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US frequent flyer programs overcharge for Hawaii awards relative to ticket price — at 45,000 miles roundtrip, even from the West Coast, you’re not getting much for your miles. But Hawaii awards are in high demand, people earning miles for business travel and wanting to use them for leisure often want to take the family to Hawaii.
I generally think the best way to Hawaii in coach is the Alaska Airlines $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 with the second ticket for $99 plus tax..)
But non-US frequent flyer programs offer better deals with miles, even though you’re flying US airlines between the mainland and Hawaii. Delta is notoriously tough for award space, but right now there’s some good availability.
And that’s especially true with partners like Korean Air — which lets you fly Delta, Alaska, or Hawaiian between the US and Hawaii for fewer miles than US programs do. And points transfer from a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or other Chase cards whose points transfer to miles instantly into Korean Air.
Here’s award space for four people in economy from New York JFK to Maui in Winter.
When Delta’s award calendar shows space for 22,500 miles, that’s saver award availability. And that’s available to partner airlines.
Here’s Atlanta – Maui for 4 passengers in economy:
And Los Angeles – Maui for four:
- The Air France program charges 30,000 miles roundtrip between the US mainland and Hawaii, and just 25,000 miles roundtrip between the US mainland and Caribbean (so if you wish, add saver space between the US and Caribbean to drop the price).
- American Express, Citi, Chase, and Starwood points transfer to Air France.
Even better, and here are 17 tricks and things to know about Korean Air SkyPass.
- Korean Air charges just 25,000 miles roundtrip for economy Hawaii awards
- You should be able to put these seats on hold for 5 days before transferring points.
- You can only book awards for family members.
- Chase, Starwood and Marriott points transfer to Korean
I’m not a huge fan of spending miles generally for economy Hawaii awards, given how many miles they usually cost (via US frequent flyer programs), but at 12,500 miles each way it’s a pretty good value — around 3 1/3 cents a point.