Tips, Tricks & Tactics: Travel Hacking an Interisland Flight on Hawaiian Airlines

T and I and the two kids had to go to Hilo for the day for a family commitment. Trip report to follow (maybe), but most of you guys have been interisland and know the drill.

Prices were a little over $100 each way in coach, so for 3 round trips (and one lap-riding kid) we’re talking $600+. So, obviously, we started looking into points and miles options.

Option 1: Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles. Round trip super saver coach award tickets are 15,000 miles (Reality Check: because of demand, tickets were 17,000 miles each).

Option 2: Virgin America Elevate Points. 6,000 Virgin America miles for a coach round trip, between HNL and ITO, on Hawaiian Airlines. You need to contact Virgin America’s Call Center to make reservations, see Virgin America’s website for more details. Note: you could also use Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points and transfer 1:1 to Virgin America.

Options 3 and 4: Delta Air Lines SkyMiles and American Airlines AAdvantage Miles. Either airline: 15,000 miles for coach round trip, between HNL and ITO, on Hawaiian Airlines. Bookable via Delta/American websites.

Option 5: American Express Membership Rewards Points, travel booked through the American Express Travel Portal. At the time we checked, it was $230, or 23,000 MR Points per coach round trip ticket. Note: special 50% rebate on points if you use The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN on your (annually) selected airline or for business/first class seats. If you happen to have this card and selected this airline, with the 50% rebate, it would cost you 11,500 Points per coach round trip ticket.

Option 6: American Express Membership Rewards Points transferred 1:1 to Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles. Can only be transferred in lots of 1,000 points; transfers have a short delay (maybe 10 minutes). Since it’s a 1:1 conversion, normally, this would require 15,000 MR Points for 15,000 HawaiianMiles (in our case, 17,000). Occasionally, there are transfer bonuses offered.

Of these options, T and I chose a little from Options 1 and 6. We transferred 25,000 American Express MR Points to our pooled 26,000 HawaiianMiles in order to purchase 3 tickets (and register our lap-riding kid). Because we were traveling with children, we also upgraded our seats to coach extra comfort, which gave us a few more inches of legroom (plus priority security line and priority boarding) for $10 each seat, each way. All told, it cost us 17,000 (x3) HawaiianMiles plus $5.60 (x3) in taxes/fees plus $20 (x3) for preferred seating, or 51,000 Miles plus $76.80. It wasn’t necessarily the best value for our points and miles, but that price was a lot better than the $660+ it would have cost (with coach extra comfort).

Questions, Comments or Criticisms?