7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing

Our #40Kfaraway challenge has led me to more closely study the award charts of all of the Citi Transfer Partners. I recently stumbled on a gem that I shared over the weekend at FM to Go Minneapolis: you can fly from the mainland US to/from Hawaii for 7.5K each way in economy class. If you can find it, business class is 12.5K each way. That’s a pretty amazing sweet spot — and yes, I’ve booked it to verify that it can be done.

Sweet spot spotlight:

  • The short story: Turkish charges only 7,500 miles and $5.60 in economy class (or 12,500 miles and $5.60 in business class) for travel within the United states, including to and from Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 7,500 Turkish Miles & Smiles miles (a Citi transfer partner)
  • Award availability: As good as United allows, which is pretty good in economy class from most US cities (but not all / not much around peak times)
  • How to find awards: Search united.com
  • How to book awards: Book with Turkish offline. Traditionally, this has required going in-person to a ticket office to ticket. Some have also reported success ticketing via email, which is what I did.  See also: Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how.

The sweet spot that is no more

Kangaroo Lazing in the Afternoon

When we began the #40Kfaraway challenge, I started digging in to the Citi Transfer partners with which I was least familiar. I previously knew very little about Turkish Miles & Smiles. When I looked at blog posts like this one and this one, the key sweet spot highlighted was the fact that Turkish classified Hawaii in the “Oceania” region. Due to in-region pricing, that meant that a flight from Hawaii to the other places more classically considered to be Oceania could be booked for 15K each way in economy class or 25K in business class.

Unfortunately, I think that may no longer be true. I tried to price out a couple of routes from Hawaii to Oceania and was quoted rates that were much higher than expected. I saw at least one similar report at Flyertalk. Based on my experience and what you’ll read below, I think that this sweet spot (Hawaii to Oceania for 15K each way in econ / 25K biz) no longer exists as Hawaii is no longer listed in the “Oceania” region definition like it was in screen shots in those old posts.

However, that realization led me to find that tickets from the mainland to Hawaii are quite a bargain.

Turkish Award Charts

Turkish Miles & Smiles has a pretty interesting award chart. You can find the chart here (scroll down to “Award ticket table” and click the tiny red arrows to the right of those words to expand the chart).

I made a North America-centric version here (note there is some consolidation — since North America to Europe 1, Europe 2, or Turkey are the same price, I consolidated those to “Europe” here):

The prices above are for round trip travel. Turkish allows one-way awards for half the price of a round trip.

You’ll also notice that North America to North America costs 20K / 30K / 50K round trip in economy / business / first class. That is for flights within the North America region, which for example would apply to flights between the US and Canada or Mexico.

However, the asterisk following those numbers is because Turkish actually has a different chart for awards flown within a region on Turkish as well as domestic Star Alliance awards (which do not need to be operated by Turkish).

Here are the relevant notes from below that chart about domestic flights::

***Applicable Mile amount for direct flights with Star Alliance member airlines in the same country.

As you can see, domestic Star Alliance awards should price at 15K round trip in Economy Class / 25K in business class / 40K in first class. Since a one-way is half the cost of a round trip, here is a simpler breakdown:

Domestic Star Alliance awards with Turkish Miles & Smiles

    • 7.5K each way in economy class
    • 12.5K each way in business class
    • 20K each way in first class

Those are some amazing prices when you consider that they apply to domestic flights across the United States. LifeMiles gets attention for the fact that flights can be booked for 7500 miles each way within a single US region. Turkish charges 7.5K each way within the United States.

However, I was slightly unsure about what this would mean for connecting itineraries since the note below the chart mentions it is the applicable amount for direct flights.

My first test

My first test was to see if that pricing would actually hold up on an award within North America. I wondered a few things: Would this really apply to any domestic flight? Would it apply on a transcon flight? Would it apply to direct flights only, or are connections OK?

I priced out the following two-segment itinerary from Washington, DC to to Las Vegas via Los Angeles:

United Airlines Flight 632 from Washington Dulles (IAD) – Los Angeles (LAX) 12:30-14:56

United Airlines Flight 2365 from Los Angeles (LAX) – Las Vegas (LAS) 16:31-17:45

Sure enough, the Turkish Airlines representative told me it would cost 7,500 miles and $5.60. That was very promising since it proved that:

  1. The domestic Star Alliance pricing applies to United flights within the United States (even spanning the distance from coast to coast)
  2. The domestic Star Alliance pricing applies to itineraries with connections (it is not priced per segment)
  3. Backtracking is allowed (flying past the destination — Las Vegas in this case — and coming back to it)

I’ve often said that half my brain is always on a beach in Hawaii. After discovering the above, that half suddenly became louder.

Does this really apply to United flights to and from Hawaii?

It absolutely does.

You sure did, Turkish Miles & Smiles.

Part of what led me to this discovery is that I had originally gone to Turkish Miles and Smiles to price out the Island Hopper, a famed United Airlines flight from Honolulu to Guam that stops on 5 Pacific islands along the way. Turkish told me that I couldn’t book the hopper but rather only the direct flight from Honolulu to Guam (United also flies direct, with no stops) and it would cost 52.5K miles each way in economy class. That didn’t make sense to me since, based on the old blog posts mentioned above, I expected Hawaii and Guam to both be located in Oceania (and therefore expected a price of 15K each way).

However, I then realized that 52.5K would be the economy class price from North America to Oceania in economy class. I double-checked the Turkish region table definitions and sure enough found Honolulu has made its way back to North America:

While that is undoubtedly a bummer for anyone who had been able to make use of the Hawaii-to-Oceania sweet spot, there was a silver lining in seeing Hawaii included in the North America region: I knew flights to and from Hawaii should at least price out at the North America-to-North America rates of 20K economy / 30K business / 50K first.

However, I realized that it might get even better. Flights to Hawaii are obviously domestic US flights. Wanting to stay consistent with above, I found a date on United.com with an available 1-stop itinerary from Washington, DC to Honolulu. Unfortunately, the agent told me that the first leg was not available, but she confirmed that the cost would be 7,500 miles and $5.60 one way in economy class. I’m not sure why she didn’t see the first leg available, but in my handful of experiments with Turkish thus far, that seems to have been an anomaly. Other flights I’ve found available via United / Aeroplan are available to Turkish provided they follow the Turkish rules (only one Star Alliance carrier, max of 4 segments each way, etc).

I thus went back with a new request for a different date from Washington, DC to Chicago to Honolulu. Sure enough, it priced at 7,500 miles and $5.60 one-way. Still only half believing it to be true, I went ahead and booked it and am happy to report that I have ticketed a 1-stop itinerary from mainland North America to Hawaii for 7,500 miles and $5.60 one way with Turkish Miles & Smiles.

Take that Citi ThankYou points haters.

If I could have found flat-bed business class availability, it would have only been 12,500 miles each way — though note that this is not so easy to find these days. Still, it’s worth the hunt if you’re flexible.

Note that transfers to Miles & Smiles are not instant. That’s the biggest bummer — it takes 1-2 days for transfers to post to your Turkish Miles & Smiles account. Ticketing is a further hurdle since it can not be done online and requires a convoluted process with more paperwork than is customary with other airline programs. In short, this is not a quick and easy process. However, it can be done.

Bottom line

Turkish Miles & Smiles has an award chart with some nice sweet spots, but without a doubt the sweetest of them all (and possibly the sweetest award chart sweet spot I’ve seen in years) is that flights on United to and from Hawaii price as domestic US awards at 7,500 miles each way in economy class / 12,500 miles each way in business class. Keep in mind that those prices are not only valid on direct flights from the West Coast but theoretically from any airport in the 50 US states from which you can find United availability.

I don’t know for sure if I’ll get as far away as Greg and Stephen in the 40K to Far Away challenge, but it will be hard to feel like a loser when I find a spot in the sand on Waikiki Beach for only 7,500 miles one way. With 40K miles, I could fly a route like Newark to Honolulu 5 times. Without any effort at building connecting itineraries to maximize mileage flown, I could travel nearly 25,000 miles and still have 2500 miles and $372 left. Game on.

Map courtesy of GCMap.com

Last updated on July 8th, 2019

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

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.

68
Leave a Reply

avatar
35 Comment threads
33 Thread replies
34 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
34 Comment authors
ShonuffharlemGregRBig Alpaul petersonpaul5795 Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
trackback

[…] Miles & Smiles has an incredibly generous award chart which includes deals such as 7.5K one-way from anywhere in the US to Hawaii (or 15K in business class), 45K one-way business class to Europe, 52.5K one-way business class to central Asia, etc.  And you […]

Tom
Guest
Tom

United mileage plus member with an upcoming United flight. Should I/can I credit Turkish miles and how do I determine the number of Turkish miles I would receive? I have United status match and in the process of a challenge and need the 12,500 PQM’s with United to maintain gold status through 1/21. If I don’t credit United mileage will I not meet the challenge? Thanks.

Vet&Banker
Guest
Vet&Banker

Tom,

When booking United flights look for the Fare Code; it will be a letter in parenthesis next to your booking cabin – e.g. “United Economy (N)”. Easiest place to find what that gets you on Turkish is WhereToCredit.com: just find United and whatever code your flight is in the drop down links. It will show a table of United partner airlines and Turkish will be there. That will be the % of miles flown credited to Turkish if you choose.

Miles for a particular flight can only be credited to 1 program. thus, if you credit that flight to Turkish you cannot credit to United. That will mean those miles won’t count towards the status challenge.

Sam
Guest
Sam

In order to book with turkish miles, doesn’t that require United Saver awards be available? Thanks!

Jan
Guest
Jan

For booking NA to Europe for 90k round trip, would this be on any star alliance airline? If available by looking at United.com would it also be available for booking the award ticket by calling Turkish airlines call center? Is there fuel tax for booking?

Thanks

HoKo
Guest
HoKo

Yeah I’d also be interested to hear about fuel surcharges on the European itineraries. Have you priced any of these?

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

This is interesting, thanks! I knew about the Turkish one-country awards, but had read on Flyertalk that some people were being quoted very high taxes and surcharges on UA domestic routes as of a few years ago. Great to know that you got them to issue a domestic award ticket for a reasonable amount of money.

Robert
Guest
Robert

Interesting that their award chart lists Honolulu and not “Hawaii.” Any data points on if United flights to OGG, LIH, or KOA are also bookable with Turkish miles at the 7.5k price?

Stephen Pepper
Member

Uh-oh, I’m gonna be hosed for the 40k challenge aren’t I?!

Diana
Guest
Diana

Thanks so much! This is an awesome deal if you can find it! Just got back from Hawaii a couple weeks ago using American miles and this looks my opportunity to go back!

Ramzi
Guest
Ramzi

You are a god among men Nick, Awesome find. 2 questions: Do you know if Turkish allows mixed cabin awards? Do you know the layover allotment for US Domestic flights (including Hawaii) using Turkish airline points?

Sam
Guest
Sam

End the 40K competition. Nick hereby has just won it all.

trackback

[…] 7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing – Frequent Miler […]

Silas
Guest
Silas

Didn’t they used to tack on a $115 booking fee for domestic awards, or does this only apply to first class (or not at all)?

Ralph Kramden
Guest
Ralph Kramden

I am currently bowing over with my arms stretched out in front of my chanting “I am not worthy.”

You are the King…..Long Love the King

trackback

[…] it still remains a valuable transfer partner with multiple airlines around the world. Today, Frequent Miler noticed something amazing: Turkish Airlines, one of those partners, has an extremely generous […]

Maxim Izeitbabe
Guest
Maxim Izeitbabe

Damn, just spilled my coffee all over the place while reading this post this morning. Holy cow, how does one top this monster of a deal!?
Like Sam said – it might be time to call the winner of this challenge…

Miles Ahead
Guest
Miles Ahead

OMG, Nick that seems like a fantastic find that is too good to be true. Beyond emailing or going to a ticket counter what’s the catch (aside from UA super saver award availability, perhaps fees as others have indicated)? Can one fly direct for the 7.5K miles&smiles points say ORD>HNL; your example lists a stop. Thanks, could be game, set, match, Nick…

phil
Guest
phil

Now if UA would issue more saver inventory. I’ll ck this method before our next HI trip.

TJones
Guest
TJones

I won’t say that I am a ThankYou Points hater, but I certainly wasn’t a believer… until now. What an amazing sweet spot! Well done indeed!

George
Guest
George

So is it or is it not limited to direct flights? Their terms say yes, but you’re saying connecting flights priced out the same when talking to them…

Shonuffharlem
Guest
Shonuffharlem

I feel like something is lost in translation. I feel they mean no stopovers. But I could be wrong.

Jimm
Guest
Jimm

Wow… Mind blown*** Nick, this is an incredible find. I’m looking for availability as I’m typing. Another reason why frequentmiler is my favorite travel blog :). Thanks!

Michael
Guest
Michael

Amazing!! Thanks for the great find! Follow up question: since Antilles Netherlands (St. Maarten, Aruba, etc) and Bermuda is included in North America, does that mean we can fly anywhere from North America to those places for the same price as HNL?

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

My guess is no since it will be not a domestic flight. It should be “North America to North America costs 20K / 30K / 50K round trip in economy / business / first class.”

trackback

[…] morning, we wrote about an amazing sweet spot in the Turkish Miles & Smiles program (See: 7.5K each way to Hawaii. The sweetest spot we’ve been missing.). However, it’s not the only sweet spot in the chart — and Turkish is upping the ante […]

Big Al
Guest
Big Al

Great post Nick. Amazing find! I know this is all new to you still but any idea if Turkish charge close in booking fees?

paul peterson
Guest
paul peterson

I don’t think so. Was quoted $5.60 in taxes/fees for a United flight departing in five days.

Big Al
Guest
Big Al

Awesome. Thanks

Kim
Guest
Kim

This is what I received back via email.
There is no direct flight from CLE –OGG Please send exact routings and we will check accordingly.
NO DIRECT SERVICE
Any ideas ?

trackback

[…] 7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing […]

trackback

[…] 7.5K each way to Hawaii: The sweetest spot we’ve been missing […]

Karan Bhatia
Guest
Karan Bhatia

Hey Nick, I have found United Saver awards from EWR to HNL, and I sent Turkish email like you posted in your article. But the reply I have received for all dates that I asked them for is that “There is no availability”. I gave the exact dates, and flight details. Is this deal dead?

trackback

[…] of Newfoundland, Nick from Frequent Miler is doing research for the 40K to Far Away and he found the best award sweet spot no one seems to know about (until now). Hint – it has to do with palm trees, beaches and 7,500-mile award […]

Greg
Guest
Greg

I am missing something about the United Saver Awards. When I try to look up United saver awards, it brings me to this location: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/mileageplus/awards/travel/saveraward.aspx but it doesn’t show Honolulu as an option for the few cities I can choose from. And it also only lets me look at the months of February thru July. Can someone please show me how to find flights that would qualify under this deal?

Greg
Guest
Greg

And to be clear, it has to be available as a United “saver award” in economy? And not just available as an economy ticket? You don’t make this clear in your blog. I’m only discovering this from reading the comments.

Brands
Guest
Brands

Nick, this is post of the year quality here! You said the ticketing process can be difficult, can you elaborate? Do you have to go to a physical Turkish Airlines counter? This might be a problem if you live 500 miles away from the nearest one…

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

Please check the post “Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how” by Nick. There is a hyperlink in this article under the section “sweet spot spotlight.” Or you can search for it in the site.

trackback

[…] Reyes reports that Hawaii has now been moved to the same region as the U.S. No more cheap Australia awards, but […]

Andy Shuman
Guest
Andy Shuman

Fantastic find, Nick!

trackback

[…] The short story: Turkish offers the same pricing on flights to Hawaii as for other domestic US awards, making them an unbelievable value for United Airlines flights to Hawaii. See: 7.5K each way to Hawaii. The sweetest spot we’ve been missing. […]

GregR
Guest
GregR

Great find, Nick!

Has anyone found business class saver award space to Hawaii since this story came out? I keep checking May & June of next year for many combinations of airports (and even tried a trial subscription to JuicyMiles). Nothing in business on United to HI.

trackback

[…] Nick Reyes from Frequent Flyer shared an amazing find: some time ago, the Turkish Miles and Smiles program had put Hawaii (at least Honolulu) in the […]