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How Do I Get To Hawaii Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

by on November 24, 2013 · 11 comments

in Chase, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Hawaii, Korean Air, Sunday Reader Questions, Ultimate Rewards, United, Video Blog Post, Virgin Atlantic

TPG reader Ruben tweeted me @thepointsguy to ask:

“What is the cheapest way to fly First Class from Los Angeles to Hawaii through – or with a transfer from – Chase Ultimate Rewards points?”

Ruben tweeted me this week and asked what the best way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points ,such as those earned with the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus, to travel first class to Hawaii from Los Angeles is. I am going to broaden the question a little bit because Hawaii is a top destination especially as we get into winter, and there are a lot of ways to use your UR points to get there.

There are five main airline partners of Ultimate Rewards: United, Southwest, British Airways, Korean Air and Virgin Atlantic.

United Hawaii Chart

This is the current chart for United to Hawaii.

United currently charges 40,000 miles roundtrip in Economy, 80,000 Business Class, and 100,000 for First Class.

United New Hawaii

This is the new United chart for flights to Hawaii.

Starting February 1, 2014, however, that Economy award will jump to 45,000 miles. This is still a decent option since United has good availability and I actually flew an award ticket last year from Maui to San Francisco to New York. The Hawaii routes tend to be flown by the old 757′s, it’s not the nicest quality plane, but sometimes they do run international planes to Hawaii. However, United has low fees and good availability so that is a decent option.

Korean Hawaiian Chart

The Korean Airlines chart for Hawaii.

One option you may not be considering is Korean Airlines, but they are SkyTeam too  so you could fly Delta…if Delta ever released any low level availability…and the great thing is that Korean only charges 30,000 miles roundtrip in Economy, and 60,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class, beating most US airline award chart redemption levels.

Korean SkyTeam Hawaii

The Korean SkyTeam chart.

Korean also teams up with Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines, both of which also have tons of routes to the islands from the Mainland, so you have a lot of options.

Korean also teams up with Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines.

You can book Alaska Airlines’ flights through them.

The only annoying thing is that Korean Airlines doesn’t make it easy to book partner awards online. In fact, they don’t make booking any awards easy – but if you have the patience, it can save you a lot of UR points!

Korean Airlines has a lot of useful partners.

Korean Airlines has a lot of useful partners.

Southwest is another airline partner but they don’t fly to Hawaii so don’t look there, although you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Rapid Rewards for a cheap positioning flight on Southwest to get to your point of departure if you need to book an award from a city where you’re not based.

British Airways is another good option as well. It is part of Oneworld, which includes American and also Alaska, but they have a distance-based award chart, so for people in LA, it is great as that is only 25,000 miles from the West Coast to Hawaii on nonstop flights. If you go Business Class it will be 75,000 miles, though, since it will be classed as a First Class unless its a three-class plane, so just watch out for that.

Hawaiian UR JFK

Virgin Atlantic are partners with Hawaiian Airlines.

Another option is Virgin Atlantic, as they team up with Hawaiian Airlines as well. They will charge you 40,000 miles for Economy and 80,000 miles for Business Class. It’s a bit arduous since you have to call in to book and the airline has some pretty draconian award rules, so this can be a bit of a slog and I would probably avoid going this route.

LAX-OGG using Ultimate Rewards.

LAX-OGG using Ultimate Rewards.

Another option is to just buy the ticket using Chase Ultimate Rewards through their travel portal using their pay with points feature. Chase will let you redeem points at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece, which can be a good deal if airfares are low enough that you’re using fewer points than you would if you were trying to redeem an award through an airline – and you also earn miles and elite credit for the flights you buy using pay with points since it’s just like purchasing airline tickets rather than booking awards.

However, looking at flights roundtrip from LAX-Maui now through the end of the year, airfares are as high as $1,700 in economy, which would cost you 137,000 points or more, so I would probably hold off on this option till airfares go back down. Granted, you do earn miles on those trips, but for the huge difference, books an awards saving for 60,000 points through Korean, then I think you should look at that as well.

The bottom line is Chase points are extremely valuable because they give you a lot of options for where to transfer your points and then what partners of partners you can book awards on – giving you a ton of flexibility to work with if you take the time to explore your options. Good luck getting to Hawaii!

For more information on Chase and booking flights with Ultimate Rewards points, see these posts:

Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Sapphire Preferred 40,000 Points Sign Up Bonus + 5,000 Points With Authorized User
The Ultimate Guide To Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfers
Chase Ultimate Rewards Adds Virgin Atlantic As New Airline Transfer Partner
Upgrading On Korean Air Using Ultimate Rewards Points

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  • Bob

    My preferred strategy when it comes to award flights to Hawaii is to combine it with flights on United that I plan to take either earlier or later elsewhere internationally, using their stopover rule. For instance I’ll make a plan to fly to Europe sometime after returning from Hawaii, and to Asia sometime before the flight, so may make a booking on United.com as EWR -> NRT -> EWR -> HNL and then separately a booking as HNL -> EWR -> CDG -> EWR, and the entire hawaii flight becomes free.

  • Hawaiidan

    I live in Hawaii and frequently fly back and forth to LAX. I never use miles because it is a mileage hog. That is the charge to get here in miles is way over the top and a waste. I use a min of 3.5 cents value for my united miles (even though with award accelerator I can get them for 2.5 cents)
    Given that United would charge me 40,000 miles rt that equates to a $1400 cost at 3.5 cents@ Currently I can get fare between$ 560 and $780 mid week and not around holidays, What that means is I am spending $1400. in value for a $700 ticket.. I am paying double ! I use international rides for my miles. because of the extreme value. Example: Hawaii to Hong Kong rt it 75,000 mi in lie flat sleeper business/first with UA That’s$ 2625 the regular air fare I is$ 7300 meaning I am saving $4675 as opposed to loosing $700
    Moral miles to Hawaii is mileage suicide … don’t be tempted pony the dough
    I believe on a business trans pacific flight you can get a stop over one way. So Why not fly to Japan or China spend over night and fly back with a stopover in Hawaii? I used to fly to Tokyo from SFO via Korea! spend the night in Korea and then back to Tokyo… $300 cheaper than SFO to NRT!
    A caution on UAL there will be a significant change in equipment next year the 757 will be gone and replaced by 737-800′s.. even smaller and further reduce the seat availability for first and coach.
    First class to Hawaii is a joke on all carriers.. old business class seats 15 years old… Gone are the lux meals and plush seats.
    I presently get a coach ticket and buy an economy plus seat…rt to $180 and get more leg room and comfort than any First class seat…. Again do mot waste your money or miles on Hawaiian first class ( USA, UAL, AA, DL HA) all bad news There is one UAL IAH to HNL and EWR-HNL that has lie flat new business but they want extreme miles.

  • Ann

    What’s the fees like on Korean air?

  • Lesli

    I am glad someone asked this question because I have been meaning you e-mail you. I went looking for my award with all my points I have racked up for my trip to Hawaii and I could not find a round trip saver award for the 40k each way in business/first. The only awards on United that show up are the 80k each way 160k round trip. I even checked the flight and at the time they were empty. Now I see that maybe 5 seats have been booked, but what do I do in this situation? I only have 160k and I was hoping that would take my son and I to Hawaii and back.

  • Celia Miller

    Hopefully this question is somewhat related:

    What is a good option for buying an economy ticket with cash through Ultimate rewards for U.S. Mainland to Hawaii/Asia RT and then using UR points for a business class upgrade?

    IOW…what kind of points range are we talking for that option?

  • Traveler

    I am new to chase points…. 1. Do I need to transfer the points to Korean air first in order to use them to Hawaii? 2. If I transfer them to Korean but there are no flights that work is it possible to refund? Thanks in advance!

  • Jlars

    I just got back from Maui on a R/T from MSP. Delta 757 via LAX. First class is like a CATTLE car, cannot imagine what economy is like. Never again on Delta!!! (especially at 135K miles each) We have been there many times on NWA 747, and previously, combo NWA/Delta codeshare where we thought there was a decent value, but that ship has sailed!!
    Is there a decent 1st class trip to Maui (OGG) on any carrier anymore. I understand Hawaiian is good, but seems like MSP isn’t a good departure option for that.
    Any thoughts on AA or United would help direct points/miles to the appropriate airline. Preferably a direct flight mainland to OGG.
    Any thoughts/ideas appreciated.

  • Hawaiidan

    To answer NO.. not to Maui. Hawaiian is the worst of the worst their first class is equal to other airlines economy plus. And their coach seats are even worse…so the give you a meal…whoopee. All flights ftom the mainland fly to HNL ant then take a 717 commuter.
    If you fly UAL from SFO or LAX to HNL, they are now flying 767-400 ER with business first seats that are new lie flat. You will get better seat avail. flying to Honolulu and cheaper. Then take a comute to whatever island

  • Hawaiidan

    My friend…. book in economy plus as all except the 767-400 ers will be either 737-800 ot 757-200 and the awful 757-300 All with almost zero recline seat with 2 inches more pitch than coach….do not waste
    Best deal is buy a econ + seat and save… That’s what I do.

  • Z

    Is it possible to redeem my Skypass miles on an one-way Skyteam award travel from Central Africa to USA? I plan to transfer at AMS and have a stopover at EZE. Thanks for any thought/idea!

  • Huhwhat

    Seriously, how do you overlook the most obvious question? How do we book using a pass through? I thought that wasn’t permitted?

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