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In the past, flying to Hawaii was a huge monumental task for me to plan for my family. We have 4 kids, and the schedule is so difficult for us to pick a date, and we end up going in the heart of the summer. Oh, and wait…the elephant in the room – the outrageous airfare rates to Hawaii are just insane.
However, the alternative that I’ve used since 2014 was earning airline miles and points via credit card sign-up bonuses. That strategy has been my family’s ticket to Hawaii and to anywhere and everywhere in the world. We have not had to pay full fare for awhile now, all thanks to the generous credit card sign-up offers that abound in the US. Imagine this. The only year we skipped Hawaii was 2020, all because of the pandemic. We just decided 2020 was not a good year to travel.
I do find the best value using Chase Ultimate Rewards, these are the points earned by using one of the credit cards that I highly recommend, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card). Current offer as of March 2021 is earning 80,000 bonus points (the Preferred), and 60,000 bonus points on the Reserve. You earn these points after you meet the minimum spend of $4,000, that’s good enough for two to three round trip tickets to Hawaii (or to different parts of the US…NYC, Boston, etc.). These points have the flexibility of being used for international airfare as well as hotels.
British Airways option
One of the bookings I’ve done quite successfully was booking through British Airways. I could transfer my Chase Ultimate Reward points to British Airways and only use 26,000 points per ticket and $11.20 in fees. This option works best when you fly out of a West Coast state. So you will have to check what works for you from your nearby major airport.
How do I book with British Airways
First of all, one might wonder, “wait a minute, British Airways does not fly to Hawaii, do they?” Well, you’re right. However there’s a work around. How will BA fly us to Hawaii? Well, think of BA as the gateway, the conduit. We booked our tickets via BA, but we actually flew American Airlines from LA to Kauai. American Airlines is a partner airline. This is what I had to do, and you can do it, too.
- DO NOT TRANSFER ANY POINTS yet to British at this early stage
- Check BA for flight availability
- Log in to your BA Avios account
- Click on BOOK
- Under FLIGHTS, click Book a flight with Avios
- Enter your information (airports, dates, # of passengers)
- NOTE: FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
- This means that you would need to be flexible with your travel dates
- If you don’t find availability on the first date that you chose, move over to another date, etc.
In the example below, I looked for 6 seats from Los Angeles to the Big Island of Hawaii in August. I found a unicorn – 6 seats!
- You will see up above that it say AVIOS —> 156,000. When you divide that by 6 passengers, that comes down to 26,000 Avios points per person
- Fees? You will see Inclusive Total —> $67.20, when divided by 6, all you will pay is $11.20 in fees per person.
Book your tickets
Okay. I’ve done this booking with British Airways quite a few times, and to be perfectly honest with you, all of my Hawaii bookings had trouble processing online using their website. So try booking for yourself, and if you have trouble, try these steps:
- Call British Airways at 1- 877-767-7970, or 1-800-452-1201
- Have all of your flight information ready (airline, flight #, time, airport) and names of all the passengers in your party
- Make sure you have your British Avios account #
- When you hear the prompt, choose the one that states you are booking with Avios
- You will be transferred to a BA representative, the hold could be awhile
- Once you get through a representative, explain to him/her that you’re trying to book online, but you’re having trouble with the booking
- Provide all the flight information to the BA rep
- Once the BA rep confirms flight availability, and the # of Avios points required and the fees associated, and you agree with information, then you are ready to book
- But remember, at this time, you have NOT yet transferred points from Chase to British
- Let the rep know to stay on the line with you while you transfer points, this should take a few minutes, and BA reps are used to this
Transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios
So now that you and the BA rep found flights that works for you, here are the steps to transfer points from Chase to British Airways.
- Go to your Chase Ultimate Rewards Account
- There’s an option to Transfer to Travel partners, click that option
- Find the option to transfer to British Airways
- If this is your first time in doing so, you will need to enter your British Airways Avios account #
- Make sure that the name on your Chase account matches the name on your British Airways Avios account.
- You can transfer in 1,000 increments
- Transfer the amount of points needed for your trip
- Once you do so, give it about a couple of minutes, and have the BA rep look at your BA Avios account again, and chances are your points transfer will be there.
- Transferring the points transferred quite quickly. For me, it happened within a couple of minutes of me hitting the enter key
- Once the points posted in to you BA Avios account, you are ready to book
- Make sure that you are not charged a booking fee if you choose to book with BA rep
- For the fees, you can pay these fees with a credit card.
How far in advance could you book with British Airways
This is what I learned. It all depends on the destination. For Hawaii, you can’t book TOO far in advance. Back in March 2016, a buddy of mine searched for rewards flight for a trip to Hawaii he was planning later in the Summer of 2016. He checked British Airways, but BA did not return any results for his search. I did learn that when it comes to booking Hawaii, BA could open up seats within 5-6 weeks of your planned trip, but it’s never guaranteed. I have been lucky…twice. In 2015, I planned a last-minute trip to Kauai for a mid-July travel timeframe. I started my search quite late (end of June), and I did find seats in the third week of July. Booked it. Fast forward to ten months later, I searched for tickets to Maui hoping for seats to come up around the 4th of July. I did my search at the end of May and was surprised to find six seats before the 4th of July. Again, this is only based on my experience. I did hear from other folks on Reddit that they’ve also experienced the same limitation with booking with British. In my case, since I tend to book at the last minute, it has always worked out for me.