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Using JetBlue Points on Hawaiian Airlines

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Hawaii is a very popular destination for award travelers, and there are many ways to get there using your hard-earned points and miles. One option in particular is the state’s flagship carrier, Hawaiian Airlines. While the airline’s HawaiianMiles program is a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program, it also partners with other carriers when it comes to booking award flights. Today I want to go through exactly how to redeem JetBlue points for Hawaiian flights.

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If you want to travel to Hawaii, redeeming JetBlue points on Hawaiian Airlines can make it happen!

Let’s begin with a quick overview of Hawaiian Airlines and its frequent flyer program. At the time of writing, the carrier offers service throughout the islands as well as longer flights to North American and international gateways from all four major Hawaiian airports: Honolulu (HNL), Kahului (OGG), Lihue (LIH) and Kona (KOA). While the carrier is eying flights to Europe at some point, the most exciting development as of late is the new lie-flat business-class seats being rolled out across Hawaiian’s A330 fleet. These modified aircraft are first being deployed on flights from Honolulu (HNL) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT), Sydney (SYD), Brisbane (BNE) and Auckland (AKL), with service starting in December. Additional routes will be added throughout 2017 (including flights to North America) as all of the carrier’s A330s are retrofitted.

Redeeming JetBlue points

Hawaiian Airlines is one of JetBlue’s six airline partners, and you can find full details on the partnership on this page. In addition to being able to earn TrueBlue points on paid Hawaiian flights, you can also redeem your TrueBlue points for award flights. Note that this is a unique perk to Hawaiian Airlines; at the time of writing, no other JetBlue airline partner allows you to book award flights using TrueBlue points. Unfortunately, you must call 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) and have a JetBlue phone agent check for award inventory for you in order to book.

Based on my experience testing this process, it’s safe to say that there is some type of rhyme or reason to these redemptions, but it’s less than clear. When I first called, I told the phone rep that I was interested in redeeming my points for travel on Hawaiian Airlines and wanted to see how many points that would require. She put me on a brief hold and then connected me to another agent who said she was from the TrueBlue department. I definitely put her through the paces by asking about multiple routes on multiple dates, but here’s a sample of what I found for a handful of nonstop one-way flights:

New York (JFK) to Honolulu (HNL)

Date Flight Price TrueBlue Points
Needed
Booking Class Cents per Point
3/16 $403 35,600 B 1.13
3/22 $403 35,600 B 1.13
3/25 $428 36,500 B 1.17

Los Angeles (LAX) to Kahului (OGG)

Date Flight Price TrueBlue Points
Needed
Booking Class Cents per Point
3/19 $337 Not available N/A N/A
3/21 $294 27,400 V 1.07
3/24 $357 28,300 V 1.26

Kahului (OGG) to Lihue (LIH)

Date Flight Number Flight Price TrueBlue Points
Needed
Booking Class Cents per Point
3/18 211 $145 10,400 B 1.39
3/18 359 $104 10,400 B 1
3/18 209 $104 10,400 B 1

Sydney (SYD) to Honolulu (HNL)

Date Flight Price TrueBlue Points
Needed
Booking Class Cents per Point
3/22 $547.80 28,700 L 1.9
3/26 $547.80 28,700 L 1.9
4/19 $547.80 40,300 B 1.36

As you can see, these redemptions are all over the place. In some cases, you’re getting just 1 cent per point in value, but other award tickets offer almost double that amount, well above TPG’s most recent valuations (which peg TrueBlue points at 1-1.4 cents apiece). Here are some other interesting things to note:

1. These award flights book into paid fare classes.

At first I had to ask the phone agent to repeat herself when she told me the fare class for each award ticket I priced. In all cases, these fare classes correspond to paid economy tickets, and based on TrueBlue’s Hawaiian Airlines partnership page, many of them are eligible to earn points. Here’s the earning chart for flights from North America to Hawaii:

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-10-37-37-pm

Here’s a similar chart for intra-island flights:

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-10-37-48-pm

Here’s the earning chart for international destinations:

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-10-37-58-pm

As you can see, all of the flights (except the LAX-OGG ones) book into fare classes that are technically eligible to earn points. However, I haven’t found any data points to indicate that they actually do.

2. There appears to be no option for first/business class.

When I asked the phone agent about all of the flights above, she indicated that she only saw one type of award ticket: economy. It’s important to note that I deliberately selected dates and flights that had Saver level awards in both economy and first/business class to see if that made a difference. Sadly, it did not. When you redeem TrueBlue points for flights on Hawaiian Airlines, you’re restricted to economy class.

That being said…

3. You could look to upgrade your flights.

hawaiian business class featured
Hawaiian’s new business-class seat isn’t available with TrueBlue points, but you could look at upgrading your economy ticket.

Since these flights technically book into paid fare classes, you may have the option to upgrade your award ticket (something that typically isn’t allowed on mileage redemptions). For longer flights from North American and international destinations, you have two options:

  • Extra Comfort: These seats feature extra legroom, priority services and additional amenities and typically cost $125 each way.
  • First/business class: This can happen through the carrier’s Bid Up program, by redeeming miles at least 26 hours before departure or by paying the upgrade fee within 24 hours of your flight.

Remember that the HawaiianMiles program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, so you can transfer points earned on cards like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card to be redeemed for these upgrades.

4. There is a very loose connection between ticket price and the number of points you need.

As you saw above, these flights give you a redemption value ranging from 1 cent per point to 1.9 cents per point. Even within this range you’ll see a rough correlation between the cash price for a paid ticket and the number of TrueBlue points you’d need for an award ticket. The flights from JFK and LAX are probably the best indicators of this trend, as they have the following numbers:

  • A $294 flight for 27,400 points
  • A $357 flight for 28,300 points
  • A $403 flight for 35,600 points
  • A $428 flight for 36,500 points

Of course, that doesn’t account for the $337 flight that wasn’t available using TrueBlue points at all, but you can see that more expensive flights will typically require more points.

Bottom Line

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TrueBlue isn’t just for flights on JetBlue, but be sure to crunch the numbers and make sure you’re getting good value out of your Hawaiian Airlines redemption.

It’s always nice to have airline partnerships, as they open up additional earning and redemption options that wouldn’t be available otherwise. In this case, JetBlue only flies to the West Coast and doesn’t offer service to Hawaii. By allowing TrueBlue members to earn and redeem points on Hawaiian Airlines, the carrier gains access to several additional destinations in a very popular area. While these redemptions appear to be limited to coach and don’t necessarily offer a better deal than JetBlue-operated flights, they can still be a great option for getting to the Hawaiian Islands and keeping money in your pocket for the various activities you’ll find!

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

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