Redeeming Miles To Hawaii In First Class

Redeeming Miles To Hawaii In First Class

19

Yesterday I wrote about how to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for first class flights to Hawaii on Virgin America. There were some follow up questions about the relative values of redeeming miles to Hawaii in general, so I figured I’d go through some of the options.

Besides, Hawaii is a decent enough place to daydream about on a Wednesday, and I’m sure I’m not the only one ready for some time on a beach.

Hawaii-surfboard

For the most part, when we talk about “first class” to Hawaii we are talking about standard domestic recliner-style seats, with maybe a plumeria thrown on the tray table to add some Aloha spirit. There are a few routes with nicer aircraft, but Hawaii is a decidedly leisure market, and there just isn’t demand for better products.

Using miles for first class flights to Hawaii

To begin, it probably makes sense to look at the current options for flying to Hawaii in first class, along with some of the mileage prices at the saver level. I’m not going to list every possible option, just the more common mileage programs, or those with the best rates.

Air Canada (Rouge)

  • 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles one-way
  • 35,000 Miles & More miles one-way
  • 37,500 Avianca LifeMiles one-way
  • 40,000 Aeroplan miles one-way
  • 40,000 United miles one-way

Alaska Airlines

  • 60,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles round-trip
  • 37,500 American AAdvantage miles one-way
  • 40,000 Alaska MileagePlan miles one-way
  • 40,000 Delta SkyMiles one-way
  • 50,000 British Airways Avios one-way on nonstops from the West Coast

American Airlines

  • 37,500 American AAdvantage miles one-way
  • 47,500 Alaska MileagePlan Miles one-way
  • 50,000 British Airways Avios one-way on nonstops from the West Coast

Delta Air Lines*

  • 45,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles round-trip
  • 60,000 Alitalia Millemiglia miles round-trip
  • 80,000 Alaska MileagePlan Miles round-trip
  • “Some” Delta SkyMiles depending on your origin city

* These rates for partner programs are all dependent upon finding low-level award space on Delta. In other words, it’s probably not happening. So don’t transfer miles to these programs with the intention of redeeming for domestic awards on Delta unless you’ve verified space.

Hawaiian Airlines

  • 25,000 – 40,000 Virgin America Elevate points one-way
  • 40,000 Hawaiian miles one-way
  • 60,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles round-trip
  • 80,000 Virgin Atlantic FlyingClub miles round trip

United Airlines

  • 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles one-way
  • 35,000 Miles & More miles one-way
  • 37,500 Avianca LifeMiles one-way
  • 40,000 Aeroplan miles one-way
  • 40,000 United miles one-way

Virgin America

  • 75,000 – 150,000 Virgin Atlantic FlyingClub miles round trip
  • 90,000 Hawaiian miles roundtrip
  • 79,000 – 137,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles one-way

If you want to check out economy rates, or see what other airlines would charge, you can find the full award charts here.

There are some killer deals here! Obviously it won’t make sense to use KrisFlyer miles for Virgin America, but Singapore offers the best rates for travel on United; flights on Alaska are less costly using Korean or American miles than through the Alaska program directly, and so forth.

In general, I tend to think the best approach for redeeming miles to Hawaii is to look for space over your dates, and then figure out which miles you want to use. Space can be at a premium over school holidays, and some airlines are particularly stingy with award space lately.

People often get excited about the award rates to Hawaii using Korean Air miles, for example, and then are frustrated by the lack of space on Delta. That’s not to say you shouldn’t focus on the best deals, but be prepared to be flexible in how you book things. Spending an extra 15k Korean miles for a roundtrip on Alaska or Hawaiian is still a good deal overall.

So while it’s good to have these target numbers in mind, if you can keep your points flexible you’ll have many more options when it’s time to book your trip. You’ll also want to consider how you value each mileage currency to determine whether the best deal on paper is the best deal for you.

Earning miles for Hawaii

With the exception of Avianca LifeMiles (which can be purchased during promotions), all of the above programs are transfer partners of at least one of the main flexible points currencies. This means you can earn points in one of the below programs, then move points to an airline as needed:

American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aeromexico Club Premier
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aer Lingus AerClub
IHG One Rewards
Air Canada Aeroplan
Marriott Bonvoy
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
World of Hyatt
British Airways Executive Club
Emirates Skywards
Iberia Plus
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Starwood Preferred Guest Transfer Partners

Aegean Miles+Bonus
Aeromexico Club Premier
Air Canada Aeroplan
Air China PhoenixMiles
Air France/KLM FlyingBlue
Air New Zealand Airpoints
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alitalia MilleMiglia
ANA Mileage Club
American Airlines AAdvantage
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
Avianca Lifemiles
British Airways Executive Club
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles
Delta SkyMiles
Emirates Skywards
Etihad Guest
GOL Smiles
Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
Iberia Plus
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank
Jet Airways JetPrivilege
Korean Air SkyPass
LATAM PASS
Miles & More
Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Saudi Alfursan
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Australia Velocity
SPG Airline Transfer Partners

Premier Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aeromexico Club Premier
Citi ThankYou transfer partners

It is worth noting that while American Express and Chase transfers are rather quick (and instant in many cases), SPG and Citi transfers can take some time, depending on the program you’re transferring to.

Should you use miles for first class to Hawaii?

This section might defeat the purpose of the entire post, but for many of us, the answer is “meh.”

Unlike some destinations where revenue tickets would be outrageously expensive, and miles are clearly the better value, paid tickets to Hawaii can be pretty reasonable if you aren’t traveling over peak dates. Beyond that, if you have elite status with any airline, these routes tend to make for easy upgrades. Even purchasing an upgrade prior to departure can make sense — Alaska routinely offers upgrades at check-in, and Virgin America likely will on this route as well.

So in those cases, you might be better off purchasing your flight through the Citi ThankYou portal for 1.6 cents towards the cost of an American/US Airways ticket, or 1.33 cents towards the cost of a flight on another airline.

Personally, I won’t be using miles to fly to Hawaii. Having elite status with American (and being married to someone who has elite status with Alaska), I might use ThankYou points to purchase a ticket that can be upgraded, but that’s the extent of it. I have other (different, but not necessarily better) aspirations for my miles.

However, any number of these options might still make sense for you!

Bottom line

While there are only a handful of carriers offering first class to Hawaii, there are myriad ways to redeem miles for those seats. These airlines have partners outside their main alliances as well, which leads to some really interesting redemption opportunities.

Make sure to check space prior to moving any points around, however, as award availability can be quite limited.

Has anyone redeemed miles to Hawaii? Which program did you book through?

Conversations (19)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. John Guest

    Just back from Hawaii and found on a one way OGG to EWR points ticket United would not put me on any upgrade list. The premium economy only had 8 of 22 seats filled and all 45 Polaris seats. The premium economy was just like domestic first as they got dinner and breakfast on China. That would have been an acceptable upgrade. Next time I will pay for coach and get this upgrade.

  2. Ginger Cravens New Member

    This is great info Tiffany! Do you have an update to this information since I am guessing things have changed a bit from 2015?

    1. Tiffany OMAAT

      @ Ginger Cravens -- Thanks! Things haven't changed much, honestly. There still aren't any reliable options as far as award space is concerned, and most of the planes are pretty old.

  3. DadOBoys New Member

    I live in Denver, so I used 60,000 krisflyer miles to book two one-ways direct from HNL. However, my trip just got postponed. Hopefully the availability is there when I begin to search again.

  4. Ivan Member

    Non peak time YVR-HNL with stopover at LAX only costs &1000 USD, only marginally more expensive than coach

  5. Brad Guest

    Why isn't Asiana's award chart mentioned? 55,000 miles roundtrip in business to Hawaii is the cheapest Star Alliance option as far as I'm aware.

  6. Victoria Guest

    I think most people who redeem miles to Hawaii are leisure travelers who've had a credit card with an airline for years for whatever reason but who don't actually know what they're doing. Not all, but MOST. I can tell you I know people who would see how many AA miles it takes and just say "cool." Then again, someone just told me that it takes at least $20k to go to Europe "the right...

    I think most people who redeem miles to Hawaii are leisure travelers who've had a credit card with an airline for years for whatever reason but who don't actually know what they're doing. Not all, but MOST. I can tell you I know people who would see how many AA miles it takes and just say "cool." Then again, someone just told me that it takes at least $20k to go to Europe "the right way," so there are plenty of people out there who just don't know how this stuff works.*

    *And yes, I'm picturing Bernice from the Esurance ad.

  7. Garrett Guest

    If you choose your flights carefully, you can find internationally configured 767's to HNL on Delta. LAX, ATL, and JFK I think. Don't know about the rest. My friend is there now and she had the standard lie-flat 767 configuration which was great for getting to Hawaii.

  8. Jeremy Guest

    Sorry, just noticed your post is for "First Class" redemptions - my mistake!

  9. Jeremy Guest

    Admittedly I have not looked into this in a while, but my recollection was that using Avios on AA or Alaska from the West Coast was 12,500 one-way making it one of, if not the best, economy points value to Hawaii. Has this gone up? I see you are showing 50,000 Avios one-way.

  10. Jason Guest

    Great article. I'd love a follow up about which carriers have the best first class products to Hawaii.

    1. Tiffany OMAAT

      @ Jason -- With a few exceptions, they're all basically the same, to be honest: https://onemileatatime.com/why-arent-there-nicer-seats-to-hawaii/

  11. Izzy Member

    It's not true when you say all the products are recliners with a little aloha. The only way to fly to Hawaii is 60k Singapore on united with fully flat bed on the 767 from eWR.

    1. Tiffany OMAAT

      @ Izzy -- I noted that there are a few routes with nicer planes. The problem is that availability at the saver level is nearly non-existent on those routes, unfortunately.

  12. tim Member

    Great article - thanks Tiffany! I love how you always lay out all the options for all airlines in your posts :)

  13. KahunnaTravel Member

    I would agree with Lea, value is a function of departure location. My wife and I are booked roundtrip CMH to KOA in mid-May at the first class saver level on AA at 67.5K miles each net (that is after the 10% rebate we receive from having the Citi AAdvantage cards). This was a better value than pricing first from here, or trying to stage to the left coast or right coast to secure some...

    I would agree with Lea, value is a function of departure location. My wife and I are booked roundtrip CMH to KOA in mid-May at the first class saver level on AA at 67.5K miles each net (that is after the 10% rebate we receive from having the Citi AAdvantage cards). This was a better value than pricing first from here, or trying to stage to the left coast or right coast to secure some bargain fare in those markets. Also we were aiming for direct to KOA without the necessity to route through HLN. If we were aiming for HLN, I might look at some other proposition.

  14. Mason Guest

    i redeemed AA miles to Hawaii in first because 4 economy seats weren't available on the dates I was able to travel. It wasn't EVA Air biz class but it got us there.

  15. MidSouth Skier Community Ambassador

    I think it depends where you're departing the mainland. For anywhere mid-continent or east, I think it's worth it.

    DFW-HNL is about 1000 miles closer than DFW-LHR
    ORD-HNL is only 300 miles closer than ORD-LHR

    And both of those flights are overnight so if I can get even an angle-flat, it's worth it to me. Plus, as some of us grow older (and wider) it's just not comfortable to sit in those narrow seats...

    I think it depends where you're departing the mainland. For anywhere mid-continent or east, I think it's worth it.

    DFW-HNL is about 1000 miles closer than DFW-LHR
    ORD-HNL is only 300 miles closer than ORD-LHR

    And both of those flights are overnight so if I can get even an angle-flat, it's worth it to me. Plus, as some of us grow older (and wider) it's just not comfortable to sit in those narrow seats with no legroom for 7-9 hours.

    And for me, if I'm going to Hawaii it's one of my big vacations for the year, one that I save my miles for so I'm definitely going to use them!

  16. Daniel Guest

    I was just researching this yesterday! Perfect timing. My conclusion was that AAdvantage miles seem to be a pretty poor value to Hawaii. The cash for a ticket wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Thanks for the insight!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

John Guest

Just back from Hawaii and found on a one way OGG to EWR points ticket United would not put me on any upgrade list. The premium economy only had 8 of 22 seats filled and all 45 Polaris seats. The premium economy was just like domestic first as they got dinner and breakfast on China. That would have been an acceptable upgrade. Next time I will pay for coach and get this upgrade.

0
Tiffany OMAAT

@ Ginger Cravens -- Thanks! Things haven't changed much, honestly. There still aren't any reliable options as far as award space is concerned, and most of the planes are pretty old.

0
Ginger Cravens New Member

This is great info Tiffany! Do you have an update to this information since I am guessing things have changed a bit from 2015?

0
Meet Tiffany Funk, OMAAT Managing Editor
3,795,750 Miles Traveled

871,000 Words Written

335 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT