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If you read this blog with any regularity you will already know that I love Hawaii. I love almost everything about it, except perhaps how many points/miles it can take to get there if you don’t live on the West Coast (in which case you can use just 25k British Airways Avios RT to fly on American or Alaska). For those of us in the middle of the country, or on the east coast, the distance based charts aren’t favorable for us to get to Hawaii. Sometimes you can get lucky and catch a sale where tickets can go for close to $400 RT, but that takes good timing and luck, and you will be sitting in coach unless you have elite status or elite upgrade instruments to potentially get you a more comfortable seat.
Fly to Hawaii in Business Class for Fewer Miles:
If you want to fly at least in business class, you are looking at 80,000 miles round trip in many programs, including United. Considering that getting to Europe and back in business can be about 100,000 miles, it is hard to justify spending that many miles to get to Hawaii in a seat that likely isn’t near as good as the business class seats that are available to Europe. However, there is another way.
You can fly on the same planes, in the same business class seat that you can book with 80,000 United miles, for 60,000 miles by just going through the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program. Singapore Airlines is in the Star Alliance just like United, and as a result you can use their miles to fly on Star Alliance partner, United. If you are more interested in coach than business, that can be done via the same method for 35,000 miles round trip. Don’t worry if you don’t have any Singapore Airlines miles as you can transfer into the Krisflyer program 1:1 from the American Express Membership Rewards program and cards such as the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card, The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, or the Mercedes Benz Platinum Amex.
I outlined the transfer process from Membership Rewards to Singapore Airlines in detail in this post, and I recommend you checking that out if this sounds like a trip you may book in the future. It isn’t hard, but it did take a couple of hours for the miles to post with Singapore. Keep in mind that you are booking with KrisFlyer miles with the KrisFlyer program. Even though you are booking for a United operated flight, you do not contact United to do the booking, and you are not using United miles to make the booking.
Why is it a better deal via Singapore Airlines?
Every award program has their own award chart with their own award prices. Almost all of them have some routes that are more favorable than others when compared to other award charts. Those are often referred to as “sweet spots”. Singapore Airlines actually has a few sweet spots when it comes to flights in the United States. You can fly round trip in the United States on their Star Alliance partner, United, in domestic first class (on a two cabin plane), or in business class (on a three cabin plan) for just 40,000 KrisFlyer miles round trip. This would be 50,000 miles if booked via United using United miles.
What My Family Did:
We really wanted to return to Hawaii this summer (at the request of my daughter who fell in love with it last summer). I have gotten lucky with fare wars to Hawaii before and scored round trip tickets for around $400 each, but I wanted to get the trip locked in (in part due to looming devaluations) and wasn’t willing to wait hopefully for another discounted fare to fall in our laps. We had some Membership Reward points that I didn’t have immediate plans for, so we decided to use 120,000 of them to book the non-stop Houston – Honolulu flight for both my husband and my daughter.
For me, it made more sense to buy a revenue ticket on United. Because of my elite status, I will earn 100% mileage bonus on the flights (so about 15,000 miles to use on a future flight), I have confirmed regional upgrades to use to get me into business class just by buying a coach ticket, and I want to earn elite qualifying miles for next year. My upgrades cleared, and I am sitting right with my family in business class on the United operated flights. I got there with a combo of cash and upgrade instruments, and they got there using Membership Reward points via Singapore Airlines.
We then added the Honolulu – Kauai flights on Hawaiian using a combo of United miles (5k each way on Hawaiian), Hawaiian miles (7.5k each way), and cash. We could have booked all the way to Kauai using just KrisFlyer miles if we connected on the West Coast for a flight to Kauai, and kept all of our flights on United operated flights. However, we wanted the direct Houston – Honolulu flight, and once you get to Honolulu there is no United operated flight to get you to Kauai. That nonstop to Honolulu worked best for our needs, so we were wiling to add the flights to Kauai on top of that ourselves.
If you are just starting out with miles and points this may still sound a little confusing. That’s okay, either ask me some questions until it makes sense, or just file it away somewhere and come back to it when you need it. Once you get past the basics of earning and redeeming miles, I think the smartest “intermediate” step you can take is to begin identifying the “sweet spots” in various award charts as they relate to places you want to go. Using 60,000 Membership Reward points instead of 80,000 United miles to go to Hawaii and back in business class is a deal I will certainly take.
Have you utilized the sweet spots in the Singapore Airlines award chart to fly on United in the US or to Hawaii, or do you think this is a trip you make take in the future?
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