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Okay, to those of you who know me well enough, and those of you who don’t, you should know that we fly to Hawaii at least once a year. The only time we skipped Hawaii was in 2020 during the outbreak and height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawaii feels like home, we know where to go, we don’t need a GPS, we have our local favorite beaches and little mom-n-pop restaurants, we love to cook – we just know what we love to do in Hawaii.

I had already booked 6 tickets to Maui via British Airways

That’s right. I had to listen to myself. I feel like the guy who writes all of these little “how to” blog entries, and folks are learning from them, but when it comes to booking my own, I’ve just been a little gun shy lately. So I checked my options – I was going to try booking via Turkish Airlines (using Citi ThankYou Points), but there were no flights that would work with my our schedule. So I relied on my good ol’ British Airways Avios blog entry that I re-published, and told myself “Self, you better book something soon because summer is right around the corner!” So I did. I booked.

How to fly to Hawaii using Chase Ultimate Rewards via British Airways Avios and pay $11 in fees

How did I book this?

  • Used British Airways Avios website and found my unicorn, 6 seats, direct flight. When? In the heart of the summer to Maui
  • Jotted down the flight info (flight dates, flight #, # of seats, departure times)
  • Booking online was iffy…so I called BA, and called, and called and couldn’t get through
  • Opted to choose Option 4 (for everything else)
  • Drama ensued…we were in the middle of the booking, and we got disconnected 2x. So I had to call back, and the agent had to call me back. Travel drama!!
  • BA agent confirmed the seats were available but our BA account had ZERO balance – I said “no worries, I’ll transfer now”
  • Transferred 156,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards to BA = 26,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards per person x 6
  • Within a minute, BA rep saw my new balance of 156,000
  • $25 per person service fee x 6 = $150 WAIVED (told her I was having trouble booking online)
  • BA agent laughed, why? My only out of pocket fees were much less than the service charge – $11.20 x 6 = $67.20

I though I was content with my booking

In all honesty, the booking with British Airways for six at 26K points was already a big win in my books. But, members of my Facebook page shared a way of booking tickets with Southwest Airlines where you find the lowest fare, book it, and then change your booking to other desirable dates (no matter the cost), and changing your flight arrangements will not results to paying any fare difference. I was intrigued, but I didn’t know how to go about booking it myself.

Changing your flights with Southwest to other dates for FREE

There were blog entries written about this, and honestly, I didn’t read them in details. The members of my Facebook page described it well enough. Here’s how Michael Z. described:

Southwest is letting you book flights then you can change them to about about +/- 30 days from your date of booking to other dates for free even if more expensive. For example: I had previously booked Vegas for 09/24 to 09/26 and 10/01 to 10/03 but were around $370 each. I went in yesterday and booked cheap dummy itineraries a week or so prior for the cheapest fare possible. I also wanted to go to Lake Tahoe over Labor Day but rates were a bit high so I just booked dummy dates there also for end of August. Today in the app I just looked and it said I could change my flights for free which I did to the correct dates this getting the dates I wanted for all three trips at the lowest fares possible. I’m not sure what dates are changing right now but appears to maybe be trips for around august through October (I think the dates continuously keep rolling forward so in a few weeks will be dates after that). 
Thank you, Mike. This message that he sent me actually kicked off the idea. I shared it with the rest of my group members on my Facebook page, and one thing led to another, we learned that a few other members have tried the same change process successfully. This all took place on a Friday, and frankly, I was just happy to read all the interaction that took place on my Facebook page .
Image courtesy of Unsplash/@sixty7pixels

I woke up determined to try this Southwest change your flights process

Saturday morning came, and I just hit the keyboard, and began searching. I had July dates in mind as my end goal. Remember, I already had six tickets to Maui booked on points with British Airways. So this search with Southwest was just a trial of some sort. My end goal was to find 6 seats at the end of July for the least amount of points possible.

Signs that tell you could change your Southwest flights

Southwest change flight
  • Searched Southwest Airlines in June – 12,248 per person round trip + $11 fees (it was the lowest fare at 6,224 points each way)
    • Why June? When I looked at the flight availability, the month of June had flights requiring the least amount of points.
    • I found the flights with June dates (knowing the my goal is to alter my plans later)
  • Booked the June flights (but that’s not the real travel days I want to travel)
  • Once June flights were booked, I added +30 days to my search, and found similar flights that would’ve required more points, but that didn’t matter with this Southwest policy. I changed my flights to my desired dates and finalized our tickets for end of July thru August
  • The damage? 12,448 per person + $11.20 fees
  • Total = 74,668 for all 6 of us + $67.20 fees total
  • Initial booking with British Airways = 156,000 URs
  • Savings = 81,332

What happens to my British Airways Hawaii booking?

I called British Airways. I used a total of 156,000 points for six tickets. I paid $67 in fees. Here are my options:
– Cancel my flights, and the 156,000 points go back to BA account. I will lose my $67 in fees. When I’m ready, I can use my 156,000 for any BA booking.
– Put my 6 tickets on hold, the points will not go back to my BA account, they will just sit on hold with BA. If I choose to rebook, I have to use the points for all of the same 6 passengers, and if there’s a difference in points and fees, I will have to cover the difference. This step will allow me to not lose my $67.
Kauai 2017

How in the world did I pay for these 6 tickets using points

The booking with Southwest and British Airways were all made possible by earning points with Chase.

The 80,000 bonus offer – Chase Sapphire Preferred Card*

This card alone, and the bonus offer of 80,000 points are good enough to book all six of us with round trip tickets to Hawaii. The points with Chase are transferrable to Southwest. That’s how we were able to book these flights.

  • LIMITED TIME OFFER: 80,000 Bonus Points (former offer was 60,000, prior to that it was only 50,000)
  • Annual Fee: $95 (breathe, it gets better)
  • Statement Credit: Earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year from account opening.
  • Minimum spend requirement: $4,000 within 3 months
  • NO Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Value of points using Chase Portal = 1.25 cents = $1,000 for airfare/hotels when you redeem using Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, or as cashback =$800 
  • Product Availability:This product is available to you if you do not have any Sapphire card and have not received a new card member bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.
    • If you are an existing Sapphire customer and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for a product change. You will not receive the new card member bonus if you change products.
    • Make sure you NOT to do product change to another Sapphire product.
  • Earning rewards potential
    • 2x in travel/dining
    • 1x on all other purchase
  • Travel Benefits and other features 
Image courtesy of Chase

*Primary” means that within your country of residence, this benefit will pay for covered theft or damage to your rental car, without the need to go through your own auto insurance provider

The 60,000 bonus offer Chase Sapphire Reserve Card*

Another great card with Chase is the Chase Sapphire Reserve with 60,000 bonus offer. These points are good enough to book us 4-5 round trip ticket to Hawaii via Southwest Airlines

*Offer is subject to change without notice.

  • LIMITED TIME OFFER: 60,000 Bonus Points (former offer was 50,000)
  • Annual Fee: $550 (breathe, it gets better)
  • Travel credit: Earn up to $300 credit, reimbursement for travel purchases
  • Minimum spend requirement: $4,000 within 3 months
  • NO Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Value of points using Chase Portal = 1.25 cents = $1,000 for airfare/hotels when you redeem using Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, or as cashback =$800 
  • Product availability:This product is available to you if you do not have any Sapphire card and have not received a new card member bonus for any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.
    • If you are an existing Sapphire customer and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for a product change. You will not receive the new card member bonus if you change products.
    • Make sure you NOT to do product change to another Sapphire product.
Earning rewards potential
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit.
  • 3X points – this is for dining (select delivery services, including takeout)
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Doordash benefits – Earn up to $60 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases through 2021
  • Peloton credit – Up to $120 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre
  • Priority Pass Select for airport lounge access
  • Earn a total of 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2022.

What are examples of where 60,000 to 80,000 points have taken me and my family

Click on the destination to get the details how I booked, this will show you various examples what 80K bonus points could do for you:

  • Philippines – depending on the timeframe, 80,000 could get one roundtrip ticket to the Philippines. In 2019, is 7 members of my family flew to the Philippines for free and used roughly 60K points per person  from LAX to Manila round trip, that was during the high season (holidays). I did a similar booking for my sister in law a year prior, she only used 51,000 points during the low season, and she went from Los Angeles, visited her son in Japan, and then went to the Philippines, and the back to the US, all for 51,000 points.
  • Japan – 12 members of my family flew to Japan for FREE in Spring 2019, and we used roughly 40,000+ Chase Ultimate Rewards per person
  • Hawaii – we’ve gone to Hawaii many times and have transferred 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways (a travel partner), and booked flights with American Airlines to Hawaii. 80,000 could get you up to 3 tickets to Hawaii. During low season, I’ve seen these fares go below 20K roundtrip.
  • Costa Rica – I found a low airfare from Los Angeles to Costa Rica and used an average of 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards per person, so with the right deal and timing, 80K could get you 2-3 tickets to Costa Rica round trip.
  • Barcelona/Amsterdam– using points with Chase Sapphire Preferred, this would’ve meant using around 30K points per person roundtrip from Los Angeles to Amsterdam to Barcelona (round trip).
  • Business class from HK to Taipei on Cathay Pacific– we transferred points from Chase to British Airways and booked seats with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Taipei. On the return we flew coach – total for 2 = 27,000 points

I could go on and on….I didn’t even factor in the many times I transferred our Ultimate Rewards to get hotel stays or booked vacation condos.

By no means am I guaranteeing that that you will get the exact same deal, it will all be based on the going airfare rate when using the Chase Portal or when transferring to a Chase Travel Partner – and that’s where I’ve been basing my experience! It’s all about flexibility.

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Editorial Disclosure – The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

By Jason

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