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Travel Strategies for Hawaii residents- Hawaiian Airlines

Sorry for the break in posting- got pretty busy for a few weeks.¬† Now back to normal, ready to discuss Hawaiian Airlines ūüôā

Hawaiian is the big name in travel to in¬†the islands (duh).¬† They fly nice planes around the islands and to/from Asia, Australia, the South Pacific,¬†and¬†North America.¬†Once again, in keeping with the focus of the blog, I’ll detail the nonstop routes to and from Canada and the US mainland on Hawaiian (HA) metal:

  • from Honolulu (HNL): Las Vegas, NV¬†(LAS), Los Angeles, CA¬†(LAX), New York, NY¬†(JFK), Oakland, CA (OAK), Phoenix, AZ (PHX), Portland, OR (PDX), Sacramento, CA (SMF), San Diego, CA (SAN), San Francisco, CA (SFO), San Jose, CA (SJC), Seattle, WA (SEA).
  • from Kahului (OGG): ¬†Los Angeles, CA¬†(LAX), Oakland, CA (OAK), San Francisco, CA (SFO) beginning Nov 2014, San Jose, CA (SJC), Seattle, WA (SEA).
  • from Kailua-Kona (KOA): Los Angeles, CA¬†(LAX), Oakland, CA (OAK).¬† Both of these are summer seasonal routes.
  • from Lihue (LIH): Los Angeles, CA (LAX), Oakland, CA (OAK).¬† Both of these are summer seasonal routes.¬†

OK- travel strategies for kama’aina on Hawaiian Airlines!¬† All residents know that HawaiianMiles are fairly easy to accumulate locally.¬† There is a¬†co-branded credit card, miles given for shopping at Foodland, and miles-earning shopping events at malls around the state.¬†¬†This one is coming up at Windward Mall, and they have events at Kahala Mall and Ward Centers, too.¬† The standard¬†mileage-earning opportunities apply as well: there is a shopping portal, partnerships w/hotels and rental car companies, a dining program,¬†and even a MilesFinder toolbar¬†you can¬†install.

Two HawaiianMiles¬†features I haven’t seen too often in other frequent flyer programs:

  1. you can earn HawaiianMiles for processing a travel visa
  2. HawaiianMiles program members get 40% off checked baggage fees on Neighbor Island flights
  3. you can share your miles with anyone: the receiver must hold a personal Hawaiian Airlines credit or debit card card, but the giver just has to be someone with a valid HawaiianMiles account.

So you can earn miles a bunch of ways…now how to spend them?¬† Here’s what you need to fly to/from the mainland on HA metal, along with the guide to the different Award types:

One Way Flight Awards Coach SuperSaver Coach Saver* Coach Flex First Class Saver First Class Flex
North America To/From Hawaii
North America‚ÄďHawaii 20,000 30,000 40,000 40,000 80,000
North America‚ÄďHawaii Upgrade 25,000 50,000

All awards are one way flight awards
* Coach Class Saver level awards may be purchased online only

Hawaiian Airlines Awards

  • SuperSaver – the lowest mileage Coach flight award.
  • Coach Saver– available when SuperSaver awards are not. Coach Saver awards may be purchased online only.
  • Coach Flex– can be redeemed for travel on Hawaiian Airlines with twice the miles of a SuperSaver award when both SuperSaver and Saver award seats are not available.
  • First/Business Saver – the lowest mileage First/Business Class flight award. This award does not have to be purchased online.
  • First/Business Flex – can be redeemed for travel on Hawaiian Airlines with twice the miles of a First/Business Saver award when a First/Business Saver award is not available.

Partner airlines include ANA (All-Nippon Airways), American Airlines, China Airlines, JetBlue, Korean Air, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Virgin Australia.  Of these, only American and JetBlue (UPDATED 4/7/15: and Virgin America) offer routes to/from the mainland:

American Airlines

Roundtrip Award Award Mileage
Economy Business First
1 Roundtrip between North America and Hawaii 45,000 90,000 110,000
1 Roundtrip between North America and Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America; within the Caribbean; between the Caribbean and South America 35,000 70,000 85,000
1 Roundtrip between North America and South America 60,000 120,000 150,000
1 Roundtrip between North America and Europe 60,000 120,000 150,000
*Awards for the routes listed above must be on flights operated by American Airlines only. Awards may not be issued for flights operated by American Airline’s partners. Awards on American Airlines flights must be based on roundtrip travel only. All are subject to change with or without notice. Note: Bolding is mine: when using HawaiianMiles on AA, you must have a roundtrip itinerary.¬† To be able to book one-ways, you can use American AAdvantage miles on Hawaiian flights.¬† Definitely use AAdvantage miles if you can- the Coach Saver RT price will be only 35K miles as opposed to 45K HawaiianMiles as shown above. [IMPORTANT re my note: as of 9/1/15, AAdvantage miles cannot be redeemed for Hawaiian Airlines flight to/from the US mainland.]


Estimated JetBlue
Ticket Value
Award Mileage
From To From To
0 99 ‚ÄĒ 10,000
100 179 15,000 20,000
180 259 25,000 30,000
260 339 35,000 40,000
340 419 45,000 50,000
*Miles required for redemption will vary based on ticket value. Chart above shows an ESTIMATED mileage redemption amount.  Note: the only flight you can really use this benefit on is the nonstop from HNL to JFK.  The only way to calculate how many TrueBlue points you will need for the fare is to search for the dollar cost, call JetBlue directly to book the flight (no online booking on partner awards), and then expect to pony up 1 point for every 1.2 cents of value, which kind of contradicts the chart above, but seems to be the norm for Hawaiian flights on JetBlue.  Not a good value unless you are swimming in TrueBlue points.
One-way HNL-JFK on JetBlue, random date

One-way HNL-JFK on JetBlue, random date.  This would likely cost ~42,500 TrueBlue points (509 divided by .012)

So, using HawaiianMiles on HA metal and American is pretty straightforward.¬† It’s nice that one can fly Hawaiian flights and credit them to America/JetBlue, and vice versa. Decent flexibility there.¬† Unfortunately, they don’t fly any routes to Canada at this time.¬† We’ll have to settle for WestJet’s Vancouver nonstop.

Saving money on Hawaiian flights (mostly with the co-branded credit card issued by Bank of Hawaii/Barclays Bank):
  • ¬†Primary Cardholders are eligible to earn a one-time 50% off discount toward one published roundtrip coach fare for a companion upon new account approval and is good for 13 months from the time the credit card account is open. Note: must be used on HA metal, no partner airlines.
  • Primary Cardholders are also eligible to earn a one hundred ($100) discount off one coach companion ticket on each credit card account anniversary upon payment of annual fee and is good for 12 months from account anniversary.

On the non-Hawaiian CC holder side:

  • they frequently have great deals on West Coast travel.¬† There is a special price on the San Francisco-Kahului¬†flight for travel on selected dates in January- $398 roundtrip!¬† Read the wording on the specials carefully ¬†though, most are non valid in both directions.¬† This special fare, for example, is only good when the travel originates from San Francisco.¬† You can sign up for Hawaiian fare alerts here.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest members can get special fares (usually a flat 5% off) most flights.
  • You can get $1 (yes, just $1) back when booking Hawaiian flights through ebates.
  • some local employers also offer discounts: HGEA, Air Force Association, and I’m sure many others.
  • there are also constant offers of contest to win HawaiianMiles, like the one HMSA currently has.
On a personal note, the logo and brand colors on Hawaiian appeal to me.  Just like the iconic Eskimo on the tail of an Alaska Airlines plane, the Hawaiian lady on the tail of an HA plane gives me the warm and fuzzies.  While I personally abhor the smell of flowers and hate receiving lei, there is nothing more whimsical than giant versions of common items:
You can barely make out the huge lei on the nose of the plane.  Photo from airlinereporter.com

You can barely make out the huge lei on the nose of the plane. Photo from airlinereporter.com

Any questions on Hawaiian Airlines?


Strategies for Hawaii residents- Alaska Airlines

Let’s face it- Hawaii is an extremely popular destination.¬† Most travel blogs love to highlight how people can get TO “paradise” for that dream vacation using mistake fares or miles.¬† Inevitably, these people live near an airline hub with plenty of competition that keeps prices low, or they are redeeming miles for only 1 or 2 people.¬† Guess what, everyone?¬† Almost 1 million people live in the Hawaiian Islands,¬†we’re limited in airports (no driving 1-2 hours to get a better fare), and we tend to travel in family groups.¬† Those tips don’t work for us.

So I’ll talk about traveling FROM¬†Hawaii, and using any benefit that is available to keep costs low.¬† The title of this post indicates “strategies for Hawaii residents,” but really they apply to any travel originating from the Islands.¬† To date, I haven’t found any permanent airline/miles discounts specifically for Kama’aina (residents), though if anyone knows any I’ve love to take advantage of them!

Note: in keeping with the focus on my blog, I’ll only discuss travel options to the US mainland, South America and Europe.¬† There are many worthwhile destinations outside of those regions though, especially to Asia from Hawaii.

Let’s start off by discussing Alaska Airlines.¬† Alaska flies 25 non-stops on Alaska Airlines metal (AS)¬†from the Hawaiian Islands: 7 from Honolulu-Oahu (HNL), 8 from Kahului-Maui (OGG), 5 from Kona-Hawaii (KOA),¬†and 5 from Lihue-Kauai (LIH).¬† Here is a list of nonstop destinations by island:

  • from HNL: Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, San Diego, San Jose
  • from OGG: Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, Seattle, San Diego, San Jose
  • from KOA: Anchorage, Oakland, Portland, Seattle,¬†San Jose, San Diego (beginning 3/5/2015)
  • from LIH: Oakland, Portland, Seattle, San Diego, San Jose

Of course, after landing in any of these cities you can connect to hundreds of other destinations.  On our recent east coast trip, we flew to Seattle from Honolulu, and continued to Newark (EWR) from Seattle. Note that you may have to have an overnight layover if you are making a connection due to the time zone differences and limitations in the flight schedules.  We did an overnight layover in SEA on the way to EWR, but had both flights in one day on the way back to HNL.

Alaska has some spiffy new planes and seats, and most of our recent flights did indeed have the USB/115v power ports at each seat.  Their onboard food is OK, though I prefer to bring my own snacks from home, or get a Caesar sandwich from Great American Bagel Bakery at SEA to eat on the plane, yum.

Alaska’s frequent flyer program is called Mileage Plan.¬† This airline is¬†a bit unique in that it is not part of any alliances such as oneworld or Star Alliance.¬† You can, however, redeem Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in other programs, including American Airlines, AeroMexico, Air France, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Fiji Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Pen Air, Qantas, and Ravn¬†Alaska.¬† You can also book on Cathay Pacific and LAN, though those awards are not bookable¬†online-¬†you have to call in.¬† So there are many options to redeem if you have Alaska miles!¬† Obviously, many more nonstops¬†from the islands open up when taking these partner airlines into account- too many to list.¬† It can get overwhelming.

First, let’s figure out how many miles you need to get from Hawaii to the mainland and back, on AS metal:

Award Type One Way Round Trip
Money and Miles – 50% Discount up to $100 10,000 10,000
Money and Miles – 50% Discount up to $200 20,000 20,000
Coach 20,000 / 30,000 40,000 / 60,000
Refundable Coach 40,000 80,000
First 40,000 80,000
Refundable First 80,000 160,000

And here’s how many you need for American Airlines, which allows one-way award redemptions: UPDATE: for clarity, even though the chart below only states, “North America to Hawaii,” the mileage required is the same from Hawaii to North America as well.

Class of Service Region One-Way
Award Level
Award Level
Coach North America to Hawaii 22,500 45,000
Business/First North America to Hawaii 47,500 95,000

And finally, here’s how many you need for Delta Air Lines, which DOES¬†allow one-way award redemptions, but charges the same # of miles as though they were round-trip redemptions when all the flights are on Delta: UPDATE: if one of the flights in your itinerary is on AS metal, the mileage required could be lower.

Class of Service Region One-Way/Round-Trip
Award Level
Coach Lower 48 U.S., Alaska, or Canada to Hawaii
for tickets issued through May 5, 2014
Coach Lower 48 U.S., Alaska, or Canada to Hawaii
for tickets issued on or after May 6, 2014
First/Business Lower 48 U.S., Alaska, or Canada to Hawaii 80,000

So, you’re seeing what I’m seeing, right? For a family of four to get to the mainland, you need at least 80,000 miles if you are using the Money and Miles option, or 160,000 if just using miles!¬† It seems completely out of range for most folks.¬† Unless you travel for work and are able to keep the oodles of miles you earn (not me), you need another strategy.

A while back, I stumbled across information about the Companion Fare benefit for Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardholders.¬† It’s an annual benefit in the form of a discount code.¬† Cardholders receive a code in their Mileage Plan accounts entitling them to pay just $99 plus applicable taxes for another passenger on the same reservation.¬† Caveats: Trips must be round-trip, in coach/economy, all on AS metal, cannot be combined with any other discount codes (including Customer Service credits) and the Companion must have the same itinerary as the cardholder.¬† So, my husband and I both applied and were approved for the cards.¬† Here’s how it worked for us as cardholders,¬†using the children as our Companions:

  1. We researched and made a note of the itinerary we wanted, including flight #s and times.¬† Let’s say the¬†base fare¬†for 1 adult was $1000, plus $100 in taxes, for a total of $1100.
  2. I went online and¬†purchased tickets for just me and my daughter, and applied the discount code.¬† I would pay the $1000 for my base fare, the $100 in taxes for my ticket, $99 for my daughter’s base fare, and $100 for my daughter’s taxes.¬† Total: $1299.
  3. My husband went online and purchased tickets for himself and my son (same flight #s and times), again applying the discount code. Total for them: the same $1299.
  4. Once we had our tickets confirmed, I linked our reservations together so we would be bumped/moved or whatever as a group in case of delays or cancellations.
  5. Our total airfare cost in the example above would be $2598 instead of $4400, a savings of $1802 ūüôā¬† The cards have an annual fee of $75, so taking those into account, we saved $1652.¬† This more than makes up for the annual fee!
  6. Here’s my favorite part: these are considered regular tickets for the purposes of mileage-earning.¬† They are not “awards,” so they earned us about 10k miles each, getting us that much closer to our next flights.¬† I credited the flights to American Airlines, since we’ll be using AAdvantage miles¬†to fly back from Ecuador later this year.

Note: I do not receive any type of compensation from talking about airlines or credit cards. Do not get credit cards for any kind of benefit unless you are committed to paying off the balance in full every month- paying interest cancels out any kind of rewards you get.  I love this thread on FlyerTalk outlining the best offers for many airline and travel-related cards.