Hawaii is a popular destination for travellers in Australia and, as such, we often get questions like this one in the Questions & Answers section of our website:
What is the likelihood of obtaining three seats on Qantas Business Class to Hawaii? Any tips?
This is a really great question, so we’ve decided to revamp our guide on how to use your frequent flyer points to fly in comfort to the Hawaiian Islands.
I looked at direct flights between Honolulu and three Australian airports: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. If you live in another city in Australia, you can tag a connecting flight on Qantas, Virgin Australia or Jetstar to fly out of one of the East Coast gateways.
Sydneysiders have three carriers to choose from: Qantas, Hawaiian Airlines and Jetstar; from Brisbane, there is a service with Hawaiian Airlines; and from Melbourne with Jetstar.
The crux of this post is to compare the Business Class offerings, as they generally offer the most per-point value. Economy flights are usually best bought with cash, however, there are exceptions to that rule.
Most flights departing Australia are overnight flights (except the one from Melbourne, which is an afternoon departure), whilst all return flights leave in the first half of the day. That means that if you only have enough points to fly Business on one of the legs, you may choose to do that on the way there rather than the way back so you can get a good sleep.
Finally, I’ve focussed on redemptions through the three of the most accessible frequent flyer programs in Australia: Qantas, Velocity and Asia Miles. However, you can also find good value in buying American Airlines AAdvantage miles for travel on Qantas and Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for travel just on Qantas.
All redemption pricing in this guide is for one-way travel.
An important note about award availability
Finding award space in premium cabins on direct flights between Australia and the US (including Hawaii) is one of the hardest things to do in the frequent flyer world.
As such, you will find the most award availability to/from Hawaii when the award calendar opens up, 11-12 months before departure (depending on the frequent flyer program).
Also note that it is extra hard to find more than two award seats on each flight and that school holidays are almost impossible to find availability for. If you are a family, then it is probably worth saving your points for a trip somewhere else.
If you cannot find award space and you have more transit time up your sleeve, you may consider flying Air New Zealand via Auckland or Fiji Airways via Nadi.
So here are your three direct options…
Qantas A330 Business Class from Sydney for 70,000 Asia Miles or 72,000 Qantas Points
You’ll get a comfortable, lie-flat seat, excellent food and professional service, with direct-aisle access from every seat.
Unfortunately, you’ll get access to the mediocre Qantas International Business Lounge in Sydney and the same in Honolulu (although there is word that this lounge is being upgraded). You also have the option of the combined Japan Airlines-American Airlines lounge in Honolulu.
A roundtrip redemption using Asia Miles costs less than two one-ways, which provides better value than redeeming through Qantas or Velocity.
Hawaiian Airlines A330 Business Class from Brisbane/Sydney for 65,000/78,000 Velocity Points
Hawaii’s flag carrier accounts over half of the traffic at Honolulu International Airport and has been progressively upgrading its Business Class on long-haul routes, including those to Australia.
Like on Qantas, you’ll get a lie-flat seat, albeit with no direct-aisle access for window passengers.
You’ll also save 13,000 Velocity points by flying out of Brisbane rather than Sydney (65,000 vs 78,000).
In the past, Velocity has had trouble accessing award space on Hawaiian Airlines but, at the time of writing, this issue seems to have been rectified. To search for award space on Hawaiian, use aa.com and then call Velocity to confirm they can see it too, especially before you transfer any points over.
We’ve got more information in our guide on how to redeem Velocity points for Business & First Class flights to the US.
You may also choose to use your Velocity points on ‘First’ or Economy Class inter-island travel between the Hawaiian Islands, especially if cash prices are high on these short hops.
Jetstar 787 Business Class from Sydney/Melbourne for 57,600 Qantas Points
You’ll get complimentary meals and beverages, inflight entertainment and a 30kg baggage allowance. However, unless you hold elite status with Qantas or are a Qantas Club member, you won’t get lounge access before a Jetstar Business Class flight redeemed with points.
Jetstar’s award chart is 20% cheaper than for travel on Qantas. If you are flying out of Sydney and are lucky enough to find availability on Qantas, it is definitely worth paying extra to access the superior product. If you are flying out of Melbourne and need a direct flight, then Jetstar is your only option—otherwise, you could connect through Sydney.
We have more information on making a booking in our guide on how to redeem Qantas Points for Jetstar flights.
If I were looking to head to Hawaii, I would firstly plan a year in advance.
Secondly, I’d aim to use my Qantas Points to snag an excellent seat on Qantas’ A330 from Sydney, with Jetstar as a backup from Sydney or Melbourne if I didn’t see a better use for those points on another trip.
If I had access to Velocity points, then I would search on the AA website for availability on Hawaiian Airlines from Sydney or Brisbane and then give Velocity a call.
If I didn’t care so much about flying Business, then I would just use cash to purchase an Economy ticket.
Finally, if I were travelling with a larger group and/or during school holidays, then I would probably cut my losses and not spend too much time searching for award availability given the very slim chances of finding any, preferring to direct my efforts to one of these best uses of points.
Have you had success booking award travel to Hawaii? We would love to hear about it in the comments!
Do you have a points-related question?
- Search the Point Hacks website using the Looking For Something? box (located to the right-hand side of any post) to see if we have already answered your question in a previous post.
- You can submit your question in the Questions & Answers section of our website and someone from the Point Hacks Community, whether another reader or one of our team members, will hopefully be able to help you out.
Supplementary images courtesy Hawaiian Airlines.