Round-trip rates, coach: -American (SPG transfer partner): 35K off-peak (01/12-03/08 and 08/22-12/15), 45K peak. Travel on American, Alaska, or Hawaiian. -Air Canada (AMEX transfer partner): 45K. Travel on United or USAirways. -Alaska (SPG transfer partner): 40K. Travel on Alaska. -British Airways from NYC (AMEX, Chase, and SPG transfer partner): 50K. Travel on Alaska or American. -BA from the West Coast: 25K. Travel on Alaska or American. -Delta (AMEX and SPG transfer partner): 40K. Travel on Delta. -Flying Blue (AMEX and SPG transfer partner): 35K. Travel on Delta. -Hawaiian (AMEX and SPG transfer partne): 40K. Travel on Hawaiian. -Korean (Chase): 30K. Travel on Alaska or Hawaiian. -United (Chase transfer partner): 40K. Travel on Air Canada, United or USAirways. -USAirways (SPG transfer partner): 40K. Travel on Air Canada, United or USAirways.
Round-trip rates, business: -American: 75K. Travel on American, Alaska, or Hawaiian. American flights between Chicago or Dallas and Hawaii have premium business seats. -Air Canada: 80K. Travel on United or USAirways. -Alaska: 75K. Travel on Alaska. -British Airways from NYC: 125K. Travel on American. –British Airways from from the West Coast: 75K. Travel on Alaska or American. -Delta: 75K (domestic business flights), 85K (BusinessElite flights). Travel on Delta. Delta flights between Atlanta and Honolulu have premium business seats. -Flying Blue: 70K. Travel on Delta. -Hawaiian: 80K. Travel on Hawaiian. -Korean, 60K. Travel on Alaska or Hawaiian. -United: 80K. Travel on Air Canada, United or USAirways. United flights between Houston, Newark, or Washington DC and Honolulu have premium business seats. -USAirways: 70K. Travel on Air Canada, United or USAirways.
Round-trip rates, first: 3 cabin first class is only offered between JFK and Los Angeles or S. Fransisco, not all the way to Hawaii. -American: 95K. Travel on American. -Air Canada: 110K. Travel on United. -British Airways from NYC: 150K. Travel on American. -British Airways from from the West Coast: 75K. Travel on American. -United : 100K. Travel on United. -USAirways: 70K. Travel on United.
So my brother is going to yeshivas kayitz (summer learning camp) on the Big Island of Hawaii. I’ll play the jealous older brother.
Paid tickets are over $1,000, so miles it is. Obviously searching CLE-KOA pulls up nothing at saver levels on AA, AS, CO, DL, UA, and US websites.
The trick is to break it down. Search individual segments. You need to search gateway cities. Meaning on CO/UA search for DEN, LAX, or SFO to KOA. On AA search LAX or SFO to KOA. On AS search SEA to KOA. On US search PHX to KOA. On DL search LAX to KOA. Of course after that you can also search for flights to HNL, LIH, OGG, or ITO (from all the gateways that serve those cities) and then work on getting from those airports to KOA.
Once you find availability from a gateway you just need to piece together a flight from your home city. Be willing to take stopovers!
In the end I was able to piece together CLE-DEN-LAX (stopover for shabbos)-KOA-SFO-CLE for 40K CO miles.
Of course CO.com won’t book that. So I booked LAX-KOA-SFO-CLE on CO.com using multiple destinations and then called up CO to add the CLE-DEN-LAX flights to the itin. The agent didn’t see CLE-LAX avaialbility until I force fed her the flights and convined her that they really were available for awards. Then they wanted to charge 55K miles because “that’s what the computer says.” After convincing a manager that this was just a simple itinerary with a stopover (permitted on Hawaii awards) she overrode the computer and allowed it for 40K miles.
It’s now bookable online with no phone fee.
Anyway the same strategies apply for flights to anywhere. Search gateways, be willing to take stopovers, search partners and on as many websites as possible, book what you can online and have an agent edit the itin.
It’s definitely worth noting that it’s possible to fly to Hawaii for zero miles.
Say you are flying using 80K United miles to go from Newark to Tel Aviv or 90K AA miles to fly on El Al from JFK to Tel Aviv on September 1st and returning on October 15th. For the same mileage rate you can “stopover” in JFK or Newark on the way back home for as long as you want and then book the rest of your flight nonstop from JFK to Honolulu (on Hawaiian using AA miles) or nonstop from Newark to Honolulu on United. You have an entire year to fly that final NYC-HNL leg, so just make it for say March 1st, and you can always change the date on that leg for free as many times as you want, or you can always just throw that leg away as it didn’t cost you anything!
But that only gets you to Hawaii for free, right? Well, you can always book a one-way back home again using just 17.5K or 22.5K AA miles or 20K United miles. Or if you have another trip in the future, say to Buenos Aires, you can fly the return nonstop from Honolulu to JFK (on Hawaiian using AA miles) or nonstop to Newark on United, stopover in NYC for as long as you want, and then go onward to Buenos Aires for up to a year in the future and back to NYC for the same rate as just flying from NYC to Buenos Aires.
In fact due to quirks in the AA mileage scheme a ticket from Honolulu to London with a free stopover in Los Angeles or from Honolulu to Rio de Janeiro with a free stopover on NYC can be fewer miles (20K one-way during off-peak European or South American season) then just the Honolulu-Los Angeles flight (22.5K one-way during peak Hawaii season) as the peak seasons aren’t aligned.