Hawaiian Airlines – Hawaii’s home carrier – has its own frequent flyer program. Aptly dubbed HawaiianMiles, it allows travellers to earn and redeem rewards when jetting off with Hawaiian Airlines itself, as well as a host of international partners.
But given Virgin Australia is one of those partners, why might you want to earn HawaiianMiles, rather than Velocity Points? Well, as you might expect, Hawaiian Airlines’ own program offers greater benefits for those who regularly fly with Hawaiian. It can also unlock better redemption rates than Velocity on selected routes, and greater reward seat availability.
In fact, HawaiianMiles is also set to become a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards in Australia from later this year. So whether you’re planning your first visit to Hawaii or are one of the state’s most frequent visitors, here’s a look at HawaiianMiles from the lens of an Australian traveller.
How do I join HawaiianMiles?
Membership in HawaiianMiles is free. You don’t even need to live in Hawaii or the broader United States to sign up. Even Australians can join for free.
- Head to the sign-up page on the Hawaiian Airlines website.
- Choose your username, enter your personal details and choose a password.
- All done! You’re now signed up to HawaiianMiles.
How do I earn miles with HawaiianMiles?
The easiest way to build a balance of HawaiianMiles as an Aussie traveller is simply to fly. Hawaiian Airlines offers regular flights from Sydney to Honolulu – and from Auckland, too. Unlike most other frequent flyer programs, Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t award miles based on what you spend. There’s just one flat rate in each cabin.
From Sydney to Honolulu in Economy, you’d get 5,060 HawaiianMiles, one-way. In Business Class, it’s a flat 7,590 miles. Only those with Hawaiian Airlines status can earn more – 50% more miles for Pualani Gold and 100% more miles for Pualani Platinum.
You can also pocket HawaiianMiles when flying with Hawaiian Airlines’ many partners. Virgin Australia is on that list, as are China Airlines, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, Korean Air and Virgin Atlantic. You’ll find the earning rates here.
On the ground, HawaiianMiles is also partnered with Marriott Bonvoy. This means you can choose to earn HawaiianMiles on your hotel stays in lieu of Marriott Bonvoy points. Alternatively, you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points and later convert them into HawaiianMiles.
Hiring a car? You can notch up HawaiianMiles with Avis, Budget and Payless Car Rental. But most excitingly for Australian travellers, you’ll soon be able to convert points directly from Amex Membership Rewards to HawaiianMiles. Once those transfers are live, they’ll follow a 2:1 conversion rate.
Need some extra miles in your HawaiianMiles account? Beyond the options above, the fastest way to top up is to simply purchase HawaiianMiles.
Hawaiian Airlines sells miles in increments of 500, up to a maximum purchase of 30,000 miles. But just note, you’ll only be able to buy HawaiianMiles if you have previously earned miles from another source. For instance, by taking a flight or making a transfer from Marriott Bonvoy.
You can still buy miles when your account has a nil balance – you’ll just need to have earned miles previously. The price gets marginally cheaper when purchasing in higher quantities, but not by much. Here’s a look at what you could expect to pay, based on pricing current in March 2023.
|Number of HawaiianMiles
Given the high cost and the 30,000-mile cap, there isn’t much opportunity to buy miles in bulk to save on premium travel. Especially so given that a one-way Economy flight from Sydney to Honolulu starts at 40,000 HawaiianMiles for most members. Buying miles may instead be handy if you’re just a little short of the miles needed to book a specific flight.
For instance, you might already have 32,000 miles in your account. Buy just 3,000 miles more (AU$135.71), and you may have enough to get you from Australia to Honolulu. You’d just have to pay the taxes and fees on the ticket, which are also circa $100, one-way.
Keep your eyes peeled for promotions that offer discounted purchases or bonus miles. These can make it much more lucrative to beef up your HawaiianMiles balance.
How do I use HawaiianMiles?
When it comes to booking Hawaiian Airlines flights, many Australian travellers might think to spend their Velocity Points. But you can use HawaiianMiles too.
In fact, HawaiianMiles members have greater access to reward seats on Hawaiian Airlines flights. That’s because Hawaiian Airlines essentially has peak and off-peak award pricing. And when the only seats open are at those higher, peak rates, only HawaiianMiles members can book them – not those using points from other programs like Velocity.
HawaiianMiles bookings for Hawaiian Airlines flights can also be made online, which saves having to call.
Using HawaiianMiles with Hawaiian Airlines
Let’s have a closer look at using HawaiianMiles to book those Hawaiian Airlines flights.
In Economy Class, the number of miles needed can significantly flex up and down based on demand. For a one-way ticket from Sydney to Honolulu, you could pay anything from 35,000 to 140,000 HawaiianMiles. Fortunately though, the figures are more often on the lower side – especially when booking in advance.
For instance, I was recently able to book Honolulu-Sydney in Economy for just 40,000 miles one-way, plus taxes and fees. Being a daytime flight, and fortuitously, with a spare seat next to me, it was a cost-effective and relatively comfortable way to fly.
At the pointy end, outright bookings in Business Class cost either 65,000 or 130,000 miles, one-way. Those 65,000-mile seats do pop up occasionally from Sydney. And they’re often the same flights that are open for booking in Business Class using Velocity Points.
If your dates aren’t flexible though, be prepared to part with 130,000 miles for that one-way jaunt. And if you’re going to spend that many miles, my suggestion is the overnight flight from Sydney to Honolulu. That gives you the best chance to rest and arrive ready to explore.
For what it’s worth, that’s exactly what I’ve done – Business over to sleep, Economy back to work and relax. And in between, I hopped across to a neighbour island in Hawaii, for 15,000 miles each way in First Class. (These flights can sometimes be 30,000 miles one-way during peak times).
In full disclosure, the HawaiianMiles spent above were provided courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines, allowing me to become better acquainted with both the airline and its loyalty program.
Using HawaiianMiles on partner airline flights
The other main way to spend your HawaiianMiles is to fly with a partner airline. Rather than one shared award chart, Hawaiian Airlines uses a different chart for each airline partner.
In most cases, reward flights on partners can only be booked as round-trip journeys. They can also only be secured via the Hawaiian Airlines call centre – not online. Here’s a look at some of your options, based on flying return.
|Domestic up to 1,000 miles, e.g.
|Domestic: 1,001+ miles, e.g.
|Sydney/Melbourne to Tokyo
|All Korean domestic routes
|All routes within Asia
|Between UK and US east coast, e.g.
|Between UK and US west coast, e.g.
Note that reward flights on Japan Airlines must be booked at least seven days before travel. For Korean Air, HawaiianMiles doesn’t publish an award price to redeem on flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Seoul.
HawaiianMiles can also be redeemed on JetBlue flights, but as more of a ‘points plus pay’ scenario. The number of miles needed flexes up and down based on the JetBlue ticket price.
For more detail on these partner redemption rates, head to the HawaiianMiles website.
What status tiers does HawaiianMiles have?
Beyond the entry-level membership, HawaiianMiles has two elite tiers. These recognise those who fly with Hawaiian Airlines more than most. Interestingly, you can only earn status by travelling with Hawaiian Airlines itself. Flights taken on partner airlines don’t qualify – even on full-fare tickets.
There’s also a paid membership that grants some of the same benefits, known as Premier Club. Here’s a quick overview.
Achieve/Maintain: Just sign up
Hey now, you have to start somewhere!
Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club
To buy: US$299 per year, or 40,000 HawaiianMiles
To retain: US$249 per year, or 35,000 HawaiianMiles
Premier Club grants many of the same benefits as Pualani elite status, but for a simple upfront cost. Anybody can buy a membership, so it’s a great and affordable shortcut to benefits even on your first Hawaiian Airlines trip. Perks include:
- Priority check-in with Hawaiian Airlines.
- Priority security at selected airports, including in Honolulu, New York, San Francisco and more.
- Two free checked bags with Hawaiian Airlines, including on fares with no inclusive baggage allowance.
- Priority boarding with Hawaiian Airlines via Zone 2.
- Access to Hawaiian Airlines’ Premier Club lounges in Honolulu, Hilo, Kahului (Maui), Kona and Lihue.
- Two annual passes to The Plumeria Lounge at Honolulu Airport.
- 25% discount on inflight purchases with Hawaiian Airlines.
- Free additional driver with renting with Avis or Budget.
Given the price, a Premier Club membership could be a great idea for those accustomed to status perks on other airlines. But where a journey to Hawaii is on the cards, and those perks aren’t otherwise available.
Achieve/Maintain: Fly 30 segments or 20,000 miles per year with Hawaiian Airlines
Separate from entitlements for paid Premier Club members, HawaiianMiles’ Pualani Gold cardholders can enjoy:
- Complimentary ‘preferred’ seat selection in Economy.
- Access to the discounted Hawaiian Airlines award rates listed in the tables here when booking online.
- Priority telephone service.
- The ability to hold one airfare price while considering a purchase.
- Priority check-in with Hawaiian Airlines.
- Complimentary access to Hawaiian Airlines’ Premier Clubs.
- Fast-track security screening in the USA, where available.
- Priority baggage handling.
- First two checked bags are free on Hawaiian Airlines.
- Earn miles at an increased rate on Hawaiian Airlines flights.
- Priority boarding via Zone 2.
- Complimentary upgrades to Extra Comfort seats, where available.
Achieve/Maintain: Fly 60 segments or 40,000 miles per year with Hawaiian Airlines
Building on the benefits of Pualani Gold, HawaiianMiles’ Pualani Platinum members can also enjoy:
- Book Economy Class seats on sold-out Hawaiian neighbour island flights until 72 hours before departure.
- Access to The Plumeria Lounge in Honolulu when travelling internationally.
- Access to airport lounges in selected overseas airports when flying Hawaiian Airlines.
- First three checked bags are free (versus two for Pualani Gold).
- Zone 1 priority boarding.
- Complimentary upgrades to First Class on Hawaiian Airlines’ neighbour island flights, where available.
- The ability to earn complimentary upgrade certificates, valid on international flights.
How do I contact HawaiianMiles?
To book a Hawaiian Airlines flight using HawaiianMiles, just use the Hawaiian Airlines website. But for partner airline flight bookings, you’ll need to pick up the phone.
- Call 1800 955 912 within Australia or 0800 449 415 within New Zealand.
- If you’re unable to reach a HawaiianMiles agent or need an international number, call +1 877 426 4537.
For general enquiries, you can also use live chat.
Given Hawaiian Airlines’ direct partnership with Virgin Australia, most Australian travellers would lean towards Velocity. Of course, Velocity Points can be earned and spent with Hawaiian Airlines – so that makes sense.
But unfortunately, Velocity status counts for naught when flying on Hawaiian Airlines. Favourite perks like lounge access – and even priority check-in – aren’t currently honoured by Hawaiian Airlines. As well, finding reward seats in Business Class between Australia and Honolulu can be rather difficult using Velocity Points.
That’s where HawaiianMiles come into play. Having access to ‘flex’ awards using miles means a greater chance of securing a seat at the time you need to fly. Of course, that convenience comes at a cost – paying double the usual HawaiianMiles for standard/off-peak reward flights.
HawaiianMiles may also be the program of choice for travellers who regularly fly with Hawaiian Airlines. Just one return trip between Sydney and New York (via Honolulu) in Economy each year is enough to earn Pualani Gold status. Make that two return trips, and you’ve got yourself Platinum status with Hawaiian Airlines.
This unlocks all those great benefits above, and makes some reward flights even cheaper. The more you fly to or through Pacific paradise, the more rewarding HawaiianMiles can be. And with points transfers soon to come from Amex Membership Rewards, topping up your HawaiianMiles account will soon become easier than ever before.
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