A few days ago, I wrote a blog entry on How to get $11 flights to Hawaii.
In a nutshell, unless you want to pay for a full fare, the alternative that I’ve used since 2014 was earning airline miles and points via credit card sign-up bonuses. That strategy has been my family’s ticket to Hawaii and to anywhere and everywhere in the world. We have not had to pay full fare for awhile now, all thanks to the generous credit card sign-up offers that abound in the US.
I do find the best value using Chase Ultimate Rewards, these are the points earned by using one of the credit cards that I highly recommend, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here for more info) As mentioned in my last blog, with the 50,000 bonus points that you get after you meet the minimum spend of $4,000, that’s good enough for two round trip tickets to Hawaii (or to different parts of the US…NYC, Boston, etc.). These have been ways I’ve booked our trips to Hawaii:
- Using Ultimate Rewards and booking with British Airways Avios;
- Using Ultimate Rewards and booking with Korean Airlines;
- Using Ultimate Rewards and booking with United Airlines
- Using HawaiianMiles.
What’s the difference? All points are created equal, right? NOPE
Let’s use this example. I need one roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Maui. As always, I will share my experience as to the ones I’ve looked up or have tried using before. Using the dates of February 3, returning on February 10, the spreadsheet below shows the four different airlines that could take you to Maui, the # of points needed, and the fees charged per ticket.
I do have Hawaiian Airline points but it would cost me 70K points for one ticket in February. No, thanks! Here’s the screenshot if I booked Hawaiian Airlines at 70,000 miles. I’ll definitely scratch this one off.
I also have points with United Airlines, but it will cost me 45K points per ticket. Here’s 45,000 miles required to fly United Airlines, I’d skip this!
But I found something else that’s better. I could transfer my points to British Airways or Korean Airlines and only use 25K per ticket and $11.20 in fees. Here’s the 25,000 points needed with British Airways. I like this. I’ve done this!!! Cha-China!
***Note, the 25,000 points works best when flying out of a West Coast State (CA, AZ, OR, WA).
So, how exactly do I book with British Airways?
First of all, one might wonder, “wait a minute, British Airways does not fly to Hawaii, do they?” Well, you’re right. However there’s a work around. I’ll give you my real-life experience. Back in June 2015, we decided to bring our entire family to Kauai. I had Chase Ultimate Reward points to use that was good enough to bring four of us to Hawaii. I also had Hawaiian Airlines miles that I planned on using for the other two in my party of six. At the time, I learned about using my Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring our points to British Airways (BA). How will BA fly us to Hawaii? Well, think of BA as the gateway, the conduit. We booked our seats via BA, but we actually flew American Airlines from LA to Kauai. American Airlines is a partner airline. This is what I had to do, and you can do it, too:
I checked BA for flight availability and found available seats. That was the point when I decided to transfer points to BA.
I transferred points from Chase Ultimate Rewards Account to my new BA Avios account. This was all done via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Website
Transferring the points transferred quite quickly. For me, it happened within a few minutes of me hitting the enter key
Once the points posted in to my BA Avios account, I was ready to book
a. Booking Online direct is at no extra cost
b. Or, I can call British Airways directly, and book.
In my case, I was having trouble with booking online, so I called them directly. BA waived the booking fee for me.
How far in advance can you book with British Airways?
This is what I learned. It all depends on the destination. For Hawaii, you can’t book TOO far in advance. Back in March 2016, a buddy of mine searched for rewards flight for a trip to Hawaii he was planning later in the Summer of 2016. He checked British Airways, but BA did not return any results for his search. I did learn that when it comes to booking Hawaii, BA could open up seats within 5-6 weeks of your planned trip, but it’s never guaranteed. I have been lucky…twice. In 2015, I planned a last-minute trip to Kauai for a mid-July travel timeframe. I started my search quite late (end of June), and I did find seats in the third week of July. Booked it. Fast forward to ten months later, I searched for tickets to Maui hoping for seats to come up around the 4th of July. I did my search at the end of May and was surprised to find six seats before the 4th of July. Again, this is only based on my experience. I did hear from other folks on Reddit that they’ve also experienced the same limitation with booking with British. In my case, since I tend to book at the last minute, it has always worked out for me.
What’s another option other than transferring points to British Airways?
Transferring your Chase Ultimate Reward points to Korean Airlines…you will then fly Delta. That’s the next segment, the next blog entry I will be writing.
Chase Sapphire Preferred where you can get 50,000 bonus points In the meantime, if paying $11.20 for a round trip ticket to Hawaii is enticing enough for you, you need to make sure you have one of the Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards. My suggestion, consider signing up for Chase Sapphire Preferred where you can get 50,000 bonus points that could get you 2 FREE round trip tickets to Hawaii as I’ve shown above.
Until the next blog entry. Mahalo.