Winter Getaway to Kauai: Part 2 – Only $10 for 2 One-Way United Flights From Austin to Kauai

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Emily:  Daraius and I went to Maui, Hawaii in March 2013.  We loved Hawaii so much that we decided to return, but this time to Kauai.  Kauai is more laid back and less built-up than Maui.

United Flight To Kauai

We Used United Miles to Get to Kauai for Only $10!

We went to Kauai over Valentine’s Day week, which made for a very romantic getaway.  Using our miles and points made it even better!

Winter Getaway to Kauai – Trip Report Index:

Our Flights From Austin to Kauai

Daraius and I booked our flights from Austin to Kauai on United Airlines.  We flew coach to save our miles, and because most of the flights were shorter.  The total travel time was ~12 hours.

And because we used United Airlines miles, we only paid $10 for both tickets!

United Flight To Kauai

By Flying Coach Instead of Business Class We Saved 20,000 United Airlines Miles per Ticket!

Our tickets would have cost ~$2,500 if we paid cash on United Airline’s website!  Though you could probably find a better price on other airline or travel sites.

Our 1st flight was from Austin to San Francisco (3 hours), and then from San Francisco to Los Angeles (1 hour).

United Flight To Kauai

On Our Way!

We had an hour and a half layover in San Francisco, which turned out to be only 30 minutes due to a mechanical problem delaying our flight from Austin.

United Flight To Kauai

Daraius’ Laptop Is Bigger Than His Seat

There wasn’t much legroom.

United Flight To Kauai

But That Didn’t Stop Him From Working

We had an hour layover in Los Angeles.  So Daraius and I had lunch at Wolfgang Puck.  Daraius ordered a BBQ chicken pizza.  It was very bland.

I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with French fries.  The fries were delicious!  They came with a garlic Parmesan cheese on top.  Yum!

After lunch, we went to the gate.

United Flight To Kauai

We Get Priority Boarding With the Chase United Explorer Card

We were among the 1st to board because we have the Chase United Explorer card.

United Flight To Kauai

It Looks Roomy When No One Is On The Plane

Our next flight was from Los Angeles to Kauai.  It was ~6 hours.  The flights all went quickly.

United Flight To Kauai

On Our Way to Paradise!

I brought a few books to read and took naps between reading.

United Flight To Kauai

Drawing Circles and Arrows in the Guidebook, So Daraius Knows What I Want to Do When We Get to Kauai

I slept on Daraius’ lap for a while!

United Flight To Kauai

At Least I Hope It Was Daraius…

After my nap I was full of energy and ready to explore Kauai.

United Flight To Kauai

Are We There Yet?

Before I knew it, we had landed in Kauai!

United Flight To Kauai

We Made It!

We collected our bags…

United Flight To Kauai

Ready to Grab Our Bags and Start Exploring the Island

…and headed to the Hertz counter.

United Flight To Kauai

We Just Missed a Rain Shower.  Parts of Kauai Get Up to 400 Inches of Rain per Year!

We used our Citi ThankYou Points to book an economy car, which saved us $413!

United Flight To Kauai

The Hertz Counter Is Easy to Find

We waited for the Hertz shuttle bus to take us to the rental cars.

United Flight To Kauai

On Our Way to Pick Up Our Car for the Week

We declined the extra insurance, because our personal car insurance also covers rental cars.

United Flight To Kauai

Don’t Decline the Extra Coverage Unless You Are Certain You’re Covered!  Because an Accident Could Cost You Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars!

We almost got a Ford Fusion, but then we tested the car charger and it did not work.  We had to request another car because we needed our GPS to help us navigate the island.  So we got a Nissan Versa, which is a bit small, but zippy.

How You Can Do It Too!

We redeemed 20,000 United Airlines miles each and 17,500 American Airlines miles each for 1-way flights in coach to and from Austin and Kauai, Hawaii.  We could have redeemed our miles for First Class seats but we like saving those for longer flights.

We used 41,295 Citi ThankYou points to pay for our car rental.

Daraius transferred 103,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt points for 3 nights in a Garden View room. And 3 nights in a Garden View suite at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

How Many Miles And Points You Need:

  • Coach: 35,000 United Airlines miles and 35,000 to 45,000 American Airlines miles 
  • First Class: 100,000 United Airlines miles and 95,000 American Airlines miles

The American Airlines coach award tickets were 1-way off-peak awards which cost 17,500 to 22,500 American Airlines miles per person and 40,000 to 50,000 American Airlines miles during regular times.

How to Get the Miles and Points:

The easiest way to get miles and points for Kauai is by applying for credit cards.

Earning United Airlines Miles

1.   United MileagePlus Explorer Card

You could get up to 50,000 United Airlines miles with the United MileagePlus Explorer card after completing the minimum spending.

Earning American Airlines Miles

1.   Citi American Airlines Executive Card

You get 100,000 American Airlines miles when you spend $10,000 within 3 months using the Citi American Airlines Executive card.   This is the fastest way to get a lot of American Airlines miles!

But spending $10,000 in 3 months might be tricky.  So here are some tips to make your minimum spending

2.   Citi American Airlines Cards

The Citi American Airlines Personal card and Citi American Airlines Business card each get you 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 3 months.

Note:   You are allowed 2 Citi personal cards within 65 days.  But you can NOT apply for 2 Citi personal cards at a time.  Apply for the regular Citi American Airlines card 1st.  Then wait 8 days before applying for the Citi American Airlines Executive card.

Tip:  If you do it in reverse, it will NOT work.

3.  American Express Starwood Cards

The American Express Starwood Personal card and the American Express Starwood Business card each get you 25,000 Starwood points when you spend $5,000 within 6 months.  As always, terms and conditions apply.

Starwood points transfer to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.  You’ll also get a 5,000 point bonus each time you transfer 20,000 points to American Airlines.

If you earn the bonus on both cards you will have 60,000 Starwood points (50,000 bonus points + 10,000 points from completing the minimum spending).

You can transfer Starwood hotel points to American Airlines.  60,000 Starwood hotel points transfers to 75,000 American Airlines miles (60,000 miles + 15,000 transfer bonus), more than enough miles to get to Kauai!

Earning Citi ThankYou Points

1.  Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

You get 20,000 ThankYou points after spending $1,500 within 3 months on the Citi ThankYou Preferred card.  So you’ll come up a little short on the ThankYou points you need for the car rental.

2.   Citi ThankYou Premier Card

If you have time before your Kauai trip, the Citi ThankYou Premier card gets you 50,000 ThankYou points.

But it’s spread out over 2 years.  You get 20,000 points after spending $2,000 within 3 months.  And you get another 30,000 points after spending $3,000 within the 1st 3 months of the 2nd year.

You might be better off using Ultimate Rewards points for your rental car.

Earning Ultimate Rewards Points

1.   Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

You get 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months on the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to certain airlines and hotels at a 1:1 ratio.  So 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points becomes 40,000 airline miles or 40,000 hotel points.

2.   Chase Ink Cards

The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold card each get you 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after completing the minimum spending.

Do you know the 3 ways you may qualify for a business credit card?

Note:  You can apply for 1 personal and 1 business card from Chase at the same time.  But you do NOT have to wait 6 months between Chase applications.

Bottom Line

Daraius and I enjoyed our United flights from Austin to Hawaii.  We especially liked saving our miles by flying in coach.  The miles we saved are almost enough for a return trip!

The goal of all our trips is the destination.  In our following posts on the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the picturesque scenery, you will see why it doesn’t matter how you get to Kauai, as long as you get there!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 16,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another trip report!

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

26 Responses to Winter Getaway to Kauai: Part 2 – Only $10 for 2 One-Way United Flights From Austin to Kauai

  1. “You ** could ** get up to 50,000 United Airlines miles with the United MileagePlus Explorer card ”

    As I mentioned in yesterdays post, in which you did not respond to (which I notice that you do less and less of these days compared to the past), Good luck for most in trying to get “up to” 50k United Miles with the links available at FlyerTalk.com unless you go visit a Chase Bank and apply in person.

    Most, including me, have been unable to get any working links to the 50k miles offer. I have tried different accounts (including a new account with Opinion Miles Points) and only get the 30k offers, using different computers (with cache erased) and different locations/ip addresses.

    Opinion Miles Club (used to keep a dormant United Airlines account fresh with miles) – http://www.united.com/opinionmilesclub

  2. Just a caution, an accident with a rental car, tho “COVERED” by your k
    Insurance, will still be expensive. You lose your good driver discount for 3 yrs. That is why I use amex ins now.

  3. I cancelled my AA citi visa and amx three weeks ago. Had them for over two years.

    I plan to apply for the AA 100k offer next week and then the AA amx again in a about three months. Based on your example above regarding how to apply for the cards, will this reverse sequence not work? Or it will work because I’m placing enough time between applications?

  4. How does the amx car rental insurance differ from the united explorer card’s primary insurance? Does one provide better coverage? If yes, why?

  5. @BB – all you do is apply using the normal link of 30K, then send a SM to Chase requesting the additional 20K once you have spent the $1K. It’s been working like this for a long time.

  6. Daraius, you’re not living in Austin now are you? I am going there next week and would be happy to meet if you are there.

  7. Was the guy sitting next to Emily have a mullet and a mustache?

  8. Do you need to use the United Mileage Plus card for the taxes on award tickets to receive the free checked bags and priority boarding, or do they know you have the card from your FF account?

  9. Loved it. Really in depth. Hawaii is the next state to visit on my list and I’ve been going back and forth on which island(s) to visit.

  10. The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold card each get you 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 within 3 months

    This is a 5k spend………

  11. Hi Daraius and Emily, thanks for the great report and pics! Out of curiosity, what boarding group were you as a United Explorer cardholder?

  12. I think this is the trip that I saw you on your way back from. I was wondering when this trip would make an appearance….

  13. @BB – I’ve listed 4 ways to potentially get the offer in that linked post! I was at a conference over the weekend and am still catching up!

    @ Tidbits – Folks say that you should apply for the Executive card last to increase your chance of getting approved for both cards.

    @ Frank – We moved to Austin last year, but am traveling next week. Thanks for your offer!

    @L – Thanks!

    @LindaK – We were in group 2 because we had the United card.

    @PainCorp – Lol! It was nice meeting you!

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