On our trip to Hawaii, we needed to get from Kauai to Oahu. While these flights are inexpensive, I’m always looking to see if I can use points instead of paying for a revenue ticket.
For a long time, the major player in the market was Hawaiian Airlines. We’ve flown them several times to get between Maui, Oahu, and the big island. Our flights have been enjoyable and uneventful, as the passengers are a combination of island-hopping tourists and locals getting back and forth for business or pleasure.
There’s an amazing number of flights, with almost hourly departures. As an added bonus, prices are very reasonable, with fares under $100 and often under $50 for the less desirable flight times. With Southwest Airlines now in the same market, albeit with less frequency, Hawaiian can’t raise prices too high.
Which miles, if any, should you use to book your Hawaii interisland flights?
For our travel date, cash prices on Hawaiian Airlines were quite low. The least desirable flight times cost $39 and most other flights were $49.
A checked bag costs an additional $25 but HawaiianMiles members only have to pay $15. That’s plenty of reason to sign up for the loyalty program.
What about redeeming points for the flight? It’s not a great deal using HawaiianMiles. Award tickets start at 7,500 miles + $5.60 in taxes. If you don’t have any HawaiianMiles, you can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards and Bilt Rewards
Since Hawaiian Airlines is not part of an airline alliance, they have several non-alliance partners that allow you to use miles for interisland flights. Since these flights don’t compete with their own, loyalty programs have no risk when letting you redeem points for Hawaiian Airlines.
When I was booking this flight last year, I had to check each program separately. Now that there’s Point.me. it’s easy to find out that besides using HawaiianMiles, you can book Hawaiian Airlines flights with United MileagePlus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Delta SkyMiles and American AAdvantage points.
Delta lets you redeem SkyMiles for Hawaiian Airlines flights and you’re able to book them directly from the Delta website. The same flight as above is bookable with 7,500 SkyMiles.
Delta and Hawaiian are both AMEX Membership rewards partners so it will cost you the same amount of miles to book through either program. For a $39 or $49 flight, neither is a good option.
Another partner of Hawaiian Airlines is JetBlue. You’re able to redeem TrueBlue points for interisland Hawaii flights. Unlike Delta, you need to call JetBlue to book these tickets.
You’ll do a little better as flights only cost 6,000 instead of 7,500 or more with the other programs. It’s easy to earn JetBlue points as they’re a partner of Chase, Citi, and AMEX.
Each of these options earns less than 1 cent per point and those redemptions aren’t worth it.
However, there’s one currency where you can book Hawaiian Airlines flights for fewer points: Chase Ultimate Rewards.
If you have a Sapphire Preferred card or Sapphire Reserve card you can book travel through the Chase portal for a value of 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents respectively.
Since I have a Sapphire Reserve card, I can book that inexpensive Hawaiian fare for even fewer points.
Two tickets would only cost $83.90 or 5.593 Ultimate Rewards. In addition, I could add my HawaiianMiles number to the booking to earn miles and save $10 on a checked bag,
For most people, paying 5,600 points for 2 tickets would be enough savings, but could I do even better?
Earlier, I mentioned that Southwest Airlines flies interisland Hawaii routes, mainly to keep planes in motion and position them for flights back to the US.
There are several flights from Kauai to Oahu on our travel dates. Prices for Southwest flights were 2,240 RapidRewards points and $5.60. In addition, Southwest doesn’t charge any checked bag fees (for 2 bags per person.)
I value Ultimate Rewards more than I do Southwest points and Southwest’s flight was less expensive, so we flew SWA from Kauai to Honolulu.
It goes to show that you need to keep an open mind and your options open when looking for award flights. I originally thought I would use Ultimate Rewards to fly on Hawaiian but when I dug a little deeper, Southwest was the best option for this flight.
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Southwest has been a game changer for us Kama’āina. I know many remain fiercely loyal to Hawaiian, but just them being here has really opened up neighbor island travel to those of us with more limited means. The award pricing and ability to transfer UR points is a definite plus as well! Even better, they fly to Hilo, which has been the sole realm of Hawaiian ever since Aloha folded and go! abandoned us.
Pretty sure you can make WN your selected airline and get a 35% rebate with MR using biz plat. With the plethora of MR earning opportunities of late that would be my go to.