$386 to Hawaii round trip from anywhere in the US

View from ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, Maui

A couple of days ago a reader thanked Nick for discovering and documenting how to book flights from the US mainland to Hawaii for only 7,500 points one-way.  She wrote that she was able to book her family of six for only 45,000 points! That’s ridiculously awesome.  And it got me thinking about the power of buying miles in select circumstances like these.

But first, the basics…

The trick to booking cheap awards to Hawaii is to transfer Citi ThankYou points to Turkish Miles & Smiles, and then use Turkish miles to book United airlines flights.  See these posts for details:

To do this, you need either the Citi Premier card or the Citi Prestige card.  Both regularly have signup offers of 50K or 60K, so a single signup bonus is more than enough to get a large family to Hawaii!  For round-trip flights, you would need 45K points for 3 people or 60K points for 4.

So, that’s awesome.  But what if you don’t have enough ThankYou points?

Buy points for 2.5 cents each

As long as you have a card that earns Citi ThankYou points, and you have at least one point in your account, you can buy additional ThankYou points for 2.5 cents each, up to a maximum of 100K points per year.  You can then transfer those points to airline miles.  I wrote about this in detail a while ago: Buy miles via ThankYou Rewards.

Hawaii math

Citi lets you buy points in 1,000 point increments.  They charge $25 for 1,000 points.

Turkish charges 15,000 miles for a round-trip flight to Hawaii from anywhere in the US.  Let’s work out the cost to buy those miles…

Since Citi charges $25 per 1,000 points, we know that 15,000 points costs $375 (15 x $25).  Add in the standard $11.20 in TSA fees, and you get a grand total of $386.20.  That’s for a round-trip flight to Hawaii without waiting for airfare sales.  That’s fantastic.

Award requirements

Saver award availability

Booking a one-way flight to or from Hawaii for 7,500 points requires finding United saver level award availability.  Nick detailed this in his post about booking via email (found here) under the heading “Step 1) Search for availability using United.com or Aeroplan.com.”  Basically, use United.com to search for awards, but don’t log in. Look for economy awards that are explicitly titled “Saver Award.”

Under 4 hour connections

Another requirement is that layovers must be less than 4 hours.  If a layover is greater than 4 hours Turkish will charge you as if you booked two separate awards.

For example, this one-way award would cost 15,000 miles instead of 7,500 since the connection time is 4 hours and 24 minutes:

This connection is 24 minutes too long!

This itinerary, though, should cost just 7,500 miles since the layover is under 4 hours:

Award availability

If you’re hoping to book first class, good luck to you.  United rarely releases first class saver awards to Hawaii.  Economy award availability, though, tends to be pretty good.  I looked at round-trip saver award availability, for four people, from Atlanta to Honolulu over the peak winter months.  Here’s what I found…

The blue lines, above indicate that round trip saver awards are available for four people starting on that date and assuming a 7 day trip. I picked Atlanta for this demonstration because it is a large city on the east coast and it is not a United hub.  Important: The blue lines indicate that United saver awards are available, but there’s no way to know which days have saver awards with connections under 4 hours.  It’s necessary to click into the dates you’re interested in and examine the details to see if the saver award would be bookable with Turkish miles.

You can see above that you’re out of luck if you want to fly to Hawaii during Christmas break.  On the other hand, spring break dates are pretty readily available if you book now.  And, it looks like January and February are wide open.  In my opinion, those are the best months to get out of the cold and to go visit Hawaii, assuming you can spare the time from work and/or school.  Even better, Humpback whales practically swarm the islands January through March.

This photo is from a trip to Maui in Feb 2008. This baby whale entertained us for about an hour while its mother swam nearby.

Conclusion

If you don’t have many Citi ThankYou points, you can still take advantage of the awesome sweet spot award to Hawaii.  You do need a Citi Prestige or Premier card, though, to make it work.  With one of those cards in hand, you can now buy round trip flights to Hawaii for only $386.20 per person!

Related posts

Also check out this one if you need other types of miles: Buy miles via Amex Membership Rewards.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Steve
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Steve

Unless the United Saver Award is using Hawaiian Airlines rather than United metal?

Nick Reyes
Editor

Correct. Has to be on United metal. Hawaiian is not partners with Turkish.

Nick Reyes
Editor

I should add that I think the segments on Hawaiian metal would only be inter-island flights. Just book those separately. If it’s an island to which Southwest flies, they can be as cheap as $29 or $39 each way (with 2 free bags).

Steve
Guest
Steve

A lot of the United Saver flights from the Midwest are on Hawaiian metal.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Wow. It is not dead yet but this should really beat any life left out of it. Pretty soon we’ll see them require people to show up at IST to complete their ticketing and not just the ‘local’ TK station..
I laughed when I saw ATL as the example. I’m sure that the availability from ATL is much, much bettter than most places in the US since it’s a DL hub and it’s the competition. Try the DC or NYC areas and you’ll likely see a much, much bleaker picture for availability. I know people who struggle to get the transcon part of a United Hawaii award from EWR for ONE person not to mention more–and that’s with elite/cc availability.
I’m glad you put in the warning about the overnight connections. Those United reward calendars have tons of them on even the shortest routes–anything that allows a connection–and ones that are rarely bought I suspect, and some that aren’t even allowed under the rules on a revenue ticket.
Want to fly in F? Forgettaboutit–availability to Hawaii in F is nearly nonexistent for those thinking about that. Thank goodness beating that drum has stopped.

Nick Reyes
Editor

Much bleaker out of NYC? When are you looking? I see tons of availability out of NYC (been looking at various routes and dates for the last 2 weeks for my family). I’ve been looking for 3 passengers and see availability more days than not, typically with 1 stop out of NYC (obviously you can also book 2 or 3 stops if you want…I’ve also seen the nonstop at the saver level for 3 passengers on some days). I’ve not had trouble finding qualifying routings in economy class.

Tom
Guest
Tom

I’m just reporting what she told me relative to her search for HNL reward flights out of EWR–and that is what I said I was doing–reporting experiences of friends. I live in Houston so I don’t spend a lot of time searching availability out of EWR. I’m sure many counterexamples exist.
My major point is that people better hurry as we’ll be able to count the whole thing dead really soon I suspect.

Nick Reyes
Editor

You said to “try the NYC or DC area and you’ll likely see a much, much bleaker picture for availability”. That’s just not true. I just now searched for *4 passengers* and found the *nonstop* from Newark to HNL available on 26 out of 31 days in January 2020. Again, that’s for 4 people on the nonstop flight out of a large United hub.

I’m not disagreeing that this sweet spot may not last forever, just pointing out that the assumption that availability is nonexistent from hubs is baseless. Greg intentionally picked a non-hub to show that you can even find availability on those smaller flights rather than needing to pay separately to position to a hub (as most located in non-hub cities may assume). Booking 4 passengers around peak holiday periods is of course difficult (I did not see availability during for four people during the week around Christmas for example), but by and large there is tons of availability in economy class. Again, you don’t have to take my word for it — it’s easy to reference at United.com. Might want to tell your friend to search again.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Okay. I get it. You want me to say you’re right. Fine. You’re right. It’s clear you like to be right, and will go to great lengths to try and show it.

You take one comment I say about availability being difficult out of EWR and morph it into me saying that “availability is nonexistent from hubs”–which I clearly didn’t say. I made no comments about availability out of ORD, DEN or IAH. I said “you’ll likely see a much, much bleaker picture for availability”. This is certainly not an objective statement–it is very subjective—What’s bleak to one may be rosy to another. I cite one example–well I’m afraid one example a general pattern does not make. I didn’t say one can’t find availability. I cited one person’s experiences related to me.

Soon none of this will matter anyway but the ‘clicks’ on the blog from the hype on this topic will still be there.

Nick Reyes
Editor

Not at all — I have no personal investment in you saying I’m right, I just didn’t understand why the use of ATL made you laugh or why you thought availability would be bleak out of other airports. At the end of the day, I just don’t want readers to miss a chance to get to Hawaii really cheaply because they make assumptions about availability rather than checking it. I, too, may have assumed availability would be poor — especially since we published the sweet spot weeks ago. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case, so it’s worth a look. And I legitimately meant that you should tell your friend(s) to search again — perhaps availability for economy class was poor at one time, it just isn’t now.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Nick
Great deal if u can get it .
1) If u want to change or cancel u must deal with T airlines correct ?
2) What IF United changes ur connecting Flt to over 4 hrs All Gone .

Nick Reyes
Editor

Correct. I believe change fee is $25 and the no-show fee is $40 per the Turkish site:

https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-us/any-questions/can-i-make-changes-route-and-reservation-details-for-award-and-companion-tickets/

If United changes your itinerary, I wouldn’t expect any problem at all. Once Turkish has issued the ticket, United can change its schedule and your routing if they want to. To be clear, they aren’t going to let you call in and ask for a change on a ticket issued by Turkish, but if United just changes things on their end it shouldn’t affect your ticket at all.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Nick
Thank You I have been to Hawaii 8x on United by Singapore points all n-stops there .That could turn into a nightmare IF u had to change 4 tickets and by emails . .
CHEERs

SteveH
Guest
SteveH

One other caveat that I think is in place is that you have to avoid married award segments. There appears to have to be saver level award space on each individual segment based on my experience last week with how Turkish builds the itinerary.

Grant
Guest
Grant

Is it possible to buy 15k miles directly from Turkish Airlines? If so, what would that cost?

MSer
Guest
MSer

Can always transfer some Marriott points to TK if you’re flush with Marriott

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

Transfer time from Marriott is tbd, just keep that in mind….

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

And instant when buying from TK. I needed 10k this morning when 2 extra 1st seats opened up. Teens will be stoked in lie flat 1st with us 🙂

dizzy
Guest
dizzy

Nice. I have just enough of abandoned TK miles from when I started creditiing there for *A gold for 1 way, but good to know I can get more tix if needed too using TYP! TK has been my favorite airline for years, wish they would have a CC available in the US

JamesD
Guest
JamesD

So was there any confirmation that you could book LIH instead of just HNL?

Nick Reyes
Editor

Yup — readers confirmed other islands are fine. You just can’t book on Hawaiian metal of course — so something like SFO-LIH on United is fine, but EWR-HNL-LIH won’t work since the HNL-LIH segment is on Hawaiian in that case.

Akuma
Guest
Akuma

Are people actually getting responses from Turkish Airlines sales staff? If so, which airports/email addresses? I emailed the LAX office (reservation.lax@thy.com) multiple times without even a reply. I’m assuming you can book through any sales office regardless of your departing flight location?

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

You have to call to book. I got email response to call 800-874-8875. Very efficient on phone call to English speaking rep in Turkey. Took about 30 minutes to book 4 outbound and 4 return. Had to book separate due to different class on return.

Akuma
Guest
Akuma

Very helpful, thanks. Wasn’t too keen on the idea of sending all the necessary personal information via unencrypted email in the first place.

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

IME, their call center is in Russia. I was able to speak Russian with them, when booking.

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

If you need to top off your Turkish but can’t wait for Citi to transfer, TK is $.03/mile, not as good as Citi, but I needed 10k this morning when 6 – 1st class opened up in lie flat LAX-OGG, decided to splurge on 1st for the kids too. So $300 for 10k more since I didn’t want to wait the 24-72 hours for Citi to transfer to TK. Btw, thank you for outlining this sweet spot a few weeks ago. Got 4 1st 12,500 each and 4 econ red eye return 7,500 each. Took 48 hours for my Citi to transfer.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Kimbra
Have u used TK points for trips to the EU by United and is it a Deal ??
Thank You
CHEERs

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

No, just recently learned about the Hawaii sweet spot. Would love to learn other TK point hacks 🙂

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

Planning to book UA to middle East using TK in a near future. This is another sweet spot.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Yuri
Good post I’m going there next month united with united points .This opens up looking @ TK points and some of Singapore’s flts on United have huge fees making TY useless to me.
CHEERs

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

My transfer to TK from Citi was in less than 24 hours. They will hold your award for 3 days.

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[…] Greg posted about how you can buy enough Citi ThankYou points to fly from basically anywhere in the US to Hawaii for $386 round tr…. The trick of course is using Turkish Miles & Smiles, a Citi ThankYou transfer partner that […]

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[…] and to/from Hawaii (See: 7.5K each way to Hawaii. The sweetest spot we’ve been missing. and $386 to Hawaii round trip from anywhere in the US), this deal is potentially another terrific value for those who can travel in […]