There seemed to be enough interest in my original post on this topic, Who Has the Most First Class Award Space to Honolulu?, that I followed up with the next most popular destination in Hawaii: Maui (OGG airport). I’ll do one more Hawaiian island, then a final post on maximizing rewards hopping between them.
- Who Has the Most First Class Award Space to Honolulu?
- Who Has the Most First Class Award Space to Maui? (this post)
- Who Has the Most First Class Award Space to Kona?
- Maximizing Rewards on flights within the Hawaiian Islands (future post)
After highlighting award space, I will go through what miles to use to get there.
I looked at award space for every route that American Airlines, United, Delta, Alaska, and Virgin America fly to Maui, in both directions through the end of each calendar. Below is what I found.
From the mainland United States, American Airlines flies to Maui from three cities:
- Los Angeles
Out of all routes in both directions, I saw only ONE First Class SAAver level award seat, and it’s on May 14 from Maui to Los Angeles.
From the mainland United States, United flies to Maui from four cities:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Chicago (seasonally)
Out of those routes, I found the following Saver level First Class award space available:
Los Angeles > Maui
Los Angeles has the most options (but hardly any, at that) and they’re all within a month of departure. That calendar is not completely accurate though–only May 17, 28, and 30, actually have direct, Saver level, First Class award space (the nonstop only filter is not working).
The above calendar is for one traveler but some of those days have space for two.
San Francisco > Maui
May 29 has three Saver level First Class award seats open on the same flight. That’s it.
Maui > San Francisco
On the return, today, May 17, and June 1 have Saver level First Class seats open (other days reflected on the chart as having premium cabin award seats open are not accurate). June 1 has availability on three separate flights.
From the mainland United States, Delta flies to Maui from three cities year round:
- Los Angeles
- Salt Lake City (beginning December 1, 2017)
I found not one single Saver level First Class award space available on any of those routes.
From the mainland United States, Alaska Airlines flies to Maui from six cities:
- San Diego
- San Jose
- Bellingham, Washington (seasonally)
None of the routes had any First Class space in either direction except Seattle, which is [relatively] WIDE OPEN July through September, with some seats scattered here there through the rest of the calendar. When I say wide open, it doesn’t mean there are multiple First Class seats open to Hawaii every day for the next 11 months–not by a long shot. But it does mean that you actually have options to get to Hawaii in a premium cabin on Alaska Airlines right now–which is saying something. If you read my post about premium cabin space to Honolulu a month ago, you’ll know what I mean.
Since you can’t isolate one carrier with alaskaair.com’s search tool, I used aa.com’s award calendars to show you what’s available solely flying Alaska in case you want to redeem AAdvantage miles. Alaskair.com’s award search results include Virgin America flights, which you can’t book with American Airlines miles. I’ll get to Virgin America in a minute.
All of the calendars below are for one traveler.
As long it’s SAAver Level award space, you could add a segment flying American Airlines or Virgin America to Seattle without changing the price of the award.
Unfortunately there wasn’t a single First Class seat open in the other direction.
From the mainland United States, Virgin America flies to Maui from two cities:
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
In my post about premium cabin award space to Honolulu, I left out Virgin America award space because we’d heard reports that First Class Virgin America award space showing up on alaskair.com was phantom. A significant amount of time has passed since we heard claims of phantom space, however, so I decided to test if the space appearing on alaskaair.com is actually bookable. I called Alaska MileagePlan and asked about the availability of all of the following flights, for one traveler in First Class…
…and all of that award space is real–actually bookable with 40k Alaska miles. I think that’s enough proof to say that the Virgin America First Class award space on alaskaair.com isn’t phantom. Due to this proof, I plan on updating my Honolulu award space post with more information about availability between San Francisco/Los Angeles and Honolulu.
So then, what about Virgin America First Class award space to Maui? There’s a decent amount of it (on average, five days of the month) and its supply is way steadier than any other carrier’s (pretty much monthly). It should prove very useful for those living on or near the west coast**.
It’s harder to show Virgin America award space to Hawaii as you can’t isolate direct flights nor one carrier on alaskaair.com’s award space calendar, but it is apparent that there are lots of options flying Virgin America First Class direct to Maui from what I clicked on day-by-day.
- For example, June 1, 2, 8, 27, and 29, have at least one direct First Class award seat open for the 40k (Saver level) price between Los Angeles and Maui.
- Fast forward to next year and in March of 2018, March 1, 5, 6, 12, and 14 each have at least one direct First Class award seat open for the 40k (Saver level) price between Los Angeles and Maui.
**Note that when redeeming Alaska miles on Virgin America flights, you can add a connection on Alaska (as long as it’s Saver level) to get you to your hometown without affecting the award price, but you can’t add an American Airlines SAAVer level segment thanks to Alaska’s rule: Only one partner + Alaska is allowed per direction on an Alaska award. Technically, Virgin America isn’t a partner since Alaska owns them now, but for the sake of this award rule they are still considered a partner.
The Miles to Get There
Utilizing Alaska Award Space/Virgin America Award Space
- It costs 40k Alaska miles to fly Alaska, Virgin America, or a mix of the two to Hawaii
- It costs 40k American Airlines miles to fly Alaska to Hawaii (can’t use AAdvantage miles on Virgin America flights)
How to Earn American Airlines Miles
The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard is now offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard is also offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. Sign up for both at the same time (yes, you can do that) and meet the collective $6k spending requirement in three months, and you’ll have at least 126,000 American Airlines miles.
On top of those offers, the Barlcaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard is offering 40,000 bonus American Airlines miles for opening and putting just one purchase on the card (you also must pay the $95 annual fee).
How to Earn Alaska Miles
Bank of America issues two credit cards co-branded with Alaska Airlines, the:
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card
- Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card
Both come with 30k bonuses of Alaska miles. For years, people have been churning these two cards as an easy way of garnering lots of Alaska miles. The best practice for churning Alaska cards has changed recently. I recommend reading Are the Alaska Cards Still Churnable? for specifics.
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.
Maybe the Amex Business Platinum is Better for Premium Cabin Tickets to Hawaii
While Alaska Airline and Virgin America have enough space to serve west coasters, if you live elsewhere and want to fly to Maui, perhaps it’s wise to consider the American Express Business Platinum which gives you a 50% rebate on all Business and First Class tickets when you pay for travel (revenue tickets) through Pay with Points. Then you aren’t limited to having to find award space.
For example, last month I wrote about a cheap roundtrip First Class fare between Atlanta and Honolulu on American Airlines. American Airlines was offering roundtrip First Class flights between Atlanta and Hawaii for $1,152.
To Pay with Points, you have to have enough Membership Rewards to cover a booking at 1 cent per point and book through American Express Travel inside your Amex account. Then you’ll quickly be rebated half the points back, which means you’re actually getting 2 cents of value per point. The roundtrip First Class American Airlines fare to Hawaii would cost 115,200 Membership Rewards upfront, but only 57,600 total once you factor in the rebate. You’ll also earn redeemable miles/elite credits, which you wouldn’t otherwise redeeming airline miles. It’s important to note that the 50% rebate benefit is changing to a 35% rebate for those that apply after May 31. If you apply by May 31, you’ll get the 50% rebate for one year before it changes to 35%.
If you can find cheap roundtrip premium cabin fares, then Paying with Points as a Amex Business Platinum cardholder is probably the better play.
Alaska and Virgin America have the most Saver level premium cabin award space between the mainland United States and Maui at the moment. United has a few seats available right around departure. Apart from that, First Class award space to Maui is pretty non-existent.
If you can’t utilize Alaska/Virgin America award space, you’re probably better off using Google Flights Price Tracker and waiting to buy the cheapest premium cabin ticket that comes along. If you have enough Membership Rewards and an Amex Business Platinum, then Pay with Points and you’ll get a 50% rebate.