Cheap Hawaiian Award Tickets with Virgin America 40% AMEX Transfer Bonus

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Virgin America is currently having a 40% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards.  AMEX MR points normally transfer at a 2:1 rate, but until September 30, 2013 they will transfer at a 200 to 140 rate. Virgin America partners with Hawaiian Airlines, so you are able to book cheap Hawaiian award tickets with Virgin America Elevate points.

Virgin America charges the following from the west coast to Honolulu on Hawaiian air:

  • 12,000 Elevate points one-way or 17,200 AMEX Membership Rewards points after 40% bonus.
  • 20,000 Elevate points roundtrip or 28,600 MR after 40% bonus.

Another great deal are inter-hawaiian flights at 3,000 Elevate points after 30% bonus or 4,400 MR points. Here is their award chart for reference.

Bonus Tip!

Virgin America charges the same amount from Honolulu to Papeete, French Polynesia.  However, Hawaiian only flies to PPT on Saturdays and from PPT on Sundays.  This is probably one of the best deals to get to French Polynesia if it fits your schedule!

17,200 MR one-way or 28,600 MR roundtrip from HNL-PPT

17,200 MR one-way or 28,600 MR roundtrip from HNL-PPT

Why Not Use Avios?

Using Avios for AA flights is still the best deal economically wise to fly from west coast to Hawaii at 12,500 miles one-way.  However, from my personal booking experience it is also the hardest to find availability.  Spring break and summer of 2014 already has very limited availability on AA.com.

Also, Hawaiian Airlines is the best airlines to fly to Hawaii, so paying a few more points might be worth it to most people.

The trick to booking a successful trip to Hawaii is diversification in points and miles. By having United, AMEX Membership Rewards, and Avios, you can have 3 different ways to get to and from Hawaii.  I’ve had to use United miles one-way from Los Angeles to Maui because I could not find Avios availability anywhere close to my ideal date.  Therefore, your dates become more flexibility especially when traveling during a popular time like summer. Here are the other possible Hawaii options to recap (one-way):

  • 12,500 Avios from west cost to Hawaii (more if from other areas in US)
  • 17,500 Singapore Airline miles on United to Hawaii
  • 17,500 Hawaiian miles if you have Hawaiian credit card and 20,000 Hawaiian miles if you do not have the credit card.
  • 20,000 United Airline miles from anywhere in US to Hawaii.

How to Book Cheap Hawaiian Award Tickets with Virgin America

Call 877.359.8474 to book your ticket.  You can check for availability first on either Expertflyer.com or Hawaiianairlines.com.  I called Virgin America and was able to put an award on hold for 3 days and they also charge no phone booking fees.  It was weird that they couldn’t give me a confirmation number or anything though. Virgin America transfers should be instant, but could take up to 72 hours.

Conclusion

Consider booking cheap Hawaiian Award tickets with Virgin America Elevate points.  This is another way to use up your AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world and getting to and from Hawaii should be easy with all the different options out there.

19 comments for “Cheap Hawaiian Award Tickets with Virgin America 40% AMEX Transfer Bonus

  1. Alex
    September 19, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Great blog! I am learning and loving it. We travel every year to Maui or the Big Island in October. I prefer to fly 1st class on Hawaiian. Since I do not know my dates yet for Oct 2014, but will in the next couple months, is it a good idea to move my points to Virgin and wait now? Do you know how many points needed to transfer for First Class with an Inter Island? I have not used Virgin in the prior. In fact, I had a impossible time trying to use partner airlines such as Korean Air transfer points for Hawaiian (using UR). I gave up. The last time, I used Starwood transfer to Hawaiian and I know I spent too much.

    • September 19, 2013 at 7:26 am

      Hawaiian first would cost 71,400 MR once you calculate with 40% bonus. It cost 50K elevate. Slightly better than aa 75K miles and Hawaiian 80K miles. I’m in the process booking virgin America award. I’ll report back!

  2. choi
    September 19, 2013 at 8:13 am

    your are right about using Avios to Hawaii, very hard to find availability with exception of late summer around mid to end of August but anything close to holiday dates are just impossible even searching months ahead.

    • September 19, 2013 at 8:44 am

      2014 does not look like a great year for award availablity. Airlines are doing better and more people have airline miles to use. I never rely on just one program to get me anywhere. Diversification is the key. Having 3 ways to go to and from Hawaii makes things easier.

  3. Gaurav
    September 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Rom, what program do you think is the best option for people traveling from the east coast to Hawaii? I know Hawaiian runs a direct flight from NYC but availability is fairly limited.

    • September 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Hawaiian is best, but also check United through Chicago (O’Hare), Denver, Los Angeles, DC, and San Francisco. Might require some connections.. 330 days out on United might be the best choice if your schedule allows.

  4. meghan
    September 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    How about availability for inter-island flights? I see nothing. Has anyone had any luck?

    • September 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Look on HA.com for availability and then call to book. Haven’t tried but know some people who have done it.

      • meghan
        September 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm

        HA is showing availability but Expert Flyer is not. I called Virgin and they have no availability for my dates. Is this a glitch or does HA availability not mirror partner airlines?

  5. Paul
    September 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Rom, sometimes I wonder about you.

    Did you “forget” AS is a BA partner and that you get fantastic availability on AS metal to Hawaii from the west coast? Really???

    And FYI, ANA (Star Alliance) is even cheaper than using Avios to Hawaii. Depending on season, you’ll pay 17-20-23K miles r/t in coach.

    Goodness gracious.

    • Alexandra
      September 19, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Paul – That sounds terrific. From a humble newbie, can you explain a little more who is AS and how do you arrange the flight using them?

      • September 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm

        Alaskan airlines. Search on aa.com award flights. If you see Alaskan air flights, you can book with avios points by calling British Airways.

    • September 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks, Alaskan availability shows up on aa.com so you’ll be able to use your BA avios on that too. Haven’t seen too great Alaskan availability though.

  6. jim
    September 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    I have BOA virgin atlantic amex card and we both have 50k flying club points each.
    I have BOA Hawaain airline card but no points there.

    What should I do with these 2 cards and the 100k flying club points we have? I know i can transfer to Hilton 1-2.
    I Don’t want to use this mile on flights and pay fuel surcharge equivalent of a coach fare cos that is waste of miles.
    Why not just pay $500 or $800 round trip and save the miles rather than waste 50k miles and pay $500 in fuel surcharge?

    I would have cancelled both if my demand for AF was not met and they waived the AF on both cards which is very rare with BOA.

    • September 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      You can book economy from USA to London for about $120 in fees one way. Consider using Virgin Atlantic on Hawaiian air or delta.

      I would cancel the virgin atlantic cards after bonus.

      • jim
        September 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm

        I don’t go to London. My next travel plan is to places like Hong kong, India, Nepal, Seol S Korea.
        I also like to visit Hawaii

        I have annual fee waived on both my BOA virgin atlantic & BOA Hawaiin card. I have transferred all the points from the Hawaiian card but I have 55k flying club points on my BOA Virgin Atlantic card, My wife also had her AF waived on BOA Virgin atlantic card and she has 50k flying club points.

        What you think we can get from these?

        We have a million united , 600k AA, a million of worthless hilton points. we also have hyatt, IHG PC points & Avios points.

        • September 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

          Hello Jim,
          You can easily get to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific with AA miles. Search for availability on BA.com. You can try calling Virgin Atlantic to book Hawaii awards. It is 20,000 Virgin Atlantic each way on Hawaiian. Hilton points are still decent for some international properties. 50,000 Hilton at Conrad Bali seems like a decent deal.

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