A couple of days ago a reader thanked Nick for discovering and documenting how to book flights from the US mainland to Hawaii for only 7,500 points one-way. She wrote that she was able to book her family of six for only 45,000 points! That’s ridiculously awesome. And it got me thinking about the power of buying miles in select circumstances like these.
But first, the basics…
The trick to booking cheap awards to Hawaii is to transfer Citi ThankYou points to Turkish Miles & Smiles, and then use Turkish miles to book United airlines flights. See these posts for details:
- 7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing.
- Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how.
To do this, you need either the Citi Premier card or the Citi Prestige card. Both regularly have signup offers of 50K or 60K, so a single signup bonus is more than enough to get a large family to Hawaii! For round-trip flights, you would need 45K points for 3 people or 60K points for 4.
So, that’s awesome. But what if you don’t have enough ThankYou points?
Buy points for 2.5 cents each
As long as you have a card that earns Citi ThankYou points, and you have at least one point in your account, you can buy additional ThankYou points for 2.5 cents each, up to a maximum of 100K points per year. You can then transfer those points to airline miles. I wrote about this in detail a while ago: Buy miles via ThankYou Rewards.
Citi lets you buy points in 1,000 point increments. They charge $25 for 1,000 points.
Turkish charges 15,000 miles for a round-trip flight to Hawaii from anywhere in the US. Let’s work out the cost to buy those miles…
Since Citi charges $25 per 1,000 points, we know that 15,000 points costs $375 (15 x $25). Add in the standard $11.20 in TSA fees, and you get a grand total of $386.20. That’s for a round-trip flight to Hawaii without waiting for airfare sales. That’s fantastic.
Saver award availability
Booking a one-way flight to or from Hawaii for 7,500 points requires finding United saver level award availability. Nick detailed this in his post about booking via email (found here) under the heading “Step 1) Search for availability using United.com or Aeroplan.com.” Basically, use United.com to search for awards, but don’t log in. Look for economy awards that are explicitly titled “Saver Award.”
Under 4 hour connections
Another requirement is that layovers must be less than 4 hours. If a layover is greater than 4 hours Turkish will charge you as if you booked two separate awards.
For example, this one-way award would cost 15,000 miles instead of 7,500 since the connection time is 4 hours and 24 minutes:
This itinerary, though, should cost just 7,500 miles since the layover is under 4 hours:
If you’re hoping to book first class, good luck to you. United rarely releases first class saver awards to Hawaii. Economy award availability, though, tends to be pretty good. I looked at round-trip saver award availability, for four people, from Atlanta to Honolulu over the peak winter months. Here’s what I found…
The blue lines, above indicate that round trip saver awards are available for four people starting on that date and assuming a 7 day trip. I picked Atlanta for this demonstration because it is a large city on the east coast and it is not a United hub. Important: The blue lines indicate that United saver awards are available, but there’s no way to know which days have saver awards with connections under 4 hours. It’s necessary to click into the dates you’re interested in and examine the details to see if the saver award would be bookable with Turkish miles.
You can see above that you’re out of luck if you want to fly to Hawaii during Christmas break. On the other hand, spring break dates are pretty readily available if you book now. And, it looks like January and February are wide open. In my opinion, those are the best months to get out of the cold and to go visit Hawaii, assuming you can spare the time from work and/or school. Even better, Humpback whales practically swarm the islands January through March.
If you don’t have many Citi ThankYou points, you can still take advantage of the awesome sweet spot award to Hawaii. You do need a Citi Prestige or Premier card, though, to make it work. With one of those cards in hand, you can now buy round trip flights to Hawaii for only $386.20 per person!
- 7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing.
- Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how.
- Buy miles via ThankYou Rewards.
Also check out this one if you need other types of miles: Buy miles via Amex Membership Rewards.
[…] As long as you have a card that earns Citi ThankYou points, and you have at least one point in your account, you can buy additional ThankYou points for 2.5 cents each, up to a maximum of 100K points per year. You can then transfer those points to airline miles. Greg wrote about this in detail a while ago: Buy miles via ThankYou Rewards. He then wrote a post about doing it specifically for award to Hawaii. See: $386 to Hawaii round trip from anywhere in the US. […]
[…] and to/from Hawaii (See: 7.5K each way to Hawaii. The sweetest spot we’ve been missing. and $386 to Hawaii round trip from anywhere in the US), this deal is potentially another terrific value for those who can travel in […]
[…] Greg posted about how you can buy enough Citi ThankYou points to fly from basically anywhere in the US to Hawaii for $386 round tr…. The trick of course is using Turkish Miles & Smiles, a Citi ThankYou transfer partner that […]
If you need to top off your Turkish but can’t wait for Citi to transfer, TK is $.03/mile, not as good as Citi, but I needed 10k this morning when 6 – 1st class opened up in lie flat LAX-OGG, decided to splurge on 1st for the kids too. So $300 for 10k more since I didn’t want to wait the 24-72 hours for Citi to transfer to TK. Btw, thank you for outlining this sweet spot a few weeks ago. Got 4 1st 12,500 each and 4 econ red eye return 7,500 each. Took 48 hours for my Citi to transfer.
Have u used TK points for trips to the EU by United and is it a Deal ??
No, just recently learned about the Hawaii sweet spot. Would love to learn other TK point hacks 🙂
Planning to book UA to middle East using TK in a near future. This is another sweet spot.
Good post I’m going there next month united with united points .This opens up looking @ TK points and some of Singapore’s flts on United have huge fees making TY useless to me.
My transfer to TK from Citi was in less than 24 hours. They will hold your award for 3 days.
Are people actually getting responses from Turkish Airlines sales staff? If so, which airports/email addresses? I emailed the LAX office (email@example.com) multiple times without even a reply. I’m assuming you can book through any sales office regardless of your departing flight location?
You have to call to book. I got email response to call 800-874-8875. Very efficient on phone call to English speaking rep in Turkey. Took about 30 minutes to book 4 outbound and 4 return. Had to book separate due to different class on return.
Very helpful, thanks. Wasn’t too keen on the idea of sending all the necessary personal information via unencrypted email in the first place.
IME, their call center is in Russia. I was able to speak Russian with them, when booking.
So was there any confirmation that you could book LIH instead of just HNL?
Yup — readers confirmed other islands are fine. You just can’t book on Hawaiian metal of course — so something like SFO-LIH on United is fine, but EWR-HNL-LIH won’t work since the HNL-LIH segment is on Hawaiian in that case.
Nice. I have just enough of abandoned TK miles from when I started creditiing there for *A gold for 1 way, but good to know I can get more tix if needed too using TYP! TK has been my favorite airline for years, wish they would have a CC available in the US
Is it possible to buy 15k miles directly from Turkish Airlines? If so, what would that cost?
Yes, actually you can buy them for 3 cents each. That’s not too bad if you don’t have the Citi points! Max 50K per year. https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/miles-and-smiles/features/purchasing-miles/index.html
Can always transfer some Marriott points to TK if you’re flush with Marriott
Transfer time from Marriott is tbd, just keep that in mind….
And instant when buying from TK. I needed 10k this morning when 2 extra 1st seats opened up. Teens will be stoked in lie flat 1st with us 🙂
One other caveat that I think is in place is that you have to avoid married award segments. There appears to have to be saver level award space on each individual segment based on my experience last week with how Turkish builds the itinerary.
Thanks for that tip!
Wow. It is not dead yet but this should really beat any life left out of it. Pretty soon we’ll see them require people to show up at IST to complete their ticketing and not just the ‘local’ TK station..
I laughed when I saw ATL as the example. I’m sure that the availability from ATL is much, much bettter than most places in the US since it’s a DL hub and it’s the competition. Try the DC or NYC areas and you’ll likely see a much, much bleaker picture for availability. I know people who struggle to get the transcon part of a United Hawaii award from EWR for ONE person not to mention more–and that’s with elite/cc availability.
I’m glad you put in the warning about the overnight connections. Those United reward calendars have tons of them on even the shortest routes–anything that allows a connection–and ones that are rarely bought I suspect, and some that aren’t even allowed under the rules on a revenue ticket.
Want to fly in F? Forgettaboutit–availability to Hawaii in F is nearly nonexistent for those thinking about that. Thank goodness beating that drum has stopped.
Much bleaker out of NYC? When are you looking? I see tons of availability out of NYC (been looking at various routes and dates for the last 2 weeks for my family). I’ve been looking for 3 passengers and see availability more days than not, typically with 1 stop out of NYC (obviously you can also book 2 or 3 stops if you want…I’ve also seen the nonstop at the saver level for 3 passengers on some days). I’ve not had trouble finding qualifying routings in economy class.
I’m just reporting what she told me relative to her search for HNL reward flights out of EWR–and that is what I said I was doing–reporting experiences of friends. I live in Houston so I don’t spend a lot of time searching availability out of EWR. I’m sure many counterexamples exist.
My major point is that people better hurry as we’ll be able to count the whole thing dead really soon I suspect.
You said to “try the NYC or DC area and you’ll likely see a much, much bleaker picture for availability”. That’s just not true. I just now searched for *4 passengers* and found the *nonstop* from Newark to HNL available on 26 out of 31 days in January 2020. Again, that’s for 4 people on the nonstop flight out of a large United hub.
I’m not disagreeing that this sweet spot may not last forever, just pointing out that the assumption that availability is nonexistent from hubs is baseless. Greg intentionally picked a non-hub to show that you can even find availability on those smaller flights rather than needing to pay separately to position to a hub (as most located in non-hub cities may assume). Booking 4 passengers around peak holiday periods is of course difficult (I did not see availability during for four people during the week around Christmas for example), but by and large there is tons of availability in economy class. Again, you don’t have to take my word for it — it’s easy to reference at United.com. Might want to tell your friend to search again.
Okay. I get it. You want me to say you’re right. Fine. You’re right. It’s clear you like to be right, and will go to great lengths to try and show it.
You take one comment I say about availability being difficult out of EWR and morph it into me saying that “availability is nonexistent from hubs”–which I clearly didn’t say. I made no comments about availability out of ORD, DEN or IAH. I said “you’ll likely see a much, much bleaker picture for availability”. This is certainly not an objective statement–it is very subjective—What’s bleak to one may be rosy to another. I cite one example–well I’m afraid one example a general pattern does not make. I didn’t say one can’t find availability. I cited one person’s experiences related to me.
Soon none of this will matter anyway but the ‘clicks’ on the blog from the hype on this topic will still be there.
Not at all — I have no personal investment in you saying I’m right, I just didn’t understand why the use of ATL made you laugh or why you thought availability would be bleak out of other airports. At the end of the day, I just don’t want readers to miss a chance to get to Hawaii really cheaply because they make assumptions about availability rather than checking it. I, too, may have assumed availability would be poor — especially since we published the sweet spot weeks ago. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case, so it’s worth a look. And I legitimately meant that you should tell your friend(s) to search again — perhaps availability for economy class was poor at one time, it just isn’t now.
Great deal if u can get it .
1) If u want to change or cancel u must deal with T airlines correct ?
2) What IF United changes ur connecting Flt to over 4 hrs All Gone .
Correct. I believe change fee is $25 and the no-show fee is $40 per the Turkish site:
If United changes your itinerary, I wouldn’t expect any problem at all. Once Turkish has issued the ticket, United can change its schedule and your routing if they want to. To be clear, they aren’t going to let you call in and ask for a change on a ticket issued by Turkish, but if United just changes things on their end it shouldn’t affect your ticket at all.
Thank You I have been to Hawaii 8x on United by Singapore points all n-stops there .That could turn into a nightmare IF u had to change 4 tickets and by emails . .
Unless the United Saver Award is using Hawaiian Airlines rather than United metal?
Correct. Has to be on United metal. Hawaiian is not partners with Turkish.
I should add that I think the segments on Hawaiian metal would only be inter-island flights. Just book those separately. If it’s an island to which Southwest flies, they can be as cheap as $29 or $39 each way (with 2 free bags).
A lot of the United Saver flights from the Midwest are on Hawaiian metal.