When I wrote about Cash & Avios options from the West Coast to Hawaii (4,000 Avios + $97.50), I got a lot of requests for a post on how to get from the East Coast to Hawaii. Here’s that promised post. This post explains the best way to find award space, and the cheapest way to book that award space between anywhere in the United States, besides the West Coast, and Hawaii.
Getting from the East Coast to Hawaii is more complicated because there are more options. I’ll break the post into two parts:
- Finding award space to get from the East Coast to Hawaii
- Booking that award space as cheaply as possible
The first step is to find SAVER award space (or MileSAAver, Low, Super Saver, etc) between your home airport and your preferred Hawaiian Island. We’ll search every airline that flies between the mainland and Hawaii.
Then once we’ve found that space, we won’t just blindly book with the miles of the airline we’re flying. Saver award space is equally open to all of an airline’s partners, and many of those partners will have a cheaper award chart than the airline we’re flying. That means the second step is booking the space we find the cheapest possible way.
As an example, if I want to fly on a flat bed from Newark to Honolulu, I’d find space on a direct flight on United in First Class. Then I’d find the cheapest way to book that space (Singapore Airlines miles, a transfer partner of every transferable point program). That’s the basic idea that I’ll be discussing further.
Part I: Finding Award Space Between the East Coast and Hawaii
You only need to search three websites to find award space between the East Coast (or anywhere in America) and Hawaii:
- united.com (shows award space on United flights)
- aa.com (shows award space on American Airlines, US Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines flights)
- delta.com (shows award space on Delta and Alaska Airlines flights)
These sites cover all the airlines that fly between the continental United States and Hawaii that you can book with miles.
Any time you find award space at the Saver, MileSAAver, Low, Super Saver, etc (the cheapest price possible) for any of these airlines on any of these websites, you can book those seats with any of the operating airline’s partners’ miles. This is the focus of Part II.
Flat Beds to Hawaii
Let’s start with the flat bed routes to Hawaii. The only fully flat beds to Hawaii are on United and Delta flights.
United’s flights between Honolulu and Newark or Washington-Dulles always have flat beds in First Class. Delta’s flights between Honolulu and Atlanta always have flat beds in First Class.
United’s flights between other cities and Honolulu sometimes have flat beds in First Class. You can always check by clicking View Seats next to a flight on united.com. Beds are the funny shaped icon in the first diagram. Seats are the rounded-edged square icon in the second.
United has an almost daily flight between San Francisco and Honolulu with a 767-400ER with beds. I also see occasional bed services with a 777 between the United’s hubs and Honolulu.
Some of Delta’s Los Angeles flights have a flat bed. You’ll know by the flat bed icon and the higher price (85,000 miles roundtrip versus 80,000 for normal seats.)
The other possible flat bed flights you can fly between your home and Hawaii include every airline’s flat beds between JFK and Los Angeles, flat beds between JFK and San Francisco on American and United, and between JFK and Seattle on Delta.
Routes and Award Space
I’ll break down the routes by operating carrier. Again: these are not necessarily the miles you’ll use to book these flights.
Two rules of thumb for all the airlines:
- The farther the flight, the less award space there is.
- Low season to Hawaii is winter (excluding holidays); high season is summer. There is more award space in low season.
United has the most routes and flights to Hawaii. It flies to Honolulu from all of its North American hubs.
United also flies from Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to Maui, Kauai, and Kona (Big Island). United also flies the only flight from the mainland to Hilo (Big Island) from Los Angeles.
Remember my two rules of thumb that the longer routes have less space, and there is more space over the winter? You can see that on these calendars for the Newark to Honolulu flight. Not a lot of space is available next June and July, and quite a bit more is available in February and March.
I checked out award space on both the Newark and Washington DC routes for this month to see how last second award space is at a non-peak time. You can see that there is quite a lot of award space this month from Newark. From Washington DC, there is space every day the flight operates (Sundays only.)
Those were just the direct flights from the East Coast. I also searched from New York, Miami, and Washington without the restriction of direct space. I found a lot more award space, especially in First Class. This space routes through Chicago or the West Coast for the most part.
American & US Airways
American and US Airways are both members of oneworld and soon to be one combined airline. I’ll group them together since any miles that can book one can book the other. You can search for their award space on aa.com, though that will also turn up Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines award space. The best place to isolate just these two airlines is usairways.com.
American flies from Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago to Honolulu. It flies to Maui from Dallas and Los Angeles. It also flies to Kauai and Big Island from Los Angeles. US Airways flies to the four major Hawaiian Islands from Phoenix.
Award space is dismal from Dallas to Honolulu, even in economy and even during the low season. To fly American or US Airways to Hawaii, you pretty much need to connect in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles to Honolulu has incredible award space in economy and first class (pictured below).
I see a ton of economy award space opened up by American Airlines between Honolulu and Los Angeles within a month of departure. This can be a prime time to find award seats.
Delta flies from most of its North American hubs to Honolulu plus Seattle to Maui and Los Angeles to Maui, Kona, and Kauai.
Delta award space is much better than you might expect from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Connect to Los Angeles from the East Coast to get from there to Hawaii.
Economy award space is wide open in both directions in September 2014 and February 2015.
Award space can be better from Honolulu to Los Angeles than Los Angeles to Honolulu as the June 2015 award space picture shows.
Award space is great in First Class this month also between Los Angles and Honolulu. Award space in First Class is not very good for the rest of the year.
Alaska Airlines serves all four Hawaiian Islands from 5+ cities.
The problem is that Alaska award space is spotty. Here is Oakland to Honolulu award space in economy.
Furthermore Alaska mainly flies to Hawaii from non-hubs of its partners, so booking Alaska award space is best done on direct flights with Avios instead of on connecting flights from the East Coast.
Hawaiian serves Honolulu from a ton of western cities plus New York. It also serves the other islands from Los Angeles and Oakland.
Hawaiian has excellent award space on some routes including Las Vegas to Honolulu in both directions. This can be a part of an East Coast itinerary as explained in part two.
I’ve given some indication about what airlines release Saver award space on their flights, but that changes all the time. The real use of this post is to illustrate which airlines fly to Hawaii from the east coast and where to search their award space. Once you find that award space, the trick is to book it as cheaply as possible, which is the subject of part two. (hint, check back on Monday for that…)
In the meantime, for my Hawaii-lovers on the east coast, what are some of your favorite miles and routes to use when booking a trip to Hawaii?