A week or so ago I shared the great news that I had read at Online Travel Review about how to get to Hawaii in first class for about $330 roundtrip.  If you want to go the coach route, it can be had for about $100 less.  The short version of how this was possible was by purchasing miles on Icelandair and taking advantage of a favorable currency conversion and a 20% bonus on miles purchased.  The 20% bonus runs until September 28th.  That means that you need to purchase 25,000 miles per first class ticket and they will be converted to the needed 30,000 miles with the 20% bonus.  I purchased 50,000 miles (converted to 60,000 miles) so I could obtain two first class tickets and it cost me $645.76USD.  That is about $323 per ticket!  There are roughly about $38 each in additional taxes/fees when you make the reservation for each ticket.  Warning: in the comments, some are reporting being charged over $100 in taxes.  Sounds like that is likely an error, but it is one that is not yet resolved.  I did not have that experience, but just wanted to include the warning.  Those Icelandair miles that were purchased were then used to book on their partner airline, Alaska Airlines.  Since the news first came out, much more has been learned about the Icelandair rules.

It turns out that Icelandair allows one stopover or one open-jaw per roundtrip.  A stopover is when a flight has a four hour or longer layover in a given city.  An open-jaw is when you fly in or out of a different city.  For example, Seattle to Maui and then Kauai back to Seattle would be considered an open-jaw (you would be getting yourself between islands on a separate ticket).  What that means is that many of the flights from the East Coast and Texas don’t work because the connections in cities like Seattle are for longer than four hours both coming and going.  That was the case for me when I tried to get in on this deal from Texas.  Alaska Airlines serves Houston, but they only fly to Seattle from Houston, and the flight times made it such that I could not find a way to jump in on this deal without positioning myself to a different city that Alaska Airlines serves.

I decided to position myself to the West Coast and fly from San Jose to Kauai on this deal.  The dates and location lined up well for me, so I am pretty excited about it.  With my daughter I really didn’t want to go from Houston to Seattle to Hawaii all in the same day anyway (though I might have sucked it up and done it had it been available).  Obviously getting to San Jose adds a cost in miles or dollars to my trip, but it is worth it to me.  However, I wanted to find a way for my friends in Texas to take advantage of this deal without having to get themselves to the West Coast first.

It looks like there is a way to jump on this from Texas without positioning flights – if you can get yourself to Dallas.  I see that there are flights from DFW to Seattle to Honolulu or Maui that would meet the requirements of just one stopover or open-jaw.  I also saw a comment on Online Travel Review from someone who actually booked one of these tickets successfully from Dallas.  Since Dallas is just a three hour drive from major cities in Texas like Austin and Houston, this opens up this deal for many more folks in my home state.  Here is a screen shot of two flights that are available from DFW to HNL – the first wouldn’t work because the stopover in Seattle is for longer than four hours, but the second option should work just fine.

As a reminder, when you search for these flights, you need to be looking for Super Saver availability on Alaska Airlines reward flights.  This will be the Super Saver level when you are looking on the Alaska Airlines site.  The Alaska Airlines site is a great place to start looking for availability, but to verify that it is actually bookable by Icelandair, I recommend checking out Expert Flyer to look for “A” (First Class Saver) or “W” (Coach Saver) seats.  Expert Flyer offers a free 5 day trial, so you don’t have any financial commitments if you just want to use it for this purpose.  If you see something like A 0 on Expert Flyer then you know that it won’t be bookable by Icelandair.  However, if it says A and then a number like 1, 2, 3, etc. then it should be bookable by Icelandair if it meets the other open-jaw and stopover requirements.  The number will tell you how many seats should be available.  When you call Icelandair to book the flights (1-800-223-5500), have the exact flight information available for them.

Million Mile Secrets has a great post detailing step by step instructions on how to search for this deal.  If someone finds a way to jump on this from Houston, Austin, or San Antonio. let me know.  The one evening flight per day to SEA, and one morning flight return seems to make it impossible to stay within their four hour stopover rule from these cities.  However, it is good to have an option just a few hours drive away (or 4,500 Avios for a one-way flight on American using British Airways points).

I really hope that some of my Texan friends (both in the “real world” and on this site) are able to get in on this deal!  If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Posted by Mommy Points | 34 Comments

34 Responses to “How to Fly From Texas to Hawaii in First for $323 RT (Plus Taxes/Fees)”

  1. BothofUs2 says:

    @MP There are currently several of us that got in on this deal (myself included) that are being charged taxes/fees that are very high. For example, I’m being charged $141 *per person* for taxes/fees on ORD-SEA-OGG (openjaw) KOA-SEA-ORD. When I called Icelandair, they said they are working through some tax issues with Alaska Airlines, who they claim is forcing them to collect this tax.

  2. Andrew says:

    I too got in on this deal (OAK-OGG) but found that I was charged taxes/fees that cost more than the tickets. Their customer service has been spotty on resolving this- I called them, and they told me this was only something I could fix by email. I emailed them on Thursday and have yet to get a response. I’m sure it will be resolved, but its scary seeing those extra charges on my statement for so long.

  3. mommypoints says:

    @Bothofus, good to know. I didn’t have that experience, but I sure hope they resolve it soon!
    @Andrew, I bet it will be resolved as well, but that isn’t any fun that it is taking that long to resolve! Thanks for the info. I will add a warning to the post.

  4. Burhan says:

    You can fly to Anchorage (Alaska) from Houston using this scheme. Houston-Seattle-Anchorage through Alaska Air meets the less than 4hr stopover requirement.
    I’ve not tried to book any tickets yet and Saver level availability may be an issue but at least the option is there.

  5. Matt says:

    I also got in on this deal and was charged $252 in taxes and fees for my 2 first class tickets (SAN->HNL,OGG->SAN). I haven’t contacted them about it yet as it’s still pending on my credit card. Hoping that gets figured out, cause even though it’s still a good deal, its about $150 more than I expected.

    Also, I booked my awards on Friday and still haven’t gotten an email from Iceland air with ticket info. How long did it take for everyone else to get their email (I did get a confirmation # on the phone).

  6. stewart says:

    We are booked from sjc-hnl july 3-10…thanks for the tip.

  7. Leonard says:

    @MP when you mentioned your taxes for the first class tickets you didnt say anything about the $25/ ticket fee they add on for making the reservation. I made a DCA-SEA Stopover SEA-YVR then YVR-PDX-DCA resevation for 3 in coach and was taxed $90 plus the reservation fee total cost was $800 which I dont think is bad for 3 tickets.

  8. mommypoints says:

    @Burhan, that is great. I hadn’t played with that route too much yet, but Alaska is on my “visit” list for sure!
    @Matt, agree that makes the deal not near as good. I booked on a Friday and they said tickets would be emailed by Tuesday (though I ended up getting them within 24 hours). I would follow-up if you don’t have them by tomorrow.
    @Stewart, yay! Enjoy!
    @Leonard, congrats for making it work from the East Coast! For me there wasn’t a separate $25 phone fee, so I assumed it was bundled in the $38 taxes/fees per ticket charge. Seems the fees may be a bit inconsistent here. Interested to know what the actual charges should be. I also don’t think that $800 total for three tickets from the East Coast to Hawaii is bad.

  9. Alex says:

    Anyone still having trouble getting an Saga Club account? I applied over a week ago when this news first came out, and I still have no account. I called CS and they keep telling me it takes at least a week before my account will be created. Please let me know if you had luck getting past this step

  10. Don T says:

    MP, I don’t have access to a computer right now, could you tell me how far out you can buy tickets?

  11. Grant says:

    I bought 50K Iceland points (+10K free) for $644.24. I called up and booked 2 first class tix from San Diego to Honolulu and total taxes/fees were $129.53, for a grand total of $773.77 / 2 = $386.89 per person. I was a little surprised by the “large” taxes but its still a heck of a deal. Used part of my $2,000 CSP spend, so that helped out too.

  12. Autolycus says:

    Anybody tried ATL-SEA-Hawaii? With all the trouble people had getting from the east coast generally, I hadn’t really looked at the deal, but might if it looks like finding availability from ATL isn’t a wild goose chase.

  13. Teresa Holman says:

    Hey there, I’m trying to understand if you are saying there has to be LESS than a 4 hour layover, or MORE than a 4 hour layover? Can you address that question. Cause I was going to go Houston to Seattle, stay the night and then fly to Lihue, Kauai. Are you saying that anything more than 4 hours cannot be purchased with Icelandair points?

    • mommypoints says:

      @Teresa, it has to be less than four hours. You can have one stopover (more than 4 hours) on the roundtrip, but you can’t have two. If you can find a way from Houston please let me know as I couldn’t find a way to make it work without at least positioning to Dallas.

  14. Hawaii Bound says:

    I was allowed 2 stopovers somehow. I just have to position to DFW as ATL wasn’t available. I made a Saga Club account and purchase on Saturday August 18 and the points posted instantly. I had a confirmation from Iceland Air, but I wasn’t officially ticketed on Alaska till Friday August 24. I have a pending charge of approx. $180 for taxes on two First Class Tickets.

    I did remove the flight dates. But I have two almost 24 hour layovers in/to enjoy San Diego.

    Details:

    Flight 1
    confirmed
    Departure: 7:15AM Dallas, USA – Dallas Ft Worth, terminal E
    Arrival: 9:30AM Seattle, USA – Seattle Tacoma
    Airline: Alaska Airlines AS665
    Duration: 4:15
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-700

    Fare type: First
    Baggage: 2 piece(s) per traveler
    current flight status

    Seattle to San Diego

    Flight 1
    confirmed
    Departure: 11:15AM Seattle, USA – Seattle Tacoma
    Arrival: 1:57PM San Diego, USA – Lindberg Fld, terminal 1
    Airline: Alaska Airlines AS472
    Duration: 2:42
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-400

    Fare type: First
    Baggage: 2 piece(s) per traveler
    current flight status

    San Diego to Kahului

    Flight 1 NEXT DAY
    confirmed
    Departure: 7:15AM San Diego, USA – Lindberg Fld, terminal 1
    Arrival: 10:05AM Kahului, USA – Kahului
    Airline: Alaska Airlines AS825
    Duration: 5:50
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-800

    Fare type: First
    Baggage: 2 piece(s) per traveler
    current flight status

    Kahului to San Diego

    Flight 1
    confirmed
    Departure: 1:45PM Kahului, USA – Kahului
    Arrival: 10:00PM San Diego, USA – Lindberg Fld, terminal 1
    Airline: Alaska Airlines AS890
    Duration: 5:15
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-800

    Fare type: First
    Baggage: 2 piece(s) per traveler
    current flight status

    San Diego to Seattle

    Flight 1 NEXT DAY
    confirmed
    Departure: 1:25PM San Diego, USA – Lindberg Fld, terminal 1
    Arrival: 4:09PM Seattle, USA – Seattle Tacoma
    Airline: Alaska Airlines AS491
    Duration: 2:44
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-400

    Fare type: First
    Baggage: 2 piece(s) per traveler
    current flight status

    Seattle to Dallas

    Flight 1
    confirmed
    Departure: 5:55PM Seattle, USA – Seattle Tacoma
    Arrival: 11:37PM Dallas, USA – Dallas Ft Worth, terminal E
    Airline: Alaska Airlines AS664
    Duration: 3:42
    Aircraft: Boeing 737-700

    Fare type: First
    Baggage: 2 piece(s) per traveler

  15. Joseph G says:

    @Mommypoints, what are your thoughts on purchasing the icelandair miles now, converting them to alaska miles (with the bonus) then holding them for a later time? I would love to jump on the conversion advantage right now but my wife and I already have a trip planned to Mexico next week, Phoenix and New York in December, and Ireland in the spring… lol… We have both always wanted to go to Hawaii but I can’t make the time commitment at the moment. Thanks!

  16. Stephan says:

    Well you don’t actually convert to AS miles.

  17. mommypoints says:

    @Hawaii Bound, awesome! I think you might have lucked out – though the computer let the ticket go through, so maybe others can “luck out” as well.
    @Joseph G, I would personally not recommend speculatively purchasing these miles since they could change the award chart, fees, etc. at any time. The 20% bonus runs until late September, so at that point you could make a booking for late August 2013. I would not purchase the miles until you can book the flight you want….but that is just me. ;) Technically the miles are good for four years.
    @Stephan, correct. You aren’t converting the miles to AS miles, just using them to book through Icelandair on AS.

  18. Gabe C says:

    Another data point, purchased about 80000 Saga points (including bonus) and paid $255 for taxes on 4 coach tickets from OAK to OGG. Total cost per ticket is about $287 when you factor in the taxes. Another random point, when I was trying to purchase the Saga points I accidentally purchased too many because some of my transactions were being cancelled and I’d try again, well one of the transactions I thought was cancelled didn’t cancel and went through and meanwhile I had gone back and bought another set of points so now I’m sitting pretty on an additional 33400 saga points. Anyone know what I can do with these points? Convert them to something else? Thanks!

  19. tifosi says:

    I still can’t get multiple transactions to go through to actually purchase miles – the flights are sitting there just waiting for me to book them, but 4 attempts to buy points fail by the next day…

    Phone waits have been pretty long, I thought I would wait it out a bit and try again…

  20. Matt says:

    Gabe, you should chat with one of the reps on points.com (go to the site, ‘Contact Us’, and then on the right there is a chat option).

    They let me cancel one of my purchases when I did a few duplicates because they weren’t going through.

  21. oliver says:

    I managed to get this through from DFW,
    I wouldnt be surprised if you could get it done from IAH.

  22. DaninSTL says:

    @Gabe you can convert the points over to US airways via Points.com with a really good exchange rate. They convert to other programs but US Air seems to be the best.

    Also I just figured out you can convert Club Carlson points to Icelandair points at 2,000 for 250, 50k for 8k or 100k for 18k. Not bad if you can’t use them for stays that fit your plans. I think the exchange to BA Avios is the best deal from CC though.

  23. MillValleyMom says:

    @mommypoints have you checked your credit card balance recently? I successfully booked and ticketed 4 tickets to Hawaii this April. All charges and taxes cleared my account. Then, I went in to see my credit card charges today after reading so many stories in these comments, and sadly I saw two more charges totaling an additional $780. The new charges were billed from “Icelandair Websale Icelan” and the previous charges were from Points Icelandair. Has this happened to you?

    • mommypoints says:

      @MillValleyMom, I have not yet had that experience (just checked again tonight), though given all the comments I will certainly keep a close eye on it. Sorry to hear so many are having trouble with this!

  24. BothofUs2 says:

    I called again today, the rep said they are still working through the fees. As a datapoint, here’s what I was charged for ORD-SEA-OGG (openjaw) KOA-SEA-ORD.

    ISK2020 = $16.80 /US Alaska/Hawaii Departure Tax (US)
    ISK6750 = $56.16 / US Transportation Tax (US)
    ISK8280=$68.62 / XT

    The “XT” is some sort of extra bucket in the airline code world. What’s in the bucket isn’t itemized on my Icelandair invoice. I went to ITA (http://www.itasoftware.com) and priced the equivalent trip, on the equivalent dates and times, and found additional charges that add up to this amount (approximately due to currency conversion). Those charges would be for-

    Flight Segment = $15.20
    Passenger Facility Charge = $18.00
    Sept 11 fee = $10.00
    Booking Fee = $25
    Total in Fees=$68.20

    I would be curious to see some other datapoints from other readers, to find out if Icelandair charged them US Transportation Tax. I do not believe they should be charging the “US Transportation Tax” on these redemptions because that tax is based on the cost of *buying* a ticket, and not a points redemption.

    A little digging around shows this on the irs.gov website:

    http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=186838,00.html#PersonsAirFrequentFlyerMiles

    “As a general rule, all amounts paid for the air transportation of persons are subject to tax. Where no amount is paid for air transportation, such as when the transportation is obtained by the redemption of frequent flyer miles, the transaction is not subject to the percentage tax, the domestic segment tax, or international facilities tax. Cite: Rev. Rul. 84-12, 1984-1 C.B. 211. ” If anyone has any other datapoints please share with the group. Thanks in advance!

    • MillValleyMom says:

      Thanks for this helpful information @BothofUs2! I called Icelandair this morning and had them walk me through the various charges that are appearing on my credit card. The good news is that they acknowledge a significant overcharge on my account and are working to correct it today. The piece that seems to be pricing correctly is $128.88 in taxes & fees for two roundtrip tickets to Hawaii from OAK. This seems in line with your charges. Thanks for the insight and giving me a little peace of mind!

  25. MNY says:

    @oliver – would you mind sharing the routing you were able to get from DFW? I’ve tried but haven’t been lucky finding anything

  26. Ian says:

    If you check on alaskaair.com for fares from the west coast to HNL, some are as low as $316 AI (BLI-HNL). This is a sample that I found in April. Other cities might be a little more. First class on AS to Hawaii is nothing to write home about. I have sat in first on CO and United from Hawaii and I couldn’t even fall asleep because the seats are just slightly larger than coach and do not recline much. I would prefer to just pay the $350 or so and fly coach then when you are back you have over 5000 AS miles (1/5 of a free AS super saver domestic flight). I don’t see that much advantage in buying miles from Iceland, using them to get a flight on AS and then having all these fees and surcharges pop up on your credit card, being stuck with restrictions on dates, times, open jaws, layovers, and in the end you barely save any money. Just my opinion.

  27. Jasmine says:

    @BothofUs2 I am also trying to find bookable tickets out of ORD, preferably open jaw like you did. How did you find those? What dates did you find? I have not seen anything yet. I am looking for Feb/March 2013….any input would be GREATLY appreciated!

  28. BothofUs2 says:

    @Jasmine These took a while to find, and are for travel in July next year. Maybe that’s why we had some luck, as it’s pretty far in advance. I would suggest starting with the Alaska Air website, start by looking at just the going portion of your itinerary, be flexible and think outside the box a bit-you can piece together some interisland flights cheaply later. Search ORD-OGG, OGG-KOA, OGG-HNL. Look at supersaver award availability on a “calendar view”. This will show you potential dates and points costs, 37,500 one way is the Supersaver fare you want to find. Then it’s a matter of trying to find a schedule that would work for you date/time wise, and enough seats for you and whomever else is going. You’ll need to find return routing then as well. This is made much easier with the ExpertFlyer website (they have a 5 day trial I believe). I used ExpertFlyer extensively to try and find flights with award availability and it saved me a ton of time. Once you have all your dates and flight numbers you should be able to contact Icelandair and give them that info and they should be able to book it. Note there are crazy tax/fee problems occurring on some award bookings, it may cost you more than you think. A bunch of us are waiting for Icelandair to resolve this for us. Also, I read on some other bloggers sites that Icelandair is telling people there is no more Hawaii availability on Alaska Air for the rest of the year – it is sold out. Based on what I am seeing this evening on Alaska’s website and ExpertFlyer, that isn’t the case, but maybe Alaska Air has shut down the ability to book these flights with their partner Icelandair (I’m speculating). Or maybe (as some other commenters have speculated) the folks in the Icelandair call center have had enough stress and it’s easier to just say no.

    For us, finding more than 1 award seat available on a flight was very challenging, as it stands my family is flying to Hawaii split between 2 itineraries; part of us arriving Kona and part arriving Maui, but the Maui group will get a cheap interisland flight and meet up in Kona upon arrival. I hope this helps a little bit at least.

  29. BothofUs2 says:

    @Jasmine One other thing I forgot to mention, consider looking at just the SEA-OGG/HNL/KOA or PDX-OGG/HNL/KOA routes without the ORD segment to start. Maybe you can get a cheap positioning flight out there that day, or can arrive a few days earlier. I took a look at ExpertFlyer and there is some coach availability 3/3, 3/4 and 3/5 from SEA-HNL. In fact, there’s ORD-HNL avail on 3/6 via ANC in first class at this moment.

  30. Leo says:

    Just got off the phone with Iceland Air Receptionist. She said they will stop booking these AS award tickets tom. Dont know how that will happen but if I was holding on to some points right now I would try to book a trip by the weekend.

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