As I mentioned in the Introduction Post, I get asked a lot about how people can get to Hawaii using their Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Chase URs (much like Amex MRs and Citi TYPs) are great points to stockpile because they are so versatile.
Chase offers only one personal card that allows for the transfer of Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners – the Sapphire Preferred card. Chase is pretty strict with their approvals for this card, so if you have picked up more than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months, chances are good you will be denied if you apply for this card, so plan accordingly/carefully. Chase also offers the business Ink credit card, which has been offering some great sign up bonuses lately.
Your URs will transfer to 6 different airlines across all 3 major airline alliances. Those airlines include:
|Airline||Alliance||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Korean Air||SkyTeam||1:1||Same day|
|British Airways||OneWorld||1:1||Same day|
|Singapore Airlines||Star Alliance||1:1||Same day|
|United||Star Alliance||1:1||Same day|
|Virgin Atlantic||N/A||1:1||Same day|
As I said before, the transfer times are just an approximation based upon data points I could find (as well as personal experiences), but it is important to be cognizant of these transfer times when you are planning your award booking(s).
Another caveat is that although I will be including general advice for getting to Hawaii on your URs, your home airport will play an important role in finding availability or determining cost. For example, since British Airways operates under a distance based award chart, the cost for someone traveling from the West Coast is going to be lower than the cost for someone traveling from the East Coast. I will also assume for purposes of this post that you would be flying into Honolulu (HNL).
Korean Air is largely considered to be one of the best bang for your buck redemptions to Hawaii as Korean Air considers Hawaii to be part of North America for purposes of their award chart (whereas most every other award chart has a separate, more expensive chart for Hawaii). As Korean Air is a part of the SkyTeam alliance, you can redeem your Skypass miles for Delta flights.
A roundtrip redemption will cost you 25k miles in coach and 45k miles in first/business which is the best deal around for first/business class redemptions. Korean Air does allow for one-way award tickets at 12.5k miles in coach and 22.5k miles in first/business. You are also allowed one stopover on a one-way award ticket and two stopovers on a roundtrip award ticket, which is truly incredible considering you are already getting one of the best redemption rates to Hawaii to begin with.
While Korean Air Skypass miles offer one of the best values, it can be difficult to work with Korean Air. If you are planning to use your miles to book an award ticket for another person, that other person has to be a family member (mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, wife, husband or child). You will also need to call in to Korean Air to book your award and the process is somewhat arduous. I would recommend that you call in to make sure space is available and then place a hold on your award ticket(s) before transferring your URs to your Skypass account.
British Airways has a distance based award chart, so your home airport is really going to make the biggest difference here in how much a redemption costs. As British Airways is a member of the OneWorld alliance, you can use your Avios to book American Airlines flights.
From the East Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~19.5-30k Avios (depending on peak or non-peak travel dates) for coach and ~102-120k Avios for first/business for a one-way redemption.
From the West Coast of the US, you can find much better redemption costs of ~10-12.5k Avios (depending on peak or non-peak travel dates) for coach and ~42.5-50k Avios for first/business for a one-way redemption.
In light of the costs, unless you are based out of the West Coast, can get to the West Coast inexpensively, or have a glut of Avios you want to burn, you are better off transferring your URs elsewhere for a redemption to Hawaii. If you are based on the West Coast, it’s pretty hard to beat 20-25k Avios roundtrip for a flight to Hawaii!
Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Kris Flyer miles for Air Canada and/or United flights. A roundtrip redemption will cost you 35k miles in coach, 60k miles in business and 80k miles in first.
Singapore Airlines does allow for one-way award tickets at 17.5k miles in coach, 30k miles in business and 40k miles in first. While not the cheapest of all the options, Singapore Airlines can present a good option in the event you are not able to find space through one of the less expensive transfer partners like Korean Air.
United uses a two-tier award system for their awards – saver awards which are limited in the number they release, and standard awards which are usually always available if there are seats for sale. A roundtrip saver redemption will cost you 45k miles in coach and 80k miles in first/business. A roundtrip standard redemption will cost you 90k miles in coach and 180k miles in first/business. United does allow one way award at half the cost of the above quoted rates.
Since Singapore Airlines would have access to much of the same award inventory as United, you are better off transferring your URs to them and then booking the exact same flights for 10-20k miles less.
From what I can tell, Virgin Atlantic does not publish an award chart for Hawaii redemptions. Since they are not a partner in any of the airline alliances, it does not appear that it is possible to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for an award ticket to Hawaii.
Unfortunately Southwest does not currently fly to Hawaii. With that said, there are sources that are speculating that Southwest will announce service to Hawaii sometime in 2016. Interestingly, Southwest has obtained their ETOPS certification for both their 737-800 fleet, as well as their flight crews, which signifies they are looking at over the water routes. Southwest will be limited by their fleet to only flying from the West Coast of the US (most likely Oakland or Los Angeles) for 2016, but in 2017 Southwest will begin taking delivery of their 737 MAX’s which should increase their reach and potentially open up their route network. This is all just speculation at this time though.
As you can see, the UR transfer partners do not offer a lot of options for finding award availability to Hawaii, though they do offer some of the less expensive options among MR, UR and TYP transfer partners. Hopefully this guide has helped to shine a little light on how to utilize and maximize your URs for a trip to Hawaii.
Stay tuned for the next installments on your best redemption options for TYPs!
What is your favorite way to redeem URs to get to Hawaii?
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