Best options for first class awards to Hawaii

If you’d like to fly first class to Hawaii (who wouldn’t?), it is often possible to pay fewer miles by booking with foreign carrier miles.  Below you’ll find business/first class award prices for AA, Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, and United; along with the best options for using partner miles with each of them, and quick tips for how to get those miles.

Keep in mind that in all cases you’ll have to find saver level award space on the airline you want to fly before you can book that flight with a partner airline’s miles.

Also note that while all of these carriers except Alaska offer flat bed seats in business class on certain routes, it is extremely rare to find saver level awards on those flights.  Instead, you’re much more likely to find first class award space with standard domestic first class.  In other words, you’ll get a bigger seat and better service than in coach, but don’t expect luxury.

See also: Best options for domestic first class awards.

Jump To: Fly AA, Fly Alaska, Fly Delta, Fly Hawaiian, Fly United

Fly AA Business or First Class to Hawaii

American Airlines charges 40K one-way for 2-cabin first class, or 47.5K one-way for 3-cabin business class.

Best miles to use for flying AA first class:

  • AA miles: 40K one-way for 2-cabin first class, or 47.5K one-way for 3-cabin business class.
  • Etihad Guest miles: 37.5K one-way for business / first class. 47.5.5K one-way for “Premium” (note: I’m not sure if premium in this case means transcon business class or 3 cabin first class. My guess is the latter). Etihad’s award chart for flying AA can be found here.
  • Alaska Airlines miles: 40K one-way for business / first class.
  • JAL (Japan Airlines Mileage Bank): 60K to 80K round-trip depending upon flight distance. Click here to view their partner award chart.

My take: There are no great alternatives to using AA miles for first class American Airlines flights to Hawaii.  Etihad offers slightly cheaper awards, but at the expense of a lot of likely frustration in the booking process.  And there are more valuable uses for Alaska Airlines and JAL miles, so I’d only recommend using these if you don’t have enough AA or Etihad miles.

How to get the miles:

See also: Top 10 shortcuts to earning SPG points; Amassing Membership Rewards.

AA Booking Tip:

Before trying to book with a foreign carrier’s miles, look for business/first class award space on AA.com.  Look specifically for Business/First MileSAAver award space:

Jump To: Fly AA, Fly Alaska, Fly Delta, Fly Hawaiian, Fly United

Fly Alaska First Class to Hawaii

Virgin America first class. Alaska has taken over, but you may still find seating similar to this on routes featuring Airbus aircraft

Now that Alaska has taken over Virgin America, they have a better selection of flights to Hawaii than before.  Alaska charges 40K one-way for 2-cabin first class (which is all that they currently offer).

Best miles to use for flying Alaska first class:

  • Air France (only through April 30 2018): 30K one-way
  • Korean Air: 60K round-trip
  • American Airlines: 40K one-way
  • Alaska: 40K one-way

My take: Overall, Air France is the way to go, but their partnership with Alaska is expected to end on April 30 2018.  For round trip travel, Korean Air’s award prices are very good but you’ll have to find award space in both directions.  After that, I’d go with AA miles ahead of Alaska miles simply because Alaska miles can often be used towards even better value.

How to get the miles:

Jump To: Fly AA, Fly Alaska, Fly Delta, Fly Hawaiian, Fly United

Fly Delta Business or First Class to Hawaii

Delta First Class Dining

Delta no longer publishes an award chart, so the best you can do to find their award pricing is use Delta’s award calendar to try to find the best rates.   At the time of this writing I’ve found that Delta first class awards to Hawaii start at 55K one-way.

Best miles to use for flying Delta first class:

My take: For round trip travel Korean Air’s award prices are incredible, but good luck finding round-trip award space on Delta.  For one-way awards, Air France is the way to go.  One caution: some people have run into issues with Air France when they opened an account and immediately transferred points in to book an award. I recommend opening your Air France account well in advance of any point transfers or bookings.

Flat bed routes (verify that your flight has flat bed seating in first by searching delta.com, and look for the flat bed seat icon):

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Minneapolis (MSP) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC) – Honolulu (HNL) [Seasonal]
  • Salt Lake City (SLC) – Maui (OGG) [Seasonal]
  • New York Kennedy (JFK) – Honolulu (HNL) [Seasonal]

How to get the miles:

See also: Top 10 shortcuts to earning SPG points; Amassing Membership Rewards; Amassing Ultimate Rewards.

Delta Booking Tip:

Delta.com is not a reliable option for finding saver award space bookable with partner miles. The best option (even though it’s buggy) is to search for awards through Air France’s website.  Log into your Air France account, then click “PURCHASE AN AWARD TICKET WITH YOUR MILES.”  Enter the details of your desired trip and make sure to check the box “You are looking for a flight around these dates.” Select the class of service you desire (e.g. “business” for Delta first/business class), then click “Find a Flight”.  If Air France finds any available award flights, they’ll show a calendar of award prices.  Look for those marked “lowest fare”.

Jump To: Fly AA, Fly Alaska, Fly Delta, Fly Hawaiian, Fly United

Fly Hawaiian Airlines First Class to Hawaii

Hawaiian Airlines flies their new first class (pictured above) on Airbus A330 aircraft.  Hawaiian Airlines charges 40,000 miles one-way for first / business class saver awards between North America and Hawaii.

Best miles to use for flying Hawaiian Airlines first class:

  • Hawaiian Airlines: 40K one-way
  • Korean Air: 60K roundtrip. More for extra segments.
  • Virgin Atlantic: 40K one-way between the west coast and Hawaii.  65K one-way from the east coast.
  • JetBlue: 45K one-way to/from the west coast, or 70K one-way to/from the east coast

My take: Hawaiian Airlines miles tend to be significantly less valuable than most other airline miles.  I’d use up those miles if I had them.  Plus I’ve heard that Hawaiian releases more saver level award space to their own members than to partners (I haven’t confirmed this).

Note that Hawaiian airline partners with other airlines (such as AA, ANA, Delta, and United), but miles in those programs can only be used for inter-island flights.

Flat bed routes (verify by searching flights online at hawaiianairlines.com and look for the words “Lie-Flat Seats” under the first class price):

To/From Honolulu (HNL):

  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York (JFK)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)

To/From Maui (OGG):

  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)

How to get the miles:

Jump To: Fly AA, Fly Alaska, Fly Delta, Fly Hawaiian, Fly United

Fly United Business or First Class to Hawaii

United charges 40K one-way for business class or 2-cabin first class (or 50K one-way for flights between Hawaii and Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Houston Intercontinental, New York/Newark or Washington Dulles).

Best miles to use for flying United Airlines first class:

  • Singapore: 30K one-way
  • ANA: 64K round-trip
  • Lufthansa Miles & More: 35K one-way
  • Avianca: 40K one-way
  • Aeroplan (Air Canada): 40K one-way
  • United: 40K one-way for business class or 2-cabin first class (or 50K one-way for flights between Hawaii and Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Houston Intercontinental, New York/Newark or Washington Dulles).

My take: Singapore Airlines miles are the way to go, and you can now book United awards online at singaporeair.com!

How to get the miles:

See also: Top 10 shortcuts to earning SPG points; Amassing Membership Rewards; Amassing Ultimate Rewards.

United Booking Tip:

Before trying to book with a foreign carrier’s miles (especially when they don’t let you book United flights online), look for business/first class award space on United.com without logging in.  Look for First Saver Award space (or Business Saver Award space on a 3 cabin flight) that looks like this:

Jump To: Fly AA, Fly Alaska, Fly Delta, Fly Hawaiian, Fly United

Comments

  1. This is interesting, and helpful, but I know what I was (am) looking for mostly when planning my Hawaii trip, is a comprehensive guide and reviews on booking the best first/business class luxury options (i.e. international configurations, flat bed, etc).

    When I was planning, especially planning out of Miami, trying to find flights on the good planes was a pain. I eventually had to just start testing award and flight options from the hubs, and then if i found something, i planned separately that i would just need to get my butt there. It became very complex, and we ultimately postponed the hawaii trip due to lack of hotel options that weekend, but we are planning to go next year. So I will be back to trying to figure out the route situation to get international config.

    • Just to clarify, this is awesome, and thank you for providing it 🙂 I just re-read what I wrote and it was quickly written and sounds ungrateful. I really appreciate this information, as it is an essential part of picking your options and planning the points and miles to use. It just sucks to use your miles on a route that has crappy first class vs another possible route/option you didn’t know existed that has international config. I think that makes the value of the points/miles go WAY up. Just my opinion.

      Thanks again for this info!

      • I’ve run into the same issues. After several good value pts/miles trips to Europe, planning for Hawaii this summer makes my head spin. Like the place itself, Hawaii has a unique value calculation. Thanks to Greg for this post!

    • Thanks Brian. I think what you’re suggesting would be a great second resource that I can link to from this one. Namely: a list of all truly premium flights between the US mainland and Hawaii along with some hints of how to book awards or buy those flights cheaply. The tough part will be keeping it up to date. Airlines sometimes without notice swap in an internationally configured aircraft to a standard route. I don’t know a way to watch for that happening.

  2. I like the idea of this page, but to be honest, the organization of it is really confusing.

    Also, would be helpful to know which of these routes offers lie-flat options (either the whole way from the east coast, or at least for half the journey).

    • Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the organization? Right now it is organized by Airline. Would it help to have a table of contents at the top so that you can jump to your preferred airline?

      I like the idea of adding the lie-flat info in the future. I have included it for Hawaiian Airlines, but not yet for the others.

      • I’m particularly confused why some airlines fall under the main headings and get some level of detail, some only fall within the “alternatives,” what differentiates an “alternative” airline from an airline that gets its own heading. Some of the alternatives lack detail. Others appear more than once. Others also have their own dedicated heading in addition the being classified as an alternative somewhere else.

        Also, the whole thing would read easier as a chart than as a long list. The chart could have the following column headings for example: airline, cost in miles, routes flown, alternatives (whatever that means, which, again could use some clarification, how to get the miles, lie flat options, etc).

        • Maybe your confusion is about the alternative airlines. Let’s take AA as an example. You can use AA miles directly for redemption on AA metal. Or you can use Etihad, Alaska, JAL for redemption on AA metal instead.
          You probably see Korean Air more than once in the alternative airlines. It is because the miles from Korean Air can be used for redemption on Alaska, Delta, and Hawaiian metal.

  3. I know Jetblue miles can be used for Hawaiian Airlines now. I can’t remember the details? Maybe update the Hawaiian section with this info?

  4. @Greg do you know if anyone has been able to piece together Flying Blue awards for Delta flights by calling in to Air France or KLM agents? I heard you used to be able to, but recently it sounds like that is not an option.

  5. You state that there are better uses of Alaska miles than booking to Hawaii. Do you have a link/article on best uses of Alaska miles? TIA!

    • I’m not thinking of a specific post we have here off the top of my head, but here is the page where you can look at Alaska award charts:

      https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/use-miles/award-charts

      My personal favorite values are:

      A) 55K one-way in business class from the US to Australia with a stopover in Fiji (flying with Fiji Airways) or also 55K one-way on Qantas.

      B) Many of their partners to Asia (Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airlines, Korean Air) for 50K or 60K one-way in business class or 70K/75K in first class (note that Korean must be booked as a round trip). You can do a stopover on a one-way award with Alaska, so lots of great possibilities here as well.

      C) Cathay Pacific first class to Africa or the Middle East for 70K, which could include a stopover in Hong Kong.

  6. As someone who lives in Hawaii and flies back to the mainland every Thanksgiving, this is helpful. We’ve flown first class the last three years in a row….but note it’s hard to find routes that are actually worth using your miles for first class as nearly all fly crappy domestic first class products with just a slightly wider seat and like 4 more inches of pitch than econ plus. This is especially true for flights to my home island of Maui.

    My notes for flights direct into Maui (note, I fly to/from Kentucky so not familiar with products from further east)

    AA: DFW – OGG uses 777’s with updated first class lie flat product that’s AMAZING, by far my favorite way to get from/back home. Phoenix and west coast all are standard domestic first class seats.

    United: Denver has angled lie flat, Chicago has the 2-4-2 lie flat…not horrible but not the best either. All the others are standard domestic first class seats.

    Delta: HAHAHAHA, yeah, no chance of a lie flat straight to Maui that I’m aware of.

    Hawaiian: Lie flat from several cities, mainly west coast (SFO, SEA, etc). But as I fly out of a regional airport hard for me to get to.

    Alaska: They don’t do lie flat

    Westjet: Nope

    Air Canada: Actually never looked into it.

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