats and cost 20k miles each way.

Houston

Houston has one daily flight–UA 219–to Honolulu operated by a 777-200 departing at 9:37 AM and landing at 2:05 PM on its entire upcoming schedule.

This flight has almost daily space in flat bed first class. First class oneway is 50k, a 10k premium over normal domestic first class style seats. Business class on the flights are recliner seats. They feature 55″ of pitch, more than a foot more leg room than normal domestic first, and cost 40k each way. Economy seats are the normal economy seats and cost 20k miles each way.

San Francisco

San Francisco has three to six daily flight to Honolulu depending on the day and month. The morning flight–9 AM–on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday is operated by a 777-200 with a three-cabin configuration in January.

This plane is configured like the 777-200 flying from Houston and Denver.

Perhaps the better deal from SFO is to find the 767-400ER that occasionally flies to Honolulu.

If you can find space on this two-cabin plane, business class is 40k each way, meaning a bed for 40k.

767-400ER. Beds in business class in 2-1-2 configuration.

Newark and Washington-Dulles


Newark and Washington-Dulles both have once-daily flights to Honolulu. Both routes are served by 767-400ERs. Availability isn’t as good as on any of the routes mentioned so far. But if you find space in business class, you are getting a fully flat bed for 40k each way on 10+ hour flights.

Chicago

Chicago doesn’t have flat bed seats to Hawaii. The daily flight from O’Hare is served by a two-cabin 777-200 without flat beds.

Los Angeles

LAX doesn’t have flights to Hawaii served by planes with flat beds.

Cleveland

Cleveland doesn’t have nonstop service to Hawaii.

How to Book

All of these flights are bookable with United and US Airways miles.
United charges 20k/40k/50k each way for economy/business/first class to Hawaii from the mainland. That makes business class on a 767-400ER the best value to Hawaii.

US Airways charges 40k roundtrip in economy and 70k roundtrip in business or first to Hawaii.

That makes the 777-200 first class the best value to Hawaii. Unfortunately, US Airways charges taxes ($2.5 per segment) plus $50 on Hawaii redemptions, but 70k roundtrip for 16+ hours of international-style first class from Houston is unbeatable.

To book United awards, use united.com as explained in my beginner’s series. Don’t forget you can add a free oneway on United awards to Hawaii.

To book US Airways awards, use united.com to search, then call 800-622-1015 to book. There is no phone fee to book partner awards by phone.

Worth It?

Is this many miles worth it for a domestic vacation? I think so if you live anywhere but the west coast. If you are willing to spend 100k roundtrip in business class to Europe–and most of my Award Booking Service clients want exactly that–then this is a similar deal and better in many cases.

The east coast is about a seven to eight hour flight from mainland Europe and six hours behind it. The east coast is a ten to eleven hour flight to Honolulu and five to six hours ahead depending on the season. That means in terms of time in the seat and how much you need to rest to avoid jet lag, the flights are very comparable.

By either metric, 100k roundtrip is reasonable to Hawaii if it’s reasonable to Europe. And I think 100k roundtrip to Europe is very reasonable.

Add in the fact that you can book to Hawaii roundtrip in a bed with US Airways miles for 70k roundtrip, and you have a relative steal. This is one of many US Airways award chart sweet spots.

p.s.

United’s direct flights from JFK to San Francisco and LAX are operated on p.s. 757s, which feature flat bed first class seats (but not flat business class seats.)

Another option to maximize flat beds to Hawaii would be to fly a p.s. flight from JFK, stopover in San Francisco or Los Angeles (with United miles only since they allow stopovers to Hawaii but US Airways doesn’t), continue a few days later to Honolulu on a flat bed, then return on the direct flat bed to Newark for 90k total miles.

Recap

Flat-bed options are widely available to Hawaii for your 2013 vacation on United flights with United or US Airways miles. Roundtrips can be had for as few as 70k US Airways miles or 80k United miles.

If you think Europe is a good deal in business class, take a look at Hawaii too.

I’m on vacation in–you guessed it–Hawaii until Wednesday, so I may not answer email. If you are emailing about the Award Booking Service, email milevaluebooking (at) gmail (dot) com.

 

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