Honeymoon Flight Review: Hawaiian Airlines First Class between New York and Hawaii
These upcoming posts about our honeymoon travels are long overdue but after some friends recently asked what the best way to get to Hawaii for free is, I thought I would finally write up a summary. Rather than go to the Maldives or Bora Bora, we really wanted to go to Hawaii since neither of us have been there. Kauai in particular looked amazing, so we decided to spend a week on the garden island for our honeymoon.
From New York, only two airlines fly non-stop to Hawaii, and those two airlines are Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines. Some would argue that Newark where the United Airlines flight departs from is technically not in New York so there really is only one airline that flies non-stop! The actual cost of our two Hawaiian Airlines First Class tickets was $11,626.58 (although we would obviously never pay that), but we were able to use 160,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles and pay $20 in taxes and fees instead!
How You Can Do It
While we flew Hawaiian Airlines First Class round-trip, you can mix and match. For example, you can fly economy one way then first class on the way back or vice versa. Hawaiian Airlines offers two levels of award tickets – Saver and Flex. Saver awards are the best deals but have limited availability while Flex awards cost twice the miles of a Saver award but have increased availability.
In general, economy Saver awards cost 17,500 miles for a one-way ticket while first class Saver awards cost 40,000 miles for a one-way ticket. As a result, a round-trip Saver ticket would cost 35,000 miles in economy or 80,000 miles in first class. The picture below shows the flights available for dates similar to our honeymoon but for 2014. Another bonus of using miles is that your connecting flight from Honolulu to your destination island, such as Kauai or Maui, is included.
[Update 11/7/13] Sorry, but I passed on some incorrect information. Economy Saver awards should actually cost 20,000 miles one-way and 40,000 miles round-trip as per the award chart. The only reason my awards priced as 17,500 miles one-way is because I have an old Hawaiian Airlines credit card, which is no longer offered to the public. One of the benefits of that credit card is a small discount on Economy Saver award tickets.
You can obtain free Hawaiian Airlines miles by collecting American Express Membership Rewards points and Starwood points then transferring the points over to Hawaiian Airlines. Some of the best credit cards with big signup bonuses for Membership Rewards and Starwood points include the following: American Express Business Gold Rewards (50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within 3 months), American Express Starwood (25,000 Starwood points after spending $5,000 within 6 months), American Express Starwood Business (25,000 Starwood points after spending $5,000 within 6 months).
The tax and fee for Hawaiian Airlines flights from New York to Hawaii is just $5 one way. For two people flying round-trip, the cost is just $20. Don’t forget to use the Barclays Arrival credit card to pay for the taxes and fees then redeem part of the 44,000 miles signup bonus for the charges so that you end up paying nothing.
Hawaiian Airlines First Class
We flew flight HA51 from JFK-HNL (New York to Honolulu) then connected onto Kauai. The flight is roughly 10.5 hours departing at 10:00am and arriving at 2:30pm. On the way back, we flew flight HA50 from HNL-JFK (Honolulu to New York). That flight is shorter and roughly 9.5 hours departing at 3:30pm and arriving at 6:55am.
Hawaiian Airlines flies out of JFK’s Terminal 5, which is already one of the best airport terminals in the country. They recently opened up a new Airspace Lounge in Terminal 5, and you can get in for free with the American Express Platinum credit card. Lounge entry comes with a complimentary $10, which you can spend on food or alcohol. Light snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are all free.
The Main Point
Airline miles can save you a lot of money especially when you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip, such as your honeymoon. Some experienced flyers may say that the Hawaiian Airlines First Class seat doesn’t turn into a lie-flat bed and is not enclosed in its own little suite, features found on many international first class seat. But I’ m a pretty simple guy that would already be happy flying economy so to me, the first class seat is very comfortable and really gets you in that Hawaiian mode, especially when you have to fly more than 10 hours.
When opening credit cards for big bonuses, just remember to be financially responsible and pay off your credit card balances every month, cancel the credit cards before the annual fee hits, and use Amazon Payments to meet credit card minimum spending requirements rather than actually spend any money. To help you further plan your own honeymoon in Kauai, I’ll soon be posting about our stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, which was fantastic, and our activities in Kauai.
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