How to Fly Business Class to Hawaii for Just 25,000 Miles

We know everyone’s wanderlust is kicking into high gear these days. After spending so much time staying at home, it’s no wonder we’ve all got an itch to fly the friendly skies and plan a bucket-list escape. And there couldn’t be a more perfect pick-me-up than Hawaii. Lucky for you, our in-house travel hackers scored a 25,000-mile round-trip business class ticket to paradise. Read on for how you can get the same deal and how to plan the perfect Hawaiian vacation.

Getting There

Hawaii has always been a popular vacation spot for Americans, but flying to Hawaii using points has always been a challenge, since airlines have been reluctant to release award availability. But the pandemic has changed the travel industry radically and booking flights to Hawaii at the saver award levels have become a bit easier.

Our Secret Weapon

Turkish Airlines and its Miles&Smiles frequent flyer program. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Low Points: Unlike its peers — whose award charts are revised biannually — the Miles&Smiles award chart has remained unchanged since 2014, and you can book flights on partner airlines using Miles&Smiles points. (Keep reading for tips on how to get those points.)
  • Hawaii Doesn’t “Cost” More: While flights to Hawaii are categorized as a separate zone on most frequent flyer programs, Miles&Smiles considers Hawaii the same zone as the mainland U.S., which means that domestic pricing applies.
  • Economy for Next to Nothing: This means that by booking a partner flight with Miles&Smiles, you can fly on United Airlines’ longest domestic flight from Newark to Honolulu for just 7,500 miles one way in economy — that’s 15,000 points for a round-trip economy ticket.

Business Class, Baby!

But who wants to take an 11-hour flight to Hawaii in economy class? Here’s where it gets really good:

  • So Cheap You Almost Won’t Believe Us: If you’re looking for business class flights to Hawaii, United has begun releasing Saver Seats, including the sought-after non-stop flight from Newark. So you can fly to Hawaii for 12,500 points each way. That’s 25,000 round-trip in business class — yes, business class!
  • How to Get More Options: Availability for the Newark-Hawaii route is exceptionally scarce, but a connecting itinerary allows for more date options. We were able to find a business-class flight from Newark to Honolulu via San Francisco in mid-January using United’s search engine, which was bookable online via Turkish Airlines’ website, for just 25,000 miles round-trip (plus $11.20 in taxes).
  • It Gets Better: In addition to offering better availability, if you fly on the connecting itineraries through San Francisco, you might be able to get a fully flat seat on some — if not all — of the flights. Hands down, this is one of the best value redemptions we’ve found in years.

READ MORE: Why You Should Change Your Mentality About Frequent Flyer Miles, Points, and Credit Card Rewards

Welcome to Hawaii, where island hopping is fairly easy. (Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash

Points Primer

So how can you get Turkish Airlines miles if you don’t fly that airline? Here are the cards and what you need to know:

  • Citibank ThankYou Rewards and Capital One: These cards partner with Turkish Airlines to offer a transfer ratio of 1,000:1,000.
  • Consider the Timing: Transfers to Miles&Smiles typically take between one and two days. If you don’t want to risk losing the seats, Turkish Airlines lets you hold award reservations for up to 72 hours at no extra cost while waiting for the transfer to clear.
  • Use the Phone: Booking holds can only be made over the phone, so be sure to note the flight numbers before making the call.

More Options

While the Turkish Airlines option is the best deal possible using miles, it’s not always the easiest. Here are a couple of other options:

  • Amex Membership Rewards: The best deal we could find is with Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, where the same United Airlines flight mentioned above (round-trip from Newark to Honolulu) will set you back 70,000 points in business class. Flying from the West Coast to Hawaii will set you back 50,000 points round-trip in business class.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: There are two options here for transferring points:
  1. United’s Mileage Plus program. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United and the Newark-Honolulu nonstop flight will set you back 100,000 points round-trip for the cheapest saver level seats. Or you can book connecting flights via San Francisco starting at 80,000 points round-trip in business.
  2. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program. For an even better deal, transfer your Chase points to Singapore Airlines and you can get to Hawaii in round-trip business class for just 69,000 points.
A quintessential Hawaiian landscape. (Photo by Martin Zangerl on Unsplash)

Hawaii Insider’s Guide

Now that we’ve got you there, here’s what you need to know to plan a memorable trip to the Aloha State.

First Things First: There’s still a pandemic to consider

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii right now, consider CDC public health guidance and check out the state’s guidelines. A negative Covid-19 test result is required prior to departure to bypass a 14-day quarantine (details here). Wear a mask in public and keep a six-foot distance from others. Instead of shaking hands, dip into Hawaiian culture with the contact-less "shaka" greeting.

READ MORE: Secrets of the Skies: An Insider’s Guide to Travel Hacking

Making the "shaka" sign on Kauai. (Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash)

Island Primer

Each island is beautiful and no one place is better than the others, but there are differences that might draw you to one island over another. Oahu is home to Honolulu international Airport — where most direct flights from the continental U.S. land — and it’s also the most buzzing of all the islands, from the capital city of Honolulu to action-packed Waikiki Beach to the quiet North Shore with its famous waves. Maui’s beaches often rank as the best in the world, and during the winter months, the island has spectacular whale watching. Kauai, the Garden Isle, is dotted with beautiful gardens and dramatic landscapes. For incredible nature and geology, head to the Island of Hawaii — sometimes called the Big Island — and don’t miss one of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  

Depending on what you want to do in Hawaii, there might be better times of the year to go. (Photo by Julie Froelich on Unsplash)

When to Go

For the best weather, visit Hawaii during April, May, September, or October. To enjoy Hawaii at its quietest, plan your vacation for November or May. If whale watching is your priority, travel to Hawaii from late November to mid-April when humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii’s warmer waters. And if visiting Kilauea Volcano on the Island of Hawaii is the prize, go during the spring or fall when the weather’s not as hot.

Island Hopping

The best way to enjoy Hawaii is to soak up the best of one island before bouncing to the next one. But when you’re ready to continue exploring, you can fly by helicopter or sail by ferry — though your best bet is usually an inter-island flight. Oahu is the hub and the place where you can catch a flight to any of the neighboring islands. For island-hopping, check out Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest Airlines.

READ MORE: Should You Stay Loyal to One Airline? The Pros and Cons

Sunrise from the top of Haleakala is one experience not to miss on Maui. (Photo by Elise St. Clair on Unsplash)

Surprising Things to Know

Island time is in full force in Hawaii. Know that life moves at a slower pace than what you’re used to in mainland United States. This leads us to driving etiquette: Don’t honk. Drivers in Hawaii err on the generous side, letting others merge in front of them. In terms of the language, the Hawaiian alphabet only has 12 letters. The longest word in the language is “humuhumunukunukuapuaa,” which is the name of the state fish. (It means “trigger fish with a snout like a pig.”) One more thing: Be prepared for sticker shock when you fill up your gas tank or grab food from a store. If you can, bring snacks and sunscreen in your suitcase to avoid extra pricey expenditures.

Experiences Not to Miss (Beyond the Luau)

No doubt you’ll find yourself enjoying a classic Hawaiian luau complete with dancing and feasting. But what else should you be sure to include in your Hawaiian itinerary? History buffs will savor a trip back in time exploring the memorial of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on Oahu. A sunrise visit to Haleakala National Park on Maui is a must to watch the day’s first rays from above the clouds. Animal lovers should visit Maui’s Molokini Crater for some snorkeling and diving with sea turtles, coral reefs, and colorful fish. And of course, you can’t miss a helicopter trip over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Choose wisely when it comes to your hotel. Pictured here: Waikiki beach on Oahu, with Diamond Head in the distance. (Photo by AussieActive on Unsplash)

Choosing Your Accommodations

The good news is that there are options for every preference in Hawaii, from resorts to small family-owned properties to houses and condo rentals. Here are our picks for where to stay on each of the main islands.

Oahu

  • Splurge: Royal Hawaiian - All-out glamour on Waikiki beach; also known as "The Pink Palace."
  • Save: Queen Kapiolani - A chic and cheap sleep with views of Diamond Head.
  • Families: Aulani - A family-friendly resort from Disney.
  • Honeymooners: Kahala Hotel - For swimming with dolphins and sunset cocktails.
  • Instagrammers: Surfjack - A boutique property with vintage-inspired bungalows. 

Maui

The lush life at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.

Kauai

The Island of Hawaii

  • Splurge: Mauna Lani – A luxurious, tropical oasis on the Kohala Coast.
  • Save: Lilikoi Inn – A family-owned B&B situated on a coffee farm.
  • Families: Hilton Waikoloa Village – A large resort that has been nicknamed the “Disneyland” of the Big Island.
  • Honeymooners: Holualoa Inn – This intimate B&B (it has only six rooms) was designed with romance in mind.
  • Instagrammers: Mauna Key Beach Hotel – A trendy property with vintage Hawaiian ambience.

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