Before I talk about two obscure “good deals” using HawaiianMiles, I want to mention that if you want to fly Hawaiian Airlines between west coast and Hawaii using miles, there are very few options other than using HawaiianMiles. AA, UA, CO, DL and US allows only inter-island flights on Hawaiian Airlines and not US Mainland-Hawaii flights on Hawaiian Airlines. One partner that I know that allows Mainland-Hawaii flights is Virgin Atlantic Airways but their mileage requirements are 25% higher than when using HawaiianMiles (however, if you have Virgin Atlantic’s credit card, you earn miles at 1.5 miles per $, more on this at another time). Edited on 11/2/2011: AA now appears to allow redemptions on Hawaiian Airlines between US and Hawaii and not just inter-island flights.
So, apart from using HA miles for Hawaiian Airlines flights, what else is a good use of these miles? Two excellent values that I recommend to everyone is transfer to Hilton HHonors program and using HawaiianMiles for booking Virgin Atlantic Airways flights, economy as well as Business Class (best value).
For transfer to Hilton HHonors, the transfer ratio is very attractive at 2 HHonors points for every 1 Hawaiian Mile transferred, in blocks of 5,000 miles. Plus, there are no transfer fees involved. This means, you could apply for Hawaiian Airlines credit card that offers 35,000 bonus HawaiianMiles and transfer those to Hilton yielding you 70,000 Hilton HHonors points. Please note that HawaiianMiles earned by transferring AMEX MR points into HawaiianMiles program are not eligible for transfer to Hilton HHonors.
As for award flights on Virgin Atlantic Airways, these to me are a fantastic value. First of all, Virgin Atlantic’s award availability to/from their US gateway cities is fantastic, both in coach and business class. Secondly, Hawaiian’s award chart for Virgin Atlantic is attractive and even better than Virgin’s own award chart. And third and importantly, HA charges no fuel surcharge for Virgin Atlantic awards.
Virgin flies to/from the following gateway cities in the US for travel to and connecting onwards to India, Australia, Africa, Dubai and Asia:
- Boston – Logan International Airport
- Chicago – O’Hare International Airport [seasonal]
- Las Vegas – McCarran International Airport
- Los Angeles – Los Angeles International Airport
- Miami – Miami International Airport
- Newark – Newark Liberty International Airport
- New York City – John F. Kennedy International Airport
- Orlando – Orlando International Airport
- San Francisco – San Francisco International Airport
- Washington, D.C. – Washington Dulles International Airport
For one round-trip ticket on Virgin Atlantic using HawaiianMiles, you need only 50,000 and 100,000 in economy and business respectively to UK and 70,000 and 140,000 in economy and business to all other destinations. Compare that with at least 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for Los Angeles-London round-trip in coach, 200,000 in business class to Delhi or South Africa and 280,000 in business class to Sydney, Australia. And not to forget, huge fuel surcharge that you have to pay to Atlantic Virgin for these Virgin Atlantic mileage awards (can easily be over $1,000).
For me, these are the two best ways to use your HawaiianMiles. Best bang for your buck. Go ahead and opti-maxi-mize your Hawaiian Miles.