Update on 9/23/14 to Remove Reference to American Airlines award stopovers and free one ways, which are no longer possible.

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to visit, and judging by the number of inquiries I get about booking awards to Hawaii, it’s clear that many people agree. There are a number of cheap ways to get there that I’ll list in order.

1. Allegiant Air $358+ roundtrip- Allegiant Air is a super-low cost carrier that announced flights to Hawaii that will start in November. Flights to Honolulu from Bellingham, Eugene, Fresno, Las Vegas, Monterey, Santa Maria, and Stockton; and flights to Kahului from Bellingham begin in November. The flights are as cheap as $308 roundtrip, but a carryon will cost $50 roundtrip and a checked bag is $70 roundtrip. Additionally if you want to select your seat or board early, you have to pay extra.

But if you live in one of the cities serviced by Allegiant, don’t mind a middle seat for five hours, and can travel with only one bag, $358 roundtrip to Hawaii is the best deal in my opinion.

One key caveat is that Allegiant flights don’t earn any frequent flier miles or credit of any kind. Since normally flying from the west coast to Hawaii earns about 5,000 miles, and I value 5,000 miles at around $85 depending on the carrier, Allegiant flights must be $85 or more cheaper than the legacy carriers for this to be a good deal. Since the legacy carriers want $600+ from the west coast to Hawaii right now, Allegiant easily meets the criterion.

You can always pay for your Allegiant flights, bag fees, seat fees, and food with a Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. Then you can redeem Arrival miles to remove those purchases from your statement. You could even use your Arrival miles for an airbnb stay in Hawaii or interisland flights.

2. Avios Award 25,000+ Avios and $11+ roundtrip- I love that Avios is a distance-based award chart. Flights like the west coast to Hawaii cost only 12,500 Avios each way plus taxes. For 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly on AA planes from LAX to the four major Hawaiian airports.

Alaska Airlines has way more gateways on the mainland to the four major Hawaiian airports. For 25,000 Avios and $36, you can fly from Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle to Hawaii. The extra $25 on Avios awards comes from the fact that awards on Alaska Airlines can’t be booked on ba.com, and calling BA incurs a $25 phone fee.

Avios is also the best option for anyone who lives close to one of the airports mentioned in this section, since a short hop flight only adds 4,500 Avios and $2.50 to the price each way. That means Tuscon to Los Angeles to Lihue roundtrip would be 34,000 Avios and $16.

Avios can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, it’s still a good idea to go oneway for 12,500 Avios and use another oneway deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from Honolulu to LAX with Avios.

3. Hawaiian Airlines Award 35,000 miles and $11- Hawaiian Airlines awards start at 35,000 miles for Hawaiian Airlines branded card holders. The normal price is 40,000 miles. While this price is no cheaper than an American Airlines off peak award to Hawaii, I think it’s a better deal because Hawaiian Airlines miles are worth less than most programs’ miles. (The reason Hawaiian miles are worth less is their lack of partners, junk long haul first class product, and lack of destinations.)

Hawaiian also has the only direct flight from Honolulu to JFK, which at 35,000 miles and $5 is a fantastic value in terms of low cost and getting a direct flight. The other flights Hawaiian operates from Honolulu to the mainland go to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Hawaiian miles can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, this can be combined with a oneway Avios deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from LAX to Honolulu with Hawaiian miles. The post also includes information on the very useful mile pooling allowed by Hawaiian.

4. Star Alliance options from as little as 35,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 60,000 miles in First.

See this post.

 

There is a 20% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Airlines miles until June 23, 2014.

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This can be a good way to top up your Hawaiian Miles balance if you’ve recently gotten The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® with 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

  • Is this a good deal?
  • What is the fee to transfer Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Miles?
  • What are the best deals with Hawaiian Miles?

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Saturday night I had the pleasure of flying Hawaiian Airlines First Class from Honolulu to Las Vegas.

I had an internet outage at home that day, so I headed to the airport about four hours early to try to get some work done on more reliable wifi.

Hawaiian Airlines has the largest check in area of any airline at Honolulu International Airport. When I arrived, I didn’t immediately see a First Class check in area, so I just used a kiosk to print my boarding pass.

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I did see a First Class and Premier check in right after that, and I went over to ask whether my ticket entitled me to lounge access.

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The agent’s answer was hilarious and prophetic: “Yes, but it’s more of a glorified waiting area.”

  • How was the lounge?
  • How was the flight?
  • How was the service?
  • How was the food?

Anatomy of an Award posts highlight real awards I’ve booked to show you the techniques needed to book your dream trip.

I recently made a last-second decision to head to Las Vegas and Phoenix for three days for a mix of work and pleasure.

I planned and booked the trip in 10 minutes with miles and points, saving myself $1,500 in the process and getting to fly First Class on one long flight. The cost? Only 40,000 Hawaiian Miles, 8,500 British Airways Avios, and $102.50.

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When you need to make a last minute trip for a family or work emergency or when you want to take a last minute trip for spontaneous adventure, having balances with the right types of miles is key.

  • When I decided to travel to Phoenix and Las Vegas, what miles did I immediately think to use?
  • How did I find my direct flight options?
  • Which airlines charge a booking fee for last-minute awards and which don’t?
  • How did I search for award space?
  • How did I book my awards?

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I know a lot of people with around 5,000 Hawaiian miles. Until recently, I was one of them. That’s about what you’d have if you’ve flown one paid roundtrip on Hawaiian Airlines.

For a lot of people, those miles are headed to an unused expiration.

But if you have The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®, you can receive miles from other Hawaiian Miles accounts for free through the online share miles promotion. So get the Hawaiian card and relieve your friends of their orphaned miles.

Or combine all your Hawaiian Miles into one account before making a booking for you and travel companions.

  • How does the Hawaiian Share Miles work?
  • Who can send and receive Hawaiian Miles?
  • How can you use it to make family bookings easier?

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A teenager hopped a fence at San Jose Airport (SJC), climbed into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines 767 and survived almost six hours at heights up to 38,000 feet on his way to Maui (OGG).

He was apparently unharmed and released by the FBI after they realized he wasn’t a security threat. Although another article I read quoted a doctor saying it is “more likely than not” that the boy suffered permanent brain damage during the flight.

CNN even included a video showing you exactly how to get into a 767’s wheel well.

I don’t recommend copying this teen’s free flight to Hawaii. There are a ton of cheap ways to get to the islands without having to stowaway.

What are the cheapest awards to Hawaii? Trust me that you probably aren’t aware of all of the cheapest options because they often require easy-to-obtain foreign miles.

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The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® comes with 35,000 bonus Hawaiian Miles after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days. That’s enough bonus miles for a roundtrip on Hawaiian Airlines from the mainland to anywhere in Hawaii.

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The six main reasons I love this offer:

  1. Hawaiian Airlines has amazing award availability from the western United States to all the major Hawaiian islands.
  2. Cardholders receive a discount on Hawaiian Airlines awards, so instead of paying 20k miles each way between the mainland and Hawaii, cardholders pay only 17,500 miles each way. That means the sign up bonus is enough for a free roundtrip to Hawaii.
  3. Cardholders can receive miles freely from other Hawaiian Miles accounts, so combining miles is easy.
  4. One way awards are bookable for half the price of roundtrips, which adds tons of flexibility and chances for island hopping.
  5. Hawaiian Airlines is my favorite airline to fly between the mainland and Hawaii in economy.
  6. You get a free checked bag on Hawaiian Airlines flights purchased with the Hawaiian Airlines card. That’s $50 off if you want to fly to Hawaii with your golf clubs.

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® is a new product just released this month by Barclaycard. Even if you had a Hawaiian Airlines card from Bank of America or Bank of Hawaii, this is a new card. If you’ve canceled those cards, this one should be available to you with full bonus.

Why is Hawaiian my favorite carrier between the mainland and Hawaii? How good is Hawaiian’s award space? How would I maximize a Hawaiian Airlines award to my home state? How does the free Share Miles program?

There is:

  • widely available
  • underpriced
  • economy award space
  • for two passengers
  • for all of 2014
  • to Australia
  • with the opportunity to stop in Hawaii for a few days in either direction.

If you have 75,000 American Airlines miles and about $100, you can fly a roundtrip award from the United States to Australia on almost any day you want this year. Stop in Honolulu, stop in Los Angeles, or stop in each place one direction to make the trip even more interesting!

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How can you book this incredible award space online? What are your stopover options?

Wyndham is giving away one million United miles as four 250k mile prizes. Sign up is easy.

You can earn 1k to 10k Virgin Atlantic miles for referring people to the program. This is especially valuable since 13k Virgin Atlantic miles is enough for a one way flight from New York to London.

Membership Rewards is offering a 20% bonus on transfers to Hawaiian miles through June 27.

Points Hound has a 100k Hawaiian Miles giveaway running through June 21.

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I always use the ITA Software Matrix. It’s one of the most useful tools to search for available flights and low fares. First, go to matrix.itasoftware.com.

Type in your home airport and destination airport. You can use airport codes like JFK (New York-JFK) or even city codes like NYC (which includes JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.)

For this example, let’s look at JFK to Honolulu. ITA Matrix is awesome, so you can type in all kinds of commands like which airline you want to fly. In the example below, I wrote HA into the boxes, which means only return Hawaiian Airlines results. I did that because Hawaiian has a direct flight from JFK to Honolulu. If you leave that blank, all airlines will be returned.

I also prefer to search certain length trips one month at a time for the lowest fares, so use that section of the form by selecting “See calendar of lowest fares.” I’ve asked it to search for 3-8 night itineraries leaving in the month of January.

After you click “Search” you will be taken to a calendar displaying the lowest fare departing each day. You can ignore fares in light blue (though $447 is still a great price). You are targeting the $435 days in bold orange.

Clicking on a particular date will bring up the lowest prices departing on that date and returning 3-8 days later. Once you have found a comfortable length of time, click to display the flight.

Remember that the ITA Matrix is only for finding airfares. You don’t have the ability to book directly through this site. Write down the dates and flight numbers that work for you, and book directly through Hawaiianairlines.com.

I use ITA Matrix because a quick one-minute search can show me a month at a time on a specific airline or all airlines. Then I can go the airline’s site, select seats, and purchase easily.

Save your money. Buy the cheapest flights you find on ITA Matrix with credit card points you got for free for opening a card and meeting its minimum spending requirement.

The best one is the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which has a sign up bonus worth $625 in free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Earn 3 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • Earn 2 ThankYou Points for every $1 spent on purchases for airfare and hotels
  • Earn 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card



Powered By Credit Karma

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, Hawaiian Airlines will be adding an interesting new route to their network in July of 2013. Hawaiian will add nonstop service between Honolulu and Taipei, Taiwan three times weekly. They will be flying this route with their 294 seat A330-200 aircraft.

Scott actually just wrote a mini review of Hawaiian’s A330 product in economy.  You can read it in this post, 20k Points Roundtrip to Hawaii, 45k Roundtrip to Asia, 55k Roundtrip to Australia. The economy seat looks really solid with personal TVs and decent food offerings. First class, though, doesn’t appear much better than domestic first class. Hawaiian’s first class product on all flights that leave Hawaii is a recliner with 42″ of pitch. That means only 4″ more leg room than most domestic first class.

As Scott detailed in his post, Getting to Tahiti with Hawaiian, United, and US Airways Miles and Membership Rewards, there are two big issues with spending Hawaiian miles for an award ticket. First, they charge 20k miles each way from the continental US to Hawaii. That’s what other carriers are charging, but if you live on the west coast, you can actually get to Hawaii for 12,500 British Airways Avios oneway.

In Scott’s very recent post, 20k Points Roundtrip to Hawaii, he discovered that you can actually use Virgin America Elevate points to fly Hawaiian airlines from the continental US to Hawaii for far fewer miles than what Hawaiian charges their own frequent flyer members.

The other big issue is that to get from the continental US to Asia or the Pacific on Hawaiian will cost the price of US-Hawaii plus Hawaii-Asia/Pacific. This method of pricing makes awards for mainlanders to Asia/Pacific on Hawaiian way more Hawaiian Miles than American miles, which can also be used for Hawaiian flights.

For example, a Hawaiian award from the continental US to Japan would be 60k miles oneway–20k from the mainland to Hawaii and 40k from Hawaii to Japan. That same exact award could be as few as 50,000 AAdvantage miles roundtrip if you fly during off peak times! For a great step-by-step on booking Hawaiian awards with AAdvantage miles, especially for beginners, make sure to check out Scott’s post, Free First Class Next Month: Award Searches on AA.com.

Hawaiian’s complete award chart can be found here, but I posted Hawaiian’s chart from the US-Philippines below. This is most likely the chart that will be used when the Taipei route officially opens up. 60k for awards originating in the continental US and 105k for first class award tickets. As I mentioned above, the first class seats aren’t that much of an upgrade over normal domestic first class seats. They aren’t angle-flat and they certainly don’t convert to lie-flat seats. I would save the miles in this case. The upgrade just isn’t worth the additional cost in miles.

Each Way Price

Can I include a stopover in Hawaii with either an American or a Hawaiian award?

Yes to both! Because Hawaiian prices the two legs of the award individually, you can build a stopover of whatever length you want into your award. If you are using American miles to book an award on Hawaiian, you get a stopover in each direction at the international gateway city. In this case, it would be Honolulu if departing from Los Angeles. For more information, be sure to check out Scott’s post How to Book Free Stopovers Online: American Airlines. You should probably also brush up with The Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards.

If getting to Taiwan from the US is the only goal, other carriers offer better options. United Airlines, for example charges 32,500 miles for a oneway ticket. That same itinerary would be 60,000 miles with Hawaiian. Check out the dummy booking I was able to pull up on United’s website below.

Even though an award ticket using Hawaiian miles will probably be a bad deal, there are no nonstop flights offered from Hawaii to Taiwan: most carriers include a stop in Seoul or Tokyo. Hawaii’s new service could add a creative way to break up your long journey from the US to Taipei. You can break up the trip with a stopover in Hawaii before continuing on the 5,000+ mile journey to Taiwan.

How do I get Hawaiian miles?

Hawaiian Airlines is a Membership Rewards transfer partner at a 1:1 ratio. If you have Starpoints (through Starwood Preferred Guest), you can transfer in increments of 20,000 and receive 5,000 bonus miles, a nifty 25% bonus. It’s important to note the delay when transferring Starpoints. It can sometimes take 1-2 weeks for the Hawaiian miles to post to your account, meaning the award you really want might not necessarily be there when the transfer is finally complete.

To really turbocharge your Hawaiian miles balance, there are two credit card signup bonuses you can take advantage of. Both Bank of America and Bank of Hawaii offer cards with a 35k bonus: 20k is awarded after first purchase, and you earn 15k more after spending $1,000 in the first four months of card membership.

FlyerTalkers have discovered that you can get both cards. The Bank of Hawaii card can be found here and the Bank of America version here. For our complete breakdown of the signup bonuses and the other benefits that come with the card, check out the Best Credit Card Offers by Absolute Value.

What other international cities does Hawaiian fly from Honolulu? This could be a great double vacation opportunity.

Check out the chart below to see which cities Hawaiian serves from their main hub at Honolulu International Airport.

The other route I am watching with great interest in the coming Honolulu to Auckland route.

Recap

Hawaii ‘s recently announced expansion to Taiwan is an interesting development for Asian travelers. You could theoretically include a long stopover in Hawaii before continuing on directly to Taipei–no other airline offers that option.

Redeeming Hawaiian miles for this award, though, this probably won’t make sense for those in the continental US. Hawaiian’s award chart combines regions to create a more expensive award ticket. You are far better off spending United or US Airways miles if you want to get to Taiwan from the US. If you truly want to fly on Hawaiian, though, you will spend far less using AAdvantage miles to book your award ticket.

Reader @bitachu gave me an incredible tip the other day–at trivia night in Honolulu of all places–check out Virgin America’s award chart for flights on Hawaiian Airlines.

Basically the chart is incredible and presents huge opportunity for mainlanders and Hawaiians alike whether they want to go to Hawaii or beyond.

Instead of just listing the chart, they have you type in your departure and arrival cities and spit out the number of Elevate points you need to book the award.

Nonetheless, I think I’ve figured out the underlying chart. Basically, it’s a chart-plus-segment mechanism. Every segment adds to the cost of the award in much the same way British Airways Avios awards work. But instead of being distance based, it is region based.

Here’s what I’ve worked out:

Virgin America’s chart for redemptions on Hawaiian Airlines

Each cell shows the oneway/roundtrip award price in Virgin America Elevate points for a direct flight from the region listed along the top to/from Hawaii. Example: JFK to Honolulu is 20k/35k oneway/roundtrip in economy class. JFK-HNL is 45k/80k in first class for a oneway/roundtrip.

As you can see, the oneway price is 50-60% of the roundtrip price for all regions and for both economy and first class redemptions.

Each connection adds to the price. Example: interisland flights cost 3k each as you can see on the chart. That means that JFK to Maui would be 23k/41k oneway/roundtrip in economy class because you have to route JFK to Honolulu, Honolulu to Maui (20k/35k + 3k/6k).

All Hawaiian Airlines flights–except interisland flights–fly through either Oahu (HNL) or Maui (OGG). Here are wikipedia’s lists of Hawaiian’s flights to/from those airports, so you can figure out if you can take advantage of the direct-flight prices listed above.

Hawaiian’s flights to/from OGG
Hawaiian’s flights to/from HNL

I define the regions like so:

  • Hawaii: Honolulu, Kahului, Lihue, Kona, Hilo
  • Western US: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle
  • JFK: New York
  • Japan/Korea: Fukuoka, Osaka, Sapporo, Seoul, Tokyo
  • Aus/Phillipines: Brisbane, Sydney, Manila
  • South Pacific: Pago Pago, Pape’ete

This chart is incredible

In my post The Cheapest Ways to Get to Hawaii, I noted that British Airways Avios can get you to Hawaii for only 25k Avios roundtrip on American and Alaska flights from the west coast. This chart gets you to Hawaii from more places in the western US for 20k points roundtrip.

The cheapest way to take an interisland flight was 5k United miles. It is now 3k Virgin America points.

The cheapest way to get from the US to Australia was 75k American miles roundtrip. It is now 65k Elevate points, and you can stop one or both ways in Hawaii.

Asia is now insanely cheap for Hawaiians at 35k roundtrip, down from 50k United miles.

Of course, at MileValue, we aren’t fooled by the headline number since all miles and points have different values. Virgin America’s loyalty program is basically a fixed-value program when redeeming for Virgin America flights. The Points Guy finds that you get about 1.6 – 2.3 cents per point from such redemptions depending on the exact flight and route.

Let’s assume a 2 cent value for Virgin points. All the deals I mentioned above are still better deals than the next best deal, using mile valuations from the Mile Value Leaderboard.

Other Notes about the Chart

If your award would require an interisland flight, only the economy price is listed online. Virgin America seems unable to book Hawaiian Airlines first class on domestic flights (though I believe that first class exists on the flights.)

I assume that you could actually fly the long segment in first and add on the interisland flight in economy class for the sum of the price of those two flights. I haven’t booked any Virgin America/Hawaiian awards, though, so I can’t say for sure.

Generally, booking first class awards on the Virgin American/Hawaiian chart is probably not worth it. Hawaiian’s first class product on all flights that leave Hawaii is a recliner with 42″ of pitch. That means 4″ more leg room than most domestic first class. I would not pay more than double the economy class price for that type of seat.

By contrast, economy class on Hawaiian is awesome. As they proudly announce, Hawaiian is the only domestic carrier to provide free meals (!) with a free glass of wine (!!). I just flew Hawaiian from Los Angeles to Honolulu last week; the pasta and cake were quite tasty, and the price was right.

cheesy pasta, chocolate cake, salad, and a glass of wine

The A330s offer an individual screen with movies and TV for purchase. And the crew has more Aloha spirit than your average economy crew. For these reasons, I would look to redeem Elevate points for Hawaiian economy awards not Hawaiian first.

On all redemptions, the out-of-pocket cost will be only government taxes, which are estimated relatively accurately on Virgin’s site.

How to Get Virgin America Points

There are three main ways to get Virgin America points to take advantage of its favorable chart for Hawaiian redemptions.

Like all airlines, you can earn points by flying butt-in-seat miles. Virgin points are earned at a rate of 5 per $ on your base fare. They are not earned the way that legacy-carrier miles are earned–based on the distance of your paid flights’ routings.

Butt-in-seat is probably only viable for people who live near LAX and SFO–Virgin’s hubs.

The easiest way for most people is probably the Virgin America Visa Signature card from Barclay’s.

The card comes with 20k Elevate points on first purchase. That’s enough points for a roundtrip direct flight from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, or Seattle to Hawaii.

Or if you live in Hawaii, it’s enough for a roundtrip to Tahiti or Samoa or almost seven interisland flights.

The card comes with a very low $49 annual fee, which is more than offset by the $150 annual companion ticket discount code. And unlike a lot of companion ticket discounts, this one is actually easy to use. It is valid on any roundtrip published airfare, purchased 14 days in advance as long as the cardholder is on the itinerary.

Finally, the card is issued by Barclay’s, which is great, since you can get it in addition to other offers from the other banks with more rewards cards. And it has no minimum spend to get the points, which is great if your spending is being spread thin by the ever-growing minimum spends on most cards.

I should also mention that 20k is the highest bonus I’ve ever seen on this card–the application page notes it is double the usual bonus–so I am not expecting a bigger bonus any time soon.

Application Link: 20k Virgin America Visa Signature Card

The last option to get Elevate points is through a transfer from Membership Rewards. AMEX points transfer at a 2:1 rate, meaning 2,000 Membership Rewards gets 1,000 Virgin America points.

 That means that if you are transferring in Membership Rewards, you basically need to double the prices in the award chart. That takes the deals from a great deal to a bad deal in most cases.

In November, there was a 50% transfer bonus to from Membership Rewards to Virgin America, which made the transfer rate 4:3. At that rate, you only need to increase the award-chart prices by 33%, which leaves some good deals.

Virgin America is not a transfer partner of SPG.

How to Book

Most Virgin America reps have probably never booked a Hawaiian award, so you should do your own research first. You can search Hawaiian’s award space on aa.com.

I would recommend using this technique because AA has an easy-to-use award calendar and because the space AA can book should exactly match the space Virgin America can book.

You can even search only Hawaiian flights by unchecking the boxes for other airlines on the search results.

I would not recommend using hawaiianair.com to search because sometimes the space available to Hawaiian Miles members does not match the space available to partners.

When you’ve found the space, call 877.FLY.VIRGIN (877.359.8474) to book.

Recap

Virgin America has an incredible award chart for its partnership with Hawaiian Airlines. Economy class to/from Hawaii starts at 20k points roundtrip from the western US. Oneway awards cost 50-60% of roundtrip awards.

People with Virgin America miles have a new cheapest way to get to Hawaii in a fantastic economy class product. If you don’t have any miles, consider the Virgin America credit card or a Membership Rewards transfer.

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Update from Scott: I’m finding $382 all in roundtrip now too:

According to this thread in the ever popular Mileage Run forum on FlyerTalk, Hawaiian Airlines is running a fare sale from New York  to Honolulu. Hawaiian Airlines operates a direct flight from JFK to Honolulu, and we are seeing fares for as low as $435 for this direct flight.

There appears to be only one stretch of days in early December and great availability in January and February.

What’s the best way to hunt for eligible dates?

I always use the ITA Software Matrix. It’s one of the most useful tools to search for available flights and low fares. First, go to matrix.itasoftware.com.

Type in “JFK” as your home airport and “HNL” as your destination. Then click “Advanced Routing Codes” right below this box. Enter “HA” in both routing boxes. This ensures that only Hawaiian Airlines flights will be displayed. It will give you a better overall sense of which dates the low fare direct flight is available.

I also prefer to search certain length trips one month at a time for the lowest fares, so use that section of the form by selecting “See calendar of lowest fares.” I’ve asked it to search for 3-8 night itineraries leaving in the month of January.

After you click “Search” you will be taken to a calendar displaying the lowest fare departing each day. You can ignore fares in light blue (though $447 is still a great price). You are targeting the $435 days in bold orange.

Clicking on a particular date will bring up the lowest prices departing on that date and returning 3-8 days later. Once you have found a comfortable length of time, click to display the flight.

Remember that the ITA Matrix is only for finding airfares. You don’t have the ability to book directly through this site. Write down the dates and flight numbers that work for you, and book directly through Hawaiianairlines.com.

I don’t live in New York, why is this of value to me?

Flights to Hawaii from the East Coast rarely fall below $600, and I’ve never seen Hawaiian market this flight for lower than $480. They are clearly trying to fill planes during the traditional offpeak travel months in Hawaii.

If you live on the East Coast, there are numerous low cost ways to get to New York, but Hawaii tends to be much more expensive. If your home airport is less than 1,151 miles from New York, British Airways Avios can open up quite a few doors for you.

As Scott wrote in his post, How Much Are Avios Worth? The Value of British Airways Avios, short haul domestic tickets on American Airlines can be booked extremely inexpensively using Avios. Flights under 650 miles cost 4,500 Avios. Flights 651-1151 miles cost 7,500 Avios.

I was able to piece together a great 9,000 Avios itinerary to reach New York. Trust me, I’m very tempted to book a quick January vacation to Hawaii! For more reading on how to put together flights using Avios, check out Scott’s post, Free First Class Next Month: Using BA.com for oneworld Awards.

Just keep in mind that if you are booking separate tickets to New York and then to Honolulu, you should leave ample space for weather or mechanical delays. Hawaiian’s JFK-Honolulu flight leaves at 9:00 a.m. each morning. It might make sense to fly up the night before and spend the night at an airport hotel just to be safe.

Does it make sense to purchase this fare as a mileage run?

Unfortunately not. Unless they are intra-island or international flights, American Airlines and Delta, both Hawaiian partners, don’t even allow you to credit Hawaiian operated flights to their frequent flyer programs. At approximately 4.4 cents per mile, a trip like this makes much more sense as a pure vacation anyway.

I think I would rather save the cash. Are there any good award ticket options to Hawaii right now?

Actually, yes. As I mentioned earlier, the first third of the year is typically considered offseason for travel to Hawaii. American Airlines actually offers MileSAAver Offpeak awards to Hawaii from January 12-March 8. Roundtrip economy awards are only 35,000 miles, 5,000 miles less than the other three legacy carriers.

Doing a brief search in January, I found spotty availability from New York to Honolulu for two passengers in economy.

However, travel from Hawaii back to New York showed award space galore!

Keep in mind that American allows you to book oneway awards for half the cost of a roundtrip ticket. You could actually piece together an itinerary with the outbound leg on Hawaiian and the return leg using American miles.

Recap

Low fares to Hawaii from the West Coast happen pretty frequently. In fact, Scott wrote about a recent sale here. Those of us on the East Coast are much less fortunate. When Hawaiian advertises a sale, especially a direct flight from New York, for under $500, you should take notice. This is clearly a play to fill seats during the typical slow January/February travel months, but if you have the flexibility, you should definitely take advantage.

If the cash outlay is still too much, consider piecing together a oneway award using American Airlines miles. There is good offpeak availability from Honolulu to New York.

Also, don’t dismiss this fare sale because you don’t live in the New York area. Everyone on the East Coast should take note of these deeply discounted itineraries. There are plenty of easy ways to get up to New York and join in the party. If an early year vacation is on your radar, these prices seem like a good excuse to hit up Hawaii.

Four months ago I broke the news that you could redeem Hawaiian Miles for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class without fuel surcharges, thus saving thousands of dollars. See Redeem for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class without Surcharges.

You still can, but the party may be over. The old chart was a solid value and simple to figure out.

The new chart, hat tip to Gary, is much worse.

I don’t have any information on what North America East and West are. But this is a huge devaluation since the west coast to London went from 100k to 160k.

Not many people had 100k Hawaiian Miles anyway, so this was mainly a play on transferring Membership Rewards. To that end, the only way I see this deal becoming viable again is through a Membership Rewards transfer bonus to Hawaiian Miles, which I don’t think has ever happened.

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