How to Book 2 Free Tickets to Hawaii Using Airline Miles

I’ve written a few times on flying to Hawaii how to book 2 free tickets to Hawaii using airline miles, but never really written a guide.  I’m making this guide to points readers on a basic step by step guide on booking 2 free roundtrip tickets to Hawaii with just one credit card sign up bonus.  To keep things simple, this post is written for people living on the west coast.

2 free tickets to Hawaii with just one credit card sign up bonus? What’s the catch?  Credit card companies are constantly fighting for people’s loyalty and are offering big sign up bonuses just to do so.  These companies make money on credit card transaction fees from the merchant as well as people paying interest (if you pay the minimum payment on your credit card, please stop reading now!).  As long as you always pay your bill in full and on time, you can take advantage of these offers.  I’ll explain this whole process in two parts, earning miles and then redeeming miles.  To get started with earning miles for a 2 free tickets to Hawaii (from the west coast), here is what you have to do:

  1. Sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card (I may get a referral credit, thanks!). This credit card currently earns 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in 3 months and an additional 5,000 points for adding an authorized user, a total of 55,000 points.
  2. Meet the minimum spend of $4,000 in 3 months.  Plan your big purchases ahead of time, pay for dinners or parties and get reimbursed in cash, prepay utility bills, buy discounted gift cards on Raise.com, etc.
  3. Look for award tickets in the meantime as you are waiting for your points to post to your account as explained below.

Redeeming your points for free airline tickets may sound daunting at first, but I’ll try to explain how it works.  Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to many different airline miles and hotel point programs.  For the purpose of this article, I will only talk about one main transfer partner, British Airways Avios.  

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Why would using British Airways miles get you to Hawaii? British Airways is part of the Oneworld Alliance, which includes American Airlines.  Therefore, you can redeem British Airways Avios to fly any of its Oneworld partners including American Airlines.  One thing to also mention is that Alaska Airlines is a partner with American Airlines, so you can book Alaska Airlines flights with Avios as well, but you’ll have to call to book (I’ll explain in another post).

Oneworld Partners

Oneworld Partners

So why not just use American Airline miles to fly to Hawaii? Because American Airlines charges 22,500 AA miles one-way to Hawaii and British Airways only charges 12,500 Avios one-way.  BA and AA are two different rewards programs and have different rules.  British Airways redemptions are completely distance based, while American Airlines is region based.  Since west coast to Hawaii is under 3,000 miles, it counts as 12,500 one-way under the Avios award chart.

LAX-HNL 2,556 miles one-way

LAX-HNL 2,556 miles one-way

West Coast to Hawaii is under 3,000 miles.

British Airways Avios Distance Chart

How to Book an Award Ticket to Hawaii

Once you have your 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards and understand that you’ll be using Chase Ultimate Rewards to transfer to British Airways Avios to book American Airline or Alaska Airline flights, you’re ready to book your free trip to Hawaii!  Here are the steps on the process of searching and booking:

  1. Create a British Airways Avios account here before starting.
  2. Use AA.com to search for award availability.  The purpose of using American Airlines’ website is that it is the best tool to search for award tickets. Note: You won’t be booking on AA’s website, but just searching for availability.  In this example, I’m searching for award tickets from LAX-HNL from 10-23-16 to 10-30-16 (make sure you click redeem miles).  You could also search OGG, LIH, or KOA for the other islands.  Any box you see that is “Economy MileSAAver” is available for the 12,500 one-way price through BA.com.  Note: It has to be a nonstop flight. 

    Checkbox Redeem Miles

    Checkbox Redeem Miles




    LAX-HNL MileSAAver Availability (click non-stop)

    LAX-HNL MileSAAver Availability (click non-stop)

    Found two non-stop MileSAAver flights.

    Found two non-stop MileSAAver flights.

    3. Log your BA.com account and search for the exact flights you picked above.  On the left column, make you select book with Avios, and then input the same info above.  Click through to find the same flights and see the total cost!

    Search for Tickets on the Left Column

    Search for Tickets on the Left Column

    AA flights found!

    AA flights found!

    4. At this point, you have confirmed that there are two roundtrip tickets available from LAX-HNL for 50,000 Avios and $22 in taxes.  Time to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios at www.UltimateRewards.com.  Always check for availability on BA.com before transferring points.  The process is pretty self explanatory, but here are some screenshots.   The points transfer is instant, if you don’t see them right away, log out of BA.com and log back in after a minute or so. 

    Transfer to Airline Partners

    Transfer to Airline Partners

    Find BA, and transfer Points.

    Find BA, and transfer Points.

    5. Once the transfer is complete, you can now book your 2 free tickets to Hawaii on airline miles!  Enjoy your trip!

Common Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I can’t find any SAAver availability for the dates I want, what can I do?

A: Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of AA for releasing tickets.  You’ll have to be flexible with your dates, fly to another island, or keep checking back.  Popular times such as summer and especially winter break are very hard to find tickets.  The earliest you can book is 330 days in advance.

Q: What is the cancellation policy on award tickets through BA.com?

A: When you cancel through BA.com, it usually cost $55 per ticket or the cost of your taxes.  You can cancel online through your BA account. For Hawaii, you would lose your taxes of $11.20 per ticket, so the cancellation fee is $11.20 per ticket, not bad!

Q: How do I book Alaska Airlines Hawaii flights?  I live in San Diego and only Alaska Airlines shows up on AA.com

A: You will have to call BA’s call center to book the flight at 1 (800) 247-9297.  You may be on hold for some time, I’ll share my experience booking Alaska Airlines flights with Avios in an upcoming post!

Q: Can I use Avios for other places AA flies?

A: Yes, if you find flights on AA.com at the SAAver availability, you can find them on BA.com.  For example, LAX-JFK would be 12,500 miles, LAX-ORD would be 10,000 Avios and LAX-SJD (Cabo) would be 7,500 Avios.  Check the BA Calculator for more routes and cost in miles. You can also use Avios for the other 15 partners such as Cathay Pacific HKG-TPE.

Q: Does signing up for credit cards hurt my credit score?

A: No, unless you don’t pay in full and on time.  It can actually raise your score over time explained here.

Q: How do I get more points to book even more free airline tickets?

A: You can click on the personal cards listed on this page (and possibly support this site) for more offers.  There is a British Airways Credit Card that will earn you another 50,000 British Airways Avios (potentially 100K for big spenders) and Chase Ink Plus, which would earn you another 50,000 Ultimate Rewards.  You can earn another 4-6 free Hawaii tickets and double that if you have a spouse or partner!