The 5 Best Ways to Get a Great Deal to Hawaii

US airline frequent flyer programs charge about 45,000 miles roundtrip in economy for a saver award and 75,000 or 80,000 miles in first class. That’s actually really expensive, compared to paid ticket prices much of the time (not least of which because when Hawaii tickets are at their most expensive, saver awards are tough to get). And these US airlines charge the same number of miles from the West Coast as the East Coast.

Fortunately, we can do better — even for flying American and United.

Looking at travel from the US West Coast you’ve got British Airways distance-based awards which clock in at 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy for non-stop flights on American or Alaska Airlines.

Here are my four favorite Hawaii approaches that allow East Coast travel:

  1. Alaska Airlines has a $99+tax companion ticket that comes with the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa. It’s good for any Alaska Airlines flights, and offers last seat availability in economy. So one paid ticket, the second one a little over $100. It used to be an even better deal when these certificates were valid for first class. I’d buy one first class ticket Washington DC – Seattle – Hawaii and back, the second one cost me just over $100, earned bonus miles, and could be refundable.

  2. Korean Air’s US-Hawaii awards cost 30,000 miles roundtrip in coach and 60,000 miles in first class on Alaska Airlines. They allow a stopover on the award as well.

  3. Singapore Airlines’ US – Hawaii cost 35,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 60,000 miles roundtrip up front (in ‘business class’ — United classifies their domestic first class as business class for award purposes, for experts out there that means United’s domestic first class awards book into “I class”.)

  4. Korean Air’s US-Hawaii awards cost 30,000 miles roundtrip in coach and 60,000 miles in first class on Hawaiian. However, unlike with Korean Air awards for travel on Alaska, these awards do not include connecting flights, which are charged at extra mileage. So New York JFK – Honolulu – Maui – Honolulu – New York JFK would be 40,000 miles roundtrip in coach (since Honolulu – Maui is 10,000 miles roundtrip in coach and the pricing is additive).

  5. Before you spend miles – especially for economy award tickets – keep your eye on The Flight Deal. A few times a year we see Hawaii prices even from the US East Coast drop to $550 roundtrip or less. At those prices it makes sense to save your miles even when using these cheap redemption options.

Singapore Airlines miles are available by transferring from Chase, Starwood, American Express and Citibank. Singapore miles expire after three years, so only transfer what you know you’ll redeem. Korean Air miles are available by transferring from Chase and Starwood.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I have a trip to Kauai in July that we didn’t start planning until last October. I searched a number of places to try to find a direct flight from LAX with a reasonable mileage award. Either the award level was ridiculous (60000 each way in coach) or a stop was involved. I decided to try Amex business platinum with the 50% point rebate. I was able to get round trip in coach for 50000 points on a direct flight with American Airlines. This is a great way to go if you’re stumped with other alternatives.

  2. I never pay more than $378 rt SAN-HNL on their annual Cyper Monday sale. It’s the only cheap Hawaii fare driving West Coast fares down now. After decades of finding $100-150 one way’s, the majors fixed them hundreds of dollars higher and nothing drives them down except for that period when Alaska goes on sale. Allegiant just gave up trying, but I wouldn’t spend $10 flying on them or Spirit.

  3. Actually, the Korean Air awards are only 25,000 miles. I booked three ticket (r/t) in August for 75,000 miles.

  4. Great Info! I would love to see a similar post on the 5 best ways to get to Hawaii from the East coast in a lie flat bed!

  5. But doesn’t saver space have to be available for much of the above to be true (ie Singapore miles on United flights with United showing saver space )??
    Would love to see this compared and contrasted between the 5 options.

  6. I see an omission in the post I made earlier. I could not find saver fares. That’s why I used Amex rewards points through the business platinum card. That opened up seats on the direct flights I wanted.

  7. Maybe this information can be useful to coach flyers, but I challenge you to find a SINGLE first class flight availability, any day of the year, at saver level.

  8. Hi, I’m new at this, I’m in the midwest (2.5hr from Chicago, Davenport Iowa. My closest airport is MLI. We only have United, American, Delta, and Allegiant. How do I use Korean Air or Alaska air to travel when I don’t have those airlines in my area. Thanks
    All advice is greatly appreciated

  9. What about from Cleveland? We don’t even have a United hub any more. Does Korean fly from Cleveland to Hawaii? And even if Singapore does (which I don’t know for sure), it takes a while when transferring miles to them. I would be hesitant to do so for fear those seats would be gone and I’d be stuck with losing miles to Singapore.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated because I’m sick of using United miles at 45K to Hawaii and 60K to UK. Thanks

  10. I would like to echo what @Andy said. What’s the point of the great SQ redemption rates on flights in F to Hawaii if we can’t find Saver space?

    But great post Gary!

  11. I’ve had good luck with BA avois awards flying AA to Hawaii for 25,000 miles for Saver Award using my UR points. Isn’t’ that option still available?

  12. It would awesome if you included hints in articles like this, for those of us who don’t do this for a living. Reminders of how to search for award availability for the different options. It’s so hard to keep track of how to search for what. (whether to search on Alaska site, on AA site, on BA site, etc)

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