Getting an award ticket to Hawaii

View from the Wing reader Tim writes:

    I’m writing you from Iraq! I’m an Air Force member serving here, but will be returning (Thank God) to the good old USA soon! I read your web as often – as I can get to computer. You really out do yourself with all the info!


    I have question for you, I have 122,000. miles with Northwest, and am looking to go to Hawaii on those miles with my girlfriend. I’m trying to go first class, and would like to know which airlines I should take. IS northwest’s first class better then say Delta or Continental? And who has the best flight times over to Hawaii!? I’m just looking for a nice long vacation, and staying in paradise, compared to this place will do my soul a world of good!

Tim,


Thanks for reading and thanks for the compliments. Congratulations on returning home!


The nice thing about redeeming Worldperks miles to Hawaii is that you now are going to have more flight options with the addition of Delta to the mix. Delta has been known to offer better award availability to Hawaii than either Northwest or Continental to begin with — and any extra options to a frequently sought after award destination are a good thing in any case.


If your goal is to fly first class (or, actually, Business Class because all of the airlines offer a 2-class product to Hawaii… but it should be nicer than domestic first, somewhat), you’re going to have a couple of hurdles to overcome.


First, you’re going to need to be flexible; as flexible as possible. Hopefully you can plan over a wide range of days.


When do you want to schedule the trip? And which island(s) do you want to visit?


Northwest serves only Honolulu from the mainland. Continental and Delta serve Maui. Oh, and SO DOES HAWAIIAN. So check on award availabiliy with Hawaiian for your Northwest miles.


And to add additional scheduling options… if you wanted to go somewhere other than Honolulu but you can only find availability on Northwest to Honolulu, then grab that flight. Northwest allows you to connect to another island via Hawaiian Airlines for no additional miles.


Finally, Hawaiian also serves Lihue from the mainland.


Your best bet for scheduling is going to be to call Northwest award reservations and ask them to find you the Hawaii flights you’re looking for. And if they’re not finding what you want, ask whether they’ve checked each of the islands and each of the partners. And if they’re still telling you no, perhaps it’s because there’s first class availability over the water but not from whatever city you’re departing from to the gateway city. So consider a coach flight for your first leg.


There is however one other hurdle you’re going to have to overcome. Northwest is very expensive point-wise for first class tickets to Hawaii — 75,000 per ticket (it just increased a month or so ago). Your 122,000 miles used to be enough… But you’re actually going to need more points than you have in your account now.


How to get the 28,000 points quickly?


Do you have a Northwest Visa? If not, there is a current 15,000 mile signup bonus with no annual fee the first year offer (expires 8/31/03). Call (800) 360-2900 and mention extension 2677. You can always cancel the card before the year runs out.


There’s also a bounty of 10,000 miles for completing their annual scavenger hunt of sorts, Fly Free Faster 3. You need one qualifying activity (a Northwest flight, signing up for residential long distance, cell phone, internet, paying the annual fee on a credit card, or buying miles). Then you need five “partner credits” which can be five iDine transactions or can include purchases from the Northwest Mall among other things. It looks like use of your Northwest Visa will even count as one of the five.


You can signup for the free card, buy 5,000 miles, eat at 4 iDine restaurants (no minimum spending.. have a beer at each), and thus complete the Fly Free Faster 3 promo.. and now you have more than the miles you need.


Good luck and let me know if there’s anything I can do!


Best,


Gary

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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