The benefit of flying to Hawaii is that from the West Coast, all major islands are accessible with just a 5 hour flight; nonstops are available from the East Coast and they take around 10 hours – best of all, you don’t need a passport to travel to these paradise islands (which for some is a huge convenience). Hawaii is not as cheap as Mexico or some of the Caribbean islands and in fact, it is frequently considered overpriced by many – however, flights to and within Hawaii are generally very affordable.
When flying to Hawaii, some travelers opt to stay on one island for their entire trip while others hop around and explore the islands. There are a ton of flights available between each island so you will always have plenty of options – award availability in Economy Class on these short flights is practically unlimited (provided you don’t fly over peak dates). The two main airlines that fly between the Hawaiian islands are Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines, and both offer good deals on flights. There are smaller airlines that fly in between some islands, but there’s no good way to redeem miles or points for those flights.
Flying Southwest Airlines within Hawaii
Southwest Airlines entered the Hawaiian market a few years ago and they offer flights between the major islands. Flights are generally priced between $39 – $79+ USD per flight, which isn’t a bad deal if you are paying $39, but can be costly if you are paying upwards of $59 – especially if flying with a family. Thankfully, you can redeem Southwest points for these flights (which you can earn by transferring from Chase Ultimate Rewards).
Looking at Southwest’s flight schedule, a flight costing $39 will cost approximately 2,163 points + $5.60, which I would consider to be a decent price. Flights costing $59 will run you around 3,706 points + $5.60. Southwest’s program is revenue-based, so the more expensive the flight is the more it will cost in points.
Generally passengers flying Southwest Airlines from the mainland US to Hawaii will also fly Southwest within Hawaii, as those who fly the airline generally love it and are very loyal.
The Airline of Hawaii: Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines obviously operates plenty of flights between the Hawaiian islands (and beyond). Like with Southwest Airlines, flights are reasonably priced and they start at around $39 and work their way up depending on what day of the week you’re flying. If you are flying over peak dates or over holidays, expect to pay more. Last minute flights don’t cost a fortune and rather it depends on the day of the week you are flying.
For example, looking at a flight from Lihue/Kauai (LIH) to Honolulu (HNL), the prices are as follows:
- Monday – Thursday: $39
- Friday/Sunday: $59
- Saturday: $49
These prices, of course can change, but generally that’s how much that route will cost you.
Hawaiian Airlines Partners
As Hawaiian Airlines is a major US carrier, they do partner with a bunch of airlines – which does mean that you can earn and redeem miles on Hawaiian Airlines flights. Do note that not all Hawaiian Airlines partner airlines allow you to redeem their miles for Hawaiian flights – and those that do, might not let you redeem them on routes outside of Hawaii, for example.
Hawaiian Airlines currently partners with:
- American Airlines
- China Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Japan Airlines
- jetBlue Airways
- Korean Air
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Virgin Australia
First of all, you can of course redeem Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles for these flights – the redemption starts at 7,500 miles + $5.60 for a one-way intra-Hawaii Economy flight. You can transfer points into Hawaiian Airlines from American Express Membership Rewards.
Right now, Hawaiian Airlines currently has a special offer available: redeem just 4,000 miles + $5.60 for a one-way island flight (instead of 7,500 miles). When you stack this with the 20% transfer bonus that is currently available from American Express, you could potentially get an incredible deal (depending on what the cash cost is). You have to redeem your Hawaiian Airlines miles through 28 February 2023 for this special pricing to apply.
Redeeming Partner Airlines Miles
While Hawaiian Airlines does partner with the above airlines, not all allow you to redeem their miles for Hawaiian Airlines flights. Let’s focus on the following partner airlines that allow redemptions on intra-Island Hawaiian Airlines flights and are easily accessible to us.
Pricing of a one-way Hawaiian Airlines flight within Hawaii in Economy Class:
- American Airlines (transfer in points from Marriott): 7,500 miles
- Delta Air Lines (transfer in points from AMEX/Marriott): 7,500 miles
- United Airlines (transfer in points from Chase/Marriott): 7,700 – 8,400 miles
- Virgin Atlantic (transfer in points from AMEX/Capital One/Chase/Citi/Marriott): 7,500 miles
… plus $5.60 in taxes/fees.
Depending on how you acquired the points in a given program, some booking options may work better for you than others. Keep in mind that Delta and United do not have an award chart so these prices may rise over time.
If the flight costs $39 and you’re paying 7,500 miles, you are getting a bad deal. If the flights is $79 and you are paying 4-5,000 miles (for example, with a transfer bonus), then the value is much better.
All in All
Flights to and within Hawaii might actually be the cheapest part of your Hawaii holiday – the reason why the flights are relatively inexpensive and there’s plenty of award availability is because there are a ton of flights – within the islands and between the mainland US; after all, Hawaii does need to be connected with the rest of the world. Whether you are redeeming miles on a flight or paying for it in cash, you will love Hawaii – featuring spectacular beaches, delicious food, and kind locals, you may never want to leave.
Keep in mind you can also redeem your bank points directly through a bank travel portal (for a cash ticket) and depending on which credit card you have, that may be the better option (and you could also potentially earn miles on these flights). Who’s planning a holiday to Hawaii soon?