How to Book Round-Trip Hawaii Flights for Just 20,000 Chase Points

Apr 26, 2019

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On Monday, we saw the launch of Chase’s first ever transfer bonus: Now through June 16, you’ll get a 30% bonus when transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios. This transfer bonus amplifies all kinds of sweet spots in the carrier’s distance-based award chart, and we are going to highlight some of these over the next few weeks.

First, we showed you how to fly AA’s best international business class products on domestic routes for just 12,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

Now, let’s look at how you can fly round-trip from the US mainland to Hawaii — or from Hawaii to the mainland — for just 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

In This Post

The Sweet Spot

As noted above, British Airways uses a mileage-based award chart. That means that it doesn’t matter what region you’re flying to/from; all that matters is the number of flights you take — as each flight prices separately — and the geographical distance of those flights. That makes Avios great for shorter, nonstop flights. By taking advantage of this mileage sweet spot, you can pay less for many AA award flights by using Avios instead of AAdvantage miles, even before the 30% UR-Avios bonus went into effect.

One of those sweet spots is between the western US and Hawaii. AAdvantage charges 22,500 AA miles for saver awards during peak times or 20,000 miles during off-peak times for one-way flights to the Aloha State. Meanwhile, nonstop, one-way award flights under 3,000 miles in length will cost just 12,500 Avios plus $5.60 in taxes/fees each way. This distance puts the West Coast in range, and during the 30% transfer bonus from Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios, you’ll only have to transfer 10,000 UR points to British Airways to book these award flights.

Nonstop award availability is hard to find on American Airlines flights, since AA made some annoying changes to how it releases award availability in late 2017. However, you don’t only have to rely on AA award flights, as you can also book awards on British Airways’ non-alliance partner Alaska Airlines to Hawaii for the same price.

Routes

American Airlines

AA flies to four different destinations in Hawaii from three of its US hubs: Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX) and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW). While DFW to Hawaii is more than 3,000 miles, all eight of the routes from LA and Phoenix to Hawaii qualify for the 12,500 Avios sweet spot:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Honolulu, Oahu (HNL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Lihue, Kauai (LIH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Kahului, Maui (OGG)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Kailua/Kona, Hawaii (KOA)
  • Phoenix (PHX) — Honolulu, Oahu (HNL)
  • Phoenix (PHX) — Lihue, Kauai (LIH)
  • Phoenix (PHX) — Kahului, Maui (OGG)
  • Phoenix (PHX) — Kailua/Kona, Hawaii (KOA)
Image generated using Great Circle Mapper.
Image generated using Great Circle Mapper.

Alaska Airlines

The Seattle-based Alaska Airlines boasts “over 175 weekly flights to Hawaii” departing from ten different US gateways to four Hawaiian destinations. I count a total of 32 individual routes that fall under the 3,000-mile threshold for this redemption, and here’s a rundown of your options organized by the four airports in Hawaii:

To Honolulu, Oahu (HNL) from:
Anchorage (ANC)
Los Angeles (LAX)
Oakland (OAK)
Portland (PDX)
San Diego (SAN)
San Francisco (SFO)
San Jose (SJC)
Seattle (SEA)

To Kahului, Maui (OGG) from:
Anchorage (ANC)
Bellingham (BLI)
Los Angeles (LAX)
Oakland (OAK)
Portland (PDX)
Sacramento (SMF)
San Diego (SAN)
San Francisco (SFO)
San Jose (SJC)
Seattle (SEA)

To Lihue, Kauai (LIH) from:
Oakland (OAK)
Portland (PDX)
San Diego (SAN)
San Jose (SJC)
Seattle (SEA)

To Kailua/Kona (KOA) from:
Anchorage (ANC)
Bellingham (BLI)
Oakland (OAK)
Portland (PDX)
Sacramento (SMF)
San Diego (SAN)
San Francisco (SFO)
San Jose (SJC)
Seattle (SEA)

And here’s a map of 29 of them — chopping out service from Anchorage (ANC):

Searching Award Availability

The best place to find award availability for all of these flights is right on American Airlines’ website, since it too partners with Alaska Airlines. If you start the search on AA’s homepage, you’ll get results in the award availability tool — which doesn’t have a calendar feature. So, start here if you want to get a calendar view of availability.

In the results, you’ll want to choose “non-stop only” from the drop-down and choose “Economy MileSAAver” tab if the route is showing Economy Web Special availability.

And there’s some really good award availability on some of these routes. For example, here’s Friday May 10 from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) with 7+ award seats available at the time of writing on three of the four flights — and 5 award seats available on the fourth.

The Caveat

While 25,000 Avios to fly round-trip between the mainland and Hawaii is an excellent sweet spot, you might actually be able to pay less than 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points for some of these options.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each, meaning that 20,000 UR points can be redeemed for a $300 round-trip flight. And flight prices on these routes will sometimes drop below $300 round-trip.

On March 13, you could redeem just 18,300
On March 13, you could redeem just 18,306 Ultimate Rewards points for a round-trip Hawaii flight.

Plus, you’ll earn airline miles when you redeem UR points directly for cash flights, and you’ll have to pay $11.20 of taxes on the award flights. So, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, make sure to check Google Flights to see if the award option you’re looking to book is available for under ~$320 round-trip before transferring points to Avios.

How to Book

Now that you know the routes, you might be wondering how to take advantage of this opportunity. Thankfully, we have step-by-step instructions on how to do so.

First, make sure that you find award availability before transferring points. Then, to transfer points, log in to your Ultimate Rewards account, click “Transfer to travel partners” and click “Transfer Points” next to British Airways Avios.

In our experience, Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to British Airways Executive Club instantaneously. You’ll want to transfer 10,000 UR points to get enough Avios for a one-way award or 20,000 UR points per person for a round-trip award. Note that Chase will only show that you’ll get 10,000 Avios, British Airways will add another 3,000 Avios after the transfer is completed:

Once the Avios are in your account, your next steps are going to depend on whether you’re booking an American Airlines or Alaska Airlines award.

AA: Login to your British Airways Executive Club account and search for the award flight you found. From the search results, select your flight option and then click “Continue” at the bottom. Read and agree to the terms on the next page, clicking “Continue” again to progress. On the next page, your personal information should be populated from your account profile. Update as needed and click “Continue” again. On the final page, complete your payment information to finalize the booking.

Alaska: Unfortunately, Alaska award space doesn’t appear on British Airways’ website, so you’ll need to call BA to book the award flight after finding availability on AA.com or Alaska’s own website. You can also use ExpertFlyer to set up an alert; Alaska uses the W fare class for economy saver awards (which should be bookable with partner programs).

Remember to use a credit card with trip delay and baggage insurance protection when you’re paying the taxes and fees on your award ticket. Top choices are the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 6+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay), the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay) or the Citi Premier® Card (12+ hour delay).

Earning Points

Since this transfer bonus runs for less than two months, the promotion is going to be best for those who already have Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the bank. But if you don’t have points in your UR account — or want to resupply after taking advantage of this deal — here are three great credit card welcome bonuses that are currently available:

Remember too that if you pair one of these cards with the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can combine points into a single account and effectively “convert” your cash-back earnings to fully-transferable Ultimate Rewards points, putting these Hawaii awards even closer. Just be sure you fully understand Chase’s 5/24 rule before you jump on applying for a new card.

Bottom Line

Avios were already a great way of flying from the West Coast to Hawaii for a low mileage cost. Now, with the 30% transfer bonus from Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios, this sweet spot got even sweeter. Hopefully you can take advantage of this great use of Ultimate Rewards points for yourself.

Featured image by John M Lund Photography Inc via Getty Images

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