Skip to content

First Class to Hawaii for 12,500 Miles and a 13-Minute Phone Call

July 30, 2019
5 min read
First Class to Hawaii for 12,500 Miles and a 13-Minute Phone Call
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Nick and Greg over at the Frequent Miler have been doing some excellent work covering the new sweet spot within the Turkish Miles & Smiles program. Hawaii used to be a part of the Oceania region but has recently been updated to be included within the North America region, the same region as the contiguous United States.

One-way, economy-class tickets within the US on Star Alliance partner United Airlines cost just 7,500 miles, while United domestic first class — which Turkish counts as business class — requires 12,500 miles.

***Applicable Mile amount for direct flights with Star Alliance member airlines in the same country. Amounts shown reflect round trip tickets.

Saver economy availability is actually fairly abundant on United, and tickets can easily be booked for 7,500 Turkish miles and $5.60 per person each way between the US and Hawaii. United charges 22,500 United miles per person for an economy ticket on the same route, and even Singapore KrisFlyer — long considered one of the best Hawaiian sweet spots from the US — would require 17,500 miles.

While 7,500 miles is an outstanding value — especially from the East Coast — 12,500 miles for first class to Hawaii is among the most spectacular sweet spots out there.

I decided to give it a try.

The Booking Process

In the past, booking Star Alliance-operated flights using Turkish miles required either an in-person trip to a Turkish ticket office or a series of emails to a ticketing office — which may or may not go answered. These tickets are now reportedly able to be booked over the phone. Before calling, I did a close-in award search on United.com between the mainland and Hawaii, focusing on less-sought-after routes. I very quickly found multiple dates within the next two weeks that showed saver first class availability on the flight from Kona (KOA) to San Francisco (SFO):

Armed with 13,000 Citi ThankYou Points ready to be transferred over to my Turkish account, I gave Turkish Miles&Smiles a call (1-800-874-8875). After going through a simple phone menu and four minute hold time, I got a very capable agent who confirmed my account information. She pulled up the route on which I had found saver level award availability, and her system showed the same award space I saw on United.com. There were three first class seats and nine economy seats available on the 10:00pm departure from Kona operated by a 737-900.

She then quoted me the expected 12,500 miles and $5.60 for the one-way ticket. I told her I intended on transferring over credit card points to my account and requested a hold until my miles showed up. She said the system would automatically give her hold options after she filled out all my personal info. She quickly entered my birthday and name and gave me a PNR for the ticket. She let me know I could hold the ticket for 48 hours without the miles in my account.

I quickly used the Turkish Airlines PNR and was able to pull up the itinerary on United.com:

Sign up for our daily newsletter

I then confirmed the itinerary showed up on my Turkish account, and just like the agent said, I had 48 hours to pay for the ticket before the complimentary hold expired and the ticket was gone:

The phone call lasted a total of 13 minutes, and if the ThankYou points had already transferred into my Turkish account, I would be set for a first class flight from Hawaii back the mainland for a staggeringly low 12,500 miles and $5.60. Turkish miles transfer from Citi in about 1-2 days, so you'd essentially have to really hope the miles showed up before the hold expired.

That being said, I am going to call back in 24 hours to see if the hold can be extended (for research purposes) in case the transferred miles don't show up before the ticketing deadline. As noted above, I called 1-800-874-8875 to quickly reach a Turkish agent.

Bottom Line

Booking United-operated awards to or from Hawaii using Turkish Airlines miles could be one of the best possible ways to visit the Aloha State. If you don't have Citi ThankYou points to transfer to Turkish, Marriott Bonvoy points are your other avenue, as they transfer at a 3:1 ratio plus a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring 60,000 points.

The roadblock here is going to be first-class saver availability to and from Hawaii, something United (and quite frankly all airlines) are rather stingy in releasing. Use the United interactive route map to look at some lesser-known routes, and search close-in dates for the best chances of finding saver first award availability. And even if you can't, booking one-way economy awards for 7,500 miles from anywhere in the US to Hawaii on United is a staggering deal.

This was really an excellent booking process for a partner phone booking and something all of us should investigate and book if possible.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more