Best ways to fly to Hawaii using miles from the US mainland

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a rocky shore with waves crashing on the rocks
View from O’heo Gulch, Maui

If tropical paradise is always on your mind, your mind may wander to how to get there with miles and points.  Alaska, AA, Delta, Hawaiian, Southwest, and United Airlines all have flights from the mainland US to Hawaii, but you can sometimes save points by booking these flights with foreign airline programs — perhaps paying as few as 10,000 miles one-way from as far as New York or Boston to Honolulu.

You’ll see below that many of the best options for booking with miles require using a foreign carrier’s miles.  Unfortunately, when you book a domestic airline’s flight with a foreign airline’s miles, change fees are dictated by the foreign airline’s mileage program, not by the domestic airline.  While most of the major US carriers have eliminated change and cancellation fees when booking through their programs, you will face the fees of your partner program of choice if you book a partner award.  Luckily, with some foreign programs, like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, you’ll only lose the TSA fees ($5.60 per one-way) if you have to cancel and rebook.

Awards to Hawaii can be difficult to find, especially during peak season.  For this reason, we’ve included a few tricks for booking cheaper paid flights.  If you want to use airline miles, though, it’s great to have transferable points.  Transferable point programs let you transfer your points to any of a number of airline programs.  This is great because it gives you the freedom to book many different flights through many different methods, some of which are strikingly cheaper than others.  If you’re not familiar with transferable points programs, please check out our guides:

Cheaper Paid Flights

Alaska Airlines Companion Fare

This is a great trick for getting cheap flights to Hawaii.  As long as Alaska Airlines flights are available and as long as you travel in pairs, this option can save a bundle.

How to get it: Alaska Airlines credit card holders can get one discount code each year (note that those who have opened the card since January 18, 2023 will need to spend $6,000 on the card during a calendar year to get a companion fare code; those whose accounts were opened prior to 1/18/23 receive an annual companion fare code as a standard card benefit). Qualifying cards: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature consumer card (US), the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card (US), as well as the World Elite and Platinum Plus MasterCard (Canada).

Flight requirement: Officially, it must be a round-trip paid published coach airfare on Alaska Airlines. Unofficially, one-way (and multi-city) itineraries also work.

Companion benefit: Pay “from $121” ($99 base fare plus applicable taxes and fees from $22 depending on your Alaska Airlines flight itinerary).

For more details, see: Alaska Airlines Companion Fare Complete Guide

Southwest Companion Pass

If you have earned a Southwest Companion Pass, you can fly two people for the price of one!  This is true whether you pay cash or points for your flight. See: Complete guide to the Southwest Companion Pass.

Hawaiian Airlines Companion Discount

Honestly, this may not save you any money at all since it requires purchasing a full fare coach ticket, but it is included here for completeness…

How to get it: Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard and Hawaiian Airlines Business MasterCard cardholders get a one-time 50% off companion ticket. Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard cardholders additionally get a $100 off companion ticket each account anniversary.

Flight requirement: Purchase published round-trip full fare coach. Tickets must be purchased with your Hawaiian Airlines credit card.

Companion benefit: 50% off fare (before taxes and fees); or $100 off with the $100 off companion ticket.

More details can be found here.

Vacation Packages

Bundled air + hotel vacation packages sometimes offer far better flight prices than those available directly from the airlines unbundled.  If you don’t need the hotel portion, you may be able to book the cheapest hotel option for just one night (and throw it away) even if you plan to stay at the destination far longer. Alternatively you may be able to bundle a car rental instead of a hotel.  As an example, we’ve saved tons of money in the past booking Delta Vacation flights + car rentals to Hawaii. In many instances, the price with the car rental has been significantly less than the cost to buy airfare alone.

Best Mile Deals

Fly United using Turkish Miles & Smiles

Turkish offers the best deal to Hawaii, bar none.  10K one-way in economy or 15K one-way in business class is insane.

  • The short story: Turkish offers the same pricing on flights to Hawaii as for other domestic US awards, making them an unbelievable value for flights to Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 10,000 miles each way in economy class or 15,000 miles each way in business class (can include connections for the same price)
  • How to find awards: Search and book awards at TurkishAirlines.com. Note that you can also try searching AirCanada.com for additional space that should be bookable via email.
  • How to book awards: Some awards can be booked online at TurkishAirlines.com (click "Award Ticket" on the home page, then log in and choose the "Star Alliance" tab on the award search tool). If you see an award on AirCanada.com that is not available at the Turkish website, you can try an email booking. Once an email agent sets up the reservation, you can call to pay the taxes and ticket rather than emailing back with the requested screen shots of your credit card and ID.
  • Key warnings: Turkish appears to have a max connect time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary, so itineraries with a longer connection would require 2 awards. Also, for an unknown reason, Turkish phone agents often can't see award space that other partner airlines can see.  Booking over the phone can be very challenging.  We highly recommend calling to put an award on hold before you transfer points to Turkish miles.

Fly Alaska Airlines or United using Singapore KrisFlyer miles

Singapore offers excellent award prices to fly Alaska Airlines economy class to Hawaii.

  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer partners with both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines and charges fewer miles for domestic flights to Hawaii than United or Alaska does for the same flights.
  • Miles required:
    • United
      • 19.5K miles each way in economy or 39K in business (as compared to 22.5K econ / 40K business through United for "saver" awards at historical rates)
    • Alaska
      • 13-14K miles each way in economy from most western states and some midwest states to Hawaii in economy (business/first class pricing is usually not competitive)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space on United at at SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles - but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written). Search for Alaska space that is available at AA.com or BritishAirways.com and call Singapore to book it.
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Key warnings: Singapore allows a maximum connection time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary and will not allow a stopover on a one-way award. Be aware that United.com will show availability for flights with longer/overnight connections that are not available with Singapore KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to double check availability at SingaporeAir.com before booking. Also note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets.

Fly AA or Alaska Airlines using British Airways Avios

Avios are great for the shortest distance AA and/or Alaska Airlines non-stop economy flights to Hawaii.

  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the West Coast of the USA on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines can be a great value with Avios.
  • Miles required: 16K miles each way plus $5.60 for economy-class segments between west coast cities and Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 800-452-1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer fromAmexBiltCapital OneChaseWells Fargo. Also transfer to Qatar and then to BA with: Citi.

Fly Delta using Air France miles

Air France is one of the cheapest options for booking Delta flights to Hawaii.  Unfortunately, Delta’s partner award space is extremely hard to find, especially for first class awards.

  • The short story: Air France charges far fewer miles than Delta for Delta flights to Hawaii, but finding award availability can be a huge challenge.
  • Miles required: 17.5K one-way in economy, or 30K one-way in business class for Delta flights from the US mainland to Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling or using the app.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Fly Delta using Virgin Atlantic miles

While Air France is usually cheaper, Virgin Atlantic sometimes sees award space that other Delta partners cannot see.

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights to Hawaii for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries.
  • Miles required: Varies by distance. See the full award chart here. Nonstop routes from the west coast of the US should run 22K in economy or 70K in business (business class is not a good deal).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.

Fly Southwest using Southwest points

Southwest doesn’t have any relevant partners, but their own points are useful especially since they’re fully refundable.  Additionally, if you have earned a Southwest Companion Pass, you can fly two people for the price of one!  See: Complete guide to the Southwest Companion Pass.

  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth between 1.3 - 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a flight, but award bookings are totally flexible since they can be changed or canceled with no fee up until shortly before departure. Also keep in mind that Wanna Get Away Plus fares get a free same-day confirmed change.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but can be less than other options when cash prices are low.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Southwest.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Southwest.com
  • Key warnings: Keep in mind that if you pay for Early Bird Check In and then later cancel or change your flight, you will lose the benefit without a refund.

How to get the miles

The following chart shows the available transferable points programs for each of the above airline frequent flyer programs:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer RatioChase Transfer RatioCiti Transfer RatioMarriott Transfer RatioCapital One Transfer RatioBrex Transfer Ratio
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 11 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 11,670 to 1K
British Airways Avios1 to 11 to 11 to 1 via Qatar60K to 25K1 to 1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1 to 11 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 11,670 to 1K
Southwest Rapid Rewards1 to 160K to 25K
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1 to 160K to 25K1 to 1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 11 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 1
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Angie

Great info! Thank you.
I’d like to mention that Hawaii Airlines’ lie-flat first class can be booked using its own mileage program or through Virgin Atlantic. At the saver level, one-way west coast to HI costs 40k miles plus $5.6 tax per person for either program. This redemption becomes more appealing when combined with the current 30% transfer bonus from Chase to Virgin Atlantic, reducing the cost to just 31k miles.

Last edited 16 hours ago by Angie
Koralea

I actually just checked every single itinerary Hawaiian offers to Maui (because we’re going in the spring and need to get this booked) and there are only 2 40k First class offers, one from San Francisco and one from San Jose (specifically for March 9th) and they are Recliners, not lie flat. There are some lie-flat seats from Seattle and LA but they are offered at 80k. NONE of these are offered via Virgin.

Angie

The availability can be limited, especially 40k is the saver level. If you find spots with 40k, call Virgin Atlantic for reservation. It does not show on Virgin Atlantic’s website. For example, you can find several 40k spots HNL-LAX on 6/19-22 on Hawaii’s site. I’m not sure about Maui but HNL usually have more lie flat options from LAX/SFO.

Tony

I know this article was written years ago, but to republish it, shouldn’t it be updated? One of the better ways to get to HI on AA or AS is to use Finnair avios. An award in economy (from anywhere in US mainland, not just the West Coast) to HI is only 13,500 avios on AS (or 15,000 on AA).

Last edited 19 hours ago by Tony
Lee

Just for thoroughness, Bilt and Wells Fargo as transfer partners?

Nun

Does HA offer more saver level awards to their own members (specifically premium cabins)?

I didn’t see an article describing which airlines do this. I know IB and JAL do, but I think BA does not. AA only does it as web savers. UA only does it for credit card holders and elites. Old LANPass did but I don’t know about LATAM. PS Love the podcasts.

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NK3

I think the Alaska numbers need to be updated. With Singapore, zone 1 to zone 5 costs 12K miles (not 11.5). British Airways updated their chart in May 2019, and it now costs 13k miles to fly Alaska or AA from west coast to Hawaii in economy, not 12,500.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks. I updated BA to 13K and I clarified Singapore to “ranges from 11.5K to 12.5K” (previously it said “from 11.5K”)

[…] Best ways to fly to Hawaii from the US Mainland […]

Byron

Lots of luck trying to find a UA super saver business class fare to Hawaii and using the Turkish Airline deal. I looked from several cities to most landing spots in Hawaii, and there would be one super saver business class flight out about 3 weeks from departure. That is hardly good for any long term planning. Lots of economy with the hopes of upgrading closer to departure possibly.

Let me know if you see something different.

[…] Best ways to fly to Hawaii from the US mainland […]

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CaveDweller

Greg
Remind the bloggers that 9/1 unlimited 4th nite free ends on the Prestige card .I booked my Paris trip in an hour but prices are a lot higher then 2 years ago .
CHEERs

nBs

Why do you search on aa.com – instead of Alaska – if looking for Alaska fares to book via krisflyer?

Greg The Frequent Miler

It’s a way to see which flights are available to Alaska’s partners.

nBs

Why search on AA.com for Alaska fares if booking via KrisFlyer?