Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s no wonder why so many people visit the Islands every year. Because it’s such a popular tourist destination, the cost to get there is typically pretty expensive. The great thing about using points to travel is there are some fantastic sweet spots to take advantage of. If you live on the West Coast, there’s a way to book a round-trip flight to Hawaii with just 26,000 points.
Recently, I took advantage of this sweet spot to fly our family of 7 from Phoenix to Kauai. When I booked the flights, they actually only cost me 25,000 points per person. However, because of a modest devaluation, a round-trip ticket now costs 26,000 points. Even with the modest devaluation, this is still a great point redemption. In fact, the day I booked our flights, cash tickets for the same flights were just over $800 per person!
Hawaii Sweet Spot
The way to book these tickets, is by using your British Airways Avios miles to book a flight on their One World partner, American Airlines. British Airways uses a mileage-based award chart to redeem points for flights on British Airways or with their partner airlines. Based on their award chart, you can book flights that are less than 3,000 miles for only 13,000 Avios each way.
Fortunately for everyone on the West Coast, Hawaii is located just under 3,000 miles from the mainland. British Airways calculates the cost of the award based on each flight segment, so this deal only works on nonstop flights. British Airways partners with both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, so there are plenty of nonstop options from multiple West Coast cities.
American Airlines – You can fly nonstop from either Los Angeles or Phoenix to Honolulu, Maui, Kauai or Kona.
Alaska Airlines – Flying on Alaska Airlines gives you options to fly out of many more cities than American does. You can fly to the Hawaiian Islands from any of these cities; Anchorage, Bellingham, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.
How To Find Award Availability
When you start your search to see if award space is available, be aware that availability on Alaska doesn’t show up on the British Airways website. I always start my search on American’s site because they are partners with Alaska too and have access to their award space. Just be sure you log in to your frequent flyer account first. When you do your search, you’ll want to look for dates that have Mile Saver availability.
If you’re planning to fly on Alaska Airlines, you’ll need to call British Airways and book the flight over the phone. Just have the flights you found available to give to the phone agent to make the call go quicker. Before transferring points to your Avios account, I would call them and confirm the availability of the Alaska flight with them first. If you’re flying on American, you can go to BA’s website and confirm the flight is available there.
After you select the nonstop flights you want, you’ll see the total is 26,000 miles plus the $11.20 for the airport taxes.
Once you have confirmed the flights you want are available, you’ll need to transfer enough points to your Avios account. Simply log in to your Chase Ultimate Rewards account and find British Airways by selecting “transfer to travel partners”. Every time I’ve transferred points from my UR account to BA, it has taken less than 5 minutes for the points to show up in my Avios account.
If you’re flying on Alaska, I would politely ask the agent to wait a moment while you transfer the points. Just be sure you’re already logged into your Chase account and ready to go before you make the call. Once your points are in your account, book your flights to the Aloha State.
As with any award redemption, you’re responsible for paying the airport taxes of $11.20. Be sure to pay for these taxes with a credit card that provides trip delay and baggage insurance. You only need to pay for a portion of your ticket to qualify for this coverage. Even though you paid for the ticket with points, you’re still covered if you pay for the taxes with your card. A couple of our favorites to use are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Premier cards. If you’re traveling for business, the Chase Ink Business Preferred card is another great option.
How To Book For Less
This sweet spot works any day of the year, as long as there is availability on the flights you’re looking. However, sometimes it is possible to book flights to Hawaii with less than 26,000 points.
Transfer Bonuses – Occasionally, credit card companies will offer bonus points if you transfer your points to British Airways. Recently, Chase UR offered a 30% bonus on points transferred to BA. In this case, you could book your flights to Hawaii for only 20,000 points! Keep an eye out for these transfer bonuses if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii.
Travel Portals – Periodically, I’ve also seen some really great sales to Hawaii from the West Coast. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or Business Ink Preferred cards you can redeem your points for travel at a fixed rate. Based on their redemption rates, if you see a fare for less than $390 and you have the Sapphire Reserve card, it will cost you fewer points by booking through Chase. The same is true if you find a fare for less than $325 and use one of the other cards.
Do You Need More Points
Are you a few points short for your trip to Hawaii or are you just starting out earning miles? My favorite way to accumulate points for this redemption is by using my Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards. By using the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex cards together, you can easily build up your balance over time. However, if you need points in a hurry, the quickest way to get them is through a welcome bonus.
You can transfer both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express’ Membership Rewards points to British Airways. Keep in mind the 5/24 Rule if you’re applying for a new Chase card. Right now, the cards with the best welcome bonuses are:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – You can earn a 80,000 welcome bonus after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account. Here’s why I think this is the best rewards card for people to start earning points.
- American Express Platinum Card – You can earn a 75,000 point bonus after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account. You can read my review of the card here.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – You can earn a 50,000 welcome bonus after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account. Here’s why I think this is the best travel rewards card out there.
- Chase Ink Business Preferred – You can earn a 100,000 point welcome bonus after spending $15,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account. Read my card review here.
Remember that Hawaii is a popular destination and will require some flexibility when looking for award space. If there’s no availability, try other dates or check back periodically because awards seats can open up later. We planned our trip when the kids were out of school for Spring Break. At first there was no availability at all during the week we wanted to go. I checked back every week and few months before we wanted to go, seats became available on multiple flights.
By taking advantage of this sweet spot, we took our whole family to Hawaii with points and virtually no out-of-pocket cost. If you’ve been dying to visit Hawaii, now is the time to plan your trip.