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Hawaiian Airlines Series: Maximizing HawaiianMiles Airline Partner Awards

March 20, 2014
10 min read
Hawaiian Airlines Series: Maximizing HawaiianMiles Airline Partner Awards
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This is the fourth post of our series on using Hawaiian Airlines for those folks who might have just signed up for the new Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard. So far we have looked at award availability on Hawaiian’s Mainland routes, the new card’s share miles benefit, and whether it's worth converting HawaiianMiles to Hilton HHonors points. In this post we discuss how to maximize Hawaiian's airline partners.

Although, as previous posts in the series showed, Hawaiian offers pretty decent award availability between the Mainland US and Honolulu on its own flights, there are some examples where using HawaiianMiles on the program's airline partners can be a good idea. Though Hawaiian isn't part of any of the three major alliances, it has 8 airline partners including American and Virgin America where you can put your HawaiianMiles to use, and even some interesting options like Korean Air and ANA to help you get around other parts of the world. Here's the rundown of airline partners and when you might want to use HawaiianMiles on them.

Here is the list of Hawaiian's airline partners:

Hawaiian airline partners

ANA - All Nippon Airways
China Airlines
Korean Air
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia

And here is a link to the partner award charts. What's interesting to note is that some are zone-based, like American and China Airlines, and others are distance-based, like ANA and JetBlue, so it pays to know which is which and where the sweet spots are with its major partners.


Like ANA's own award chart, the one Hawaiian uses for the airline is distance-based, with two bands for within Japan and then another for flights specifically between Tokyo Haneda and Hawaii:

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So as you can see, for flights within Japan under 600 miles you'll be paying 18,000 miles roundtrip, and for those over 600 miles, it's 22,500 miles roundtrip - these are only economy redemptions, no first/business awards are available.

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For flights to/from Tokyo to Honolulu, it's 90,000 miles in coach or 155,000 miles in business class. All flights must be operated as ANA-Hawaiian codeshares, not on any of ANA's partners.

To compare, ANA's own award chart lists intra-Japan awards starting at 10,000 miles roundtrip in low season up to 15,000 in high season.

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Then that flight to Honolulu would cost 35,000-45,000 depending on season in economy, or 60,000 in business class and 90,000 in first class. So it takes a lot more Hawaiian miles to fly ANA to/from Honolulu. That said, the taxes and fees on Hawaiian-issued tickets are much less than those using ANA miles since Hawaiian doesn't charge the same fuel surcharges that ANA will - which are around the $700 range even on economy tickets!

ANA intra-Japan tickets are generally $100-$200 in taxes and fees when booked through ANA, but Hawaiian's are well under $100, so the tradeoff here is between using more miles or saving potentially hundreds of dollars.

American Airlines

This is a relatively new partnership - Hawaiian dumped Delta in favor of American over last summer. Here's the award chart:

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So as you can see, many of these awards require more miles than using American's own miles. For example, the roundtrip awards within North America as well as between the Mainland and Hawaii are higher than using AA's own miles (see AA's chart here), so you'd be using 35,000 HA miles instead of 25,000 AA miles for a roundtrip domestic economy award, and flying to/from the Mainland to Hawaii would cost you 45,000 miles rather than the 40,000 Hawaiian would charge on its own flights, or the 35,000 miles American would charge using its own miles on its own flights.In general, I'd say it's more worth using British Airways Avios to book AA flights from the West Coast to Hawaii, since it's just 12,500 miles each way and BA will let you book one-ways, which Hawaiian will not on partners. That's especially true since BA is a partner of Amex just like Hawaiian, as well as Chase, so you've got more transfer options.


Hawaiian's partner chart for JetBlue is value-based, sort of like JetBlue's own TrueBlue system:

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So how many miles you need depends on the amount of the fare you would be purchasing. As you can see, at most you're getting 1 cent per mile in value, and most values are closer to 0.7-0.8 cents per mile - well below the average JetBlue redemption of 1.3-1.5 cents per TrueBlue point, so in general I'd stay away from this unless you're looking to burn off some Amex points and would prefer transferring to Hawaiian at a 1:1 ratio rather than to TrueBlue at a ratio of 1 Amex point to 0.8 TrueBlue points.

Korean Air

The numbers here also look a bit inflated, unfortunately:

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Within Korea, you'll be redeeming 15,000 miles in coach and 30,000 in business/first as opposed to 10,000 Korean miles in economy or 12,000 miles in Prestige; while from the US to Korea, you'll be spending 100,000 miles in coach (a pretty jaw-dropping figure) and 200,000 miles in business class as opposed to Korean's requirements of 70,000 miles and 125,000 miles for coach and business class respectively. Personally, I'd rather transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to my Korean Air account and book that way, especially because Korean will allow you to book one-way awards on its own flights.

Where it might make sense to use Hawaiian Miles on Korean is to access the airline's extensive Asia route map with awards that are 30,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 60,000 miles in business class. What Hawaiian calls "roundtrip between Asia" as explained to me by a HawaiianMiles rep includes Korean Air's non-Korea Asian destinations including Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taipei and even Southeast Asian destinations like Bangkok and Singapore - and she did price out a ticket from Seoul to Bangkok for me at the economy level in April, so it seems like there could be some good possibilities within the region.

That said, HawaiianMiles customer service reps aren't always the most knowledgeable - so if you have any personal experience booking Asia flights on Korean using HawaiianMiles, please share in the comments below.

Virgin America

Hawaiian offers a distance-based table for Virgin America awards, so Main Cabin Select or First Class seats, which can be extremely expensive when redeeming Virgin Elevate points, can be a bit more reasonable using HawaiianMiles.

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For example, you’d need 60,000 HawaiianMiles to fly Main Cabin Select or 90,000 HawaiianMiles to fly First Class between Los Angeles and New York JFK. That might seem like a lot of miles, but roundtrip award flights from LAX-JFK usually run around 50,000-70,000 Elevate points for Main Cabin Select or 150,000-175,000 Elevate points for First Class, like this sample first class itinerary in April:

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I had to call Hawaiian to check if this itinerary was available and was told yes (after a long, long wait), so redeeming HawaiianMiles for Virgin America flights in premium classes of service could literally save you nearly 100,000 miles/points. Especially if you are deciding whether to transfer Amex points to Hawaiian or Virgin America. The one major drawback is that award availability is limited and HawaiianMiles reps are not the best at searching for it based on my long phone times with them searching itineraries.

Virgin Atlantic

This might just be one of the best uses of Hawaiian Miles depending on your situation. Per the partner chart on Hawaiian, here are the mileage requirements for Virgin Atlantic awards:

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 2.46.49 PM

So going from the UK to the East Coast of the US is 60,000 miles in economy, 100,000 miles in premium economy and 125,000 miles in Upper Class. And to the West Coast is 80,000, 130,000 and 160,000 in each class. That's a lot more miles than Virgin Atlantic will charge you.

Per their chart, Virgin will charge you 35,000-42,500 miles roundtrip from the East Coast depending on where you're coming from in economy, and 55,000-70,000 in premium economy, and 80,000-100,000 in Upper Class.

From the West Coast, the numbers are 42,500 in economy, 70,000 in premium economy and 100,000 in Upper Class. However, remember that Virgin Atlantic charges hefty fuel surcharges of about $1,200 on Upper Class awards like the one below:

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 2.43.24 PM

And about $460 in economy:

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 2.51.56 PM

However, Hawaiian Airlines doesn't levy fuel surcharges, so you're only looking at the taxes on the tickets, which run about $200 for an economy redemption - which still might not be tempting - and about $300 or so on Upper Class tickets, and that could save you around $900-$1,000 per ticket! It all depends on your valuation of miles, but if I were coming from the East Coast, I might consider spending 45,000 extra miles to save $1,000.

Now, I do have one caveat, which is that the HawaiianMiles Customer Service center is one of the most frustrating airline booking centers I've come across. Agents there often do not know about the airline's partners, and they cannot price awards out unless the miles are already in your account and they have sent the booking in for confirmation with the airline partner. You also have to feed them exact flight numbers and times. So they will not be able to quote you taxes/fees figures until the ticket is actually booked. However, based on my research, it looks like this policy is still in place. If anyone has experience with this, please share.

Virgin Australia

The final partnership I wanted to cover briefly is that with Virgin Australia. There are just two options here - roundtrip from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to LA for 100,000 miles in economy or 200,000 miles in business class.

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To be honest, neither of these is that appealing even though Hawaiian's fuel surcharges will be lower on Virgin Australia award tickets than using Virgin's own miles (which you have to be a resident of Australia or New Zealand to do anyway), nor considering you can use Delta miles for these flights as well and still pay the same lower fuel surcharges plus Delta charges the same 100,000 miles roundtrip in economy and just 150,000 miles roundtrip in business class until June 1, and 160,000 miles after June 1. I'd rather just go with Delta since their miles are so much easier to accumulate for now. After SkyMiles' switchover to a revenue-based mileage-earning program next year, though, that calculus might change.


So while the best uses of HawaiianMiles are clearly on flights to/from the Mainland to Hawaii and within the islands, there are still some other interesting options out there - especially if you have points to transfer from Amex Membership Rewards and can get a good HawaiianMiles agent who knows his/her stuff and can help you search partner award availability efficiently.