Delta will operate a nonstop flight between New York (JFK) and Honolulu from December 17, 2016 to March 25, 2017 five day a week (not Tuesday or Wednesday.)

Delta doesn’t publish its award chart, but it still has a secret award chart. The cheapest awards from the mainland United States to Hawaii are 22,500 Delta miles one way. But we can do a lot better than that.

Every day that Delta offers award space on this route for 22,500 miles one way, we can book it for 25,000 Korean miles roundtrip. Delta is releasing a ton of this “Level 1” award space, and Korean miles are easy to get, so start packing your bags.

  • How do you search for the Delta award space?
  • How do you book it with Korean miles?
  • How do you get Korean miles?

Searching Award Space

Search for award space on the Delta flights on delta.com. After initiating the search on the home page, change the options on the results screen to match the screenshot below to get a five week calendar of award space on the nonstop flights.

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-10-41-18-am

The only award space you can use is award space that is 22,500 miles one way in economy or 50,000 miles one way in First Class. Those aren’t the prices you’ll pay, but those prices indicate “Level 1” or “Saver” award space that partners can book. Partners can’t book space that has any other price.

Unfortunately I didn’t find any such award space in First Class in either direction during the three months the flight runs. But there is tons of economy award space.

Here is the calendar for two passengers in economy. Remember “22,500” days are the ones you can book with partner miles.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-8-07-02-am screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-8-07-12-am There is a lot of space on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from December 30 to February 10.

On the return from Honolulu to New York, there is a lot of award space in economy for two passengers from December 17 to 27 and from January 9 to March 16.
screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-8-08-16-am screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-8-08-26-am screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-8-08-37-am

While I only showed award space for two people on all the calendars above, many days have way more award space. Here is a search for award space for eight people from Honolulu to New York.
screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-8-09-40-am

Booking with Korean Miles

It is cheaper to book the exact same Delta flights to Hawaii with Korean miles than with Delta miles.

  • Delta charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii or 50,000 in flat bed Delta One
  • Korean charges 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class or Delta One between the mainland and Hawaii

That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 90,000 Delta miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 50,000 Korean miles. Instead of paying 160,000 Delta miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 90,000 Korean miles–even theoretically for flat beds! (I say “theoretically” because Delta almost never releases flat bed space to Hawaii; it didn’t on any day on the New York to Honolulu route for instance.)

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use.

Korean has access to all the same Level 1 award space (22,500 mile days above) Delta releases to people with Delta miles, but no other Delta award space.

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there are two:

  1. You can only book Korean awards for yourself or immediate family members, with proof of relationships.
  2. Korean awards are the same price roundtrip or one way, so you have to book roundtrip (although an open jaw is allowed.) Delta awards can be booked one way (and then you can return home with another type of miles.)

However there are a number of benefits to booking Korean awards to Hawaii:

  1. Korean awards cost fewer miles than Delta awards
  2. Korean awards have no change or cancellation fees if your plans change
  3. Korean awards of Delta flights to Hawaii do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of $11 roundtrip.
  4. Korean offers a stopover on roundtrip awards to Hawaii. Delta doesn’t.
  5. Korean miles are easy to get

I have never booked an award with Korean miles. I am relying on this post from One Mile at a Time. Basically:

  1. You call (800) 438-5000 to put the award on hold. Tell the agent that you want to book a Bonus Award and feed her the date, cabin, and flight numbers of the Delta segments you found on delta.com. For cabin, call the forward cabin on Delta’s planes “Business Class” even though Delta calls it something else.
  2. Complete the Bonus Award Application. You can only book awards for yourself, parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, parents-in-law, and children-in-law. You have to provide proof of the relationship too, which might mean scanning and emailing a marriage certificate or birth certificate. Insane, I know, but you can literally save about $1,000 worth of miles for two people taking a roundtrip to Hawaii.
  3. Call back to ticket the award.

Getting Korean Miles

Korean miles are a partner of two of the four major transferable points program:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1:1
  2. SPG Starpoints, 1:1 with a bonus. Every 20,000 Starpoints transferred earns a 5,000 mile bonus, so the ideal transfers are in exact increments of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Korean miles.

Right now, the two best cards to get Korean miles are the Sapphire Reserve and Ink Plus because both earn Ultimate Rewards that transfer 1:1 to Korean miles.

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

The Sapphire Reserve is the best personal credit card on the market. It offers:

  • 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 3 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $300 in travel credits per calendar year, lounge access, and more which way more than offsets the $450 annual fee in the first year

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee
Transferring Miles

Transfers from Ultimate Rewards to Korean are instant, so put the award on hold before transferring.

SPG transfers take approximately five days. Also initiate these after putting the award on hold because Korean award holds are of essentially limitless duration.

Bottom Line

Delta is flying directly from New York to Honolulu this winter, and there is a lot of award space. Instead of paying 45,000 Delta miles roundtrip; book the space with 25,000 Korean miles roundtrip

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