We love Hawaii, especially the island of Kauai. It is unbelievably beautiful there, with lush green fields on one side and pretty, mellow beach on the other side. But the airline tickets to get there can get pricy. Thankfully, we live in the West Coast of US. There’s a sweet spot of airline travel hack for those of us living here that can get us there for $11-ish per person. We’ve been using this hack for 3 straight years, thus it’s a pretty reliable hack. Curious on how? Read on!
In summary, here’s how it works:
- Accumulate 25,000 of British Avios miles for a round trip ticket per person (12,500 each way)
- Search for MileSAAver trip in American Airlines website (www.aa.com) or Mileage Plan in Alaska Airlines website (www.alaskaair.com)
- Find direct flights
- Make note of the flight numbers and dates (you might want to note several options)
- Call British Airways to make the reservation
- Be flexible on schedule
Accumulate British Avios miles
The easiest way to accumulate this is by opening a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. It offers 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in purchase within the first 3 months from account opening. It’s enough from 2 round trip tickets from US West Coast to Kauai, Oahu, or Maui. Note that Seattle to the Big Island is a little bit outside of the distance for this hack.
This is my go-to card for anything travel-related expenses. Chase points are amazingly flexible, transferrable to many partners (like British Avios).
Sure, the annual fee is $450. But you get $300 travel credit each year that brings the fee down to $150, which I think it’s worth it. The free Priority Pass lounge that’s included with the card is nice to have when you’re traveling.
To transfer Chase points to British Avios miles, click on Redeem Ultimate Rewards from the Chase website once you’re logged in.
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Transferring the points is instantaneous. In fact, I did it while I was on the phone with a British Avios representative, just because booking (to ensure I find the flight schedule that I want).
Be sure to open a British Avios account first (it’s free to open at www.ba.com) and make note of the Avios membership number. You will need this when transferring the points from Chase to British Airways.
Search for direct flights in American Airlines and Alaska Airlines websites
Most likely, you won’t find an available flight if you try to search for award redemption to Hawaii in the British Airways website. What you want to do is go to www.aa.com and/or www.alaskaair.com and search for their award redemption reservation from US West Coast to Hawaii.
You want to find the lowest redemption points. In American Airways, select the legend to Economy MileSAAver. For example, you want make note on Oct 2nd or Oct 7th flights from Seattle to Kauai.
Be flexible on the schedule. You might not get the exact date/time, try to pick several options / time windows.
Call British Airways to make reservation
Call this number to make the reservation: 1-800-AIRWAYS. Tell them that you want to book a flight using your British Avios miles. Tell them the exact flight number and date for the flights (based on your homework in American Airways / Alaska Airlines website). Don’t freak out when the flight is not available or turns out to require more miles.
Often times, the BA rep is nice enough to give you more options for the flights that match your criteria. In my experience (booked 3 times in the past), I just tell them my time windows for travel and want a direct flight, which costs 12,500 BA Avios miles each way.
Once you find the flights that meet your criteria, go ahead and transfer your points from Chase.com to your Avios account (transfer is instant). The agent should be able to use the miles to redeem for flights.
In our case, we’re taking our infant son as a lap passenger (and ended up only costed us an extra 2,500 miles, 10% of the round trip miles). You’ll need to pay the tax (small fee). We ended up paying $22.40 for the round trip flights for 2 adults and 1 infant. If you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, this is reimbursed as part of the $300 annual travel credit.
Be sure to note the airline confirmation number (for Alaska Airlines or American Airlines). Within the next hour or two, you will be able to enter this confirmation number in the Alaska Airlines / American Airlines websites and choose your seats.
In my opinion, this is one of the sweet spot of travel hack. 25,000 Chase point translates to about $250 in cash value (a little more if it’s redeemed in travel through Chase Sapphire). But this is enough to take you from US West Coast to Hawaii for fraction of a price.
Happy travel and Aloha!