Deal alert: Flights to Hawaii from $299 available into late 2020
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Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency such as Orbitz or Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through the Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.
Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on airfare per calendar year purchased direct or via Amex Travel with the Amex Platinum card.
Hawaii very clearly has asked tourists to stay away for now. No one knows exactly when it will be safe for some to embark on leisure travel to the Aloha State, but dreaming, planning and potentially even booking tickets with flexible change and cancellation rules is part of how my family is coping with our current realities.
Editors note: Don’t book travel unless you fully understand the penalties around changing or canceling if the COVID-19 situation still warrants such measures in the second half of the year. TPG does not recommend leisure travel at this juncture, but we are crossing our fingers and toes for travel later in 2020.
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If you are interested in getting something on the books, or even just want to daydream about travel, here is a sampling of round-trip paid flight deals we are seeing to Hawaii for the second half of 2020. Some of the deals go to Lihue (LIH) but the vast majority of deals we found go to Honolulu. All fares seem to run from now through October.
Flight deals currently available to Hawaii
Dallas – Honolulu: $386 on Delta
San Francisco – Honolulu: $299 on United and Hawaiian Airlines
Los Angeles – Honolulu: $327-$347 on Sun Country, Alaska, Hawaiian and American
Charlotte – Honolulu: $384 on Delta
Award flights on the same route are running as little as 30,000 miles round-trip:
Related: Best things to do in Kauai
Houston – Honolulu: $484 on United
Also worth noting for Houston: Almost every single day from now thru the end of September has saver award availability on nonstop flights to Honolulu, costing 22,500 miles each way (or better yet, 7,500 Turkish miles each way, Citi being the easiest transfer partner if you don’t have the miles banked):
Seattle – Honolulu: $346 on American
Portland – Honolulu: $308 on American
How to find your own flight deals
The above is just a sampling of what we’re seeing to Hawaii, and it’s highly likely the routes you are most interested in aren’t on this list. That’s not a problem if you know how to search for your own flight deals, and here are some of our favorite tools for doing so.
Related: Tips for finding cheap award flights
Explore with Google Flights
Start exploring at Google Flights. You can search flights to your dream destinations from multiple airports to help you spot the best deal. Or, you can search from your destination (“Where from?” field) to any gateway in the United States by typing “USA” in the “Where to?” field. You’ll get a map showing the cheapest flights to airports around the country.
Here’s a map of prices for New York City to Hawaii from Google Flights. (Just keep in mind that this map shows you the next six months, so the cheapest fares may be for dates where we know we won’t be ready for leisure travel.)
Decide if you’ll pay with cash or points
When you find an airfare deal, you’ll need to decide if the deal is best on cash or points. That’s a personal decision that only you can make (and conserving cash right now isn’t a bad plan). There’s no right answer here, but if you have the opportunity to use just 7,500-22,500 miles each way as shown above, that’s not a bad deal. We found that the frequent flyer programs that are the most dynamically priced are currently the ones with some of the best award prices to Hawaii.
Understand cancellation policies before buying an airline ticket
Finally, before buying any airline ticket in the current realities, understand the cancellation and rebooking policies for the carrier you book. Airlines have been adjusting their policies to be more friendly for future bookings, but what that means can vary from airline to airline, and they may differ depending on whether you used cash or miles. While you’re now often able to rebook an airline ticket for a future date without a change fee, just remember that you’ll likely still be on the hook for any fare difference from your old ticket to the new one.
If you’re booking an airline ticket with points or miles, here are the best ways to avoid change and cancellation fees on award tickets. You can also factor in using a credit card with good built-in travel insurance (though that doesn’t kick in simply because you choose not to travel.)
No one can guarantee when we’ll be able to travel. The coronavirus situation is fluid with no firm end date in sight — yet. If you’re willing to make some speculative bookings for the second half of this year, you could end up traveling and having a fantastic time — or you might need to cancel or rebook for a future date. Go into each reservation with your eyes open and a firm understanding of the cancellation/rebooking terms.
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