We need to get from Kauai to Oahu during our upcoming trip to Hawaii. While these flights are usually inexpensive, I’m always looking to see if I can use any points from our stash that’s accumulated during the COVID pandemic.
For a long time, the only major player in the market was Hawaiian Airlines. We’ve flown them several times to get between Maui, Oahu, and the big island. The flights have been enjoyable and uneventful, as the flights consist of a combination of tourists island hopping and locals getting back and forth for business or pleasure.
There’s an amazing number of flights, with almost hourly departures. As an added bonus, prices are very reasonable, with fares under $100 and often under $50 for the less desirable flights. With Southwest Airlines entering the market, albeit with less frequency, Hawaiian can’t raise prices too high.
Which miles, if any, should you use to book your Hawaii interisland flights?
For our travel date, cash prices on Hawaiian Airlines are reasonable. The least desirable flight times cost $39 and most other flights are $49.
A checked bag will cost an additional $25 but HawaiianMiles members only have to pay $15. That’s plenty of reason to sign up for the loyalty program.
What about redeeming points for the flight? It’s not a great deal using HawaiianMiles. Award tickets start at 7,500 miles + $5.60 in taxes.
Since Hawaiian Airlines is not part of an airline alliance, they have several non-alliance partners that allow you to use miles for interisland flights. Since these flights don’t compete with their own flights, there’s no risk in letting you redeem points.
Delta lets you redeem SkyMiles for Hawaiian Airlines flights and you’re able to book them directly from the Delta website. The same flight as above is bookable with 7,500 SkyMiles.
Delta and Hawaiian are both AMEX Membership rewards partners so it will cost you the same amount of miles to book through either program. For a $39 or $49 flight, neither is a good option.
Another partner of Hawaiian AIrlines is JetBlue. You’re able to redeem TrueBlue points for interisland Hawaii flights. Unlike Delta, you need to call JetBlue to book these tickets.
You’ll do a little better as flights only cost 6,000 instead of 7,500 with the other programs. It’s easy to earn JetBlue points as they’re a partner of Chase, Citi, and AMEX (but just dropped Capital One last month.)
Each of these options earns less than 1 cent per point and those redemptions aren’t worth it.
However, there’s one currency where you can book Hawaiian Airlines flights for fewer points: Chase Ultimate Rewards.
If you have a Sapphire Preferred card or Sapphire Reserve card you can book travel through the Chase portal for a value of 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents respectively.
Since I have a Sapphire Reserve card, I can book that inexpensive Hawaiian fare for even fewer points.
Two tickets would only cost $83.90 or 5.593 Ultimate Rewards. In addition, I could still add my HawaiianMiles number to the booking to earn miles and save $10 on a checked bag,
For most people, paying 5,600 points for 2 tickets would be enough savings, but could I do even better?
Earlier, I mentioned that Southwest Airlines also flies interisland Hawaii routes, mainly to keep planes in motion and position them for flights back to the US.
There are several flights from Kauai to Oahu on our travel dates. Prices for Southwest flights are 2,240 RapidRewards points and $5.60. In addition, Southwest doesn’t charge any checked bag fees (for 2 bags per person.)
I value Ultimate Rewards more than I do Southwest points and since Southwest’s flight is less expensive, I guess we’re going to fly SWA from Kauai to Honolulu.
It goes to show that you need to keep an open mind and your options open when looking for award flights. I originally thought I would use Ultimate Rewards to fly on Hawaiian but when I dug a little deeper, Southwest was the best option for this flight.
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